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Tropical Reef and Rainforest Tour

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Take a couple of days exploring Cairns and Kuranda Village before starting your roadtrip. Take the coastal route to your first stop, Port Douglas where you can experience sunset sailing, a scenic helicopter flight or join an incredibly special Aboriginal Dreamtime dining experience. Further north you will be fully immersed in the meeting place of two World Heritage locations, visiting the Daintree Rainforest and the Great Barrier Reef at Cape Tribulation. Raft out to the reef and snorkel until your heart's content, before venturing inland to explore the wilderness and spectacular views of the Atherton Tablelands with plenty of time to sit back and relax before your return to Cairns. Tropical North Queensland is the perfect place to visit in the winter months due to its warm daytime temperatures and balmy evenings.

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Self Drive Tour

This suggested tour costs from AUD$4,945 per person (twin share, low season)

Starts in Cairns, finishes in Cairns

11 days/10 nights

Hotel 4 star

 Rental car included

 Viewed 8 times in the last 7 days

Tour full itinerary
ITINERARY
Tropical Reef and Rainforest Tour - Day 1
Arrive into Cairns

Cairns has been home to indigenous Australians for more than 40,000 years and was settled by Europeans in 1876 who arrived in search of gold. These days, Cairns is seen as the city "where the rainforest meets the reef" as it is the gateway to both the 100-million-year-old Wet Tropics World Heritage Rainforest and the Great Barrier Reef. The main tourist centre in town is along the Esplanade, which has a swimming lagoon, bustling weekend markets, and plenty of great food options.

Private transfer Cairns Airport to your accommodation

On arrival, you will be met by a private driver outside baggage carousel and delivered to your Cairns accommodation.

Your accommodation: Oaks Cairns Hotel

Situated on the Cairns Esplanade, minutes from the CBD and the Esplanade Precinct. The brand new property offers modern facilities, amenities and an amazing roof top bar! Explore the hustle and bustle the city has to offer or head up to view the city offering with a beverage!

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Tropical Reef and Rainforest Tour - Day 2
Cairns Free Day

Cairns is known as the gateway to the Great Barrier Reef, and Queensland's tropical north. It is a laid-back town with a relaxed way of life, ideal for people who enjoy the outdoors and tropical nature. Have a stroll along Cairns esplanade, discover open-air markets, and grab a coffee in one of the brilliant al fresco cafes. After that, you can cool off in the sparkling Esplanade Lagoon. This saltwater pool is lined with parks, shady banyan trees, boardwalks, and barbeques. If you feel active and energised, you can join free outdoor exercise classes, such as yoga, zumba, pilates, or beach volleyball, held six mornings a week along the Esplanade. In the afternoon, you can visit Cairns Botanic Gardens, with their spectacular plant collection. The gardens feature rainforest vegetation and many interesting species of flowers. You can bring your own snacks for the picnic or grab a snack in the cafeteria. You should also explore the Cairns Aquarium, which is dedicated to local species and habitats, with over 16,000 specimens on display. It is home to incredible sea creatures, from sharks to snakes. In the evening, enjoy fresh seafood in one of the gourmet restaurants or a refreshing cocktail i a waterfront bar with its amazing ocean views and great vibes.

SUGGESTED ACTIVITY - Classic Experience with Kuranda Scenic Railway

Experience this scenic journey on the Kuranda Scenic Railway to the 'village in the rainforest'. Your day begins in Cairns as you board the train for a morning departure. Travel through unsurpassed views of World Heritage-listed rainforest and waterfalls, including Stoney Creek Falls and the breathtaking Barron Gorge. You will wind your way through 15 tunnels and over 37 bridges on your journey before reaching Kuranda, where you will have several hours to explore the village. In the afternoon you will board the Skyrail Rainforest Cableway for a journey up and over the rainforest canopy, back to the Skyrail terminal where you will be transported back to the Cairns railway station.

SUGGESTED ACTIVITY - Paradise Guided Rainforest Walk with Kuranda Riverboat Tours

Cruise the calm, tranquil waters of the World's most ancient tropical rainforest along the Barron River and bask in the peaceful, tropical scenery. Commentary by your guide highlights impressive features of the surrounding forest, species of river wildlife in the area, and the history of Kuranda. The river is home to a diverse range of wildlife including, turtles, snakes, water dragons, and freshwater crocodiles which you are likely to see relaxing in the waters. Keep your eye out for the elusive cassowary on the far side of the river and keep your camera handy to take advantage of the great photographic opportunities.

