Crystal Cascades – Complete guide


Crystal Cascades is one of Cairns most popular and most visited waterfalls.  The close proximity to Cairns makes it easily accessible and well worth the trip.  The scenery is beautiful, though it can get very busy. There are plenty of tours that will take you there if you don’t have wheels.

crystal cascades

It is a secluded freshwater swimming hole, on the edge of the tropical rain forest that North Queensland is known for.  Crystal Cascades is a beautiful swimming hole that is always cold… so it’s really only good in summer (unless you are Irish).

Getting there is super simple, just follow Google maps and the street signs.

Quick Questions

Can you swim at Crystal Cascades?

Yes! It’s safe and beautiful.  Water temperatures will always be cold though, so don’t plan to swim here on a cold day.  It’s best visited in the middle of summer when outside temperature hits 40+.

Can you fish at Crystal Cascades?

There are no restrictions on fishing here, though with the number of tourists that swim here everyday…. I probably wouldn’t suggest it.  The freshwater creeks around Cairns are famous for Jungle Perch, though I wouldn’t expect to catch any here. Grab your rod and go for a trek upstream.  Or better yet, just go elsewhere.

Is Crystal Cascades free?

Yes, sure is.  The grounds are maintained by the local council and provided you can get yourself there, then yes, it’s free.  If you book a tour then you will obviously have to pay.

Can I bring my dog to Crystal Cascades?

Unfortunately, your fur friend will have to sit this one out.  Crystal Cascades is Cairns regional council land and they have expressly stated that dogs are not allowed here.

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Getting to Crystal Cascades

Crystal Cascades is a 25 min, 20km trip from Cairns Central by car.  Just head north-west towards Redlynch then follow the signs. Crystal Cascades is actually really well signposted and pretty hard to miss.  If in doubt, Google will take you right there.

Crystal Cascades Deaths

Unfortunately, there have been a few in the past.  It’s a water body with some seriously decent cliff jumps.  When the water is low, you may just land on rocks. Life In Cairns strongly suggests you never jump off rocks into the water.  With that out of the way…… there is a section along the path known as ‘No Fear’, It’s a big jump which has claimed a few lives in the past.  Get this jump wrong and you will clip the rocks and most likely not surface. In addition to that, when the water is low (dry season) the rocks below the surface are not very deep so you will most likely hit them and shatter your spine.  

When it has been raining and the water is high (when you see locals jumping it), it’s an intense adrenaline rush that can’t be described.  I’d estimate the jump at around 20 meters from the water, and if you are asking, yes I’ve done it. Though I wouldn’t do it again.

Crocodiles at Crystal Cascades

Not a chance.  Recently there was a bogus report about a saltwater crocodile being spotted up there, though It’s absolute BS.  People have been swimming here for thousands of years and local Aboriginal Elders have confirmed that they have never heard of a crocodile at Crystal Cascades.

Crystal Cascades Weather

The weather here is the same as the Cairns forecast but slightly windier.  The reason for this is that Crystal Cascades is situated at the bottom of the mountain range… like most waterfalls.  Topographical effects on the wind speed will normally increase the speed as the cooler air rushes down the hill to tuck under the warmer air. This is called a ‘catabatic wind’.  Redlynch is notorious for higher winds than Cairns City due to this effect. ​

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