The Daintree Rainforest

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The Daintree Rainforest is the oldest rainforest in the world at over 135 million years old, possibly older. It is located in tropical Far North Queensland Australia and is a popular tourist attraction for visitors to Port Douglas, Palm Cove, and Cairns.

To book a Daintree tour, fast, click here to see your choices. Otherwise, read the post and look at the pictures!

During Cyclone Jasper roads in the Daintree Rainforest were severely damaged, today the rainforest still has access issues but some rainforest tours are still running. We recommend you check here. The road from Cairns to Port Douglas is open, but expect some traffic delays as repairs continue.

The Daintree Rainforest drone photo
This is the Daintree River, the Daintree Rainforest is on both sides of the river, but people consider it entering the Daintree Rainforest “proper” to be crossing the river at the car ferry and driving into the rainforet on the northern bank of the river.

In this post we give you information on how to visit the Daintree Rainforest, explain where the Daintree is (with map) and highlight places of interest and places to stay in and near the Daintree Rainforest and Daintree National Park.

We aim to make this page the only guide to the Daintree you will ever need. If you need more information, please ask in the comments.

Great Barrier Reef Tourist Drive to Daintree Rainforest
The Great Barrier Reef Tourist Drive , north of Cairns, Palm Cove, Port Douglas and Mossman, will take you to Cape Tribulation and the Daintree Rainforest.

We can also share photos of the Daintree, taken by us, on the ground and by drone.

Daintree Rainforest

This incredible ecological wonder covers an area of almost 1,200 square kilometers (120,000 hectares, 460 square miles)) between the town of Mossman and Cape Tribulation. The western border of the Daintree is at the Great Dividing Range, its eastern border is The Coral Sea.

In the north, the Daintree Rainforest goes as far as Bloomfield.

It is the largest block of rainforest in Australia, and the oldest.

In the Daintree we can see relicts of the Gondwanan forest that covered Australia and part of Antarctica 50 to 100 million years ago

As such, the Daintree Rainforest is on both the south and north sides of the Daintree River and Daintree Village.

Daintree Rainforest car ferry
The road will take you here, to the Daintree River ferry. This photo was taken on a very stormy January (wet season) day. You can visit the Daintree year-round, it’s occasionally closed because of flooding. It’s worth visiting the Daintree at any time of year.

The Wet Tropics of Queensland is a UNESCO World Heritage area of some 8,940 square kilometers. It stretches for 840 km along Australia’s northeastern coast and is entirely in Queensland.

This heritage area comprised 894,420 hectares of mostly tropical rainforests. (source UNESCO)

The Wet Tropics of Queensland were given World Heritage listing by UNESCO in 1988.

Mossman Gorge Daintree Rainforest
This is Mossman Gorge is south of the Daintree River, but also part of the Daintree Rainforest. This is a very popular day or half-day trip for tourists in the Douglas Shire or Cairns.

The Daintree Rainforest or Daintree National Park, was formally returned to its Aboriginal owners, The Eastern Kuku Yalanji people, in 2021. (source)

Can You Visit The Daintree Rainforest?

Yes, the Daintree Rainforest is open to the public and there is no admission fee for the Daintree National Park.

You can drive your vehicle into the Daintree Rainforest along the public highway (Mossman-Daintree Rd and Cape Tribulation Rd.). Alternatively, you can take a guided tour.

We list available tours and activities below.

Cow Bay Daintree Rainforest
Cow Bay, and the Daintree Rainforest.

You can opt to visit the Mossman Gorge, or take a full guide of The Dainntree Rainforest. Some tours will take you to both in one day.

You can walk in the rainforest at Mossman Gorge on these raised walkways. For high viewing platforms in the canopy go to the Daintree Discovery Centre. To walk in the mangroves there are severag boardwalks north of the river, including Dubuji Boardwalk to Myall Beach.

Day trips from Port Douglas or Cairns will take you to the Daintree.