Your accommodation: Oaks Cairns Hotel

Situated on the Cairns Esplanade, minutes from the CBD and the Esplanade Precinct. The brand new property offers modern facilities, amenities and an amazing roof top bar! Explore the hustle and bustle the city has to offer or head up to view the city offering with a beverage!
Meals included: Breakfast

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Tropical Reef and Rainforest Tour - Day 3
Choose your style of rental vehicle

Our rental car range includes the latest vehicles from the top suppliers. From economy hatchbacks to SUVs, we can help you decide on a car suitable for this leg of your trip. Insurance can often be included with a small excess or deductible.

Collect your rental car from the Cairns City depot

Head to the Cairns City depot today to collect your chosen rental car, and continue your journey.

Cairns to Port Douglas

The best route to travel between Cairns and Port Douglas is the Captain Cook Highway (State Route 44). Less than 70km in length, this short drive offers countless opportunities to stop and admire the breathtaking views, walk along the beach or take a quick dip in the sea. You could even stop off at the Skyrail Rainforest Cableway for a bird's eye view of the world's oldest continually surviving tropical rainforest.
We recommend arriving to Port Douglas before dusk so that you can take in the beautiful sunset over the water.

Low Isles Sailing Tour

Enjoy a relaxing afternoon on the Great Barrier Reef, filled with sailing, snorkeling and swimming. Immerse yourself In nature by swimming with turtles, taking a trip on the glass bottom boat, or relaxing on the white sandy beaches. As the sunsets take in the spectacular views as you sail back to the port. This is the perfect afternoon out to experience the absolutely stunning Great Barrier Reef in the most sustainable way!

SUGGESTED ACTIVITY - 30 Minute Great Barrier Reef Scenic Heli Tour with Nautilus Aviation

A scenic helicopter flight over the reef is an opportunity not to be missed! You will be amazed by the stunning blue and green hues of these pristine coral sea waters and their thriving coral gardens. This flight includes incredible photo opportunities of picturesque Green Island, Arlington Reef and Upolo Sand Cay.
Many of the larger marine species can be most easily spotted from the air.  Inflight sightings have included Sea Turtles, Sharks, Manta Rays, Dolphins, Dugong and even majestic Humpback Whales (Jul-Sep) during their annual migration from Antarctica, stopping by briefly to give birth and raise their calves in our warm tropical waters.

Your accommodation: Peninsula Boutique Hotel Port Douglas

Port Douglas accommodation offers a boutique style adults only hotel experience – enjoying an unrivalled beachside location overlooking Four Mile Beach and is the only hotel in Port Douglas with beach and ocean views. 40 metres to the beach and a 2 minute stroll to the heart of Port Douglas with its cosmopolitan boutiques, restaurants and entertainment options.
Meals included: Breakfast, Lunch

Driving distance and time (approximate) for this leg: 61 kms / 38 miles : 1.0 hours

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Tropical Reef and Rainforest Tour - Day 4
Explore Port Douglas

Port Douglas is a chic, yet relaxed seaside village with a plethora of restaurants and bars, as well as fantastic boutique shopping. The village is also the ideal base to explore three of Australia's most iconic natural attractions - the World Heritage-listed Great Barrier Reef, the Daintree Rainforest, and Cape Tribulation with an abundance of tours and day trips available.

