10 Ways to Explore the Magical Daintree Rainforest

In the morning, I’m dipping into turquoise water holes, canopied by one of the most diverse and oldest rainforests on the planet. In the afternoon, I’m snorkelling through a vibrant underwater playground that is part of the world’s biggest single structure of living organisms. The Daintree Rainforest and the Great Barrier Reef nestled in the lush region of Tropical North Queensland, and this just happens to be the only place on earth where two spectacular world-heritage areas meet. I recently spent four days exploring this stunning region and found there was so much to see and do within this one space!

Here’s how to Explore Daintree Rainforest

Things to do in the Daintree Rainforest- Crocodile Cruise

1.    Go croc-spotting along the Daintree River

To kick start your adventures, taking a cruise along the Daintree River is the quickest way of getting up close and personal with the local wildlife. On the boat ride, you’ll learn about the Daintree eco-system from a local guide, whilst spotting an array of birds, snakes, and of course, crocodiles! We got rather lucky on our tour- just minutes into it we had spotted our first little croc, and before long, our boat was parked up next to ‘Scarface’, the daddy of all crocs! In case you were wondering, everyone came back from the cruise alive and with all limbs intact.

Things to do in the Daintree Rainforest- Crocodile Cruise

2.    Indulge your taste buds at Julaymba Restaurant

Nestled into an idyllic rainforest setting, the Julaymba Restaurant at the Daintree Ecolodge is a treat for the eyes and the taste buds. Julaymba offers a unique outdoor dining experience, surrounded by a canopy of trees and the soothing sound of birds overhead. The restaurant serves up beautiful dishes inspired by local Australian ingredients, with offerings such as king prawn linguine, coral trout with caramelized pineapple and a delectable wattle seed mousse.

Things to do in the Daintree Rainforest- Daintree Ecolodge

3.    Try jungle surfing to see the Daintree from above

It’s one thing walking through the Daintree Rainforest, but you can take the experience to whole new level by zip lining over the top of it! Jungle Surfing is a guided tour through the Daintree canopy in the form of six different zip lines. For the thrill-seekers- don’t set your expectations too high, each zip line is fairly tame. Whilst jungle surfing might not fulfill your need for speed, it’s still a cool way to learn about the ecosystem of the rainforest in a unique and slightly thrilling way!

Things to do in the Daintree Rainforest- Ziplining Jungle Safari

4.    Whizz through the forest on electric bikes

Freeride Electric Adventure Tours offer the unique opportunity to explore around the Daintree Rainforest on electric bikes.  These bikes basically allow you to fly up hills and glide through lush greenery without breaking a real sweat, and are a completely eco-friendly way of exploring the rainforest. During the tour, our guide took us through a stunning section of the Daintree, filled with birds and wildlife, and showed us to a completely untouched waterhole for a swim. I didn’t expect to enjoy riding an electric bike so much- but it was a really fun way of exploring the rainforest (whilst feeling like Lance Armstrong)!

Things to do in the Daintree Rainforest- Cassowary

5.    Go horse riding along the beach at Cape Tribulation

Galloping down the beach on a noble steed- could there be a better way to appreciate the beauty of Cape Tribulation? Ride through picturesque paddocks with a wonderful back-drop of mountains, trotting along a winding river bed before emerging at the idyllic Myall Beach, which was named one of the best beaches in Australia. The highlight of the tour was splashing through the crystal clear waters of this stunning part of the ocean on our horses.

Things to do in the Daintree Rainforest- Horse Riding Cape Tribulation

6.    Jump into a private swimming holes at Heritage Lodge

Nestled in the rainforest but just steps away from the ocean, the Heritage Lodge and Spa was a great base for exploring the beautiful Daintree. The lodge offers secluded cabins right next to rainforest walks and incredible secret swimming holes. Nothing felt better than jumping into cool, crystal clear water after a long day out in the humidity! The restaurant on site, ‘On The Turps’, also offers a fantastic modern Australian cuisine in a stunning setting. Every meal is packed full of locally-sourced ingredients, with choices like freshly-caught barramundi or kangaroo fillet.

