Tropic's guide to the best breakfast from Cairns to Port Douglas

Here at Tropic, we love a good feed. And when it comes to what many professionals say is the most important meal of the day, we don't mess around.

Like most, we're content with a good slice of toast and coffee most days of the week. But sometimes, you just want more, no?

Below is a definitive list – in no particular order – of the Tropic team's favourite dishes to start the day, from a range of cafes in Cairns, Northern Beaches, Palm Cove and Port Douglas.

When it comes to your favourite, most loved, best of all the breakfast options in Cairns, let us know if we've missed something by clicking here!

Tropic tip: bookmark this page for future reference!

Chili Eggs at Caffiend

We love: the spicy sweetness of Caffiend’s house-made chili jam. Mound this on a pair of perfectly poached eggs, a few slices of toasted sourdough, and next to a pile of pickled cukes and that’s Saturday morning, sorted.

Stay for: the smiling staff, house made coconut caramel infused lattes, and the buzzy, friendly vibe.

GO THERE: 72-74 Grafton Street, Cairns City

Croissant cinnamon rolls at Che Zest

We love: starting the day with something as buttery, sugary and flaky as the croissant dough cinnamon rolls at this airy Grafton Street café.

Stay for: the bright and airy space, über fluffy pancakes, and expertly made coffees.

GO THERE: 135 Grafton St, Cairns City 

Love You So Matcha Bowl at The Chambers

We love: the energy we have after taking down this fresh matcha smoothie bowl topped with fresh fruit, goji berries, pepitas and house-made buckwheat crunchies.

Stay for: the trendy decor, the perfectly-spiced bloody marys, and the see-and-be-seen vibe

GO THERE: 21 Spence St, Cairns City

Samosas, coconut bowls and coffee at Rusty's Markets

We love: that there are so many delightful bites to be had at this long-standing farmers market. We like to start with a coffee from Billy’s, have a couple savoury samosas from Govinda’s, and finish off with a fruit-filled coconut bowl from The Grateful Coconut.

Stay for: just about everything else. Don’t forget those reusable tote bags for the bounty of fresh produce, flowers, and handmade goodies you’re likely to take home.

GO THERE: 57/89 Grafton St, Cairns City 

The Spread at NOA

We love: that the chefs at NOA know how to take care of indecisive diners. Their breakfast boards offer a variety of bites to keep bellies full and palates satisfied. Diners can choose from sweet and healthy options like the Continental or the Smorgasbord respectively, but when hunger strikes we opt for the Spread: toasted sourdough, flavoured butter, potato hash, grilled field mushroom, onion jam, poached egg, house baked beans, chorizo sausage, apple-wood smoked bacon, freshly pressed orange juice. Yum.

Stay for: the house made sodas, cheeky breakfast cocktails, and the delightful Edge Hill location. 

GO THERE: 1 Pyne St, Edge Hill

Wild Mushroom Stack at Ozmosis

We love: mushrooms, and this dish from Ozmosis delivers. Roasted organic field mushies piled with halloumi, polenta, goats curd, and wilted spinach finished with a balsamic reduction, lemon, thyme and sage.

Stay for: the good-for-your-gut wellness bowls, the CocoWhip menu (trust us), and the accommodating kitchen staff.

GO THERE: 116 Collins Ave, Edge Hill

Shakshouka at Coco Mojo

We love: the belly warmth that occurs post-shakshouka at this Clifton Beach locale. The mediterranean inspired skillet comes with three eggs, spiced lamb sausages cooked in tomato ragout, halloumi, yogurt, hummus and turkish flatbread to soak it all up.

Stay for: Coco Mojo’s globally-inspired selection of iced coffees. The yuang yang from Hong Kong features sweetened milk tea, while the café helado from Chile involves vanilla ice cream, cinnamon hazelnut syrup, whipped cream, and crushed hazelnuts. 

GO THERE: 14 Clifton Rd, Clifton Beach 

Tofu Scramble at Brother Jenkins

We love: that we can catch brekkie with the vegans in our friend group without forcing them to eat dry toast. The tofu scramble with roasted cherry tomatoes, herb oil, spinach and crispy chats is something that even those without dietary restrictions can enjoy.

Stay for: the passionate staff and overall good vibes. Their fresh-from-the-oven pies and sweet baked goods also make excellent pick-me-ups. 

GO THERE: 177 Martyn St, Manunda

Muesli Bowl at Tuk Tuk by the Sea

We love: that the muesli bowl keeps us going for hours. This brekkie comes with mixed nuts, coconut yoghurt, fresh berries and is topped with honey.

Stay for: lunch, when the full Thai menu kicks in, and dessert at the connected gelato bar (if you’re still hungry, that is).

GO THERE: 2-8 Trinity Beach Rd, Trinity Beach

Queensland Mud Crab Omelette at Nu Nu

We love: taking a break from avo on toast and indulging in Nu Nu’s North Queensland mud crab omelette. As if having being packed with fresh crab meat wasn’t enough, the dish is finished with a white pepper broth and ginger caramel that take the flavours to a whole new dimension.

Stay for: the stunning beach-side setting, the relaxed sophistication and a menu that’s full of surprises.

GO THERE: 1 Veivers Rd, Palm Cove

Hotcake Stack at Vivo

We love: that the hotcake stack at Vivo stays keeps it classic: crispy, fluffy buttermilk pancakes are accompanied (and not overpowered!) by pistachio and macadamia crumbs, berry coulis, local bananas, pure maple syrup, and Mungalli cream.

