An inspiring travel guide to 20 best things to do in Cape Tribulation and the Daintree Rainforest. Includes some Cape Trib highlights and some off-the-path hidden gems to help you make the most of your next trip to where the rainforest meets the reef.
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 this is the region where that ancient rainforest meets the world’s largest coral reef system.
It goes without saying that this region is absolutely incredible– and one that every traveller who loves adventure and unique nature should visit. That’s why, after several trips, I’ve finally written this detailed travel guide to the best things to do in Cape Tribulation and the Daintree.
I’ve included loads of my photos from my trips as well as a detailed travel guide to Cape Tribulation at the bottom of this post which answers all of your questions about visiting the region.
20 Epic Things to do in Cape Tribulation & The Daintree
I know what you’re here for, travel and adventure inspiration. That’s why we’ll just straight into the list of things to do around Cape Tribulation and the Daintree Rainforest!
However, if you’re not sure how to get here, need information on the ferry crossing or perhaps just need some inspiration from the epic Great Barrier Reef Drive to Cape Tribulation from Cairns, then it’s best to read this guide to the Great Barrier Reef Drive first.
Alternative: Book a full-day trip to Cape Tribulation from Cairns
1. See the Daintree Rainforest
This one is pretty straight forward. 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.
There are several boardwalks, long hikes and even little lookout trails all 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 that are not found anywhere else on earth.
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.
Book the best crocodile tour: Solar Whisper Crocodile Tour ($30 – electric engine)
The Daintree River is one of the best places in Queensland to spot crocs. I highly recommend a 90-minute cruise with Solar Engine (above), 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!
Read about my experience (more photos): Solar Whisper Crocodile Cruise
3. Walk The Marrja, Kulki and Dubuji Boardwalks
If you’re 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 troll on one of the several boardwalks.
You’ll see signs to the Marrja Boardwalk, Kulki Boardwalk and the 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 from at high tide.
3. 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 fresh water 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.
4. 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 2WD’s should have no problem getting to the creek crossing, 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.
Read More: How to Get to Emmagen Creek Swimming Hole
6. Head Out to the Great Barrier Reef
Cape Tribulation isn’t just about the rainforest– it’s one of 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.
Book best price online: Ocean Safari Great Barrier Reef Trip
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!
RELATED POST: Best Great Barrier Reef Tour From Cairns (REVIEW)
7. Discover Myall Beach
Myall Beach is one of the most well-known and most pristine beaches in Cape Tribulation. This is the beach where you’ll see the actual cape from, 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.
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.
8. Go Horse Riding On the Beach
Has a beach horse-ride 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!
Check the best price online: Rainforest & Beach Horse Ride
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.
Read More: Mount Sorrow Hike – Hiking Guide
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 rescue orphaned macropods, make compostable ice-cream cups (as mulch for their exotic fruit trees) and use 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 crocs!
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!
Related: Cairns Itinerary Suggestions
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 oppposed 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.
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. Additoinally, guests get a complementary exotic fruit basket every morning if they stay there!
Stay at: Cape Trib Farm
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 carpark 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!
15. Take a Night Walk
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.
Book a Guided Night Walk: Guided Escapes Jungle Night Walk
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.
Read More: Alexandra Falls
17. Climb a Coconut Tree
This next item on this Cape Tribulation to do list s 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!
18. Go ON A 4WD TRIP
If you’ve been around Cairns and Port Douglas for a while, you might have spotted the 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 the 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.
Book best price online: Billy Tea 4WD Trip to Cape Trib
19. ADMIRE THE GIANT 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 definitely 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 let side.
RELATED POST: Curtain Fig Tree Yungaburra, Tablelands Region
29. Drive Up to The Tip (Bloomfield Track)
Are you looking to extend on 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.
For those without a decent 4WD, check RentalCars.com to compare the best deals on rentals. 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!
