Rainforest meets beaches, what a great combo. That is what Cape Tribulation has to offer and with much diversity, you won’t be stuck on what to do in Cape Tribulation.
Cape Tribulation is in North Queensland about 140 km North of Cairns. It’s situated in the beautiful UNESCO World Heritage Site, the Daintree Rainforest.
Cape Tribulation offers an abundance of rainforest walks, incredible wildlife, lush beaches and the most complex rainforest ecosystem on earth. It’s great to get away from what can be a busy environment with a lot of backpackers and families in areas such as Cairns. It offers relaxation and being one with nature.
What to do in Cape Tribulation
There is a lot you can do at Cape Tribulation and even more on your way there. We show you exactly what we got up to in 1 full day and give you some great recommendations along the way. We also give our advice on how long you should stay at Cape Tribulation and show you the best bits to make sure you don’t miss out.
1. Swim at Mossman Gorge
Wondering what to do in Cape Tribulation also entails visiting sites on your way there. Mossman Gorge is a stop not to be missed which can be visited as you travel past Port Douglas in your way to Cape Tribulation.
Located in the Daintree National Park, Mossman Gorge is known for its beautiful greenery and crystal clear rock pools to swim in.
There’s a shuttle bus which can take you up to Mossman Gorge from the car park which takes 2 min and costs $11.80 return, or you can walk which would take you around 30 min. The proceedings go towards the local aboriginal people.
After a 2 min bus journey, you’ll be greeted by a sign welcoming you to the Mossman Gorge Daintree National Park. Where you can read about the wildlife in the area and familiarise yourself with your surroundings.
After a short walk along the boardwalk, reading interesting artefacts along the way, you’ll come across a sign to Rex Creek bridge, which is just a few stairs to the chillout area at the Mossman Gorge.
This is one of the places you can swim! No crocs.
It was really refreshing to swim in the cold water as the day was blistering with heat. A great way to start your day!
2. Spot crocodiles at the Daintree rainforest river cruise
You’re in one of the most beautiful rain forests in the world and what better way to see it than through a river cruise. We opted for a river cruise with the Daintree River Cruise Centre and what an experience it was.
We purchased a 1.5h return cruise which cost us $30 / person. The boat was filled with about 15 people. Gliding on the rivers we watched in awe of all the wildlife and amazing scenery, taking us back in time.
We were lucky enough to see 3 crocodiles in the wild. One crocodile was the big daddy, being 4 metres in length, another was 2 metres and the smallest was only an infant at 1 foot long, still big enough to call it a day if it got you into the water.
What we didn’t expect to see were cows just chilling right next to the big daddy crocodile. We are not sure if it was out of pure stupidity or curiosity from the herd, but the croc didn’t seem to mind. Our guide said he was probably already full of food otherwise he would have attacked. Lucky cow.
The amazing cruise didn’t stop there; we saw a python resting up high in a tree which had been there a week. Our guide told us the python had probably eaten and was resting and digesting its prey.
We could stare into the skies all day on the river cruise as we saw birds flapping their wings travelling from tree to tree.
We saw an owl which our guide had a little story on. Apparently, this particular species of owl has a partner for life and if one dies the other dies from a broken heart. A sad story, but a story, nevertheless.
We thoroughly enjoyed the tour, seeing the amazing wildlife in their habitats and soaking up all the knowledge the guide had for us. It was very informative and exciting at the same time. A definite stop for anyone visiting Cape Tribulation.
3. Admire the Walu Wugirriga view at Alexandra range lookout
Heading to the centre of Cape Tribulation about 10 min from the Daintree River crossing is Alexandra range lookout. It is a nice and short stay which requires no walking.
Just pull up at the lookout into the car park, get out, take the mandatory photos and admire the view of the Walu Wugirriga.
4. See a Cassowary at Jindalba boardwalk
Take a 15 – 20 min stroll through lush green rainforest situated in the Daintree National Park. This boardwalk is built up 4 metres from the ground and weaves in between towering trees and over creeks.
What we really liked about this boardwalk was the fact that along the way you have signs that give information about the wildlife and ecology throughout your walk. It’s a nice history lesson but also very informative in that you know what you’re actually looking at and what to look out for.
