Australia is a land of truly diverse environments. Make your way to the center and discover red sand and rugged rocky gorges. Travel south and brave single-digit temperatures through dense forests. Or head north and experience the tropical wilderness at the edge of the world’s largest coral reef system. This is where you will find the Daintree Rainforest, 180 million years old and easily one of the most breathtaking places you will ever visit.
The Daintree Rainforest covers over 1,200 square kilometres, making it the largest in Australia. For this reason, it is impossible to see everything, but many accessible parts reveal its incredible beauty.
First, you will need a car. The Daintree is an easy day trip from Cairns or Port Douglas, and while you can join tours that take you into the rainforest, you’ll have more freedom if you hire a vehicle yourself.
Below, find our must-do experiences in Daintree.
Just an hour and a half north of Cairns you will find Mossman Gorge Centeran ecotourism experience that takes you through dense rainforest, swimming in clear freshwater streams and learning about the area’s Aboriginal significance.
A Ngadiku Dreamtime Walk is crucial if you really want to understand the significance of the Daintree. Led by local Aboriginal guides, you’ll visit areas of the Mossman Gorge restricted to the general public while learning about the cultural significance of the plants, places, and ecosystem.
After the tour, take a self-guided walk and, if conditions permit, swim in the Mossman River at the swimming hole, which has a small sandy beach with easy access. Just exercise extreme caution – water conditions can change very quickly and unexpectedly.
Lodge of the Silken Oaks
The most luxurious accommodation you will find in the Daintree area, Lodge of the Silken Oaks reopened in late 2021 with a multi-million dollar refurbishment, by the team at Baillie Lodges, who also own Longitude 131 and Capella Lodge on Lord Howe Island.
The property includes forty luxury treehouses with views of the Mossman River and surrounding rainforest, an open-air restaurant, and an award-winning spa that draws inspiration from the pristine waters of the rainforest. We’ll forgive you for spending all your time at Silky Oaks, taking long naps in your hammock in the trees and sipping cocktails by the fire.
Solar Whisper Animal Cruises
Taking a wildlife cruise along the Daintree River is a fantastic way to better understand how the rainforest ecosystem works. This is also how you’ll spot saltwater crocodiles, if you’re fascinated by dinosaur-like reptiles.
Solar Whisper Cruises is the only zero-emission tour group on the Daintree River, using solar-powered boats to cruise the river in near complete silence. This means less interference with wildlife and also a greater chance of seeing it. Guides will interpret the surroundings and spot creatures you won’t notice, like baby crocodiles basking in the sun on low mangrove branches.
Daintree Discovery Center
Cross the Daintree River by car ferry and the first turnoff you will approach is for the Daintree Discovery Center, an excellent gateway to the region. The entrance will allow you to walk among the treetops, giving a new perspective to the oldest rainforest in the world.
Cassowaries are regularly spotted here, and the informative audio guides (available in eight languages) provide a wealth of information on the native flora and fauna of the area. So when you venture further into nature, you will better appreciate the diversity of the region. .
From here try some of the easy walks along the road to Cape Tribulation. Our choices? The Madja Boardwalk, a 1.2km circuit through lowland mangroves and rainforest, and the Dubuji Boardwalk, which winds its way to Myall Beach.
Daintree Ice Cream Company
YesYou wouldn’t think the Daintree and ice cream are so strongly associated, but there are not one, but two famous ice cream companies that call the area home.
Our choice is Daintree Ice Cream Companybecause after indulging in their exotic fruit ice cream (definitely buy the Signature Cup, which offers four scoops of daily specials made with seasonal fruits from the region), you can stroll through their beautiful orchards and examine the strange fruits and wonderful of the Region.
This charming little cafe might not look like much when you first arrive, but this Cape Tribulation mainstay is renowned for its private freshwater swimming hole. Visitors can enter for free if they eat or drink at the cafe, and if visiting outside of opening hours, just drop a few dollars in the honesty box before diving in.
There aren’t many swimming spots in the Daintree because of the crocodiles, but this one is crocodile-free and a welcome refreshment on hot Daintree days. If you’re lucky, you might even spot turtles at the water’s edge.