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Distance From Cairns To Daintree Rainforest

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Gabby Boucher
Updated Fri 10 Feb 2023

The distance from Cairns to the Daintree Rainforest is about 100km, and there are some excellent guided tours or self-drive routes you can take! Cairns is the closest major city to the Daintree Rainforest, so it’s an ideal starting place for a journey up to this remote and magical corner of Australia. 

The enchanting Daintree Rainforest is located in the far north of Queensland and is estimated to be around 180 million years old. That makes the Daintree the oldest rainforest on the planet! Home to dense tropical landscapes and an astonishing display of biodiversity, this is really one of the most special places in Australia. So if you’re on a holiday in Cairns, it is absolutely worth making the trip north to visit the Daintree Rainforest!

girl overlooking rainforest

Distance From Cairns To Daintree Rainforest

From Cairns to the Daintree Rainforest, it’s just a 100km journey north along the Captain Cook Highway. This coastal drive is simply stunning, so don’t rush to get from Cairns to the Daintree! Be sure to stop at every lookout and soak in the views of the rolling green hills bordered by the turquoise Coral Sea and the Great Barrier Reef

Without stops, it takes about 2.5 hours to drive from Cairns to the Daintree Rainforest. Many people choose to break up the journey by stopping in Port Douglas, a charming tourist town along the way. From Port Douglas, it’s 56 km to the Daintree Rainforest. The gateway to the Daintree Rainforest is the Daintree Ferry. It’s a quick, 5-minute ride on the cable ferry across the Daintree River. Once you’ve crossed, you are free to explore the Daintree!

Daintree Ferry

Cairns To Daintree Rainforest: How To Get There

To get from Cairns to the Daintree Rainforest, you can book a guided tour or drive yourself. There are perks to both! A guided tour relieves you of the responsibility of planning your own trip and securing a car if you don’t already have one. You also get to enjoy the added benefit of a local guide who will share their knowledge and travel tips with you. 

Driving yourself is also a fun way to get from Cairns to the Daintree Rainforest. You can plan your own itinerary and take your time. Here are some more details about the various ways to travel from Cairns to the Daintree Rainforest

girls next to a jeep overlooking the ocean

Can You Self Drive to the Daintree Rainforest?

Yes! From Cairns to the Daintree, drive along the Captain Cook Highway for roughly 100km. If you don’t have your own wheels, you can rent a car or a campervan in Cairns. The drive from Cairns to Daintree is very straightforward! Just stay on the scenic Captain Cook Highway the whole time, but take the opportunity to stop at various beaches and attractions on the way to make the most of your journey. 

Trinity Beach, Ellis Beach, and Palm Cove make for beautiful stops along the way. You can even spend a few days in Port Douglas if you have time! For a refreshing dip in the rainforest, venture over to Mossman Gorge for a few hours. After passing Port Douglas and Mossman Gorge, keep heading north until you reach the Daintree Ferry. 

map of cairns to daintree

Guided Tours

The easiest way to get from Cairns to the Daintree is by booking a guided tour. Reputable tour companies depart from Cairns every day. Your local guides will bring you north towards the Daintree, sometimes stopping at attractions like Mossman Gorge and Port Douglas on the way. Once you arrive, you’ll spend some time at the secluded headland and village known as Cape Tribulation and visit various beaches and lookouts. 

Day tours from Cairns to the Daintree are the best way to make the most of your visit if you only have one day. Your guides will make sure you see all the highlights before heading back to Cairns. If you have more time, a 2-day tour is even better! Spend the night in Cape Tribulation up in the Daintree and spend 2 full days enjoying extra activities in the area. 

For example, Active Tropics has a 2-day tour that includes a smoke ceremony with a kuku yalanji tribal member, a wildlife river cruise, and more. You could also try Uncle Brian’s Best of Both Worlds tour and combine a day trip to the Daintree with a day trip to the waterfalls of the Atherton Tablelands

aerial view of Cape Tribulation

Is The Daintree Rainforest Worth Visiting?

A trip from Cairns to the Daintree should 100% have a place on your Australia travel itinerary! The Daintree Rainforest is such a unique and wild place. There are rainforest hikes, freshwater swimming holes, tropical fruit farms, wildlife-filled rivers and forests, and more. There is little internet and cell phone reception, so you can really switch off and immerse yourself in the grandeur of the natural world. 

Because it’s only an easy 100km distance from Cairns to the Daintree Rainforest, travelers in Cairns can easily fit in a day trip or a multi-day excursion up to this extraordinary location. Whether you want to drive yourself or book a guided tour, you won’t regret spending at least one day at minimum in the world’s oldest rainforest!

girls walking near a van

Ready to book your day trip or overnight trip to the Daintree Rainforest? Call us on (07) 4082 7470 or live chat with one of our travel experts today!

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