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20 Best Things to Do in Cape Tribulation & the Daintree

20 Best Things to Do in Cape Tribulation & the Daintree

Olly Gaspar

By Olly Gaspar, full-time traveler for 6 years. I visit every place I write about & share real tips, photos, & advice from my trips.

Explore where the rainforest meets the reef in this guide to the best things to do in Cape Tribulation, Australia.

The World Heritage Listed Daintree Rainforest is the oldest living rainforest on planet Earth, and one of the most biodiverse as well. If you’re planning a trip to Tropical North Queensland, then you’ll know that Cape Tribulation is the prominent spot where that ancient rainforest meets the world’s largest coral reef system.

After several visits, I’ve written this detailed travel guide to the best places to visit and the main attractions for your first trip to Cape Tribulation and the Daintree. From discovering hidden waterfalls and swimming holes to finding the best croc-spotting tours, this guide will have you planning a trip to remember.

Top Things to Do in Cape Tribulation

Welcome to the most comprehensive travel guide to Cape Trib you'll find online. Below are 20+ of the top attractions, must-visit places, and fun things to do in Cape Tribulation & the Daintree Rainforest.

Short on time? Here are three of the top activities in Cape Tribulation that you can book online.

Creek in the mossman gorge, daintree queensland

1. Daintree & Mossman Gorge with Cruise

An epic Daintree trip from Cairns covering the best highlights in Cape Tribulation and at Mossman Gorge - great if you don't have your own car.

Cape tribulation north queensland

2. Ocean Safari Great Barrier Reef Experience Top-rated

Experience the incredible Great Barrier Reef from Cape Tribulation. Visits amazing reef snorkeling spots to swim with turtles, eagle rays, giant clams, brilliant coral, starfish, & tropical fish!

Daintree rainforest

3. Daintree Night Walk

Experience the unique wildlife of the Daintree at night with a professional wildlife guide in Cape Tribulation.

1. See the Daintree Rainforest

This one is pretty straightforward. Since Cape Tribulation is a far-reaching eastern headland, this is the official point where the Daintree Rainforest actually meets the Great Barrier Reef!

Cape Tribulation is one of the best places to explore the ancient Daintree Rainforest, which is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

I recommend pulling in and walking along one of the many boardwalks, either to Myall Beach or even little lookout trails scattered along along Cape Tribulation Road. You'll even notice that this main road itself is encroached by the Daintree Rainforest– vines, giant figs and rainforest ferns literally fall right onto the bitumen!

The Daintree Rainforest is incredibly rich and biodiverse. You'll find hundreds of unique plants and animals here, many which aren't found anywhere else on Earth.

Daintree rainforest

2. Spot Crocs on the Daintree River (Solar Boat)

In order to get to Cape Tribulation, you'll first have to cross the Daintree River. This river is famous for its large crocodiles and diverse birdlife. If you're planning on driving to Cape Tribulation, then I highly recommend booking a crocodile spotting tour.

Daintree crocodile tour, river boat with solar whisper

The Daintree River is one of the best places in Queensland to spot crocs. I highly recommend a 90-minute cruise with Solar Whisper, as they are the only no-emission croc-tour on the Daintree. Their boats are solar-powered and their electric engines allow you to get closer to the crocodiles in their natural habitat without disturbing them.

Their boats depart from right next to the ferry terminal, which breaks up the drive and is a perfect activity while you wait for the ferry!

Female saltwater crocodile in the daintree river, things to do in cape tribulation

3. Walk The Marrja, Kulki and Dubuji Boardwalks

Looking for free things to do in the Daintree and want something easy, sustainable, safe and accessible? Then immerse yourself in the wet tropics world heritage area of the Daintree Rainforest by taking a stroll on one of the several boardwalks.

You'll see signs for the Marrja Boardwalk, Kulki Boardwalk and Dubuji Boardwalk all along Cape Tribulation Road. My personal favourite is the Kulki Boardwalk which leads to the Kulki lookout.

