The UNESCO-listed Daintree Rainforest is believed to be one of the three oldest in the world! With unique plants and animals found nowhere else, this rainforest is a must-see when you are in tropical far north Queensland.
In today’s post, I will show you some of the best stops and activities that you should do when traveling to and when staying in the rainforest. From snorkeling at the Great Barrier Reef to amazing viewing points and incredible desolated beaches. I will also provide handy information about Daintree Rainforest.
ABOUT THE DAINTREE RAINFOREST
The Daintree Rainforest is exceptional in many ways, for example, it is one of the oldest continuous living tropical rainforests in the world, with it being over a hundred million years old. Incredible!
Added to the World Heritage List in 1988, this forest is home to the largest range of plant and animal species that are rare, or threatened, anywhere in the world.
Some of the incredible animals that you can encounter are the Cassowary, Crocodiles, snakes and lots of birds.
Where Is The Daintree Rainforest?
The Daintree rainforest (National Park) can be found in Far North Queensland, Australia. It is located about a 120-kilometer drive from Cairns. The closest touristy town is Port Douglas, located just under 70 kilometers from Daintree.
How Do I Get To The Daintree Rainforest?
From Cairns, there is a couple of ways you can head to the rainforest. The best, and probably easiest, way to get there is by Car, Motorhome, etc. The road up there is pretty smooth (No unpaved roads) and can easily be done on your own accord. Especially if you first take the Great Barrier Reef Drive from Cairns, a world heritage listed route! By traveling it on your own accord, you can stop and enjoy the scenery when you wish.
There is no public transport to or from the Daintree region, so that is unfortunately not an option.
There are some private bus companies that do run to and from the park:
Cape Trib Adventure Bus runs a direct service between Port Douglas and Cape Tribulation. It runs from Monday to Friday and departs Port Douglas at 8:30 am and leaves Cape Tribulation at 4:30 pm.
Another great option is by going on an organized day trip. A great option is the 1 Day Cape Tribulation & Daintree Tour with Mossman gorge.
If you are heading to Daintree with your own transportation, then you will have to use the ferry.
Crossing The Daintree River With The Daintree River Ferry
The river ferry has to be crossed if you wish to continue with your travel to Cape Tribulation Area. It is located right after the Daintree River Cruises, which you can’t miss do to a giant Crock head prop being used as their entrance.
The ferry operates between 6 am to midnight each day (Some public holidays excluded). After crossing the Daintree Ferry you travel through lowland and tropical rainforest passing road junctions for Cape Kimberley and Cow Bay.
PAYMENT AND PRICES
EFTPOS is available on the ferry between 8.30 am-5 pm seven days a week. At all other times, users of the ferry need to pay cash unless you have a concessional card.
The prices to travel on the ferry are as follows (As of 1st July 2018)
|Type of vehicle||One way||Return|
|Car (private use)||$ 16,00||$ 28,00|
|Buses (6-10 seats)||$ 17,00||$ 31,00|
|Buses (11-20 seats)||$ 30,00||$ 60,00|
|Passenger, bicycles & pedestrians||$ 1,00||$ 2,00|
|Motor Bikes||$ 6,00||$ 11,00|
Where To Stay In The Daintree
There is a surprising selection of accommodation available within the rainforest. From campsites to luxurious eco retreats they have it all! Underneath I will give you some options of places to stay.
There are quite a few campgrounds in Daintree! Don’t expect luxurious 5 stars decked out sites! But I have found that these sites still over everything that you need. Plus, when staying in the rainforest, what kind of luxurious do you expect?
|Name||Sort||Un-powered sites||Powered sites|
|Lync Haven Rainforest Retreat||Cabins and camping||From $ 14||From $ 32|
|Daintree Rainforest Village||Camping||1 person $17 per night
2 people $25 per night
Each Extra Person PLUS $8
|1 person $22 per night
2 people $30 per night
Each Extra Person PLUS $8
|Cape Trib Camping||campsite||From $17||From $ 22|
If you wish to go for a bit more luxury or you don’t have a caravan or motorhome, underneath some options for you.
COCKATOO HILL RETREAT
Cockatoo Hill Retreat is an eco-friendly paradise perched between Cape Tribulation and Port Douglas where four exclusive tree lodges are your private, temporary home above the rainforest. The rates as per November 2019 can be found underneath.
|Per Couple||Per Night|
|Single Occupancy||$300 per night|
Underneath you will find a handy 2-day itinerary to get the best out of your 2-day trip. For this itinerary, I assume that you stayed at Cairn the night before and have a car ready to go the day prior. This way you are not losing any time by having to wait for your vehicle.