Things to do in the Daintree Rainforest- Heritage Lodge

7.    Explore the Great Barrier Reef on an Ocean Safari

Hop onboard a zippy little boat from Cape Tribulation with Ocean Safari and within 25 minutes, you’ll be out snorkelling through the pristine Great Barrier Reef. On the tour, we visited two snorkel spots- Mackay and Undine Reef- both filled with a phenomenal array of colourful fish, turtles, sharks, stingrays and some most vibrant coral I’ve ever lay eyes on. Although I had visited the Great Barrier Reef a few times before, my experience with Ocean Safari was by far the best I’ve had. Visiting the reef in a small boat meant we virtually had the reefs to ourselves, unlike in the past when I’d have to compete with hundreds of other bodies just to get a photo of a turtle. I also appreciated that Ocean Safari was an eco-friendly tour operator, making it a far more sustainable way to explore the reef than the large, commercial cruise boats I had experienced in the past.

Things to do in the Daintree Rainforest- Great Barrier Reef

8.    Take in the views at the Mount Alexandra Lookout

If you are en-route to Cape Tribulation, make sure you make a quick stop at the Mount Alexandra Lookout. This spot has truly breath-taking views over the Daintree coast and its surroundings!

9. Paddleboard along the Mossman River

Forget going for a run and passing out from the humidity- paddle boarding is a much more suitable form of exercise in the tropics! Stand up paddle-boarding along the Mossman river proved to be a very cool way to experience the Daintree rainforest from a new perspective. The best part was, after all the hard work of paddling upstream, we just lay on our backs and stared up at the rainforest canopy as we floated back downstream!

Things to do in the Daintree Rainforest- Great Barrier Reef

10.    Sample some exotic fruit

Head to Cape Trib Farm and indulge your taste buds in an interactive fruit tasting experience. At the farm, a local farmer takes you around and gets you to taste tropical and exotic fruits from around the world, as well as giving you a tour of the orchard at the farm. It’s a unique opportunity to taste fruits you’ve probably never seen or heard of before, such as the chocolate pudding fruit or the creamy sapote!

Getting to the Daintree Rainforest:

Cape Tribulation is a 2 hour 30 minute drive from Cairns or a 1 hour 45 minute drive from Port Douglas. If you are staying in Port Douglas, the Cape Trib Adventure Bus offer day or overnight tours, and can arrange activities around the Daintree to suit your interests. Otherwise, if you choose to stay in the Daintree region itself, there are a range of unique accommodation options on offer, including the Heritage Lodge and Spa (where I stayed during my time there) or the Daintree Ecolodge.  If you are self-driving, I would recommend having roadside assistance, just in case anything goes wrong on those long winding roads!

Things to do in the Daintree Rainforest- Lookout Cairns

Using the Kayak App to plan your trip:

This trip was the first time I’ve used the Kayak app, and it’s quickly become one of my favourite travel apps! If you aren’t familiar with Kayak, it is a travel search engine for finding the best deals on flights, hotels, car hire and activities. In fact, you can search and book many of the above-mentioned activities through Kayak! The app itself integrates some really cool features that I found to be very useful throughout my trip to the Daintree. One of my favourite features of the app was the ‘Trips’ section, which allowed me to congregate all my trip details through importing the hotel and flight bookings from my email. The app also allowed me to check if my flight was on time and even track the plane on a map!

Things to do in the Daintree Rainforest- Heritage Lodge

This trip was sponsored by Kayak AU, however, as always, all the opinions are my own.

For more Australia travel, read these next:

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How to explore Daintree Rainforest in New Zealand
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HEY THERE, I'M NICOLA!

I am on a mission to discover the BEST destinations & dishes from around the world. Whether it’s hopping on a plane or into the kitchen, come join the adventure!

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