If you’re approaching the Daintree National Park from the south, via Cairns, Port Douglas and Mossman, you will need to pay to use the vehicle ferry which crosses the Daintree River.

The Daintree can sometimes be closed due to flooding in the wet season. The wet season falls in the summer months, with adverse weather being most common from December to March.

Tours To The Daintree Rainforest (Book Online)

From Cairns, book a full-day tour to Mossman Gorge and Daintree, including an optional river cruise and indigenous experience. Book here.

Daintree Discovery Tours are a good choice as they take you to Mossman Gorge, for a cruise on the river, and to the Daintree north of the river on a day tour. This tour is only available from Port Douglas, people staying in Cairns or Palm Cove can drive up and join the tour in Port. This is a great tour, including an Aboriginal “welcome to country” with the Kuku Yalangi. Book here.

From Palm Cove, book a full-day tour to Mossman Gorge and the Daintree here.

Departing Port Douglas, book the shuttle to Mossman Gorge (return) here and enjoy the walkways and freshwater stream independently.

From Port Douglas, book a half-day (morning or afternoon) tour to Mossman Gorge and the Daintree River. This is a cheaper option and great if you’re short of time. Book here.

To book a crocodile and wildlife cruise on the Daintree River, you need this link.

To take a night walking tour in the Daintree Rainforest, spotting wildlife in the dark, go here. This particular tour is for families with young kids, there is also an adult tour.

It’s also possible to go trekking in the Daintree National Park, look here.

Can You Visit The Reef from the Daintree or Cape Tribulation?

Yes, there is one snorkelling tour that goes out to the Great Barrier Reef from North of The Daintree River. You can book Ocean Safari here on Viator, or here on GetYourGuide, both are great companies for booking activities with best price guarantees.

We use these companies ourselves and recommend them as the best way to book.

Can You Stay in the Daintree Rainforest? (Accommodation)

Yes, you can stay in the Daintree Rainforest, there are several options, including the award-winning Daintree Eco Lodge (click through to check it out, but this one is expensive!). The Daintree Ecolodge is south of the Daintree River, making it convenient for Port Douglas if you plan to take a reef trip.

A cheaper place to stay in the Daintree is Daintree Heritage Lodge, this place has rainforest cabins at a moderate price point. It gets rave reviews. See it here. This rainforest lodge also has family rooms.

There are various backpacker-type places and campsites in the Daintree too, great for budget travellers.

Things To See and Do in the Daintree Rainforest

The Daintree Rainforest and Daintree National Park are often referred to as “where the reef meets the rainforest.”

As such, the number 1 thing to do in this part of the world is to take in the scenery, stunning beaches, and unspoiled tropical forest environment.

Rainforest to rref Daintree
Walking from the Daintree rainforest to the beach. Stinger Season is in summer, click through to read about Stinger Season here, but there are crocodiles in the Daintree, so don’t swim anyway!

The coastal scenery is at its best between the Daintree River and Cedar Bay. Vistas here combine tropical rainforest and white sandy beaches with patches of fringing coral reefs. 

Cape Tribulation is both a village and a headland located within the Daintree National Park and Daintree Rainforest.

Cape Tribulation gets its name from the troubles it caused Lieutenant James Cook in 1770 when his ship, the Endeavour, struck a reef just off the cape, causing much damage to the ship’s hull.

Further north you will find Cooktown and the Endeavour River, where he made repairs. This is an incredibly historic part of Australia. If you drove from Cairns to Port Douglas, it was along the Captain Cook highway.

Walking tracks in the Daintree Rainfores
There are various boardwalks and walking tracks marked for visitors north of the river, through the Daintree Rainforest and Cape Tribulation. This is Marrja Botanic Walk. None of these walks are long.

The area is very sparsely populated, not many people live in the rainforest and most are more or less off-grid relying on generators, solar power and rainwater collection.

There are a few places to stay in the Daintree, there is a cafe at Thornton Beach, and some tourist facilities.

