Sailing In Northern Queensland : The favorite spots

By Kanika Dabra - June 22, 2018

By Alex Schnee

When most people think of sailing in Queensland, they tend to automatically think of the Whitsundays. While these paradisiacal islands should be on any sailor’s list, there are also a number of beautiful sailing destinations up farther north. With crystal blue waters, a variety of bays and ports to explore, and the greatest snorkeling and diving in the world next to the Great Barrier Reef, Queensland is one of the top locations for sailors of all levels.

Here are my recommended spots for those looking to sail around this stunning area.



Cairns is the gateway to many of the sights you will want to see in this area. With delicious food options, an aquarium, and plenty hiking and outdoor activities nearby, it’s worth it to stop here for a few days. Cairns has a clean and open marina where sailors can easily moor for an afternoon or a few days. It also serves as a great stopping place to recharge before continuing your journey to other part of Australia or heading down to the Whitsundays.

Port Douglas

Located north of Cairns, Port Douglas serves up some of the best food and accommodations in the area. It is also the best place to stop for attractions such as Cape Tribulation and the Daintree Forest. Known for only being an hour from the busier port of Cairns, it’s a great spot to have access to some of Australia’s most unique nature and wildlife while still enjoying some of the luxurious options available within the area. Port Douglas is an unmissable location for those who enjoy the natural world and want some time to relax.

Cape Tribulation

As one of Northern Australia’s gems, Cape Trib provides beaches worth of any Instagram account. Australia’s beaches are known to be some of the best in the world, and Cape Tribulation is a relatively quiet spot known for white sands and soft waves. For some snorkeling action, you can access the Great Barrier Reef by sailing to Mackay Cay or Coral Cay. You can also see where the rainforest habitats of Northern Queensland meet the ocean water, where there are plenty of feeding fish and even a few crocodiles available for observation.


A few hours’ sail south from Cairns is Innisfail, where local beaches are almost completely free of people, and you’re unlikely to find the same tourist crowd as you would up north. The nearby inlet offers the perfect place to moor your boat while you go and explore the surrounding area. Here you will find the Crystal Caves, plenty of waterfalls to chase, and some local eateries to check out before you get back to sea. The Gold Coast can be one of the best places for beginning sailors, as well, since the water tends to be calm and currents relatively easy considering the fact you’re on the open ocean.

Overall, Northern Queensland is an often-overlooked spot with a lot of potential to become much busier within the coming years. Taking the time to explore the area can be done within a week or so, but it’s likely you will remember it for years to come.

Alex Schnee is a traveler and writer, born in Montana, USA, citizen of the world. You can find more of her writings at The Wayfaring Voyager, where she blogs about sustainable tourism for millennials.

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