The area around Cairns is one of the two wettest regions in Australia (the other being the west coast of Tasmania around Strahan), receiving about two metres of rain a year. Although most of the rainfall is in the Wet Season (December to February) when the waterfalls are most spectacular, the creeks and rivers run all year. Most of the waterfalls and swimming holes are easily reached, sometimes via a short walk, although a small number require a more challenging bushwalk to reach.
A popular destination from Cairns, Babinda Boulders offers a number of spectacular swimming holes. A short walk to Devils Pool gives you good view of the cascades and rock formations along Babinda Creek.
One of the most spectacular and most-visited waterfalls around Cairns, Millaa Millaa Falls is surrounded by rainforest and has a beautiful swimming hole at the the base.
About an hour from Cairns, the Emerald Creek Falls offers both an impressive lookout over the Upper Falls, and some spectacular swimming holes at the Lower Falls.
A powerful and impressive waterfall in Wooroonooran National Park, Nandroya Falls plunges 50m into a rainforest-fringed swimming hole.
A series of picturesque cascades and beautiful swimming holes, the popular Josephine Falls is reached by a paved walking track (1.4km return)
Accessed by the multi-day Thorsborne Trail or by boat, Zoe Falls is a picturesque cascade and swimming hole on Hinchinbrook Island.
Davies Creek Falls is a picturesque waterfall in the Dinden National Park, about an hour from Cairns, Above the falls is a spectacular infinity pool or waterhole, perched above a sheer cliff.
A hidden waterfall reached by an unmarked track from the Crystal Cascades carpark, Fairy Falls is a picturesque cascade and a secluded swimming hole.
The Mossman Gorge Swimming Hole is a popular spot along the Mossman River. It's reached by a 400m walk along a paved track from the shuttle bus stop.
Reached by an 8km (return) bushwalk, the picturesque Big Mowbray Falls is quite secluded. Above the waterfall is a shallow swimming hole and some small cascades.
The Crystal Cascades are a series of swimming holes and cascades along Freshwater Creek near Cairns. The furthest waterhole along the 1.5km track has a pair of picturesque waterfalls.
One of the largest waterfalls in Far North Queensland. Barron Falls is most spectacular during the wet season (Dec-Mar). Multiple vantage points provide a view over the rugged Barron Gorge and falls.
Mulligan Falls is a picturesque waterfall with a deep swimming hole on Hinchinbrook Island. It's accessed by the multi-day Thorsborne Trail, or by boat with a 2.5km walk from the beach.
Reached via a short bushwalking track, Tchupala Falls is a segmented waterfall along Henrietta Creek in the Wooroonooran National Park.
Malanda Falls (Tutamonlin) is a wide waterfall with a popular man-made swimming pool beneath the falls. Located just over an hour south of Cairns, it's very easy to get to.