Crocodile in the Daintree Rainforest in Queensland, Australia

Ultimate Guide To The Daintree Rainforest

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The Daintree Rainforest is a playground of nature. This corner of Australia is so dense with life, it truely feels like walking through the actual Jurassic Park movies. Can you spot a living Dinosaur? With Snakes, Lizards, Crocodiles & Cassowaries calling this rainforest home, you're bound to get a close encounter. Watch your step, take in the fresh air and enjoy the fresh breeze on your face. This ancient landscape offers peace, adventure, connection and all sorts of soul-nurturing goodies. Please enjoy this park. Treat it with respect and it will show you a world you only thought possible in some far off mythical land. Welcome to The Daintree Rainforest...

The Daintree Rainforest Travel Guide

Ultimate Travel Guide To The Daintree Rainforest, Queensland, Australia

Where Is The Daintree Rainforest?

The Daintree Rainforest is situated on the coastline of Far North Queensland.
When visiting the National Park, you will want to stay in either the park itself, in Port Douglas, In Palm Cove or Cairns City.
Port Douglas > Daintree Rainforest - 1 hour & 12 minutes - 63km
Palm Cove > Daintree Rainforest - 1 hour & 40 minutes - 95km
Cairns City Centre > Daintree Rainforest - 2 hours - 119km

Secret Waterhole deep inside the Daintree Rainforest
Walu Wugirriga Lookout

How Do I Get To The Daintree Rainforest?

Fly into Cairns Airport. From here the Daintree is around 2 hours away.
Checkout the best deals on flights to and from Cairns - Compare airlines, dates and prices all in one place with Skyscanner

There is no public transport to or from the Daintree region.
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 from Monday to Friday, departing Port Douglas at 8:30am and leaving Cape Tribulation at 4:30pm.

Getting there is easy, but you'll then need to plan how to explore the 1200 square kilometre park. You can explore the park in 2 main ways - by hiring a car and doing it yourself OR going with a tour company.
We chose to explore it on our own. This meant no time restraints and we got to pick when and where we went within the park. Doing it this way means you may miss out on a lot of the information and added depth that a tour guide can provide. Stories, facts, and wonder all make a tour worth while.
It ultimately comes down to how much time you have to spend in the park and your budget.

The only fuel within the park is at Rainforest Village

Baby tree growing inside a big tree

Crossing The Daintree River via The Daintree Ferry

The only way to get into the park is by crossing the Daintree River. This is via one ferry at the south of the river on Cape Tribulation Rd. The Daintree Ferry operates 6am - Midnight daily. 
Travel outside of peak hours (11am-12:30pm and 3pm-6pm) to avoid waiting in the queue.

The cost per car is $24 return ($14 one way). If, however, you are staying for a while there is a Multi-day Pass for $48, allowing for 5 return trips. Eftpos is only available between 8am and 5.30pm - at other times it is cash only.
You do not need to pre-book, you simply pay at the booth, just before driving onto the ferry. Be sure to remember your return ticket, as you need to show this to the operators to get back.

Beach inside the Daintree Rainforest
Beware of Jellyfish and Crocodiles along the beaches of the Daintree Rainforest

Best Things To See & Do In The Daintree

Cape Tribulation Beach & Lookout - Not much to see apart from the beach, though do keep an eye out for Crocs and Stingers. Frequenting this area, it is not advised to swim in the pristine water.

Swimming Hole at Masons Cafe - Take a walk around the back of Masons Cafe, through a patch of regenerating forest and enter an oasis. Beautiful clear water running down from the mountains makes this spot clear, clean and free of Crocodiles!

Marrdja Boardwalk at Noah Beach - A fantastic boardwalk taking you through dense rainforest, muddy mangrove plains and along the beach and riverbanks.

Daintree Rainforest Discovery Centre - Get all the facts you need on this area in one spot! Checkout the conservation efforts and how important this ecosystem really is to the rest of Far North Queensland. 

Jindalba Boardwalk - Another great boardwalk through dense rainforest, with the occasional small creek and waterfall.

Walluwurrigga Alexandra Range Lookout Point - This lookout is only accessible by car (or tour). An incredible lookout atop the mountain looking all the way down to the ocean. It's amazing just how far you can see!

we saw Crocodiles and Snakes on the Solar Whisper River Cruise
Crocodiles and a White-Lipped Green Tree Frog spotted along the Daintree River

Chasing Crocodiles on The Daintree River

Before crossing over into the park, be sure to visit Solar Whisper Wildlife Cruises on the Daintree River for the best experience of being up close to our native creatures!
Solar Whisper Cruises offer a quiet, eco-friendly, sustainable, fact-filled tour of the Daintree River. This cruise is relaxing yet full of surprises! Keep a good look out for the resident Crocs - Can you spot any big ones?
We managed to see 4 big Crocodiles, 2 baby crocodiles, snakes, spiders, frogs and dozens of birds on our cruise. 
I highly recommend this company for its business ethics, and incredible value for money! They go the extra mile to ensure you are well educated, your camera is full of spectacular shots and that the environment is left just as untouched as when we left the dock. Martin, one of the operators is a total character! Be sure to get him to fill you in on all the hidden gems within the park itself. All the operators have a wealth of knowledge and are more than happy to answer any questions!
I praise them for the fantastic conservation efforts they provide for the areas ecosystems.

For more incredible things to do in the area, check out my Ultimate Guide To Cairns, Queensland, Australia.

Hollowed fig tree
Sitting by the pool in a resort in Port Douglas

Where To Stay In The Daintree

There is accommodation to suit every type of traveller in the Daintree! From budget camping, to glamping retreats, to luxurious Resorts... Take your pick!