There are camp sites, jungle lodges and the very nice Daintree Eco Lodge. You can reserve this hotel using our link.

If you want to stay near the Daintree Rainforest, south of the river, Cassowary Falls is popular, check it out here. Or Silky Oaks Lodge near Mossman is a beautiful hotel, this one is on Expedia here.

We highly recommend the Daintree ice cream farm featuring our local tropical fruit flavours. You can also see tropical fruits growing here.

Daintree rainforest ice cream
The ice cream in the Daintree is unmissable!

The Daintree Discovery Centre is a good place to learn more about the history of this area. Visitors can climb to viewing platforms high in the canopy and take curated rainforest walks in the understory.

Rainforest canopy zip lining is also available through the rainforest canopy,

You can take a take a croc tour of the Daintree River from Daintree Village and various jetties along the Daintree River.

See Daintree Village and it’s “Big Barra” or enjoy the drive through Cape Tribulation and north to Cooktown.

Snorkelling tours are available from Cape Tribulation too. Many snorkelling tours to The Great Barrier Reef depart from Port Douglas and Cairns, but one operator departs north of the river.

There are also swimming holes, waterfalls and freshwater streams which are considered safe for swimming, including Mason’s Swimming Hole and The Blue Hole. The latter is a sacred Aboriginal women’s spot, forbidden to men and non-indiginous people.

The absence of crocodiles is never guaranteed and it’s not safe to swim at the beaches north of the river.

The best place to swim in The Coral Sea near the Daintree is Port Douglas’s Four Mile Beach, but there are some stunning unspoiled beaches on Cape Tribulation.

Beaches Daintree Rainforest
Thornton’s beach Cape Tribulation, is backed by the Daintree Rainforest. This is one of the most beautiful beaches north of the Daintree River.

You should stay well away from the water’s edge in areas where estuarine crocodiles are present, but there are boardwalks open to the public through the rainforest and mangroves.

Map of Attractions in the Daintree Rainforest

We’ve marked all of these places on the map for you. Take a look here.

Wildlife in The Daintree Rainforest

The Daintree Rainforest is home to a stunning array of Australian wildlife including many endemic species of mammal, reptile, amphibians and birds.

Species present include Southern Cassowaries, Boyd’s Rainforest Dragon, tree kangaroos, and the Daintree River Ringtail Possum.

Both saltwater (estuarine) and fresh water crocodiles can be found in the Daintree Area.

Bird life is phenomenal in this part of Australia with 11 endemic species of bird present. You stand a good chance of seeing a cassowary from the road.

If you happen upon one on a walking track, stay well away, these giant birds are dangerous!

You are very likely to see huge golden orb spiders in the Daintree and there is a possibility of snakes and spiders in and around your lodging in the Daintree. This is much less likely in Port Douglas!

Vegetation in the Daintree

Queensland’s most infamous plant, the stinging tree, is present in the Daintree and in much of this region. This alone is a good reason to stick to marked paths and boardwalks. Never stray off into the vegetation. Read more about this and other dangers of Queensland here.

The vegetation you are likely to enjoy includes huge fan palms and mangrove forests, cone-bearing cycads and southern conifers (gymnosperms). The Daintree is the closest you will get to a Gondwanan forest today.

Indigenous Daintree Tours

Walkabout Cultural Adventures offers full or half day tours with local Aboriginal guides explaining bush tucker and medicine in the rainforest environment.

This company is 100% Aboriginal owned and run. You can book a full-day cultural adventure with this company here.

Visitors can learn to throw haunting spear, gather food, and can swim in freshwater swimming holes.

How To Get To the Daintree Rainforest

What people normally consider to be “The Daintree Rainforest” lies to the north of the Daintree River, 68km north of Port Douglas.

In order to cross the river, drivers must use a ferry, there is no bridge currently.

The Daintree Ferry
The Daintree Feryy takes vehicles and passengers over the Daintree River.