DAY 1 | GREAT BARRIER REEF DRIVE + CROCODILES AND VIEWS
DAY 1 08.00 – 14.00 – THE GREAT BARRIER REEF DRIVE
Between Cairns and Daintree lies on of the prettiest (and Heritage listed) stretched of road, the Great Barrier Reef Drive.
The Great Barrier Drive cradles up to the Coral Sea and offers the first spectacular view of palm-fringed beaches. The drive itself is not long, but there are several incredible beaches you can stop at, take photos of and enjoy the sunshine.
Make sure to stop at Rock Stacking beach. I am not sure what it’s official name it, but it is pretty much impossible to miss along the Captain John Cook Highway. It truly is a standout spot to stop. Rocks stacked on each other, its fun to look at and do your own stack.
Another place you must stop is Rex Lookout. It offers some awesome views looking out over Wangetti Beach to the south, and the Coral Sea in front of you. Hang gliders often hover over this area, try it for a thrill and even better views. Unfortunately, we were not able to stop there during our trip. First, the parking was too full for our large campervan, and on our way back it was raining and super misty.
DAY 1 | 14.00 DAINTREE RIVER CRUISE
A great stop on your way to the Daintree rainforest is at the Daintree River Cruise! They offer one-hour cruises on the Daintree River. The river is home to crocodiles, lots of birds, snakes and incredible mangroves (featured in David Attenborough documentaries) I found the cruise incredible, even though we didn’t get to see any crocodiles.
For more information on this 1-hour cruise, you can check out my Daintree River Cruise blog.
At 15.15 head to the ferry crossing and officially make it into the rainforests after crossing.
DAY 1 | 15.45 MOUNT ALEXANDRA LOOKOUT | Walu Wugirriga Lookout
At less then 10 kilometers from the ferry crossing you will find the Mount Alexandra Lookout.
Situated at the top of the hill after leaving the ferry with turn off to its own car park. A short free stop-off to enjoy distant rainforest, river and sea views with Port Douglas prominently in mid-distance. On a clear day, you can even see Low Isles and as far as Cairns. So beautiful and you can stay as long as you like there, but it will probably be a maximum of 15 minutes.
DAY 1: 16.00 Thornton beach
This is another stunning, beautiful beach where the forest meets the ocean. It goes on for miles and offers a lovely post to just chill, kick-back and enjoy everything Australia has to offer. Just remember – NO SWIMMING – and keep an eye out for crocs.
DAY 2 | HEAD TO YOUR ACCOMMODATION + SUNSET
After a long day of wandering and traveling head to your accommodation. I stayed at the Cape Tribulation Campground. In the evening I enjoyed a beautiful sunset at the beach located next to the campgrounds. Honestly, it was one of the most unique sunsets I have ever seen! The sky was pretty much purple…
The reason why I cut this day short, is because in the morning there is a tour to the great barrier reef book, and its an early start. So you can make it as late as you want, just keep in mind that you have to get up early to swim at the reef!
DAY 2 | 6 am – 2 pm | SNORKEL SAFARI
If you have always wanted to see the reef, but only want to go half a day then this might be the tour for you. Because of the location of the reef ( only a 20-minute boat trip) you can easily see it with a half a day tour.
During the half-day tour, you will to two different reef sites (Mackay and Undine Reefs). In total, you swim for about 2 hours and you have the opportunity to see turtles, stingrays, lots of parrotfish and much more. The tour includes all snorkeling equipment and personalized snorkel instructions.
I have written a stand-alone post about this experience as well. Due to some very rough conditions, this tour was quite a spectacle for us.
DAY 2 | Things To See & Do
Depending on our energy levels are an intense morning I have written down just a couple of cool options that you can do in the afternoon.
- Check out the Swimming Hole @ Masons Cafe – Besides having some pretty taste burgers (From Camel to Standard Aussie beef) you should take a short walk around the back of the Cafe, through a patch of regenerating forest and check out their swimming hole. Beautiful clear cold water running down from the mountains into a swimming hole below. It makes this spot perfect to cool off on a hot sunny day as there are no Crocodiles or stingers!
- Daintree Rainforest Discovery Centre – collect lost of incredible information on the Daintree rainforest and all its inhabitants.
- Marrdja Boardwalk at Noah Beach – This boardwalk will take you through the dense rainforest, some muddy mangrove plains and along the beach and riverbanks. It is only 1.2 kilometers long and will take about 45 minutes to complete.
- Jindalba Boardwalk – Another great boardwalk through dense rainforest. You will pass the creek her and there and you will also go past a waterfall. This walk is only 0.70km and takes less than 20 minutes to complete.
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