Find your true north: Australia’s best tropical holidays

Swap your four walls for waterfalls and explore Australia’s tropic wonders.

Palm Cove beach with sand, palm trees and water in the foreground, island in the background.
  • Jetstar
  • September 2020

Diving under a waterfall, snorkelling a coral reef. Hiking through ancient rainforest, sundowners by the sea. A mango smoothie from a market stall, a nap in a beachside hammock. An excuse to wear loud prints.

Whatever a trip to the tropics means to you, we have you covered.


Go for: rainforest and reefs, outdoor activities, island getaways

Palm-fringed beaches, coral reefs, lush rainforest. Cairns is a tropical-holiday box checker.

A quick boat ride will see you snorkelling, diving or underwater-scootering the Great Barrier Reef. And ambling at an island pace on Green or Fitzroy islands – perhaps staying a while.

A short drive will lead you to the ancient, equally great, Wet Tropics Rainforest. Take the Kuranda Scenic Railway to rattle past spectacular waterfalls, and the Skyrail Rainforest Cableway to see World Heritage-listed fronds from a gondola.

And if those heights don’t terrify you, outdoor adventure opportunities abound: bungee jumping, jungle swings, sky diving, white-water rafting… name your white-knuckle ride.

Or, hide away in a rainforest retreat on the Mossman River, in the Daintree Rainforest. Make a treetop cabin your base, and explore the lush Mossman Gorge at your own pace.

If relaxed, upscale beach tropical is more your style, book a stay in a Port Douglas or Palm Cove beachfront resort. Think fine dining and boutique shopping along with long, white-sand, palm-fringed beaches.

Fly: Cairns 

Treat yourself: Cairns, Palm Cove and Port Douglas holiday packages

Boardwalk surrounded by tropical rainforest in Cairns, Tropical North Queensland.
Tropical rainforest boardwalk, Cairns


Best for: sunsets, outdoor adventure, nature and wildlife, food

Sunsets over the Arafura Sea, magnificent food, a history hub and gateway to spectacular national parks.

Immerse yourself in local art, history and legends (meet Sweetheart!) at the Museum and Art Gallery Northern Territory. Or with crocodiles at Crocosaurus Cove. You can even cage dive, if nightmares are your thing. Swim safely at the Recreation Lagoon on the waterfront, and if you have little tackers in tow, don’t miss the Wave Lagoon.

Take in the Territory’s finest hour on a sunset harbour catamaran cruise, or with a sundowner on the lawn of the laid-back, fairy-lit Darwin Ski Club. Time your visit with the Mindil Beach Sunset Market for a picnic on the beach with the locals, and the best Southeast Asian food you’ll ever get without crossing a border. Settle in to see all the stars at Deckchair Cinema.

Beyond the city, explore famous, fascinating Kakadu National Park. Take a tour or pack your own canvas to explore ancient land and Indigenous culture here. Take in sweeping views from escarpments, explore wetlands, plunge pools and waterfalls. Closer to town, spend outdoorsy days at Litchfield National Park, where hikes are rewarded with safe swimming holes crowned with waterfalls. Angling for some reel excitement? Book a bluewater fishing charter.

If you aren’t lying about being the outdoors type, Darwin is your town.

Fly: Darwin

Treat yourself: Darwin holiday packages

People swimming at Florence Falls swimming hole in Litchfield National Park.
Florence Falls, Litchfield National Park

Townsville and Magnetic Island

Best for: island getaways, nature and wildlife, beachfront family fun

Tropical reefs, historic shipwreck, secluded beach coves, hikes, and the largest living reef aquarium.

In Townsville, head straight to The Strand to immerse yourself in beachfront life. Stroll the boardwalk, make a splash in the sea or SUP. Take littlies to rockpools, the waterpark and playground. Wander out to the jetty, where you can see the Museum of Underwater Art’s Ocean Siren – and plan your snorkel or dive tour to explore its coral greenhouse.

Snorkel or dive the S.S. Yongala, Australia’s largest intact shipwreck and one of the world’s top-rated dive sites. Or wade out to the S.S. City of Adelaide at low tide.

Stay dry exploring the Great Barrier Reef at Reef HQ Aquarium, the world’s largest living coral reef aquarium. Hike (or drive) to Castle Hill for 360-degree views of Townsville and across to Magnetic Island – your island getaway.

A 20-minute ferry trip will see you on your tropical island holiday. Hire a ‘topless’ car or an old-school Mini Moke to explore secluded beach coves (23 in total), walking tracks and wildlife. Follow a self-guided snorkel trail at Geoffrey or Nelly bays. Hike the Forts Walk for spectacular island views and koala spotting. Meet the rock wallabies at Geoffrey Bay and more wildlife at Bungalow Bay Koala Village.

Swim, snorkel, sail and kayak, or just choose your favourite patch of sand and dive into a good book. Bunk down in hostel dorms, holiday homes or five-star resorts, and give yourself time to take it all in.

Fly: Townsville

The Strand beach, Townsville, white sand and palm trees in the foreground, ocean, jetty and Magnetic Island in the background.
The Strand, Townsville, and Magnetic Island