Daintree Rainforest & Cape Tribulation Travel Guide
I hope that list has you covered on what to do in Cape Tribulation on your next visit to the ancient Daintree Rainforest.
With that said, keep reading below for a few tips and resources to better prepare for your tip.
Best Cape Tribulation Tour Operators & Trips From Cairns
Since Cape Tribulation is one of the best eco-tourism destinations in Australia, you could 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.
Complete Guide: Best Cape Trib Tours & Activities
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
- Witness a traditional smoke ceremony by the Eastern Kuku Yalanji people
- Cape Tribulation Ice Cream
- Alexandra Lookout
- Rainforest boardwalk
Book best price online: Daintree, Mossman Gorge & Cape Trib From Cairns
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
- Lunch at the animal refuge
- Emmagen Creek
- Cape Tribulation Beach
Book best price online: Billy Tea Safaris 4WD Trip
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.
The Daintree Ferry
Once you arrive at the ferry terminal, you can line up and pay the fee as you board.
Daintree ferry fee: $39 (return) or $23 (one way) for private vehicles.
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!
Cape Tribulation Packing List – What to Bring
Organised your list of what to do in Cape Tribulation and the Daintree? Below is a quick list of the essentials you’ll want to bring.
- 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
- Good day-bag for walks
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 the 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.
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.
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 perspectives, 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.
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 first hand, then consider some of these trails:
Where to Stay at Cape Tribulation
Below I’ve included some tips on the best places to stay on your trip to Cape Tribulation. Make sure to check out my comprehensive accommodation guide for more options too!
Incredible rainforest stay: Wildwood Rainforest Cottages
Wildwood offers easily the most incredible rainforest-stay experience on offer in the Daintree. Located in the heart of Cape Tribulation, Wildwood is set on a rare exotic fruit orchard. Guests have exclusive access to the orchard and can freely explore the 800+ trees on the property, picking and sampling any of the fruits in season. All rooms provide access to a landscaped garden and fire pits for guests to cookout under the stars.
Best Budget Hostel in Cape Trib: Crocodylus Hostel
For backpackers and those on a budget who would prefer a bit more of a raw Daintree experience, I’d recommend the Crocodylus hostel. Located in Cow Bay, closer to the ferry, but just a short hop from Cape Tribulation and Myall Beach, this hostel offers safari-tent style rooms which are built from wood and canvas, with high ceilings, fans and mosquito net. All rooms have rainforest views and include access to their swimming pool!
Epic Holiday House For Groups: Cape Tribulation Holiday House
With a group or prefer a big house in the rainforest all to yourself? This accommodation is the highest-rated holiday house in Cape Tribulation. It’s set on 5-acres of rainforest and includes a huge balcony, 2 bedrooms and a fully equipped kitchen!
Best Accommodation Near the Town: Cape Trib Beach House
Cape Trib Beach house is one of my favourite picks for rainforest accommodation near the Cape Tribulation town. This huge property is set on 7 acres and has a pool. Guests will also have the choice of quaint bungalows and exquisite cottages, each with access to the onsite bar and restaurant.
Camping At Cape Tribulation
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 you’d be best to book in advance as they’ve been sold out every time I’ve come up to Cape Tribulation.
How to Get a Cheap Car Rental For Cape Tribulation
It’s no secret that having your own car is the way to go when exploring Tropical North Queensland. Unfortunately though, cars up here are a little on the steep side. Below are a few great resources to help you get a good price on a rental car to explore all of the epic things to do at Cape Tribulation and beyond.
- RentalCars.com – a rental car comparison site. Great way to compare rates and availability across companies.
- Car Next Door – sharing economy car rental app. I usually use this if I need to rent a car anywhere as it always ends up cheaper. Use my link for $15 off your first booking.
- Spaceships Vans – this one’s for the backpackers and budget travellers. One of the most affordable camper van options in Australia. I’ve had great experiences with them in New Zealand and Australia and always recommend them.
More Things to do in Far North Queensland
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.