Tickets are purchased before embarking on the ferry at the manned booth or you can now buy ferry tickets online, in advance.

If the booth isn’t occupied, attendants on the ferry will collect fares.

You must stay inside your vehicle during crossing.

It only takes about 10 minutes to cross the river on the ferry but you may need to queue for some time before boarding . Locals can use a priority lane.

The Daintree Ferry operates daily from 5am to midnight with no closures for public holidays, Price for cars is currently $47 return. (Au). The cost for a return ticket in a typical car is $30 US approximately.

Foot passengers can also cross on the Daintree Ferry, as can bicycles, motorbikes and buses. Cost depends on the type of vehicle.

Flooding and exceptionally low tides can sometimes stop the ferry running.

What to Wear to Visit The Daintree

The Daintree is hot and humid year round so you should wear clothing that covers you, but that keeps you cool.

Loose-fitting pants and shirts are best and they protect you from the sun and biting insects.

Wear comfortable shoes that you can walk in.

We suggest visitors don’t bring Berkenstocks or other leather shoes to the wet tropics, we know from personal experience that our wet climate destroys them fast.

You should always have a hat handy in the intense UV of Queensland, but in much of the Daintree you will be in the shade.

Bring mosquito repellent, always. Avoiding mosquitos is all but impossible in a rainforest, but you can read our tips for avoiding being bitten by mosquitos here.

While it will be cooler in the Daintree in winter, it will still be pretty hot by most people’s standards.

Creek Crossings and Off-Roading in the Daintree Rainforest

Crossing a stream in a car Daintree Rainforest
Driving through a stream in the Daintree Rainforest. Photo taken by the author, Alysion Long, she has lived in this area for almost 20 years.

There is more and more sealed road through the Daintree and Cape Tribulation as time passes. You really don’t need a 4 wheel drive vehicle to drive this coastal road in the dry season.

However, in the wet, there still are a couple of creek crossings on this drive.

Daintree Rainforest – More Information?

What more information do you need about the Daintree Rainforest. Did you find our post useful in planning your visit or road-trip? Tell us in the comments. I’ll give you that list of tours to book below in case you missed it, plus some great suggestions on hotels and other trips in this region, our home.

We hope you have a fantastic time in Far North Queensland.

We think the best Great Barrier Reef tour from Port Douglas, is this one.

From Cairns, book a full-day tour to Mossman Gorge and Daintree, including an optional river cruise and indigenous experience. Book here.

If you’re staying in Palm Cove, book a full-day tour to Mossman Gorge and the Daintree here.

From Port Douglas, book the shuttle to Mossman Gorge (return) here and enjoy the walkways and freshwater stream independently.

From Port Douglas, book a half-day (morning or afternoon) tour to Mossman Gorge and the Daintree River. This is a cheaper option and great if you’re short of time. Book here.

To book a crocodile and wildlife cruise on the Daintree River, you need this link.

To take a night walking tour in the Daintree Rainforest, spotting wildlife in the dark, go here. This particular tour is for families with young kids, there is also an adult tour.

It’s also possible to go trekking in the Daintree National Park, look here.

If you'd like to hire a car during your stay, use this car rental comparison tool to find the best deal!

We also suggest you take a look at this company to get a quote for all kinds of the more tricky adventure or extended travel insurance.

Try Stayz / VRBO for an alternative way to find rentals on homes/apartments/condos in any country!

About the author
Alyson Long
Alyson Long is a British medical scientist who jumped ship to chase dreams. A former Chief Biomedical Scientist at London's West Middlesex Hospital she started in website creation and travel writing in 2011. Alyson is a full-time blogger and travel writer, a published author, and owns several websites. World Travel Family is the biggest. A lifetime of wanderlust and over 6 years of full-time travel, plus a separate 12 month gap year, has given Alyson and the family some travel expert smarts to share with you on this world travel site. Today Alyson still travels extensively to update this site and continue her mission to visit every country, but she's often at home on her farm in Australia.

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