This is a great spot to admire Cape Tribulation beach and to spot sea turtles at high tide.

Cape tribulation boardwalks

4. Cool Off at Mason's Swimming Hole

Swimming at the beach at Cape Tribulation is highly discouraged due to the threat of saltwater crocodiles and marine stingers. Luckily, however, there are a few great freshwater swimming holes in Cape Tribulation where you can cool off and escape the tropical heat.

One of the most popular swimming holes is Mason's Swimming Hole. You'll find this right next to Mason's Cafe in the centre of Cape Tribulation, just opposite the beach.

This swimming hole is on private land and owned by the cafe next door. However, visitors can enter and swim in this beautiful (croc-free) swimming hole for a small gold-coin donation.

Mason's swimming hole in cape tribulation

5. Check Out Emmagen Creek

While you're searching for fun things to do around Cape Tribulation, you might be interested in finding a quieter swimming hole away from the crowds. If so, look no further than Emmagen Creek.

This freshwater swimming hole is located a little further north up Cape Tribulation Road. You'll need to drive on unsealed roads for a short stretch. But, don't worry, most 2WDs should have no problem getting to the creek crossing (just don't cross the creek), where you'll find a cleared area to park your car and walk to the swimming hole.

Yes, there are crocodile warning signs at Emmagen Creek near the road crossing. However, if you continue up a little further upstream, you'll find another great, croc-free swimming hole complete with crystal-clear water and a rope swing.

Emmagen creek swimming hole, things to do in cape tribulation australia

6. Head Out to the Great Barrier Reef

Cape Tribulation isn't just about the rainforest– it's one of the best places to check out the Great Barrier Reef. That's because pristine reefs like Mackay and Undine are much closer to the mainland than most other places in Queensland.

The best and most popular reef boat experience in Cape Tribulation is run by Ocean Safari. These boats are fast, getting to the Great Barrier Reef in about 25 minutes. Trips depart from Cape Tribulation beach and include everything you need for snorkelling on the Great Barrier Reef.

If you're still looking for the top things to do in Cape Tribulation and haven't yet seen the Great Barrier Reef, then definitely tick this one off the bucket list!

Swim with turtles in cairns

7. Discover Myall Beach

Myall Beach is one of the most well-known and pristine beaches in Cape Tribulation. This is the beach where you'll see the actual cape, which is at its northern end.

There is a short boardwalk to access Myall Beach, where you can take a stroll, sit under the palm trees and snap photos of the reef just a few metres from the shore. Remember, though, swimming probably isn't a good idea.

Myall beach, cape tribulation things to do

7. Spot a Cassowary

Did you know that if you're lucky enough, you can spot a real-life, living, breathing dinosaur in Far North Queensland? The Cassowary is a flightless bird native to this tropical rainforest region.

Unfortunately, this bird, which has been around for roughly 60 million years, is now endangered. Latest estimates predict that only about 1200 wild cassowaries remain in the wild!

However, Cape Tribulation is one of the best habitats for the Cassowary as there is much less land clearing and more rainforest for them to feed, breed and roam in. These guys could pop up anywhere, from the Ice Cream shop to the trails on Mount Sorrow. If you see a Cassowary in the wild, remember to be Cass-o-wary and maintain a safe distance.

Cassowary far north queensland

8. Go Horse Riding On the Beach

Has a beach horse ride in Cape Trib been on your bucket list for a while? If so, a horse ride through the rainforest and on the golden sands of Myall Beach might be just the activity to add to your very own list of what to do in Cape Tribulation and the Daintree.

Cape Tribulation Horse Rides are the only stable offering beach and rainforest rides in Cape Trib. You'll find them just off Cape Tribulation Road on a beautiful property. They offer morning and afternoon rides, which are actually very affordable!

Beach horse ride from cairns

9. Hike the Mount Sorrow Ridge Trail

Seen the boardwalks and looking for a bit more of a challenging hike in the Daintree Rainforest? I highly recommend the Mount Sorrow Ridge Trail, a 3-4 hour return hike up to Mount Sorrow.

