Tourism Top End Blog

Inspiration for your next adventure around the Northern Territory's Top End.

Experience the best of the tropics

Words by: Sue Moffitt

Imagine a tropical getaway with plunge pools, beach walks and pamper packages. Plus Asian markets for delicious lasksa, mango and rambutan fruits, perfect for hot weather and the casual lifestyle of Darwin.

Plan to stay for a few days to get the most of your tropical escape. The Darwin Waterfront is a hub for tropical living with apartments, hotels and restaurants that surround lush green grass, huge rain and frangipani trees with beautiful pungent flowers that remind me of the tropics. Loungers and umbrellas hug the lagoon (perfect for an early morning dip) and the Wave Pool is an adventure, for all ages, where wave programmes constantly change to create the next challenge. Boutiques and surf shops are on hand in case you forget an essential piece of swimwear. Try Shine Gifts and Fashion for a great collection of resort gear including sarongs and fans.

Another option is Palms City Resort which is brilliantly located on the Esplanade within just a few minutes walk of the City and the Waterfront. Top of the range is a villa option with your own private plunge spa. You are spoiling yourself after all!! Or stay in Cullen Bay and take a break to Mindil Beach Casino & Resort where the Infinity Bar and Pool offers a beach club experience overlooking Fannie Bay. Especially beautiful at sunset (note this is open on weekends and is an over 18's venue).


Photo credit - Palms City Resort and Mindil Beach Casino & Resort


For a totally unique experience, the following two resorts fall into the category of  “Never Have I Ever ……..” – the tag line for the Territory Tourism Voucher.

Groote Eylandt Lodge
Waterfront rooms and timber decked boardwalks are surrounded by lush tropical gardens and swimming pools. And it’s beachfront!! Fishing is unsurpassed with an opportunity to explore hidden away beaches. Plus there are cultural tours with the Anindilyakwan People, 4WD tours to rainforest, plunge pools and a few other secret places! I can’t wait to book!!

Tiwi Islands Retreat
On the beach, almost touching the waves, this tropical resort is so relaxing. Or you can get out and about! There is fishing galore or for the adventurous try mud crabbing. Or cultural tours, private charters, helicopter scenic flights, beach buggys – to name just a few activities. From adventure to just sitting by the beachfront pool, the resort is just a short flight from Darwin to the Tiwi Islands.


Photo credit - Groote Eylandt Lodge and Tiwi Island Resort

Tropical escapes are synonymous with pampering and massages. Wander through the Mall and up and down arcades to discover day spas and massages or impulsively stopover at a nail salon for new look nails. There are also a number of hotels who offer pampering, including Chilax Body Therapy. Find them in the Darwin City Hotel on Smith Street.

Beaches and Storm Watching
Darwin sits at the end of a peninsular and is surrounded by expansive beaches that go on forever. With 13m tides the sand stretches out into the distance with rivulets of water that wander slowly across the sand. The sea is usually so calm that tiny little waves just fold onto the sand with barely a ripple (it’s a different story during the tropical storms when wild surf gallops across the bay to land up near the sand dunes). These storms are magnificent and one of the highlights of a visit to Darwin during the tropical summer (November to April). It has more lightning strikes than anywhere else in the southern hemisphere and as the raging thunder collides over the buildings, the rain is so fierce that blankets of rain seem to advance across the harbour. The best storm watching places are:

  • Cullen Bay Beach

  • East Point – shelters cover picnic areas at Dudley Pt

  • Nightcliff Jetty 

  • Stokes Hill Wharf – undercover and open-air cafes and stalls

Darwin sunsets are beautiful all year round, but in the wet season the storm clouds merge with the setting sun and rich purples and reds collide with the black sky. The best places for watching the sunsets are:

  • Either the Darwin Sailing Club or Darwin Trailer Boat Club. Both sit alongside the beach overlooking Fannie Bay. Great atmosphere and pub style food.

  • Down on the grass at Cullen Bay, take a picnic and watch the world go by.

Come rain or shine many of Darwin’s markets operate all year round. They have a real tropical buzz and atmosphere oozes out of the stalls.

Fred’s Pass Rural Markets Saturday 8am-1pm

Are out of town just 30 minutes down the Stuart Highway. There are a multitude of stalls with fresh produce including organics, food stalls plus some local craft.

My top tips at other Darwin markets include:

  • Parap Saturday 8am-2pm – Mary’s laksa is a must

  • Rapid Creek Sunday 7am-1pm – Try out some of the weird and wonderful Asian veggies and tropical fruits (mangos are my favourite!)
    For more information check out “Growing and Understanding Local Produce in the Northern Territory”,

  • Nightcliff Sunday 8am-2pm – a fun and relaxing family atmosphere

Screen Shot 2020 10 09 at 12.11.08 pmAll about Sue
Sue is absolutely passionate about living in Darwin. She says "It is the best place I have ever lived". She has published three guide books with her new book “Darwin for all Seasons” just being published. Sue has a background in travel and tourism, owning her own tour guiding company in Sydney and in her books she captures a really intimate view of Darwin and the Top End with her own personal tips and local haunts. 
Click here to see more about Sue.

The wet season is on the way
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