AT’s guide to the best cheap accommodation for summer and Christmas holidays


Mission Beach

Why do we rate it?
To get to know the real Tropical North Queensland, go to Mission Beach. Remarkably untouched by major development (considering its proximity to Cairns), this is a tropical holiday without the fuss.

Where is it?
140km south of Cairns – a 2hr 15min drive via the two wettest towns in Australia (Tully and Innisfail). If it’s bucketing, as it does this time of year, take it slow.

Where to stay
Options in Mission Beach range from camping and holiday parks to upmarket. Our pick is The Elandra (see the cover) for being one of the sexiest resorts in Australia for very reasonable rates. Mission Beach Resort has four levels of accommodation to suit any budget. The 4.5-star Tea Tree rooms have been recently refurbished. Castaways Resort & Spa is right on the beach, also offering various accommodations.

How much is it?
You are in the off-season, so The Elandra starts at about $240 a night for two. Mission Beach resort has basic rooms from $99, family rooms at $225 a night. Castaways has a hotel room for $145, a family room (two rooms with a queen and two single kings) from $205, up to a two-bedroom apartment from $295.

There is plenty of availability if you book before the end of October.

What to do
The town doesn’t close for the wet season so you can do everything available in high season, it’s just less crowded and a lot more humid. Try snorkelling, diving and fishing from Mission Beach, where the coral is less disturbed than from Cairns. It’s stinger season, so suits are a must – even inside the stinger net on Mission Beach. White water rafting is at its best in the wet. A day trip with R&R is $185pp for five hours’ rafting over 45 rapids. Also at their best in the wet are the rainforest walks and waterholes. Enjoy.

The Elandra //
Explorer Drive.
(07) 4068 8154;

Castaways Resort & Spa //
Pacific Pde.
1800 079 002;

Mission Beach Resort //
Wongaling Beach Rd.
(07) 4088 8288;

Enjoy this article?

You can find it in Issue 35 along with
loads of other great stories and tips.