A very popular day or overnight trip from Cairns is to beautiful Cape Tribulation. This area of northern Queensland is famous for its extraordinary fusion of rainforest and ocean, meeting together to provide onlookers with breathtaking views.
I have made this trip a couple of times. The drive itself is gorgeous and fairly easy, even for a girl with no prior experience of driving in Australia like myself!
If you are not planning to stay overnight I would suggest you leave Cairns early in the morning (we left at 8am) to give yourself enough time to see everything. The overall drive, not factoring in stops along the way is about 3 hours long (one way).
Below are my personal highlights and recommendations if you are planning to do the trip:
One of the first northern beaches you will come across when driving up from Cairns is Trinity Beach. If you have not been here before it is worth stopping off, even for just a few minutes to soak in the sea breeze and take some pictures.
(Also a great place to spend the day having a picnic and enjoying the beach. If you don't have a car it is reachable from Cairns by public bus using Sunbus Route 111)
Approximately an hour into your drive you will come across Palm Cove, an extremely picturesque and relaxing village by the sea. The main street runs parallel to the beach which is lined by palm trees...I guess the clue is in the name! This little village is full of resorts, restaurants and cafes making it a great location for a day trip, a weekend break or a coffee stop on your way up to Cape Tribulation.
*Also reachable via Sunbus Route 111
REX'S LOOK OUT
Another worthy stop along the way is Rex Lookout, it is signposted and pretty hard to miss. A great quick stop to take some beautiful pictures of the coastline.
The next popular beach town you will come across is Port Douglas. With it's many luxury resorts and eateries this is a favoured destination for holiday makers, couples and families more so than backpackers (although there are a few hostels in town).The beach here is large and sandy, with designated swimming areas monitored by lifeguards.
Port Douglas is perfectly placed to break up the drive making it a great stop for an early lunch. I would recommend grabbing something at The Little Larder. Most of the time, when I am in a new location I check TripAdvisor to decide where to eat. Out of the more affordable & relaxed restaurants this little place had the best reviews, so naturally we decided to try it out. When we got there it was busy enough that we had to wait a few minutes for a table (usually a good sign). The place was quirky and reminded me of an indie venue you would come across in a larger city such as London or New York. We ordered a pulled pork BBQ sandwich and a chicken BLT with a side of fries. The food was delicious, so good old TripAdvisor did not disappoint!
Whilst in Port Douglas you should also follow the signs to the lookout. It is at the end of a really steep street reachable via car or on foot, but the views are worth it.
MOSSMAN GORGE & THE DAINTREE FOREST
Mossman Gorge is located in the southern portion of the Daintree National Park and a 20 minute drive from Port Douglas. A visit to Mossman Gorge will allow you to experience the rainforest, the streams that run through it and of course the gorge.
If you head to the Mossman Gorge centre you will be able to catch the shuttle bus which departs every 15 minutes and takes you straight to the start of the gorge walking trails. The cost per adult is $9.10, for more information you can click here
There are multiple walking trails available varying in length and grade. We did the Rain Forest Circuit Track (2.5km return) and takes approximately 45 minutes.
CROSSING THE DAINTREE RIVER
To get to Cape Tribulation, you will have to cross the Daintree River and drive through the Daintree Forest. The Ferry operates from 6am to 12am every day and the cost for one vehicle is $14 one way or $25 return.
Once you have crossed the river the drive up to Cape Tribulation is a magical one. The main road cuts through the thick and luscious rainforest surrounding you in an army of trees and enveloping you in a world of tropical wander. The road is pretty windy and as you make your way higher and higher up the mountain, the drive becomes slightly harrowing as one side of your car will be facing a cliff. Take your time, be a smart driver and everything will be ok!
Pictured above are a few examples of the things you can do in Cape Tribulation. There are walking trails, lookouts, beaches and you can even do a river cruise to observe crocodiles in their natural habitat. So ladies, enjoy the scenic drive and keep your eyes pealed, all the the various activities are signposted along the way.
During one of my trips to Cape Tribulation I stayed overnight at PK's Jungle village, which offer cabin accommodation, dorms and camping facilities. I stayed in a private cabin, the room was clean and comfortable, there is a bar on the premises which also serves food and we had a great time. The only thing I didn't like were the cooking facilities, the kitchen is not well equipped and we found it difficult to put together a simple chicken salad because of the lack of utensils. So just as a heads up, if you plan to stay here, you would be better off buying food from the bar or eating out.
There you have it girls, if you find yourself in Cairns it is definitely worth exploring Tropical North Queensland by visiting Cape Tribulation and the other places mentioned above along the away.
Have you ever been or plan to go? Let me know if you have done the same trip and if there are any other tips you would share with fellow female travellers and myself :)