This trail is fairly steep but easily my favourite hike from Cape Tribulation. From the top, you'll get great views of the Mount Sorrow Ridge, as well as Cape Tribulation and the fringing reef edging the ancient rainforest.

Mount sorrow and cape tribulation

10. Visit The Daintree Ice Cream Company

Not keen on a big hike in the rainforest? Perhaps you've already been up to Mount Sorrow and you're looking for a way to cool off in the hot tropics?

If so, make sure you check out the Daintree Ice Cream Company. These guys make fresh, award-winning ice cream from local exotic fruits and produce. Their philosophy is "tree to cup". Actually, one of the main reasons why I'm recommending them on this list of things to do in Cape Tribulation is because they are such great stewards of conservation in the Daintree.

I love supporting companies that not only make great food, but also give back to the land. The Daintree Ice Cream Company rescues orphaned macropods, makes compostable ice cream cups (as mulch for their exotic fruit trees) and uses nitrogen and artificial plants instead of harmful pesticides.

11. Check Out Cow Bay

A little further down from Cape Tribulation, towards the Daintree River, you'll find the more secluded rainforest beach known as Cow Bay.

This palm-tree-lined beach is perfect as a place to relax and escape the often crowded Myall Beach. No, there aren't any cows on the beach. I'm not really sure where the name comes from, if there were any before, maybe they all got snatched up by crocodiles!

Either way, it's a beautiful beach worth checking out if you're running out of ideas for what to do in Cape Tribulation. There's even a little coconut tree rope swing on the beach, go check it out!

Cow bay, cape tribulation

12. Head Down to Thornton Beach

Thornton Beach is the last beach listed on this travel guide to things to do in Cape Tribulation. I've included it as it really is a worthy stop-over on the way up to Cape Tribulation.

Similarly to Cow Bay, Thornton Beach offers visitors a quieter spot as opposed to the often crowded beaches closer to the cape. At Thornton Beach, you'll also find a picnic area just beside the small, pull-over car park. There are undercover seating areas and beach access is right next to the road.

Thornton beach, cape tribulation australia

13. Taste Exotic Fruits At Cape Trib Farm

Ever wanted to try a creamy mamey sapote or a zingy carambola? Perhaps you've never heard of them.

One of the most unique things to do near Cape Tribulation and the Daintree is an exotic fruit-tasting visit at Cape Trib Farm.

These guys are located just off Myall Beach and grow dozens of seasonal exotic fruits. Their tours run for roughly 1.5 hours. However, they're also rated as one of the best accommodations in Cape Tribulation. Additionally, guests get a complementary exotic fruit basket every morning if they stay there!

Cape tribulation fruis

14. See the Daintree River From Alexandra Lookout

One of the only lookout points over the Daintree River is found just a few kilometres north after the ferry crossing. The road climbs steadily to the Alexandra lookout, offering excellent views over the Coral Sea and the mouth of the Daintree.

There's a large car park here suitable for dozens of vehicles. You'll also find a fenced lookout area. If you're driving up from Port Douglas or Cairns, then definitely take the time to stop by the Alexandra Lookout!

Mount alexandra lookout, cairns to cape tribulation drive

15. Take a Night Walk in the Daintree

One of the best things to do in the Daintree is to experience the incredible biodiversity of its rainforest. Many animals that thrive in the Cape Tribulation region of the Daintree are nocturnal. For this reason, wildlife enthusiasts looking to spot some rare rainforest animals should definitely embark on a night walk!

Head down to one of the boardwalks and you might be lucky enough to see the nocturnal swamp wallaby, a northern brown bandicoot and even the very rare rufous owl.

Daintree at dusk

16. Hike to Alexandra Falls

The mission out to Alexandra Falls was easily one of my favourite adventures in Cape Tribulation. This waterfall is a rainforest giant located up on Alexandra Creek. However, be warned. There is no marked trail to get here and you'll need to have decent bush experience to reach it.

