Life’s a Beach: Taking it Easy in Mission Beach
The relaxed tropical seaside vibe of Mission Beach makes it very appealing as a holiday destination. It’s small enough to be a quiet, chilled out town with just enough going on to keep it interesting.
Mission Beach itself is probably one of the most sublime beaches in North Queensland. Miles of golden sands lined with coconut palms and beautiful turquoise waves lapping on the shore – it really is the very definition of the quintessential tropical beach.
When you step out onto the beach for the first time, especially when the tide’s out, you can’t fail to be impressed by the sheer size of it.
It’s also the kind of place that has you immediately thinking about retiring and taking up pottery as a hobby!
It has attracted a fair few seachangers over the years and they tend to be the kind of people who open interesting art galleries, boutiques, restaurants and cafes.
You’re far more likely to find gourmet, organic and gluten-free options on the menus here than anywhere else between Cairns and Townsville.
Mission Beach is also positioning itself as a hub for nature-based tourism since there are a number of great bushwalks in the area and it is a hotspot for cassowaries, the iconic endangered bird of the Wet Tropics.
4 villages Strung together
Mission Beach is about halfway between Cairns and Townsville, which means a two hour drive from the nearest airport.
The area has four villages that are strung together by 14 miles of beaches:
- Mission Beach is the main drag where most of the restaurants and shops are located along one little street. Don’t expect too much though, there are still probably less than 20 places to eat. But that is what’s so appealing about the place!
- South Mission is a bit more residential with no obvious centre
- Wongaling Beach has a few good places to eat and drink
- Bingil Bay is the last beach tucked away around the coast a little (Brookes Beach and Garners Beach are further along and very secluded). There’s not much in Bingil Bay except the funky little Bingil Bay Café, which serves huge breakfasts.
Mission Beach suffered from a fair amount of damage after Cyclone Yasi in 2011 so it has had a rough time over the last few years. However, it is fully recovered and very keen to welcome visitors.
Places to Stay & eat
While it’s not a huge place, Mission Beach does have a reasonably good range of accommodation options from motels to B&B’s and camping.
Castaways is good 4 star option on the beach but if you want to feel completely immersed in the rainforest with a good chance of seeing cassowaries, Sanctuary Retreat near Brookes Beach (Bingil Bay end) is a great option.
Birders Cottage and Licuala Lodge are also good places to stay if you want to see cassowaries.
If you’re travelling on a budget there are also a number of campsites and caravan parks.
It’s difficult to recommend restaurants because they change very frequently (due to the transient workforce made up of backpackers, and of course, cyclones, which have had a severe impact on Mission Beach in the last few years).
Our recommendation? Ask around when you get there.
travel nq’s 10 things to do in mission beach
Your number one priority on a visit to this area should be relaxation. However for those who feel the need to be active there are a few good things to do in Mission Beach:
- Grab a boogie board and enjoy the beach (but remember not to swim in the sea between November-April)
- Get a water taxi over to Dunk Island for the day – it has a national park on it with walking trails and a resort that is being renovated
- Take a sea kayaking trip to Dunk Island (you can also do shorter kayaking tours along the coast)
- Go on a tropical fruit tour
- Find out how chocolate is made at Charley’s Chocolate Farm
- Go bike riding – they can be rented locally and much of the area is flat so you can ride a long way along the beach
- Get on the water – there are sailing, snorkelling, diving and fishing trips available.
- Take a daytrip to Mamu Rainforest Walkway and Paronella Park
- Try Blo-Karting along the beach for something different.
- Go bushwalking and see if you can spot a cassowary