Daintree Rainforest: 13 awesome things to do from Cairns to Cape Tribulation
Welcome and thank you for visiting this article. Before you start reading, you need to know that some of the links on my website are affiliate links from which I receive a small commission from the sale of certain items, but the price remains the same for you.
David Attenborough describes the Daintree Rainforest National Park in North Queensland as the world’s most unique national park. Apart from being one of the world’s oldest rainforests, it is also the meeting point of two Unesco World Heritage Sites, the Daintree Rainforest National Park, and the Great Barrier Reef.
With breathtaking viewpoints, extraordinary wildlife, and epic sunsets a visit to this national park in North Queensland should definitely not be missed.
Since the Daintree National Park is divided into 2 areas I decided to stay one night on the way before the river at Ellis Beach and one night at Cape Tribulation across the river.
In this article, I will share 13 fantastic things to do along the way and in the national park as well as useful tips, how to get there, and beautiful photos from my trip to inspire you.
READ ALSO: Cairns to Brisbane: the perfect East Coast road trip in Australia
Daintree rainforest map
You will find a map of the Daintree region below, which includes all of the locations within the region that are recommended stops during your time there. This will make it much simpler for you to organize your trip.
How to get to The Daintree Rainforest?
The easiest way to get there is by car or campervan, which takes up to one and a half-hour and if you don’t have a vehicle yourself and want to travel from Cairns to Cape Tribulation, it’s best to rent one as there is no public transportation available to get there.
The National Park can also be explored by booking a spot on a guided Daintree tour, either privately or with a group.
A visit to the national park is free, excluding the tours and activities you take part in. However, the Daintree ferry cost AU$39 for a return ticket per vehicle, so make sure you save your ticket.
RENT A CAR: Renting a car with DiscoverCars is a good option to explore the Daintree or check out the renowned camper vans of Jucy Rentals
Camping in the Daintree Rainforest?
Camping in the Daintree Rainforest is a unique experience as at night the rainforest really comes to life. You can hear all the insects chirping and making noises or you can still enjoy campfire stories under a starry sky.
I stayed one night at Ellis Beach Caravan Park on the way from Cairns to Cape Tribulation and it was one of the nicest campsites during my whole journey around Australia.
With awesome pizzas and beach access from my campsite, The Cape Tribulation Camping was an excellent choice to spend the second night in the national park
However, if you want a bit more luxury you can make your visit to the Daintree Rainforest even more memorable and stay in a wilderness lodge, a jungle cabin, or a tropical resort in Port Douglas
READ ALSO: 4WD on Fraser Island: The perfect adventure in 3 days
From Cairns to Cape Tribulation
Visit the Charming town of Kuranda
Kuranda is worth visiting because of the stunning views that can be seen from the top of the Skyrail Rainforest Cableway or from the Kuranda Scenic Railway, which travels from the picturesque village through breathtaking valleys and dense forests.
Due to the bad weather, I was unable to personally experience it, but friends and locals both advised me to do so.
BOOK: Enjoy spectacular views aboard the historic Kuranda Scenic Railway during a guided tour
Admire the sunrise or sunset from Palm Cove Beach
Palm Cove is a coastal village that is known for its abundance of palm trees on the beach, but it also has a very pleasant atmosphere obviously, making it an ideal place to completely unwind and relax.
Because it is free to use the barbecues in the park that is right next to the beach, this location is perfect for having a picnic or taking some stunning Instagram photos during the sunrise or sunset.
Stay a night on the Ellis Beach Camping
If you intend to travel at a more leisurely pace from Cairns to Daintree National Park, Ellis Beach Caravan Park is without a doubt one of the best choices for camping along the way.
You can literally stand right in front of the beach with your campervan or 4×4 vehicle, or you can stand in the shade under the palm trees but you also have the best views with sunrise and sunset.
You’ll not regret your stay here.