I've written an article about how I got here safely below. However, private properties have bought up large sections of the Daintree surrounding Alexandra Falls making it a little tricky to get to.

Unfortunately, I also noticed that these same properties were diverting water from the National Park section of the Daintree, which was disappointing to see. I hope that a better management system will be set up now with the recent Daintree's return to their traditional owners.

Alexandra Creek also contains the sacred Blue Pools. However, I'd highly recommend NOT to visit these pools. They have long been a sacred women's site for the Eastern Kuku Yalanji People. The request by the custodians is to not swim here.

Daintree waterfalls, cape tribulation things to do

17. Climb a Coconut Tree

This next item on this Cape Tribulation to do list is a bit of a cliche. However, if you've never climbed a coconut tree before, this will be the place to do it. Every beach is lined with tall coconut palms! And, if you manage to climb one, you can score a free coconut.

There's even a coconut-splitting station at the entrance to Myall Beach where you can crack your coconuts for free.

The trick is to climb the ones with a slight lean!

Palm tree at cape tribulation

18. Go on a 4WD Trip

If you've been around Cairns and Port Douglas for a while, you might have spotted these iconic 4WD rigs by Billy Tea Safaris. These guys run epic small group 4WD trips up to Cape Tribulation. They even go further onto Bloomfield Drive, getting off the beaten path and exploring more of this world-renowned region.

They include many of the highlights featured on this list of what to do in Cape Tribulation and the Daintree, as well as a few others you simply can't get to without a 4WD.

Cape tribulation australia

19. Admire the Giant Cape Tribulation Strangler Fig Tree

If you're heading up to Emmagen Creek, keep your eyes peeled on the right side for the majestic strangler fig. This giant tree is a marvel to look at and worth a quick pull-over to snap a photo.

There's adequate space to park your car on a worn section of the road. This is just opposite the tree on the left side.

Strangler fig, cape tribulation australia

Related: Curtain Fig Tree Yungaburra, Tablelands Region

20. Drive Up to Cape York (Bloomfield Track)

Are you looking to extend your visit to Cape Tribulation and see more of the Far North? If you've got yourself a good 4WD, then you can continue on past the Emmagen Creek crossing towards Bloomfield, Cooktown and eventually, the Cape York Peninsula, Australia's northern tip.

This road begins on the Bloomfield Track (end of the sealed road).

Cairns and Far North Queensland locals call this "the tip", and a dusty drive up is very much a rite of passage for young Aussies. You'll often see huge, rigged-up fourbies parading their red dirt southbound on Cape Tribulation Road on their return from the tip. It's kind of a badge of honour.

If you've got a good off-road rig, then definitely make the time to continue further north on from Cape Tribulation. Even if you don't make it to the tip, Bloomfield Falls and the historic township of Cooktown is worth it for a real taste of rural Australia.

While the drive is not as wild as it apparently was 20 years ago, you'll still definitely need to prepare for a trip to the tip!

Cape tribulation sunset

Where to Say at Cape Tribulation

Below I've included some tips on the best places to stay on your trip to Cape Tribulation. If you'd like more suggestions with photos, read my comprehensive accommodation guide to Cape Tribulation.

Wildwood cape tribulation accommodation

1. Wildwood Rainforest Cottages Luxury

Wildwood offers luxury rainforest cottages set on a rare exotic fruit orchard. Freely explore the 800+ trees on the property, picking & sampling any of the fruits in season

Daintree crocodylus cape tribulation accommodation

2. Daintree Crocodylus Hostel Budget

Located in Cow Bay, this hostel offers safari-tent style rooms that are built from wood and canvas, with high ceilings, fans and mosquito net.

Cape trib holiday house accommodation

3. Cape Tribulation Holiday House Family

The highest-rated holiday house in Cape Tribulation set on 5 acres of rainforest & includes a huge balcony, 2 bedrooms and a fully equipped kitchen!