Camping: You will need to be prepared to be staying in rough conditions. Being the wet tropics, extreme weather and flooding is a regular occurrence. Also beware of the wildlife - Snakes, Monitor Lizards, Spiders, Crocodiles and Cassowaries will become your neighbours. Check out your options and booking requirements on these websites: 
Queensland Government's Department of National Parks, Sports & Racing

Retreats: There are dozens of incredible lodges, retreats and general hotels within the park itself. 
Check out HotelsCombined for the best prices on all Daintree Accommodation

Luxury Resorts: For the most luxurious experience, stay in Port Douglas
We stayed at The Pullman Resort, while attending a wedding and it is incredible! Huge centre pool, another river pool circling the rooms, situated right next to the golf course and incredible dining! The rooms are huge, self-contained and most come with a car space for you to park your hired car. A great location to go exploring, then come back and relax by the pool with a Pina Colada.

Red Crab in the muddy plains of the Rainforest
Lunch at the Whet Cafe in the Daintree

Best Restaurants In The Daintree Rainforest

This region grows some of the best produce of Australia. Indulge in the local delights, going right to the source! Be sure to try some Daintree Tea, produced within the park itself. Supporting local growers and fuelling your rainforest adventures.

Big Barramundi BBQ Garden - This establishment has all the Aussie delights your stomach could desire! Indulge in the flavour-filled burgers, pies and ice cream. All locally sourced ingredients, this is a great way to start or end an adventurous day! My recommendation - The Barramundi Burger and a Black Sapote Ice Cream.

Whet Cafe - This small cafe is family owned and operated, only sourcing from local producers. They have a large range on their menu - from grilled meats, burgers, salads and curries! The building is tucked right into the rainforest. There's a small clearing just in front of the deck, where we watched birds dancing, spiders building webs and Lizards scurrying across. Just the week before we arrived, a Cassowary had walked right through it with her 2 chicks following behind! What an absolute treasure of a moment that would have been while eating lunch!

Floravilla Ice-cream FactoryThis was the best Ice-cream I have ever eaten! No doubt, nothing will ever beat it! The ice cream is organic, biodynamic and hand made on the premises by Betty Hinton. There are no preservatives, artificial colours, flavours or sweeteners in any of the products! All milk, yoghurt and fruits are sourced from local organic farmers. They also have dairy-free and sugar-free varieties. Head to Floravilla for an afternoon treat, supporting the local economy and ecosystem.

Walking along the board walks inside the Rainforest
Fresh water river inside the Daintree Rainforest

What To Pack For A Day Exploring The Daintree

This is thick rainforest. Be prepared to encounter wet weather and lots of walking. Rain jackets and umbrellas are a good idea, even if the forecast says it'll be a wonderfully sunny day.
Appropriate walking shoes should be worn, even with all the boardwalks. They can be slippery or covered in sticks, leaves and moss. Also keep an eye out for all the locals! With plenty of insects, snakes, lizards, marsupials, crocodiles and cassowaries around, your best to cover up your legs and feet to prevent any stings or bites.
Make sure you carry sunscreen and bug repellant in your bag! We needed to top up nearly every hour because the sun has a good kick to it and so do the mosquitoes! Don't feel safe in just doing it before leaving your hotel room.
Take plenty of water. The humidity can really take a toll, when walking around in the sun. We took 2 bottles in each bag and had a few in the car.
Take snacks to keep you fuelled up! You'll work up a good appetite from all the adventures through the trees. Take some healthy muesli bars or trail mix to give your body the right energy it needs! Try to avoid sugar, salt and caffeine. These may feel good at the time but it will dehydrate your body further and you'll feel worse off for it later.

Reading the information signs along the pathways
Red Palm Tree Fruit in the canopy

How To Protect The Daintree For Years To Come

Travel responsibly and consciously. Be sure to be aware of your surroundings and actions. We only have one Earth, we need to nurture it. Enjoy your trip, enjoy your day, enjoy the beauty that Australia has to offer. But be sure to thank it for allowing you to visit. 

Stick to the Boardwalks - The local council, government and independent organisations have put a lot of effort into ensuring your experience is comfortable and the environment is not harmed in the process. These boardwalks are there for your safety and enjoyment. Boardwalks provide 0 chance of walking through mud and tripping on a Croc - don't increase those chances.

Drive Safely - The drive along Cape Tribulation Rd can be wet, windy and dangerous! Drive slowly and be alert. There are people and wildlife constantly along the side of the road and sometimes in the middle of it. Be on the lookout for objects blocking your path, water on the road and speed humps.

Be Cass-O-Wary - Cassowaries are endangered birds that live exclusively in the rainforests of Far North Queensland. Their biggest threat - us. Being hit by cars and habitat destruction have played a huge role in the decline in numbers of these prehistoric animals. Look out for the roadside signs and warnings to slow down. Keep an eye out on all wanderings through the forest - if you spot one, keep your distance. They can and will attack people.

Always place rubbish in bins - or take it back to your hotel with you. Don't litter. It's very simple. I would hate to see a Kangaroo munching on your juice box.

Support eco-friendly, sustainable companies - Ask your tour operator or hotel if they are doing things to make sure their playground thrives while you explore it. Do they recycle? Do they source food locally? Do they have a donation program in place?

Donate your time or money to organisations - There's plenty of wonderful people out there, asking for nothing but help in maintaining our planet. Supporting organisations such as WWF, 4Ocean, Rainforest Rescue and Earthwatch are great way to start getting involved in promoting positive actions.


For more information on things to do around Cairns, Australia, check out my full list of comprehensive Cairns destination guides.


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