Stay for: the breezy outdoor seating, the iced lychee green tea and, if you’re in the mood for savoury, the Vietnamese breakfast crepe. 

GO THERE: 49 Williams Esplanade, Palm Cove

Strawberry Rhubarb Crepe at Petit Café

We love: that this Kuranda café offers over 2 dozen crepe variations. When we’re hankering for something sweet we opt for the strawberry rhubarb iteration, which comes with toasted almonds, vanilla ice cream, and Belgian chocolate drizzle.

Stay for: the funky Kuranda scene, especially during the weekend when the markets are in full swing. 

GO THERE: The Original Rainforest Market, Therwine St, Kuranda

Granola Bowl at Hi Tide

We love: that there’s more to Hi Tide’s granola bowl than just milk and honey. On our last visit it came with a heap of tropical fruit and a ginger-mango sago pudding, but previous orders have included a coconut panna cotta and natural yoghurt.

Stay for: the view of Four Mile beach, the always-friendly staff, and the homemade banana bread (toasted with butter, please!).

GO THERE: 9 Esplanade, Port Douglas

Veggie Onesie at Little Larder

We love: that you can get breakfast and coffee at this buzzy spot for less than $16. The veggie onesie comes with one of every element (one poached or scrambled egg, one piece of toast, one piece of griddled halloumi, and a good smear of beetroot marmalade), and is perfect for those days when you don’t feel like rolling home.

Stay for: the coffees made just-so, the passion fruit mimosas, and a cheeky Duke’s Doughnut. 

GO THERE: 53-61 Macrossan St, Port Douglas

Vegetarian Brekky at Limberlost

We love: healthy breakfast at the best of times, but relaxing at Limberlost with views of the nursery while eating this vegetarian fave takes it to a whole new level of special. What's not to love about toasted ciabatta, spicy house made beans, smashed avocado, poached eggs and persian fetta with hash browns?

Stay for: Great coffee to go with your brekky. And those morning garden views. 

GO THERE: 113 Old Smithfield Rd, Freshwater

Avocado toast at Two Blocks

We love: the fact this dish is loaded with charred corn salsa, burnt capsicum and lemongrass relish. But wait, there’s more. Your plate is also blessed with ashed feta, fried shallots, grilled lime and house pickle salad. Think chilli eggs meets the classic avo on toast, with a Two Blocks twist.

Stay for: the lush outdoor seating area and the option to order brekky until 2pm.

GO THERE: 117 Oleander St, Holloways Beach


Brekkie Burrito at The Lillipad Café

We love: that Lilipad has been cranking out mega, belly-warming meals for over 15 years, and we believe that Cairns is truly all the better for it. There are few frills at Lillipad, but when the brekkie burrito in all of it’s chorizo and egg stuffed, and green chilli and cheese smothered glory comes out of the kitchen, who really cares? 

Stay for: lunch, where you can order a salad the size of the produce section at Woolies with a few delightful slices of buttered turkish bread to round it out. 

GO THERE: 72 Grafton St, Cairns City

Pulled Pork Eggs Benedict at Candy Café

We love: that we can eat pork for breakfast in a form other than bacon thanks to the mouthwatering pulled pork eggs benny at this popular Grafton St café.

Stay for: the turmeric lattes, the funky interior, and the creative menu.

GO THERE: 70 Grafton St, Cairns City

Coco Nutz at Mama Coco

We love: the laid back vibes and the super creative menu at Mama Coco. The fact that it changes nearly every season makes it difficult to pick a favourite, but for a fresh and healthy start to the day we’re big fans of the Coconut Granola Bowl (Coco Nutz) with fresh fruit, coconut milk, rainforest honey and coconut yoghurt. 

Stay for: a slice of hummingbird cake. Or any of the restaurant’s freshly baked goods, honestly. You won’t be sorry. 

GO THERE: 196 Mulgrave Rd, Westcourt 

Apple Crumble French Toast from Hopscotch

We love: the unabashed decadence on offer at Hopscotch. For morning sweet teeth, the apple crumble french toast topped with white chocolate ice cream is, in a word, divine.

Stay for: the tasty wood fired pizzas and house made pastas for lunch and dinner and a cup of expertly made coffee. After a meal here, you’ll probably need more than one. 

GO THERE: 532 Mulgrave Rd, Earlville

The Lobster Tail Eggs Benedict at Mi Piace

We love: the light, breezy atmosphere and the carefully crafted breakfasts on offer at this Sheridan street eatery. The lobster tail eggs benny with wilted spinach and house made hollandaise is a dream.

Stay for: an afternoon with a couple of coffees and a pastry in the charming outdoor seating area.

GO THERE: 119 Sheridan St, Cairns City

Buddha Bowl from Wharf One

We love: the nutritional density of Wharf One’s Buddha Bowl, which is packed with fresh avocado, mushrooms and kale, and finished with dukkah dusted poached eggs and hummus.

Stay for: the location, of course. Watch the cruise ships come in or just gaze out at the view of the mountains while enjoying a meal, any time of day. 

GO THERE: Wharf Street On Trinity Wharf, Cairns City

Banana Split at Bang and Grind

We love: ordering something that feels indulgent but is actually super healthy. The breakfast banana split at Bang and Grind features fresh fruit and yogurt, granola and crispy coconut atop, you guessed it, a split banana. 

Stay for: a good cuppa and the always-changing quippy sayings on the easel outside the café entrance. 

GO THERE: 14 Spence St, Cairns City