Camping At Cape Tribulation

For those looking for Cape Trib camping sites, one of the cheapest that I had the pleasure of staying at was PK's Jungle Village. Rates are only about $15 per person per night for an unpowered site. However, you'll also get access to a pool, bar, restaurant and toilet facilities.

Otherwise, you can also book a cheaper QLD Parks site at the Noah Beach Camping Area, but it'd be best to book in advance as they've been sold out every time I've come up to Cape Tribulation.

Cape tribulation road in the daintree

Best Cape Tribulation Tour Operators & Trips From Cairns

Since Cape Tribulation is one of the best eco-tourism destinations in Australia, you can imagine just how many tours there are from Cairns. For those without a car or lack the time to drive and organise what to do by themselves, I can recommend two small group tour operators running trips to Cape Tribulation.

These two are both a little different but are both the best-rated and consequently the most popular trips you can book.

1. Daintree, Mossman Gorge & Cape Tribulation Tours From Cairns

This 4.5/5 star trip from Cairns Adventure Group is the most popular Cape Tribulation trip from Cairns. It's an action-packed, full-day activity covering many of the highlights on this list plus a few more. This trip does a good job of combining the natural and cultural history of the Daintree, with rainforest guides and indigenous ceremonies being a part of the experience.

Here's a roundup:

  • A short Mossman Gorge tour
  • A wildlife river cruise (crocodiles)
  • Daintree River Ferry
  • Lunch
  • Witness a traditional smoke ceremony by the Eastern Kuku Yalanji people
  • Cape Tribulation Ice Cream
  • Alexandra Lookout
  • Rainforest boardwalk
Mossman gorge swimming

2. Billy Tea Safaris (4WD Option)

I mentioned a trip with Billy Tea Safaris above in the list of things to do in Cape Tribulation. Consequently, their trips running from Cairns and Port Douglas are also among the best Cape Tribulation tours as well.

The 4WD trip differs from the one by Cairns Adventure Group. These trips include:

  • 1-hour guided Daintree cruise
  • Knowledgeable tour guide
  • Alexandra Lookout
  • Boardwalks
  • Lunch at the animal refuge
  • Emmagen Creek
  • Cape Tribulation Beach
Billy tea safari tour guide

How to Get to Cape Tribulation (Great Barrier Reef Drive)

For those visiting Cairns or Port Douglas and looking to drive to Cape Tribulation independently, let me tell you this is one of the best ways to experience this tropical paradise.

Luckily, getting to Cape Tribulation is easy. You'll want to take the Captain Cook Highway heading north towards the Daintree River Ferry. You'll need to make a right turn at Cape Tribulation Road, before you make it into the official Daintree Village.

This can be easy to miss when you're admiring the tropical scenery, so keep an eye out.

Car in the rainforest near cairns

Car Rentals in Far North Queensland

Cairns is one of the most popular travel destinations in Australia and car rentals quickly book out!

I've missed out on cars before & recommend booking well in advance. I always use DiscoverCars as they compare the widest range of rentals across dealerships in the Far North.

Great barrier reef drive from cairns to cape tribulation, queensland australia

The Daintree Ferry

Once you arrive at the ferry terminal, you can line up and pay the fee as you board.

Daintree ferry fee: $47 (return) or $27 (one-way) for private vehicles (book in advance)

The ferry trip is very quick. Once you've crossed the river, continue on the very scenic but winding Cape Tribulation Road. Many of the highlights and attractions on this list are found on this road. So, take your time!

Tip: If you have time, I highly recommend doing the Solar Whisper Croc Tour from here. It's the best one in the Daintree!

Daintree river, cairns to cape tribulation drive

Cape Tribulation Packing List

Below is a quick list of the essentials you'll want to bring on your trip to Cape Tribulation.

