A day in the Daintree Rainforest

Unearth the 180-million-year-old secrets of the world’s oldest rainforest with an unforgettable day in the Daintree.

The unique magic of the Daintree Rainforest can be felt in every whisper of its ancient trees, the rush of its waterfalls and imposing beauty of its towering mountain ranges.

A UNESCO-protected site, the Daintree holds the key to 180 million years of history and is the world’s oldest rainforest. Teeming with life, its rich ecosystem is home to a diverse range of flora and fauna and thousands of species of birds and wildlife.

Spend a day amid its natural wonders, winding your way along the coastline between Cairns and Cape Tribulation, where the rainforest meets the reef – and the only place in the world where two UNESCO-listed sites sit side by side.

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Please note that due to current restrictions some operators may be temporarily closed. Call ahead for the most up-to-date information.

Take a scenic drive along Captain Cook Highway

Great Barrier Reef Drive

Hit the Captain Cook Highway (AKA the Great Barrier Reef Drive) and head north from Cairns towards the Daintree car ferry. It’s a spectacular drive along the coastline between Cairns and Cape Tribulation, with winding roads offering breathtaking views of palm-fringed beaches, hidden coves and rugged headlands.

It’s well worth stopping at Rex Lookout, Ellis Beach, Wangetti and Palm Cove to take in the scenery. The Daintree Ferry is the only way to cross the Daintree River and an adventure in itself, with a scenic 10-minute ride taking you towards the splendour of the rainforest.

Cruise with crocodiles

Before your drive aboard the ferry, take a crocodile cruise along the Daintree River. The zero-emission Solar Whisper cruise uses a quiet, clean-solar electric boat to introduce guests to the local wildlife without having any impact on it. Experienced guides know the nuances of the river and can help you spot crocodiles, native birds, snakes, frogs, crabs and fish amid the mangroves.

The boat is also fitted with a unique ‘croc cam’ to help show camouflaged animals – ensuring each cruise has an approximate 99% success rate of spotting crocs.

Make your way to the Daintree Discovery Centre

Daintree Discovery Centre

Soak up views of the river as you cross to the Daintree, where the award-winning Daintree Discovery Centre awaits. This world-class interpretive facility prides itself on education and environmental conservation. Take the self-guided audio tour along forest-floor boardwalks and head to the 23-metre-high Canopy Tower, offering five viewing platforms and an utterly unmissable view of the rainforest from its peak.

Our tip: stop at Mount Alexandra Lookout on your way from the ferry to the Discovery Centre for views over the prehistoric rainforest out to the sea.

Cool down at the Daintree Ice Cream Company

Daintree Ice Cream Company

A tropical climate calls for a cool treat from the award-winning Daintree Ice Cream Company. The ice cream here is made with tropical fruits from the owners’ farm and is served with a side of breathtaking rainforest and orchard views. The four flavours on offer change daily and could include wattleseed, Davidson plum and passionfruit.

We recommend the four-flavour cup, which gives you a taste of each available ice cream. Enjoy while strolling around the peaceful orchard, keeping an eye out for friendly wallabies.

Drive to Cape Tribulation for lunch

Cape Tribulation

Continue your journey to Cape Tribulation, stopping for lunch at the Turtle Rock Cafe. This laidback café showcases the beauty of Tropical North Queensland’s produce, from its Mareeba-grown coffee to smoothies made with local exotic fruit. Refuel with healthy sandwiches, wraps, muffins and more. From the café, it’s just a few minutes’ drive to beautiful Cape Tribulation Beach, where the rainforest meets the Great Barrier Reef.

Take a dip in the water here or venture 10 minutes north to Emmagen Creek, a safe swimming hole in the Daintree lowlands.

Explore Cape Tribulation on horseback

Horse riding Myall Beach Cape Tribulation

Discover the beauty of the reef and rainforest on horseback with Cape Trib Horse Rides. Feel like a true explorer as you spot local flora and fauna, weaving through the rainforest towards Myall Beach. Here, take in views of the Great Barrier Reef and walk your horse into the shallow waters of the ocean (clarity permitting) for a fantastic photo opportunity.

You don’t need any prior experience and each rider is paired with a horse suited to their ability.

Spot wildlife on the Dubuji Boardwalk

Dubuji Boardwalk

Make your way back into Cape Tribulation via the Dubuji Boardwalk. This approximately one-hour roundtrip consists of a 1.8-kilometre interpretive boardwalk through the forest and mangroves. Keep an eye out for small fish, crabs and cassowaries as you cross through the forest on a raised boardwalk through swamp-like terrain to Myall Beach.

This level, easy walk is perfect for all abilities and is accessible by wheelchair and with strollers.

Return via dinner in Palm Cove

Conclude your day of exploration in the Daintree with dinner in Palm Cove. This laidback coastal city is named after the palms that line its beach and was made for al fresco dining. Portofino is a local favourite, serving casual delicious bites overlooking the ocean. The pastas and woodfire pizzas bring a taste of Italy to Queensland, while the fish of the day makes the most of its local seafood.

A stroll along the beachfront is perfect for stretching your legs before the onward journey.

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