Moderately hazardous: 4-6
Highly hazardous: 7-8
Extremely hazardous: 9-10
Ellis Beach begins where the Cook Highway, 20 km north of Cairns, really meets the Coral Sea. Rounding Buchan Point, the highway parallels the entire length of the 2 km long beach, continuing on past northern Simpson Point. Steep, forested slopes rise up to 600 m within 1 km of the highway, while a soft, sandy beach lies immediately east of the highway.
The beach faces north-east and runs essentially straight for 2.5 km from the northern side of Buchan Point up to a group of rocks. There is a pocket sand and cobble beach at the junction with the point, otherwise it is an essentially steep, sandy beach. The Ellis Beach caravan park straddles the highway in the southern half of the beach, with the centre occupied by the Ellis Beach Surf Life Saving Club, a kiosk and store. There is good access and parking for most of the length of the beach.
The beach is composed of medium sand which produces a soft, moderately steep high tide beach, fronted by a low gradient, continuous, 50 m wide bar, that is exposed at low tide. Waves average 0.5 m, only increasing in height during strong south-easterlies. A small rock groyne crosses the beach in the patrol area.
The surf lifesaving club patrols the centre of the beach just across the highway from the club house. It is best to swim here both for safety and for access to the adjacent amenities.
There is usually a low, sloppy surf, particularly at mid to low tide.
You can fish off the steep beach at high tide, however at low tide you will need to walk out onto the bar to cast across the narrow surf zone.
This is Cairns northernmost patrolled beach and also its most accessible from the highway. An attractive beach wedged between the sea and the mountains, with sufficient facilities for the visitor or camper.
- Formal parking area