Guide to the Daintree Rainforest

Cape Tribulation, Queensland 4873

Situated in the tropics of Far North Queensland, the Daintree Rainforest is the perfect place for a tropical Australian getaway.

Guide to the Daintree RainforestCredit: Tourism Australia

Just a two-hour drive from Cairns, the Daintree Rainforest offers the vibrancy of a tropical rainforest and the secluded oasis of untouched beaches. With so many fantastic experiences to make your trip memorable it can be hard to decide what to do first!

Daintree National Park

With an incredibly diverse landscape and ecosystems, the Daintree National Park is lush and alive with native Australian flora and fauna. Be engulfed by the welcoming ferns and loose yourself in long winding trails past ancient trees and stunning waterfalls. Covering over 1,200 square kilometres there is plenty of space to explore and its protection as a UNESCO World Heritage site means this 110-million-year-old rainforest will be around for many more years to come.

One of the most distinguishable features of this tropical rainforest compared to those elsewhere in Australia, and the world, is its incredible biodiversity, with large concentrations of plant and animal species found here and nowhere else in the world. It is suspected that many of these species originate from the super-continent Gondwana that used to cover much of the southern hemisphere. When the continent split, the Daintree drifted away to what is now Far North Queensland and brought with it many species of flora and fauna. In fact, many of the species found here are so ancient that they were thought to be extinct before they were rediscovered deep in the forest!

The area got its name from the Daintree River, which weaves its way along the forest floor. The river was named after a friend of colonist and explorer George Elphinstone Dalrymple.

Within the forest there are over 430 bird species, ranging from the small wompoo fruit-dove to the ferocious cassowary, a large muscular bird known for being the most dangerous bird in the world. Along the forest floor and in lower branches in the forest canopy you may spot tree-kangaroo, ringtail possum, and bandicoot. You may even spot the unique echidna or a platypus playing in waterways. In addition to these cuties the forest is home to over 30 types of reptile and amphibians, and hundreds of insect species. With such an abundance of wildlife you can guarantee you’ll see some local critters on your visit.

Cape Tribulation

Step out of the rainforest and onto the beach. This unique experience is unique to this part of Australia. Wander down a seemingly endless stretch of sand, admiring the natural beauty that has been washed ashore by the sea. Paddle yourself to a nearby island or jump aboard a speed boat to snorkel in the famous Great Barrier Reef.

Leave the sea and explore the rainforest for natural pools. Enjoy the cool water lapping at your ankles or sit back and relax as you listen to the forest life around you. With plenty of marked bushwalks and boardwalks for you to follow you can safely explore the rainforest without fear of getting lost. Discover the hidden wonders of this area, ducking under trees and weaving alongside trickling water. After exploring in the daylight, head back for a night tour and go spotlighting for nocturnal animals and unbelievable insects!

Jump onboard a river cruise down the Daintree River and spot local marine life. Your knowledgeable guides will teach you about the region and point out local animals for you, you may even be lucky enough to spot some crocs! Out of the river and into the sea, join an Ocean Safari for a day filled with tropical fish, colourful corals and underwater adventures.

  • Daintree River Cruises

    Daintree River Cruise

    The only eco-accredited river cruise in the Daintree, you can be assured that your trip down the river is not having a negative impact on your divine surrounds. Your expert guide will tell you about the surrounding scenery and native animals you may encounter. They’ll work to spot elusive crocodiles, snakes and goanna as you travel through one of the world’s most densely populated estuaries. During the day you can often find crocs basking in the sun on the river shores, keep an eye out for them lazing amongst the mangroves and near fallen trees or branches. The River Cruise has been eco-accredited since 2000 and is dedicated to preserving this area through public engagement and education.

  • Marrdja Boardwalk

    Marrdja Boardwalk

    Meaning ‘forest’ in the local Indigenous language, the Marrdja Boardwalk weaves you through the Daintree, showcasing the very best landscapes the region has on offer. The looped walk begins at Olives Creek, just 10 minutes from Cape Tribulation, and is entirely wheelchair accessible. Though the trail may be on the smaller side, it will take you on a journey back through 350 million years of history. Interpretative signs teach you about the rainforest and its role in preserving ancient species. The Noah Creek lookout provides a fantastic photo opportunity, and you might even be able to spot crocs below!

Mossman Gorge

Mossman Gorge

One of the most famous areas of Daintree is Mossman Gorge. Well signposted and easily accessible from main roads, Mossman Gorge is the perfect place to begin journeying through this beautiful rainforest.

Start your visit at the Mossman Gorge Centre, here you will learn about the Indigenous history of the area and see traditional Aboriginal artworks. After an educational morning, make your way under the peaceful canopy, heading down into the gorge. As you descend, you’ll be welcomed by the sound of flowing water, dancing across large granite boulders that have settled in the shallow gorge waters. Here you can take a refreshing dip into the crystal-clear water, splashing around in this natural pool. After having a swim, venture along one of the many walking trails. Many of the trails will lead you past even more beautiful pools to swim in.

You can choose to self-guide a bushwalk or join a guided tour, hosted by traditional owners. A member of the Kuku Yalanji people, your guide will teach you about Aboriginal culture and traditions, as well as connection to the land. You’ll have the chance to explore the dense forest before watching a traditional dance performance.

Pack yourself a picnic and enjoy a delicious meal amongst the rich landscape of the Daintree. Admire the natural beauty surrounding you and enjoy a lunch filled with local produce from nearby towns.

