The Daintree Rainforest is one of the world’s oldest and most significant rainforests.
It is so impressive that Sir David Attenborough has described it as “the most extraordinary place on earth”. Home to the only place in the world where the rainforest meets the reef, this beautiful and unique Queensland destination is a must-see for anyone who enjoys immersing themselves in nature. It’s also the perfect spot to learn more about the rainforest from the Kuku Yalanji people, the First Nations inhabitants who have lived here for more than 50,000 years. Along with lush rainforest, you’ll find tumbling waterfalls, secluded gorges, animals such as cassowaries, tree kangaroos, crocodiles, colourful birds, and more than 200 hundred species of butterflies. Cross the Daintree River on a cable ferry with your leader and drive to Cape Tribulation, named by James Cook in 1770 after his ship hit a reef northeast of the Cape, where you’ll discover the incredible diversity this region has to offer.
Port Douglas is classy, fashionable and the perfect launching point for a day out exploring the Daintree. A stroll along the stunning Four Mile Beach is a must-do. This long stretch of pristine beach is postcard-perfect paradise, complete with coconut palms lining the sand. A visit to the Port Douglas marina for shopping or food (or both) is a great experience. There are plenty of places to unwind with a sunset drink or enjoy a casual dinner with your group.
Daintree river cruise
Take a Daintree River Cruise and see rare wildlife in one of the world's most densely populated mangrove estuaries. Keep an eye out for some of the animals of the Daintree River such as estuarine crocodiles, birds, snakes, goannas, and insects. This experience is a great way to get up close to some of the Daintree’s animals such as crocodiles and snakes with minimal impact on this precious and unique eco-system in Tropical North Queensland.
Kuku Yalanji First Nations Experience
Head to Kuyu Kuyu (Cooya Beach) for an educational experience with a member of the local Kuku Yalanji community. First Nations people still fish traditionally here, skillfully using a combination of spear throwing and handling. After a fishing lesson, follow your cultural guide along Cooya Beach, observing cultural medicine and food plants while they continue their daily spear fishing and gathering. You’ll also see Kuku Yalanji artefacts and learn how the Kuku Yalanji people live in harmony with nature.
About 20 minutes inland from Port Douglas is Mossman Gorge, part of the traditional lands of the Kuku Yalanji people. When you arrive at the visitor centre, buy a ticket and jump on the shuttle bus which takes you up to the gorge itself. Once you arrive, there’s a 2.4 kilometre loop walking track you can meander along, which will give you the chance to see some of the stunning ancient trees, giant moss-covered boulders and local birdlife in the area. You can also go swimming in the gorge.
Dine surrounded by the Daintree at Whet, a casual Cape Tribulation restaurant with a strong commitment to the environment. Whet is entirely self-sustaining with a private water supply and grey water irrigation for the lush tropical fruit orchard out the back. At night, the restaurant is lit by natural light from a fire, creating an intimate, almost other-worldly ambience. During the day, you can take a culinary adventure down the road less travelled as you follow the delicious Daintree Food Trail.
First Nations painting class
Join a First Nations painting class at Janbal Gallery and discover East Coast Kuku Yalanji Dreamtime stories about the animals, environment and language of the Indigenous rainforest people from Mossman and the Daintree rainforest. Learn about Aboriginal ochre paints, Indigenous art history and painting techniques, as well as the traditional bush foods, construction materials and medicines which can be found in this part of Tropical North Queensland, and take home a unique souvenir.
Cairns is the closest airport to the Daintree with domestic flights flying to and from most major Australian cities. There are regular long distance buses which travel up and down the coast to Cairns which is the closest major town to the Daintree. From here, you can catch drive or join a tour to get to the Daintree. Port Douglas is also a popular jumping off point for visits to the Daintree.
Most people choose to hire a car to drive the scenic Captain Cook Highway on their way to the Daintree. You can only get so far into the Daintree without a four-wheel drive vehicle, but you can cross the Daintree River on a cable ferry and drive to Cape Tribulation and the town of Mission Beach in a car or a tour bus.
Summer in the Daintree is hot and humid and perfect for swimming. Spring and Autumn are cooler and the region tends to be quieter. Winter is ideal for those who don't enjoy humid temperatures and the weather is typically good. If you are visiting between October and May and swimming in the ocean in the Daintree at somewhere like Mission Beach, it is advisable to wear a 'stinger suit' to protect yourself from possible jellyfish stings.
The Daintree is a rugged off-the-beaten-track destination that is so laid back it's almost horizontal. Wearing jeans and a t-shirt to dinner is considered 'dressy' so leave your fancy clothes at home. Pack sunscreen, sunglasses, swimmers and a hat and remember to bring any essentials as there are no major stores in the Daintree. A flashlight is also a good idea as street lights are minimal and many places run on generators so power outages are common.
Clothes that breathe are a good idea as the Daintree can be humid, even in winter. Pretty much anything goes when it comes to dressing for dinner at this remote destination, provided it's (reasonably) clean.
In short, pretty much non-existent, but that's a good thing. With nothing to distract you, it's easy to fully immerse yourself in the beauty of this special place. Some accommodation providers offer Wi-Fi but as this service runs on satellite, the speed is very slow and the service is often only available as a paid option. It can be easier to treat your trip to the Daintree as a chance to disconnect and de-stress.
Intrepid is committed to making travel widely accessible, regardless of ability or disability. That’s why we do our best to help as many people see the world as possible, regardless of any physical or mental limitations they might have. Some of the walking trails and remote beaches in the Daintree can make walking difficult for travellers who are less mobile on foot. However, we’re always happy to talk to travellers with disabilities and see if we can help guide them towards the most suitable itinerary for their needs and where possible, make reasonable adjustments to our itineraries.