One of the main things to look out for is wildlife, you may be able to see tree Kangaroos. However, the major animal people tend to look out for are the rare Cassowaries and we were very lucky to spot one. 10 min into the walk we were losing hope as we didn’t see any wildlife at all apart from lizards, but then it appeared. The rare and massive Cassowary.
We quickly and quietly got closer to the edge of the boardwalk as the Cassowary majestically walked through the bushland scratching the soil and searching for food. We reach for our camera and managed to capture some sneaky photographs of the amazing moment we were experiencing.
The impressive blue-faced, brown-eyed bird then made eye contact with us, before excreting its faeces on the floor and casually walking off out of sight into the bushes. Not quite the ending to the moment we would have predicted but nevertheless, a beautiful moment to have.
For more information on Cassowaries as well as some tips on how to spot one, see the end of this blog.
5. Cool off with Daintree Ice cream company
THE. BEST. ICE CREAM.
What makes this different from many other ice cream companies is that all the fruit and many ingredients used are right from the Daintree National Park. They use more of an authentic Italian style way of making the ice cream, picking the fruit at the perfect time from their 22 acres farm.
Try some exotic flavours such as yellow sapote – a crème brûlée type flavour, soursop and black sapote native to Mexico, known as the black pudding fruit. Other flavours include mango, coconut and wattle seed which is grown in South Australia.
If this wasn’t enough for you to visit, you can even walk through the farm whilst you indulge on the mouth-watering creamy ice cream.
6. Marrdja botanical walk / Marrdja boardwalk
Having been recently upgraded, this 1.2 km boardwalk is another opportunity to appreciate the magnificent Daintree Rainforest and all it has to offer.
Spot wildlife and learn more about your surroundings walking through mangroves and swamps.
7. Myall Beach
When we visited here in the later afternoon there was hardly anyone else there, we basically had the beach to ourselves. The beach is quite long and wide so there is plenty of room to run around and have fun or lay down and soak up some rays.
Just remember though, unfortunately, you can’t swim in the sea as there is a possibility of crocodiles!
8. Walk on the Cape Tribulation beach
Not your average beach, it’s a place where the Daintree Forest meets the Great Barrier Reef. The best part is, it seems almost like your own private beach as hardly anyone else will be sharing it with you.
This is the better of the beaches in our opinion. It’s so picturesque how the coastal line curves with the backdrop of the rainforest.
Cape Tribulation Beach provides a relaxed atmosphere with more than enough room to sink your toes into the sand and wander to your heart’s content.
Again, crocodiles pose as one of the cape tribulation beach dangers, so stay out the water.
9. Cape tribulation beach lookout
Get ridiculously good views of Cape Tribulation which looks over Cape Tribulation Beach and atop of the Daintree Rainforest. It’s a great perspective to look at the whole atmosphere from.
The walk to the Cape Tribulation lookout point is fairly easy and only takes around 20 min. Spot wildlife and funky looking trees on your way up.
10. Jungle Surfing in Cape Tribulation
Here’s a really fun activity. Explore the flora and fauna of the Daintree rainforest by taking a guided ziplining tour through it. You can even take a guided walk at night if you dare. The best thing about this is that it’s family-friendly.
How to get to Cape Tribulation
Driving from Cairns it takes about 2.5h, but it is a nice 140km drive with beautiful views. Cape Tribulation is actually sectioned off by the Daintree River, so you have to cross it.
Crossing the Daintree River
The Daintree River crossing ferry costs $30 dollars return and are open from 6 am – 12 am. The ferry loads on the passengers via their vehicles and crosses the Daintree River, which is only 2 min to the other side.
To experience Cape Tribulation as much as you can there comes a point where only 4×4 vehicles can pass, so unless you have this type of car turn back because you won’t do well carrying on.
Do I need to book into a tour?
In short, no. However, our close friends booked on to a tour and they loved it. If you are a solo traveller and you want to meet people, then booking onto a Daintree tour is a great way to experience this magical place.
Alternatively, if you are a couple like us or a family and you want to do your own thing, then you do exactly that, your own thing. It’s a really simple and easy drive, with clear and constant road signs and plenty of places to stop off, to break up the journey.
We personally don’t really like group tours and try to do most things by ourselves. We really nearly booked onto one to save any hassle or worries. If you are also in two minds like we were, then don’t do the tours. It’s honestly so easy. All you have to do is jump in your car, download google maps offline and set off.