BOOK: Book your stay at Ellis Beach Caravan Park in advance and wake up in front of the beach at sunrise
Take the scenic Great Barrier Reef Drive
The Great Barrier Reef Drive is a coastal route that stretches all the way from Cairns to Cape Tribulation and connects two World Heritage Sites. It is known for its breathtaking scenery and abundance of tourist attractions such as the McAllister Lookout, the Rex Lookout, and countless beaches.
With the dense green forest on the hills on one side, the marvelous azure ocean on the other side, and many viewpoints along the way, it’s without a doubt one of the most breathtaking routes that can be traveled in Australia.
READ ALSO: The Big Lap: the ultimate road trip around Australia in 2 years
Admire the views from the Rex Lookout
If you decide to drive along the Great Barrier Reef drive from Cairns to Cape Tribulation, you should definitely make a stop at the Rex Lookout because it has one of the best views along the entire journey.
The landscape creates a very nice contrast that is definitely worth a photo with its rough mountain tops, white beaches, rocky cliffs, and green palm trees.
The best time to visit this location is just before sunrise, but during the day you might spot some paragliders in the sky.
Ride through the Thala Beach Nature Reserve Palmtree lane
The stunning palm tree field is on a peaceful road that’s actually the driveway to the exclusive five-star Thala Beach Nature Reserve resort which is a true tropical paradise, home to more than 500 coconut palm trees. You can even join a guided tour to learn more about coconuts.
As you enter the driveway, you’ll see the hundreds of palm trees here making it look like a postcard where you can go for a walk or make some Instagram-worthy photos, just keep an eye out for falling coconuts and snakes hiding in the long grass.
Since this is a private domain and it is still allowed to visit the palm trees and the area, it is wise and best to respect the environment, take your rubbish with you, and not damage any trees.
Hear the sound of nature on the Mossman Gorge Walk
Before you cross the Daintree river to enter the northern part of the Daintree National Park, you will pass the town of Mossman, where you will find the Mossman Gorge Center.
This a great place to unwind along the walking trails, take in the sounds of the surrounding rainforest or have a refreshing swim in the many rock pools of the river
There are two walking trails to choose from, a short single walk, which is recommended if you don’t have much time, or either the popular and extended circuit loop walk.
The Mossman Gorge Walk or Circuit Loop, which includes crossing the suspension bridge and venturing further into the rainforest, is an excellent choice and takes about one hour to complete while the short walk is just 400m or 10 min. walk.
BOOK: Walk through the beautiful nature during a guided tour and learn more about the forest.
Discover secret waterfalls in Mossman Gorge
You will also be able to discover a hidden waterfall within Mossman Gorge, known as the Fairy Falls. I was able to find with a friend of mine, a secret pathway that winds through the forest.
Even though there is nothing really marked, it is obvious that you are on a path that is poorly maintained and that it runs alongside a river. After a walk of ten minutes, you’ll finally hear the faint sound of a waterfall that is tucked away behind a rocky outcrop.
To reach the rockpool and the actual waterfall, you have to climb over some rocks.
READ ALSO: 9 Amazing Waterfalls In The Great Otway National Park
Spot wildlife during a Daintree Crocodile Tour
After a visit to the Mossman Gorge and a short drive, you’ll arrive at the ferry to cross the Daintree River. During peak times there might be a long line as it is a first-come-first-serve base to enter on the ferry. In case you have to wait for a while you might opt to join a Daintree Crocodile Tour as they depart near the ferry crossing dock.
Although I was able to board the ferry right away, I joined a croc tour on the river on my way back from Cape Tribulation to Cairns.
There are a few companies along the river where you can jump in a boat, but I chose Solar Whisper Wildlife and Crocodile Cruises because it is the most environmentally friendly company.
The boats are solar-powered and make almost no noise so that the animals are not disturbed in their natural environment.
A wonderful excursion that is without a doubt one of the most memorable things that you can do in the National Park.
BOOK: Join a Daintree Crocodile Cour and reserve you spot in advance
Take in the breathtaking scenery from the Alexandra lookout.
