When you see a photo of the beautiful Zoe Bay and Zoe Falls on Hinchinbrook Island, you straight away want to add it to your bucket list. Queensland Park‘s website makes it clear from the start of the description: “If you only get the chance to visit one place on Hinchinbrook Island, then this is the place.”
Rainforest, waterfall, stunning views, freshwater, beach, white sand… It’s perfect!
Zoe Bay is a magnificent white sand long beach surrounded by rainforest, where a beautiful freshwater creek will lead you to the stunning Zoe Falls and amazing views of Hinchinbrook Island.
But you may struggle to find how to visit Zoe Bay and Zoe Falls on Hinchinbrook Island. This slice of paradise isn’t easy to reach: you’ll first need to get to the island and then hike to the falls. I’ve done some research for our trip and summarise my findings in this article to help you plan your trip to this stunning place, including:
- the difficulty of the walk from Zoe Bay to Zoe Falls;
- how to get to Zoe Bay;
- the best time to visit Zoe Bay and Zoe Falls.
How hard is the hike from Zoe Bay to Zoe Falls?
It took us about half an hour to reach the bottom of Zoe Falls from Zoe Bay, and another half an hour to reach the top. The track is well marked so you won’t lose time looking for the right path. But you want to allow plenty of time to enjoy both stops. It’s a stunning place you may only visit once in your life…
The walk from Zoe Bay to the bottom of Zoe Falls is not hard, but it does go up as you follow the creek to the waterfall. The 900-metre walk is mostly in the shade of the rainforest. It’s better to wear good shoes as you’ll test your balance walking on rocks along the creek. Even on a hot day, it was enjoyable: you can refresh as you cross the river and then in the picturesque pool once you arrive at the base of Zoe Falls.
Responsible travel tip: Did you know your sunscreen can pollute the water and harm animals? The best way to protect your body from the sun is to cover it with long sleeves and pants. If you do have to use sunscreen, choose a mineral one (like zinc) to avoid harmful substances (see the full list here) and apply it at least 20 minutes before entering the water.
The next 500 metres from the falls to the top is steeper and will be a bit more challenging for inexperienced walkers as it involves a tiny bit of scrambling. They have installed a rope to help to pass a big rock, which makes the hike more fun. It wasn’t too hard, but some may find it impressive if it’s their first time. The view from the top is splendid, so it’s worth the effort.
How to reach Zoe Bay and Zoe Falls
The Thorsborne Trail is the most famous way to explore Hinchinbrook Island. But this 4-day adventure is not for everyone: you’ll have to carry all your gear and supplies on your back! Some will find it challenging, others exhilarating, or a mix of both.
On the second day of this 32km trail, you will reach Zoe Bay and Zoe Falls.
Kayaking is another adventurous way to discover the beauty of Hinchinbrook Island. With the right vessels and equipment, and a smooth sea, it is less effort and more comfortable than hiking, as you can carry more equipment. We chose to kayak Hinchinbrook Island and loved the experience.
We reached Zoe Bay on the second day of our trip.
Boat transfers and tours to Zoe Bay
If your time is limited or you aren’t keen on a multi-day expedition, you may still be able to visit Zoe Falls. You can enquire about a boat transfer from Lucinda, 1.5 hours south of Mission Beach, to Zoe Bay.
Hinchinbrook Island Cruises advertise half-day tours to Zoe Bay and Zoe Falls, from Cardwell, one hour south of Mission Beach.
If you’d like to stay overnight and camp near the beach at Zoe Bay, you can also ask John from Absolute North Charters if he can give you a transfer. On their website, they recommend booking as early as you can but indicate they can sometimes squeeze in last-minute visitors. The transfer takes about 30 minutes. The camping area is simple but has toilets and a few tables. You will need to book in advance.
Take your own boat to Zoe Bay
It’s always easier to visit islands when you have your own boat! I don’t, so here’s what I read about it. Beach landing is easy at Zoe Bay and locals often visit the place with their own boat during weekends.
When is the best time to visit Zoe Bay and Zoe Falls
Hinchinbrook Island is located in one of the wettest regions in Australia. The best time to visit Zoe Bay and Zoe Falls is from June to October when the risk of rain is low. Avoid going there between January and April, as you’re almost guaranteed to have a lot of rain.