How long & Where to stay in Cape Tribulation
There are a lot of things to do on your way up to Cape Tribulation; we only touched on a few. How long to stay at Cape Trib and what to do at Cape Tribulation is completely up to you. We only did 1 day and felt like we had seen all the key landmarks. However, it was quite rushed. Here are our recommendations.
Solo Traveller – 2 days, 1 night
If you’re a solo traveller, then we would probably recommend booking onto a tour such as Uncle Brian’s. This is what our friends used and they loved it!
Budget Couple – 1 Full Day
Most people on a budget stay in Port Douglas as they can’t afford to stay at Cape Tribulation. We stayed at Dougies Backpackers Resort, hired a car and drove up to Cape Tribulation and back. It is a 2-hour drive from Port Douglas, including the Ferry across the Daintree River to Cape Tribulation.
If you are doing this, then we would recommend leaving Port Douglas between 6-7 am and drive straight up to Cape Tribulation. Then you can casually make your way back down through the Daintree Rainforest, stopping off at different beaches, boardwalks, viewpoints etc. Then you don’t really feel like the drive back down is long and tiresome back to Port Douglas.
Friends or Couples on holiday – 2 days, 1 night
If you’re on holiday then you have some hard-earned money to spend so you can enjoy the Daintree Rainforest / Cape Tribulation experience to the fullest. However, holidays don’t last forever, so it’s best not to waste any time. We believe that 2 days and 1 night is the perfect amount of time for a couple or friends on holiday. It’s enough time to see the key landmarks in a chilled-out way and not feel like you’ve missed anything.
Stay at Cape Trib Beach House where you’ll have a pool, air conditioning and a choice of rooms from bungalows, cottages and dorms.
Family Trip – 3 days, 2 nights
Nobody wants overly tired, screaming kids. That’s why we recommend staying for 2 nights and enjoying 3 days of exploring, eating and sleeping.
Epiphyte B & B Is perfect for families because you get a cottage with a private creek. It has plenty of space to relax and enjoy the kids playing around, burning off any unused energy.
These recommendations are based on our research and recent experience at the Daintree Forest and Cape Tribulation. Feel free to make them longer stays or shorter days, as it’s different for everyone. Please let us know in the comments below which route you took and what worked for you.
Cassowary in Cape Tribulation
We had no idea what a Cassowary was until we googled it because we kept seeing road signs for them. It’s an incredible experience seeing one with your own eyes. It’s like seeing an actual dinosaur bird. They are way bigger than what you would expect too. They are the 3rd tallest and the 2nd heaviest bird in the world. We had a turkey-sized bird in our head, but it was more like the size of an Ostrich.
Cassowaries are wary of humans and often avoid confrontation, however, if provoked, they may attack. Their attacks can seriously injure humans and also cause fatal injuries.
Also, if you do see them, please do not feed them. They get used to humans and can wander into civilisation, making them vulnerable to traffic and dog attacks.
- Download Google Maps offline; there is no signal once you cross the Daintree River
- Get a map from any of the places where you stopped off, they are usually free and really help gather your bearings and know what’s coming up next
- There is a Woolworths on the way before you cross the Daintree River. This is a good spot to grab some extra water and some snack/ lunch items if you’re on a budget like we were
- You can’t swim in any of the oceans of rivers because Crocodiles lives in them
- The Mossman Gorge is the only natural place where you can swim without a crocodile eating you. The water is so cold, it is really nice in the height of summer and its really refreshing!
- Queensland is a very hot part of Australia; in summer it can be quite unbearable as the humidity is so high. If you are there in summer Nov – Feb, you literally NEED aircon in your car
- If you are travelling in a Camper Van, there are a few places to park for free and stay overnight, some may charge
- To take full advantage of this insane part of the world, you should stay overnight. Although we had an exciting day, it was a little rushed. The drive back to Port Douglas was tiring and it would have been so much better if we had stayed 1 night
- If you only have 1 day to see this place, then do our plan backwards. If we could do this again we would get up really early, drive straight up to Cape Tribulation first and casually make our way back down to the accommodation
Check out our other Australian Blogs for some great ideas if you intend to explore more of this beautiful country.