Daintree Daytrip: Tips for a Self Driving Tour From Cairns

daintree daytrip
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Exploring the Daintree Rainforest, the world’s oldest continuously surviving rainforest, is on most people’s list of ‘must-do’s when they visit Far North Queensland, and its easily done as a self driving tour day trip from Cairns. 

The Daintree lies about 140kms to the north of Cairns along a road that hugs the coast to Port Douglas before winding through sugarcane fields, past lush rainforested hills and deserted beaches until it finally comes to a stop at the Daintree River.

daintreelizardAfter crossing over the river on the ferry, the road continues through rainforest and past small settlements all the way to Cape Tribulation. Beyond this point the road is unsealed and only recommended for 4WD’s along the Bloomfield Track to Cooktown.

It’s a beautiful drive to the Daintree through diverse tropical landscapes but as with most places in Australia, its important to plan some stops along the way otherwise you’ll just drive through a lot of scenery without actually getting to experience all that the area has to offer.

These are some things we would recommend including on your itinerary: 


The rainforest is the major attraction in this area but you can’t fully appreciate it from inside a vehicle.

capetribboardwalkFor this reason it’s worth stopping at the Daintree Discovery Centre where you can walk around the forest on elevated boardwalks and listen in to guided talks.

The boardwalks enable you to view the forest from the ground all the way up to the canopy. In fact, the highest observation tower allows you to see right over the top.

The good thing about going there is that it has a self guided tour so you can also learn about this amazing and unique ecosystem.

If you’ve got time, another good option for seeing the rainforest from lots of different angles is to have a go at jungle surfing in Cape Trib where you can zipline your way through the trees.

There are also some good self-guided boardwalks. Dubuji Boardwalk is a beautiful 1.8 km walk through rainforest and mangroves that is accessed from Myall Beach as well as a path near the kid’s playground next to PKs Village.

Alternatively, the Maardja Botanical Walk is about 10 minutes south of Cape Trib.


croc6The Daintree is prime crocodile country and one of the best ways to spot them in the wild is on a river cruise.

There are a couple of operators offering croc spotting cruises:

If you’ve got kids with you, there is also the option of popping into the Daintree Zoo or if you like insects check out the Bug (Entomological) Museum.

beaches & swim holes

cow bay beach daintreeThere are some beautiful beaches in the Daintree so make sure you have some beach time on your agenda, even if it’s only for 15-20 minutes of beachcombing.

Since this is croc-country you do need to take care near river mouths and estuaries and as locals, we wouldn’t risk swimming in the ocean here.

If you’re visiting on a hot day you should head to a freshwater swimhole instead. The best known one in this area is Mason’s Creek just behind Mason’s store in Cape Trib.


daintree ice creamYou should definitely plan on stopping for ice cream at some point during your journey in the Daintree.

There are a couple of places that make locally made ice cream from some of the strange and unusual rainforest fruits grown in the area.

If you get the opportunity to try Black Sapote ice cream definitely give it a go because it actually tastes like chocolate. Its amazing.

other places along the way

If you’re travelling from Cairns there are a few other places you can stop before you get to the Daintree ferry. These include:

Travel NQ fast facts:

  • It takes approx. 3 hours to drive from Cairns all the way to Cape Tribulation
  • The road is only sealed as far as Cape Tribulation, beyond this there is 32kms of unsealed road on the Bloomfield Track
  • There is only one fuel station on the north side of the ferry, which is halfway along to Cape Trib
  • There are quite a few good Daintree accommodation options if you choose to stay, including some at the top in Cape Trib.
  • Take insect repellent (for mozzies), a towel (for swimming), cash (eftpos is not available everywhere), camera and an umbrella (in case of rain)
  • Be croc-wise


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