The Alexandra Lookout is the first place in this region after crossing the river with the ferry that you should obviously consider visiting because it’s one of the most magnificent panoramic views in the National Park.
On the edge of the lookout point, you can spot iconic tropical landmarks in the distance like Port Douglas, the Great Barrier Reef, and the canopy of beautiful green tropical forests.
I simply had to pull over once at the Alexandra Lookout on the way back because it was just so breathtaking.
TIP: Be cautious as you enter the parking lot, as it is located on a blind bend, and it’s hard to see the oncoming traffic.
Have the best ice cream in Australia
At about halfway through your journey in the Rainforest, it is time to reward yourself with some of the finest ice creams that Australia has to offer. The Daintree Ice Company is located here, and they produce ice cream using the fruits that are grown on their own plantation.
You can observe wallabies and explore the orchard where the various kinds of fruit are growing while you are enjoying an ice cream cone at the same time.
Truly a unique and tasty way to spend your afternoon.
Walk through the dense Jungle at the Madja Boardwalk
After all the long drive and just before you reach the Cape Tribulation Camping, you can stretch your legs with a quick walk along the 1.5km Madja Boardwalk.
During this 30 minutes walk, you can witness some of the most unique and stunning ecosystems on our planet with tropical mangroves, dense ferns, and towering trees.
Even though there is a possibility of seeing cassowaries and other types of wildlife in this area, the enormous leaves of the ferns and the climbing plants that were growing on the tree trunks are the most impressive aspects of this place.
TIP: Only a few cars can park in the parking lot so make sure you slow down in advance or when the parking area is full to come back another moment.
ALTERNATIVE OPTION: If you want to explore more of these fascinating boardwalks you can also visit the Jindalba Boardwalk
Spend the night under the stars at Camping Cape Tribulation
The end destination of this trip was the moment when I arrived at Camping Cape Tribulation, which is situated at the end of the picturesque beach of Cape Tribulation.
Sitting around the smoky campfires, eating oven-baked pizza for about AU$16, and wandering through the palm trees to access the Cape Tribulation’s unspoiled beach are just a few reasons why the campground is the best place to stay.
Even though it was cloudy during my stay, I flew my drone to take some epic photos of Cape Tribulation Beach and the rainforest from another perspective.
BOOK: Visit Cape Tribulation on a day tour if you have limited time in Tropical North Queensland
If you find yourself in Queensland, Australia, you simply must check out the world’s most incredible rainforest.
However, I was only able to stay here for two days, but in order to get the most out of the stunning scenery, the enlightening walks, and the opportunity to observe the local wildlife, it is best to stay for a few days longer.
We hope that you find the information in this article helpful in preparing for your trip so that you can enjoy even more breathtaking moments.
Save these pins for later
Read more articles about Australia
Plan the best things to do in Daintree National Park, with my favorite travel apps
To plan my adventures, I use these FREE websites and apps as they provide the best information, the best deals, and they are user-friendly.
- Trip – Flight deals
- Booking.com – Hotels and accommodation
- TourRadar – Group trips
- TripAdvisor – Reviews and activities
- HostelWorld – Hostels
- GetYourGuide – Activities and excursions
- RentalCars – Car rental
- Omio – Transport
- iVisa – Travel documents
- Wise – Money transfer
- InsuredNomads – Travel Insurance
PICTURES AND EDITING
All the pictures on this page are made and owned by me. If you are interested in some pictures to use for your magazine, website, blog, or any other purpose, just send me an email and we’ll figure it out.
Do you like the edits? My Presets will be online soon so you can edit your pictures in just one click!
The camera gear I used for this trip
I never go out without my camera and many people ask me which gear I use. So to make it quite easy, I listed all the gear I used for this trip below.
Most of the time, I travel with the Sony A7III and the Sony 24-105mm/f4 as my primary lens but depending on the location, I change to another setup. However, I love the Tamron 17-28 to shoot in the big cities.