Daintree National Park
Daintree is about 3 hours north of Cairns, 1-2 hours north of Port Douglas. It is much quieter than either Cairns or PD, owing to the distance, crossing the Daintree river (a ferry may take cars and buses across, for a toll), conservation efforts and being off the power grid. The Daintree region is currently in flux regarding conflicting demands of population and economy growth and preservation of the spectacular natural environment.
The quiet environment makes for a very pleasant, laidback tropical stay, somewhat distanced from the mass tourism of Cairns and Port Douglas although Cape Tribulation is a popular daytrip for visitors and amenities for tourists abound.
Flora and Fauna
The park consists largely of broadleaf lowland tropical rainforests and upland tropical rainforests, although there are also significant mangrove and fan palm communities. The rainforest is an amazing array of biodiversity. Look out for the cassowary, a large non-flying bird with a "helmet" growth on its head to protect it as it runs through the forest. Of course, as with all of far northern Australia, saltwater crocodiles are present.
Tropical climate with moderate seasonal variations. The summer is the rainy season.
Some of the hostels rent bicycles which is a pleasant way to get around Daintree Village and see the sights while you're there. The ride from Cow Bay to Cape Tribulation is about 25km each way and a nice daytrip, although a bit hilly in the Noah Range area.
The road is sealed all the way to Cape Tribualtion and all rental companies allow cars to travel as far as the Cape. 4WDs are required only for the Bloomfield Track.
Mason's Tours is the original tour operator at Cape Tribulation and offers 1/2 Day Walks, 2 Hour Walks, Nightwalks and 4WD Tours. Run by the Mason family, who originally came to the area in 1932, Mason's Tours is hard to beat for local knowledge.
Cooper's Creek Wilderness runs excellent bushwalking tours. Pru (the owner) is very warm and knowledgeable. Take swimmers for the swimming hole at the end. Tony's Tropical Tours is also supposed to be quite reputable.
There are several operators running riverboats so you can spot crocodiles on the banks of the Daintree River and also Cooper Creek
Ocean Safari runs great 1/2 day tours to the Barrier Reef from Cape Tribulation.
Lemon myrtle oil is produced by tropical plants native to the area. It has a pleasant lemon scent and is said to have antimicrobial properties. Lemon myrtle essential oil and bath products are available (and marketed as an Australian-made product for visitors to purchase) to purchase at the Daintree Spa and some other businesses in the area. Lemon myrtle products are cheaper and easier to find up here than in Cairns or other areas of Australia.
Daintree Ice Cream Company has natural fruit ice creams which are delicious and made from fruit growing in the orchards just behind. Also, Cape Trib Exotic Fruit Farm runs tours and has local tropical fruit to buy (fresh passionfruit: delicious!)
Daintree tea is also available to buy at shops and restaurants in the village and at Cape Tribulation.
There are a number of small shops in the Daintree area. There is one at Wonga Beach, one at Daintree, one at Cow Bay and two at Cape Tribulation. Mason's Store at Cape Tribulation has takeaway alcohol, groceries, and even a cafe. Check out the swimming hole there too. Being a remote rainforest destination, there are no Coles or Woolworths, so if you require the services of a multinational, go there before you come to the area!
There is a pub somewhere in Daintree, but some locals have said it's a bit dodgy. Most of the lodgings will serve alcohol.
There are a couple of hostels at Cape Tribulation (Cape Trib Beach House and PK's Jungle Village) as well as Crocodylus Lodge about 20km south of the Cape at Cow Bay.
- Ferntree Backpackers Lodge and Jungle Lodge, Cape Tribulation Set back in the heart of a lush coastal rainforest, Ferntree Backpackers is an affordable tropical getaway for backpackers and travellers. Located across the road from the Cape Tribulation ‘village’ — Jungle Lodge is a perfect option for backpackers & travellers on a budget. Safari tents, powered and unpowered camp sites are available for hire on a daily basis.
There is also Coconut Beach Resort at Cape Tribulation.
There are crocodiles in the Daintree River and other creeks in the region. Sometimes the riverbed will have a warning sign, but not everywhere. Stay away from the shore of the river and other creek beds.
Marine stingers are present in the water during the summer season. Some beaches are signposted with warnings for this.
You can bushwalk up to a spectacular view at Mount Sorrow in the Noah Range, but take care when you do the walk (approximately 6-8 hours - please check). Leave early in the morning with plenty of time left in the day to ascend and descend while it is still light. Walkers have gone missing on the trail.