Sunday, 19 June 2016

Where to stay in Palm Cove? Pullman Resort, The Reef House or Grand Mercure Rockford?

Trip Advisor is an invaluable resource, but some reviews are oncers. My wife and I have travelled to Far North Queensland for over 15 years. So here's my take...

If you want to be right on Williams Esplanade go for Reef House or Grand Mercure. Heaps of cafes, restaurants, free beachside barbeques.
If you want more seclusion, go for Pullman. If don't want pool noise, ask for an apartment not facing the pool (best block: rooms around Staircase 1 (North-west corner is the quietest, e.g. Rooms 107-110 some of these have plunge pools/ 208-211/ 308-311/ 408-411) or Southern Block far from large pool.
Couples who want quiet sophistication and a spot of history, go for colonial style Reef House. The complimentary evening punch and canapes in the Brigadier's Lounge is very classy.
Reef House, one of two pools

Reef House restaurant is right on the Esplanade

Deadman's Gully, adjoining beach
It's setting is perfect. Rainforest, mangroves, boardwalks, still direct beach access.
Best pool? Rockford is huge. Beautifully landscaped with century-old paperbarks.
Twilight at Rockford/Drift Apartments
Boardwalk starts at Pullman Resort and Spa

Some of these Melaleuca were there when Capt James Cook visited in 1770. 

Rainforest trail/cycle track links Clifton Beach

Town planning edict: No structure can be taller than the paperbarks

The downside about the Pullman Resort Palm Cove (Sea Temple) is that the pool area can get noisy. Kids shouting echoes around the U-shaped buildings. Listening to "Marco Polo" for an hour can be wearing. The (so-called adult) jacuzzi is usually kid-soup during the day. Photos below are on a quiet, rainy day. Apart from that it's an excellent resort.
Pullman pool area, Lagoon Bar

View from top floor apartments, ocean glimpses. Pullman Resort

In summary:
Travelling with kids - Pullman, or the more moderately priced, Grand Mercure Rockford.
No kids - The Reef House.


  • Large bottle shop behind Rockford Apartments or 5 min walk from Pullman.
  • Clifton Beach (3km) has a large supermarket (Coles).
  • Take the bus to Cairns for $5.50.
  • If you travel mid year there is little chance of stingers in the water.
  • Crocodiles? Don't push your luck, don't swim at dusk or night. But around those times, I'd be worried about sharks, also.
Tourists love this photo, plus the free bottle of vinegar placed strategically along the beaches, not for your chips but for stinger wounds.

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