The name Bingil is believed to be an Aboriginal word meaning a good camping ground given to the area by Frederick Cutten, a pioneer settler in the area. In 1884, the Cutten brothers (Frederick, Leonard, Sydney and James) established the first commercial tea plantation in Australia on their Bicton estate at Bingil Bay, also growing coffee, mangoes, bananas, pineapples and other tropical fruit. At that time, Bingil Bay was only accessible by boat. Most of the Bicton estate was destroyed by a cyclone in 1918 and although the homestead was rebuilt the remainder of the estate was never restored. The descendants of the original tea plants were rediscovered in the rain-forest by Dr Alan Maruff in 1958 and seedlings from these plants formed the basis for the Nerada tea plantations.
In 1921, an overland connection was created from El Arish (a distance of 10 kilometres (6.2 mi) away) but it was only usable by a dray and the journey took most of the day.
The area was formerly known as Clump Point (the name of a nearby headland) until 1929 when a post office called Bingal Bay was established.
On 9 July 1936, the road from El Arish to Bingil Bay was finally completed, reducing the travel time to 30 minutes. It was officially opened by Percy Pease, the Member of the Queensland Legislative Assembly for Herbert.
The Bingil Bay Lifesaving Club opened in 1936.
Around 1966, then Prime Minister of Australia, Harold Holt and his wife Zara Holt, owned a holiday cottage they called "The Shack" at Bingil Bay. It sat high on the hill with views as far as Dunk Island. The couple were keen spearfishers. The cottage did not have a telephone.