58-60 Porter Promenade, Mission Beach QLD 4852, Australia
Photo courtesy of Tourism Australia
Mission Beach, QueenslandRoughly 85 miles south of Cairns, the Mission Beach area is home to the largest wild population of cassowaries—the dinosaur-like rainforest creatures whose numbers have plummeted to just a few thousand. The best way to see these endangered flightless birds is to walk slowly through the World Heritage rainforest, or just hang out on the palm-tree-perfect beach and wait. After “twitching” (birdwatching), get a closer look at the technicolor fringe reefs on a fishing excursion, or on a diving trip with Mission Beach Dive. If the little ones are in tow, Charley’s Chocolate Factory is a must. Two-hour tours cover the entire chocolate-making process from growing cacao on-site to making the decadent bars, which visitors can taste and take home.