  • Reef-safe sunscreen
  • Mosquito Repellent
  • Swimmers for the waterholes
  • Camera or GoPro
  • Waterproof phone pouch - if you head out to the reef
  • Trail runners or good walking shoes
  • Hat
  • Good day-bag for walks

Read more: Far North Queensland Packing List

Mount sorrow hiking in cape tribulation

When is the Best Time to Visit the Daintree?

Being situated deep within the tropical rainforest, the Cape Tribulation and the Daintree is usually a little hotter than Cairns and Port Douglas. So, if you're in the planning stages of your trip and wondering when to visit, here's a quick run-down.

Far North Queensland experiences a tropical climate. This is split into two seasons: Dry Season and Wet Season.

Dry Season: April to November
During this time, weather is usually dry and warm, averaging around 26-28 degrees Celcius. This is a great time to visit as there is less rain and there aren’t usually any dangerous stingers in the water. This is the best time to visit Cape Tribulation and explore all of the epic things to do here.

Where to stay in cape tribulation accommodation, australia

Wet Season: December to March
During these hot and wet summer months, Cape Trib can experience heavy rains almost daily. However, this tropical rainfall usually falls in the afternoon and you will still get sunny days.

Consequently, the weather is noticeably more humid and averages around 32 degrees. If you visit Cape Tribulation during the wet season, the waterfalls will have better flow and you’ll generally have less wind at sea, especially around December time. However, keep in mind that tropical cyclones can occur, and you’ll probably want to wear a stinger suit when swimming.

Alexandra falls daintree national park

About The Daintree National Park

The Daintree National Park is the most ancient rainforest in the world. It's said that this rainforest has remained as it is for over 180 million years. To put that into perspective, the dinosaurs are estimated to have gone extinct just 65 million years ago!

The Daintree Rainforest is a true marvel. It's something that every visitor to the Far North has to experience.

Unfortunately, after 180 million years of prosperity, this once resilient ecosystem is under threat. There are many factors contributing to this, including land clearing and run-off from cane farms. The first time I arrived at the Daintree River, I was gobsmacked to find out just how much of the surrounding rainforest has been cleared for cane. In some sections, there's but a single tree separating the once wild river from the crops.

Luckily, there are groups such as Rainforest Rescue and Rainforest4 that are committed to protecting and restoring the Daintree. You can help by supporting these companies and donating to their efforts to purchase large swabs of private, virgin forests that would otherwise be snatched up by farming developers.

Daintree river crossing, cairns to cape tribulation drive

Hiking & Trails in the Daintree

If you've come from Cairns or the Tablelands, where there are hundreds of epic hiking trails, you might be surprised to find out that the Cape Tribulation section of the Daintree has relatively few. This is because what is left of the National Park is relatively wild and untouched.

If the Cape Tribulation boardwalks don't satisfy your ambitions to experience the raw nature of the Daintree firsthand, then consider some of these trails:

Cape tribulation hike

More Cairns & FNQ Travel Blogs

That wraps up this comprehensive travel guide to the best things to do in Cape Tribulation and the Daintree, the world's oldest rainforest. Now that you're armed with all of the knowledge for what to do, I hope you have an epic trip to one of the world's best World Heritage Sites!

Before you go though, make sure to check out some of my other travel articles for more adventure inspiration for the region.

Thanks for Reading

I'm Olly Gaspar, adventure traveler from Australia. I’ve spent the last six years traveling the world full-time, sharing my first-hand experiences & photography in over 700 travel guides on We Seek Travel. I visit every destination I write about to bring you unique travel itineraries, epic hiking routes, fun tour ideas, travel & photography gear ideas, & interesting places to stay.

I only make genuine, worthwhile recommendations based on my experience, expertise, & research. If you buy through my links, I may get a commission, supporting this website at no extra cost to you. Read my Publishing Ethics Statement.


Wednesday 12th of October 2022

I like your blog. Makes me want to start my own travel blog.


Wednesday 3rd of August 2022

Thank you so much for all of your great tips! I'm planning a trip to this area in October and your site has been extremely helpful.