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Can You Go To The Daintree Rainforest On Your Own?

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Gabby Boucher
Updated Thu 01 Jun 2023

Yes, you can go to the Daintree Rainforest on your own! But you have to rent a car and drive yourself because there is no public transport. The only other way to explore the Daintree without driving yourself is by booking a guided tour. Whether you drive or book a tour is up to you! 

The Daintree Rainforest is a magical place and it is definitely worth the trip. A tour is the best option for new travelers who haven’t done much research. Your local guides will take you to all the best locations and share their knowledge and expertise with you! Tours are also good for travelers who are short on time because all the best attractions are packed into your 1 or 2-day itinerary. But you can explore the rainforest on your own as well, and this option gives you more flexibility and allows you to create your own schedule. This article will explore both tours and self-drive options for the Daintree Rainforest!

van parked next to the beach

Where Is The Daintree Rainforest?

The Daintree Rainforest is located in Tropical North Queensland, all the way up in the northeast corner of Australia. It is about 100km north of Cairns and about 50km north of Port Douglas. The easiest way to access the Daintree is by flying into Cairns Airport and either renting a car or booking a tour from there. Cairns is a much bigger and busier city than the small town of Port Douglas, so you have more options here!

And it is so worth booking that trip up to the Daintree Rainforest! As the oldest tropical rainforest on the planet, the Daintree is around 180 million years old and boasts ancient landscapes that are simply mind-blowing. From unique, dinosaur-like creatures such as cassowaries and crocodiles, to trees as tall as skyscrapers and ferns as big as cars, you will truly feel like you’re in another world! 

girls on a walk in the rainforest

Can You Go To The Daintree Rainforest On Your Own?

Yes, you can go to the Daintree Rainforest on your own, without a tour. However, guided tours are recommended for those who want to make the most of their time in the Daintree! An experienced guide will educate you about the ancient cultures, the fascinating flora and fauna, and the local way of life in the rainforest. Day tours or weekend tours are the easiest and most popular ways to explore the area, but it is entirely possible to visit the Daintree without a tour. 

street signs

How To Get To The Daintree Rainforest Without A Tour

The easiest way to get to the Daintree Rainforest without a tour is by flying into Cairns, renting a car, and driving yourself! Cairns has lots of reputable car rental companies where you can rent a standard vehicle for your trip. You don’t need a 4WD, unless you plan on venturing even further into the remote north, way past Cape Tribulation. But most travelers turn around at Cape Tribulation, so you most likely won’t need a 4WD. 

To get to the rainforest from Cairns, you just head north on the Captain Cook Highway and stay on the same road pretty much the whole time! As you head north, you’ll eventually reach the Daintree Ferry which will transport you across the Daintree River. From there, you are free to explore the rainforest! Cape Tribulation road is the one main road that you need to follow, and it will bring you directly to the heart of the small, tourist village deep in the rainforest: Cape Tribulation. Most travelers spend a night or two there before road-tripping back down to Cairns

map of daintree drive

Do you have to pay to visit Daintree Rainforest?

There is no entrance fee for the Daintree Rainforest! However, you do have to pay to cross the Daintree River on the Daintree Ferry. This is the only way to drive into the rainforest, so check the Daintree Ferry prices to see how much you’ll need to pay. Other than that, your only expenses will be any tours, activities, food, and accommodations you wish to buy. But there is no entrance fee to cross into the Daintree. 

daintree ferry

Top Things To Do In The Daintree Rainforest

There are so many incredible things to do in the Daintree Rainforest! On your drive from Cairns, be sure to take a quick detour to Mossman Gorge to learn about the Aboriginal heritage and go for a quick swim in the refreshing gorge. And as you head north towards Cape Tribulation, there are lots of cool attractions to see along the way!

Make sure you grab a tropical-fruit-flavored ice cream at Daintree Ice Cream Company. You can also book a wildlife cruise on the Daintree River or on Cooper Creek so you can cruise through the wild waterways of the Daintree and hopefully spot a crocodile! There are also lots of beautiful and deserted beaches in the Daintree, including Noah Beach, Myall Beach, Thornton Beach, and Cow Bay Beach. Just don’t swim in the ocean because there might be marine stingers or saltwater crocodiles. 

The sleepy rainforest town of Cape Tribulation also has its own array of adventures. Go for a mellow stroll on the wildlife-filled Dubuji Boardwalk, or take on a challenging hike up Mount Sorrow. Visit a tropical fruit farm, go zip-lining, ride horses on the beach, or book a boat tour out to the Great Barrier Reef! There are so many fun activities awaiting travelers in the Daintree Rainforest!

girl scuba diving

The Best Daintree Rainforest Tours From Cairns

If you decide to book a guided tour instead of going to the Daintree Rainforest on your own, there are lots of excellent options. Day trips from Cairns are popular among travelers without much time to spare. Cape Trib Connections, Active Tropics, Uncle Brian’s, and Billy Tea Safaris offer all-inclusive day tours from Cairns to the rainforest. 

A 2-day tour is the better option if you have the time! Spending a night in the remote wilderness of the Daintree is a once-in-a-lifetime experience. Active Tropics hosts an incredible 2-day, 1-night Daintree tour that includes Mossman Gorge, Cape Tribulation, and a mesmerizing smoke ceremony with the traditional owners of the land. 

group watching sunset

Check out the epic Active Tropics Daintree tour here!

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