How do I get to the Daintree Rainforest?

The Daintree Rainforest is not only one of the most popular landscapes in Australia but also the only place where two UNESCO World Heritage Listed sites meet each other, the Daintree Rainforest and the Great Barrier Reef.

This magnificent region has been a drawcard for travellers from all over the country for years and thankfully it's easy to get to.

Regardless of where you're travelling from, there are a couple of ways to get to the Daintree Rainforest including flying and self-driving. 

Flying to the Daintree Rainforest

While there's no airport located in the Daintree Rainforest, flying is still the quickest and most popular way to travel to this isolated paradise. The closest airport to the Daintree is Cairns International Airport (CNS), around 120km north of the rainforest. There are several flights available daily from all major cities including Melbourne, Adelaide, Sydney, Brisbane, Perth, and Hobart with the flight time differing depending on where you're flying from. Travelling from Hobart to Cairns will take you the longest at just over 6 hours while travelling from Brisbane will take the shortest amount of time at 2 hours. 

The prices for a ticket will also differ depending on which state you're travelling from and what season you're travelling in. The cheapest flight starts at around AUD$160 from either Sydney or Brisbane and the most expensive flight is around AUD$550 for a Hobart to Cairns route. 

From Cairns International Airport, you can choose to hire a car from one of six car rental companies (Avis, Budget Car Rental, Thrifty, Hertz, Redspot, and Europcar) onsite or catch public transportation to take you to the Daintree Rainforest. If you're self-driving from the airport, the journey will only take you 1 and a half hours, however, if you're catching the bus, the journey will be a bit longer at 2 hours. 

Driving to the Daintree Rainforest

Driving to the Daintree Rainforest is a big undertaking regardless of the state you're travelling from with many routes taking over 24 hours. While this option of transportation might not be the quickest way to get to the Heritage-listed site, it does make for one epic road trip and gives you the opportunity to see some pretty incredible landscapes along the way. 

All major freeways leading to the Daintree Rainforest are relatively well maintained and have good, bold signage. Be sure to watch out for speed limitations, traffic, and animal crossings (especially in rural or country areas) that may impact your journey.

Here are the driving times from major cities in all states:

  • Melbourne to the Daintree Rainforest takes around 34 and a half hours. 
  • Sydney to the Daintree Rainforest takes around 31 hours. 
  • Hobart (plus a ferry crossing) to the Daintree takes around 52 hours (2 days & 4 hours). 
  • Adelaide to the Daintree Rainforest takes around 35 hours
  • Perth to the Daintree takes around 59 hours (2 days & 10 hours) 
  • Darwin to the Daintree Rainforest takes around 31 hours 
  • Brisbane to the Daintree takes around 24 hours. 

How to get from Cairns to the Daintree

Getting from the city centre of Cairns to the Daintree Rainforest is extremely easy, only taking 2 hours by car via the National Route 1. The journey can take you longer if you want to make a few stops along the way with iconic places such as Cape Tribulation scattered along the route. If you don't have access to a car to make the trip, you can hire a vehicle from several car rental companies in Cairns. This option is extremely affordable with most car rental companies offering vehicles for between AUD$5-$8 per hour or from AUD$25-$40 per day depending on the vehicle type you're after and how long you need the vehicle for. 

When you get to Forest Creek, you will need to take the Daintree River Ferry over in order to continue with your journey to the Daintree Rainforest. You can purchase tickets (AUD$30 return for a car pass) from the manned booth at the dock before you board the ferry or you can pre-book them online if you want to avoid long wait times. The trip across the river only takes around 10 minutes but this time can be longer during peak periods so make sure to allow for extra time if you're planning a tight itinerary. 

How to get from Port Douglas to the Daintree 

How to get from Port Douglas to the Daintree Rainforest is very similar to that of travelling from Cairns to the Daintree with self-driving really the only available option. From the city centre of Port Douglas, the total travel time by car is roughly 50 minutes but there are a few stops you can make along the way to ensure you're getting the most out of the beautiful Queensland scenery. 

Car hire is also available from Port Douglas with similar prices to those found in Cairns and you will need to factor the return ferry pass over Forest Creek into your total budget for the journey. 

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