Discover the world’s oldest – and Australia’s biggest – rainforest in tropical north Queensland. The Daintree Rainforest is a rich ecosystem consisting of Australian native flora and fauna, dating back 135 million years.
Credit: Tourism Australia
Walking through the towering, tall trees on a treetop climb, or below on the protected forest floor on a boardwalk, you will feel a mile away from civilisation, and connected with nature.
Soak up the stories and culture of the local indigenous guides, who will share knowledge of the Kuku Yalanji tribe. Stay in a luxury forest lodge, spot crocodiles on a cruise or find a thundering waterfall. This rainforest has something beautiful around every corner.
While you’re in the Daintree, keep your eyes peeled for species of animals and fauna not seen anywhere else in the world. From the large flightless cassowary to tree kangaroos and brightly coloured butterflies – the wildlife is diverse on the forest floors, rivers and above in the trees.
Where exactly is the Daintree Rainforest
The Daintree region – covering approximately 1,200 square kilometres – begins north of Mossman. Mossman is a small town an hour north of Cairns, in the north-east coast of Queensland in Australia. This is where you find Mossman Gorge which is one section of the Daintree.
The region then extends north through Daintree Village, Daintree National Park past Cape Tribulation and ends below Cooktown.
Getting to the Daintree
Take a road trip into the forest, from Cairns or Port Douglas. Cairns Airport is the best place to fly into, and car hire is available at the airport, in Cairns City or in Port Douglas. Alternatively, there are several tour companies that run daily tours throughout the Daintree region, most departing from Port Douglas, Palm Cove, or Cairns. There are day tours for those short on time, or to get really lost in nature, there are tours lasting from 2-5 days.
Things to do and see in Daintree Rainforest
Found within the Daintree National Park, Mossman Gorge is a unique region of rock pools, the Mossman River, and fascinating plant and animal species. You can go on a self-guided walk or join a guided walk for more in-depth learning.
Mossman Gorge Centre
Located in Mossman, this is where you will find aboriginal art displays and have the chance to purchase artwork to remember your trip and support local artists. There are interactive exhibits, and it is a fantastic starting point and introduction to the Daintree.
Aboriginal guided walk
The ideal insight into the Daintree region, depart from the Mossman Gorge Cultural Centre and embark on a cultural and historical walk. You will gain a deeper understanding and appreciation for the local indigenous community.
The Daintree River is known for being home to large saltwater crocodiles. Join a river cruise and spot the predators as they come to the surface or lurk on the riverbanks. Some tour companies run solar-powered boat tours, which is an excellent option for those who prefer the eco-friendly alternatives.
Daintree Discovery Centre
In the middle of the dense forest you will find the Daintree Discovery Centre. The visitor centre has interactive exhibits, walkways, a canopy tower, and a cassowary walk. A favourite for families, everyone will leave the centre with some new fun facts about the Daintree Rainforest.
Spend hours floating down the pristine Mossman River. The calm waters will take you through the rainforest and you can spot wildlife above and below the surface. Birds and butterflies on the land and in the trees, and fish, turtles and if you’re really lucky – the ever-elusive platypus –below the surface.
Drive through the dense forest and awaken your adventurous spirit. 4WD through rainforest and creeks and take in the fascinating world around you.
The sparkling waterfalls service some of the most beautiful freshwater rockpools, which are a perfect place to cool off on the warm days. Cassowary Falls and Emmagen Creek are popular swim spots.
There are walks ranging from half-hour strolls on easy boardwalks, to 6-hour treks into the mountains at Cape Tribulation, on the Mount Sorrow Trail.
A remote headland with white sands and sparkling blue ocean, surrounded by the vibrant green rainforest directly behind it – this is where the forest meets the sea. Cape Tribulation and the Daintree Rainforest itself have remained an untouched piece of paradise and offers visitors a tranquil escape. It doesn’t have to be all relaxing though – you can hike or mountain bike through the trails and get the heart rate pumping. Take a refreshing dip in Mason swimming hole back in the forest – swimming at the beach is not encouraged due to the presence of crocodiles and stingers.
Wander through the tiny village town and stop in for a coffee from a local cosy café.
Great Barrier Reef
This is a special part of the world where two world-famous heritage listed sites meet. Go from the rainforest and depart from Cape Tribulation to explore the magnificent Great Barrier Reef. Snorkel or dive in the reef and explore the vibrant marine life under the water.
Daintree Ice Cream Company
This place often finds a place on any blog about the Daintree. Not your average ice cream shop, the ice cream here is infused with locally produced exotic fruits and flavours. There is a focus on conversation, so your ice cream comes with a side of good karma.
Cape Trib Farm
Try exotic fruits at the farm with daily tasting sessions, complete with a guided orchard tour. Cape Trib Farm also doubles as a Bed and Breakfast, with 5 quaint cottages scattered throughout the 80-acre farm.
Towns and cities near Daintree Rainforest
The main hub of Far North Queensland, Cairns is an ideal place to base a holiday to this part of Australia. The streets are lined with palm trees and filled with bars, restaurants, and cafes. The locals are friendly and welcoming, and there are accommodation options to suit all budgets and travelling styles. Cairns is an hour south of the beginning of the Daintree Region, or 2.5 hours’ drive to Daintree.
This small and dreamy beachside suburb is north of vibrant Cairns and offers a slower pace. Fine-dining and luxury hotels are situated by the water, yet the town remains relaxed in nature, with the locals getting around bare foot and on bikes. Excellent fishing off the jetty means that fresh seafood is always on the menu for lunch or dinner. Travellers who bring their furry friends on their holidays will be pleased to know Palm Cove is very dog friendly.
For the travellers that like the finer things in life, Port Douglas is going to be a much-loved visit. The main street is home to relaxed alfresco dining and nothing beats a refreshing drink at the end of the day here. Take in a spectacular sunset at 4-Mile Beach and get a good night’s sleep at one of the quality resorts in town. Port Douglas is only 20 minutes from Mossman Gorge, and an hour to Daintree.
A charming heritage town well worth a stop. It is surrounded by the lush Daintree and is best known for the Kuranda Scenic Railway. This railway glides through the hills and forest and passengers are rewarded with breathtaking views along their journey. Climb into the cable cars that float above the forest canopy to the Kuranda Railway Station and journey back down the mountain.
Where to stay in Daintree Rainforest
For a truly immersive Daintree experience, you have the option to stay in a luxury cabin/lodge, surrounded by the rainforest. The lodges are an amazing oasis, with wellness spas adding to the relaxation and experience.
- Silky Oaks Lodge, Mossman
- Daintree Ecolodge, Daintree
- Daintree Wilderness Lodge, Diwan
Port Douglas and Palm Cove are popular towns for accommodation, given the hotels and resorts in the areas are high quality, and only a short drive from the Daintree.
- Sheraton Mirage
- Pullman Port Douglas Sea Temple Resort and Spa
- Peppers Beach Club Port Douglas
- Pullman Palm Cove
- The Reef House Palm Cove
- Imagine Drift Palm Cove
- Novotel Cairns Oasis Resort
- The Sebel Cairns Harbour Lights
- Crystalbrook Riley
- Rydges Esplanade Resort
Be sure to plan your trip ahead of time to ensure you get the best experience of the Daintree. Many tours can book out well in advance – particularly during school holidays. If you are driving yourself or joining a group, check out maps to get your bearings, book your preferred accommodation and get ready for an unforgettable trip to tropical Queensland.