  • Indigenous Culture

    The Daintree Rainforest has a rich Indigenous history and is home to the Kuku Yalanji people. One of the oldest living cultures on Earth, Kuku Yalanji have lived within the Daintree Rainforest for over 50,000 years. They are the traditional owners of land spanning as far as Port Douglas, however traditionally most of the population lived near Mossman Gorge. The Kuku Yalanji have a special connection to nature and it forms an important part of their belief and cultural systems. They have been sharing their stories and culture with non-Indigenous people since the 1990s and have worked to set up the Mossman Gorge Centre. Visit the centre or join an Indigenous Culture tour to learn about their dreaming stories, traditions, and the ways in which they have sustained the land for thousands of years.

Stunning beaches

Some of Australia’s most beautiful beaches can be found around the Daintree Rainforest area. Small populations, caring locals and dedication to the area’s protection has seen these beaches well preserved for visitors to enjoy.

  • Port Douglas

    Port Douglas

    Perhaps one of the most famous towns lining the edges of the Daintree Rainforest is Port Douglas. The quaint seaside town is the perfect gateway to the Daintree with plenty of beaches for you to enjoy. Relax on the sand and bathe in glittering sun rays or jump onboard a snorkelling tour to discover the enticing world below the ocean’s surface. Let golden sand tickle your feet as you wander down the iconic Four Mile Beach. Explore rock pools for little crabs and starfish, or warm yourself up by lying on the smooth wide rocks faces. Port Douglas is home to many fantastic beaches for you to enjoy.

  • Trinity Bay

    Trinity Bay, Queensland

    The Daintree Rainforest is unique in the way it opens itself up to gently slope into the ocean. Trinity Bay is one of the miraculous beaches formed as a result of the connection of the forest with the sea. Pristine white sands and shimmering blue waters make for incredible views. Take a dip into the water and enjoy the shallow waters typical of this area. Cairns seaport operates from the southern end of the bay, sit down of a morning to see the fishermen and ferries making their way out towards the Great Barrier Reef from this lovely area.

  • Coral Bay

    Coral Bay Beach

    Tucked into the canopy of the Daintree Rainforest, the turquoise waters of Coral Bay provide a bright contrast to the deep greens of the forest surrounding it. The bay marks the edge of the Coral Sea, where the Great Barrier Reef is located. The lush rainforest extends right to the water’s edge, creating a phenomenal sight of wilderness and paradise. Splash in the shallows for a quick cool down or head out for a snorkel to enjoy the underwater world. Coral Bay is a great place to relax after enjoying a hike in the rainforest surrounding you.

Views for days!

Stunning beaches and rainforests dripping with lush greenery is amazing from within, but what about from above? Head to one of these fantastic lookouts to enjoy the never-ending horizon in front of you. If you didn’t know better, you’d think you’d found the edge of the Earth.

  • Mount Alexandra Lookout

    Mount Alexandra Lookout

    Just ten minutes from the Daintree River, the Mount Alexandra Lookout, or Walu Wugirriga, is the perfect place to look over the forest canopy. Gawp at jaw-dropping views out over the Daintree, seeing as far as its connections to the ocean. Spot local towns like Port Douglas from the lookout and play a game of I spy. Try to spot Shipwreck Bay, Snapper Island, Cape Kimberly and Black Rock. Interpretation at the lookout will teach you about the local Indigenous history of the area and the culture of its traditional owners the Kuku Yalanji people. While visiting keep an eye out for vibrant butterfly species that frequent the area. You might even be lucky enough to see flocks of migrating birds filling the sky.

  • The Rex Lookout

    Rex Lookout

    Get ready for the Instagram moment of your trip. Okay, everything in the Daintree is highly picturesque, but the view from the Rex Lookout is truly spectacular. See the meeting points of the coast, rainforest and mountains and watch as daredevil hang gliders jump from the cliff face. Stop here for a picnic and make your way to the Wangetti Beach below the lookout to stretch your legs before jumping back in the car. The Rex Lookout was named after Raymond Rex, who dedicated 45 years of his life to the region and was a pioneer in the building of the highway connecting Cairns and Port Douglas. The lookout is a popular tourist stop off point and a reminder of one man’s dedication to this special part of the world.

Local Food

Local produce is incredibly important to the Daintree area, and with its unique tropical climate you’ll be surprised with the range of produce grown and made in the area!

  • Daintree Ice Cream Co.

    With a rotating menu, Daintree Ice Cream Co aims to open the minds and mouths of their customers. Serving only 4 flavours at a time, you can only order a signature cup, where you’ll be given four scoops of seasonal tropical ice cream. This way you’re forced to try something new and get a taste of some unusual tropical fruit!

  • Daintree Tea Company

    The Daintree’s tropical climate is perfect for growing tea. Found in the heart of the rainforest they grow delicious black tea, known for its strong flavour and aroma. Visit the plantation for unique rainforest views.

  • Daintree Estate

    Home to Australia’s first commercially grown and single origin chocolate, the clever people at Daintree Estate realised that Queensland’s tropical climate was perfect for growing cocoa! Keep an eye out for their delicious bars in stores in the Daintree region. The perfect gift to take home – or to snack on in the car!

The Daintree Rainforest is an unbelievably beautiful place with many attractions to enhance you’re visit. There is truly no other place in Australia where you can get the tropical rainforest experience the Daintree offers.