Also known locally as the "Northern Beaches" , the Cairns Beaches collectively stretch out approximately 90km northwards from the Cairns International Airport all the way to Port Douglas. The latter 50 kms of these are largely 'uninhabited' - want a beach all to yourself for the day - one of these may be just what you are looking for.
The first 40 kms north of Cairns - the 'populated' beaches are (in order of driving north- locals will give directions by the roundabout you turn off the highway on):
Machans Beach (1st roundabout)- a charming hamlet of dedicated local residents almost enclosed by the northern end of the airport runway, is not much frequented by tourists.
Holloways Beach(2nd roundabout) also not frequented much by tourists, has a fairly large & permanent residential population
Yorkeys Knob (3rd roundabout) the first of the resort beaches, also incorporates Half Moon Bay with it's yacht club, marina and golf club.
Trinity Beach (8th roundabout -in betweens are for shopping & industrial and residential estates) One of Cairns better known tourist beaches and a popular residential suburb.
Kewarra Beach (9th & last roundabout) - an oddity in that some residents have riparian rights and have built their mansions right on the beach. Consequently only access to the sand is at the extreme northern end. Not frequented by holiday makers much - although at the Northern End is the famed Kewarra Beach Resort - an exclusive holiday destination surrounded by beach & bush.
Clifton Beach (last of the only 2 sets of traffic lights on the Captain Cook Highway - outside the Clifton Village Shopping Centre). This is a nice, quiet leafy village at the beach.
Palm Cove (just pass the Cairns Tropical Zoo on the highway) - in terms of tourist accommodation and activities - the largest of all the Cairns Beaches. From the sea this beach looks much as it did when Captain Cook sailed past - however the trees & bushes along the foreshore disguise all the resorts & fine dining restaurants stretched along the mile long beach-side esplanade. Just off shore is Double Island - holiday sanctuary to the rich & famous including a surprising number of movie stars.
Ellis Beach - the last of the populated beaches, probably a little down market from it's southern neighbours, but very popular in the season, and a favourite rest point for travellers between Cairns & Port Douglas. Mostly known for its on the beach camp park and cabins.