Cape Tribulation is a spectacular destination embedded between the Daintree Rainforest on one side and the Great Barrier Reef on the other. There’s a handful of accommodations in the area, for those who plan to spend some days in this tropical getaway. However, despite being located in a remote area far from urban centers, it is also reachable on a day trip via a three-hour-ride from Cairns. So here’s the best sights and activities on the way to Cape Tribulation and how to make the most of your time.
GREAT BARRIER REEF DRIVE
The 140-km-stretch connecting Cairns to Cape Tribulation will leave you breathless the more you go North. After leaving Cairns CBD, you’ll witness the landscape becoming more untouched after every kilometer: the hotels and beach resorts of Palm Cove and Port Douglas, will leave space to deserted sand strips, and at one point you’ll have to hop on a ferry to cross the Daintree River and be dropped on the other side in the heart of the Wet Tropics. While travelling on the Great Barrier Reef Drive, your eyes will sparkle when meeting the bright green of the Rainforest, the blue waters of the Coral Sea, and the golden pristine beaches. Take your time on the way and do as many stops as you wish!
TIP: The Daintree Ferry operates daily between 6am and midnight, fees are 16$ one way and 28$ return for a car. More info here.
A suitable spot to pull over is Port Douglas: at Wildlife Habitat Port Douglas you can have a taste of Australian fauna if you haven’t had the chance before, encountering kangaroos, koalas and cassowaries. Head to Four Mile Beach to see what Port Douglas is famous for.
TIP: warning signs like the ones below are posted pretty much everywhere along the road, rivers, and the ocean when it comes to crocodiles and stingers danger. They are fun but please be careful and respectful!
If Port Douglas is the fancy place, Mossman is more the authentic area. The crystal clear waters of Mossman Gorge are not to be missed, as well as the aboriginal village of the Kuku Yalanji people which is found on the way to the gorge, a very interesting insight on Indigenous heritage. Mossman Gorge features beautiful boardwalks and paths through the rainforest, leading to secluded waterfalls and natural pools.
As mentioned earlier, the ferry crossing is mandatory as there are no bridges on Daintree River. Nothing to worry about, in just five minutes you’ll be on the other bank, and maybe you’ll had the chance to spot a croc right from the craft! For a unique experience, join a Crocodile Express Daintree River cruise: elusive saltwater crocodiles can be seen in their habitat while sunning or sneaking through the mangroves.
TIP: you can taste the most delicious tropical fruit ice cream at Daintree Ice Cream Company, nestled amidst the rainforest some 15km north of the Daintree Ferry.
Past the river you’ll find yourself officially in the Daintree Rainforest. The forest canopy becomes thicker, you’ll most likely keep your head up all the time to appreciate the unique tree formations.
At Alexandra Lookout you can appreciate all the beauty surrounding you, whilst those who are fond of geographical history can head to Daintree Discovery Centre. As the road gets closer to the sea, the number of forest boardwalks matches the secluded beaches at the end of each of them.
Once you finally make it to Cape Trib, the opportunities possibly multiply: a few eco friendly accommodations as well as guesthouses and beach camping sites will give you the chance to spend a couple of nights far from everything. During the day the Great Barrier Reef is at your doorstep, where you can do snorkeling, paddling, diving and swimming with sea turtles. Inland, ziplines over the canopy will give you a boost of adrenaline, plus you can go a bit more northbound all the way to Cooktown by renting a 4-Wheeled-Drive or joining a tour along the famous Bloomfield Track, an Australian classic adventurous dirt road.
TIP: The remoteness of this area means no phone reception and no shops: stock up on basic supplies, forget about your devices, and enjoy the gorgeous Cape Tribulation Beach!
HOTELS – WHERE TO STAY AROUND?
- You can book all accommodation in Australia with free cancellation here.
- Pacific Hotel Cairns: excellent value at this 4-star-hotel located at walking distance from the Esplanade. Modern sea view rooms, great breakfast and dining options too. Read our full review post here.
- Janna Rooms on Airbnb, Cairns: this has been our first home in Australia for a few weeks. A nice Queenslander house, ideal for longer stays. The owners are a lovely couple of young Australians, say hi to them if you go! Check deals here, up to 55$ off.
- Safari Lodge Cape Tribulation: provides both private and shared rooms, a swimming pool, located on the main road just a 10 minutes walk from pristine Cape Tribulation Beach. More Cape Tribulation options here.
- Port Douglas: hundreds of accommodation are available in Port Douglas, from backpackers hostel to high end beach resorts. We suggest Ramada Resort by Wyndham for a great value for money at walking distance from Four Mile Beach.
HOW TO GET AROUND?
- Car: rent your private car to be free to create your schedule and reach any place in Tropical North Queensland. The cheapest options start from 19€/day, and fuel in Australia in only 1€ per litre! (1.50AUD)
- Tours/Private bus: you’ll be impressed by how well organised tour operators are up here. In one day only you can see the beach, the ocean, the rainforest and the outback all together. Prices may seem expensive at first, but considering they include meals, transfers and entry tickets to parks and reserves, which are not cheap, they are really worth the money if you don’t drive a car yourself. We recommend Tropic Wings Tours and Jungle Tours and Trekking for Cape Tribulation excursions.
- Airplane: Cairns is well linked to all Australian destinations, plus it is only 1h30 flight away from Bali, Indonesia. We actually touched ground in Australia our first time landing in Cairns flying direct from Denpasar Bali.
DO I NEED A TRAVEL INSURANCE?
Yes you do. Never leave home without a reliable travel insurance. Even if you trust yourself, you can’t always trust others. Better safe than sorry! Get your quote here.