Walking Tracks Around Port Douglas

Flagstaff Hill lookout track
1.5km. Allow 15 minutes.
If you need a picture worth framing (or posting) look no further than the Flagstaff Hill Lookout. Located at the summit of Island Point Road, it is an easy walk, bike ride or even short drive to the lookout viewing area. From here you will witness sweeping, majestic views of Four Mile Beach and the rainforest-clad mountain ranges to the south. Venture along the Flagstaff Hill Walking Trail down to Four Mile Beach and walk the plank (or viewing platform) and take in the 180-degree views to the Coral Sea, Low Isles, and Snapper Island to the north. Find the hidden Low Isles Lighthouse viewing platform located on the corner where Wharf and Island Point Roads meet.
Mossman Gorge
Embark on your own adventure through the Gorge with a voyage through the lush green rainforest. Soak up the wonders of the national park at your own pace as you navigate walking tracks and trails, including the popular Gorge Circuit. Pack a picnic lunch to savour at one of the many water holes, where you can find a quiet place to sit back, catch your breath, and appreciate the wonders of your surroundings. Find yourself under the towering canopy of the rainforest, beautifully framed by the striking mountains.
All of the walking tracks are clearly signposted and maps are also provided upon entry. Seasonal track closures may occur from time to time due to localised flooding or track maintenance. Please note, shuttle bus fees apply to the below Mossman Gorge walks. For a guided experience, we recommend joining a Mossman Gorge Dreamtime Walk, where an experienced interpretive Indigenous guide demonstrates traditional plant use, identifies bush food sources, and provides an enchanting narrative of the rainforest and their special relationship with this unique tropical environment.
Baral Marrjanga
270 metres. Allow 5-10 minutes.
Baral Marrjanga leads through the rainforest from the shuttle bus stop to a lookout with views of the Mossman River and the mountain ranges beyond. The track includes two sections of elevated boardwalk that pass through the lower rainforest canopy. The track is suitable for wheelchairs, strollers, and the vision-impaired.
Lower River Track
300 metres. Allow 5-10 minutes.
This track starts at the shuttle bus stop and winds along the Mossman River before joining Baral Marrjanga. Several small lookouts along the track provide views of the river. Although most of the lower river track is easy walking, the steps can be slippery. Please take care and use the handrails provided.
Rex Creek Bridge
460 metres. Allow 10 minutes.
To reach the Rex Creek suspension bridge, follow Baral Marrjanga to the lookout and take the short, signposted track to the left.
Rainforest Circuit Track (from Rex Creek Bridge)
2.4km return. Allow 45 minutes.
This track begins on the far side of Rex Creek bridge. On the left, 80m from the bridge, a small lookout provides views of Manjal Dimbi (Mount Demi). A little way past the lookout, the track divides to form a circuit that meanders through the rainforest.

SUGGESTED ACTIVITY - Aboriginal Cultural Experience with Flames of the Forest

Experience the oldest continuing culture in the world with this intimate cultural experience with local Kuku Yalanji people. Flames of the Forest, only 10 minutes from Port Douglas, takes guests on a journey into Dreamtime Legend with performance featuring didgeridoo, singing & storytelling. You'll be picked up from your hotel and welcomed with sparkling wine and canapes as you enter the rainforest, a beautiful, natural backdrop for this unique experience. Enjoy a seven dish banquet as local Kuku Yalangi share their timeless oral traditions which will stick with you for years to come.

Your accommodation: Peninsula Boutique Hotel Port Douglas

Port Douglas accommodation offers a boutique style adults only hotel experience – enjoying an unrivalled beachside location overlooking Four Mile Beach and is the only hotel in Port Douglas with beach and ocean views. 40 metres to the beach and a 2 minute stroll to the heart of Port Douglas with its cosmopolitan boutiques, restaurants and entertainment options.
Meals included: Breakfast

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Tropical Reef and Rainforest Tour - Day 5
Port Douglas to Daintree Village

25 minutes north of Port Douglas you will find the sugar cane town of Mossman, gateway to the world-renowned Mossman Gorge. Take a visit to the Mossman Gorge Cultural Centre where you can join a guided cultural walk or explore at your own pace. From here you will continue driving north, pop out on the coast at Rocky Point and Wonga Beach, then head back inland towards the lush Daintree Rainforest. You will come to meet the Daintree River, home to an abundance of native wildlife and river cruise activities. A little further west and you will arrive in the region's original settlement, Daintree Village.

Late Afternoon Cruise with Daintree Boatman Wildlife Cruises

Spend the afternoon floating on the Daintree River in a hybrid vessel that uses an electric engine, reducing the disturbance to wildlife and resulting in better wildlife observation. As the afternoon approaches the beautiful light shines onto the river creating a magical sight as the sun is setting, this afternoon you are likely to come across crocodiles, tree snakes, and approximately 40 different bird species including kingfishers, frogmouths, and herons heading home for the evening.

Your accommodation: Daintree Ecolodge

Daintree Ecolodge, situated in the heart of the magnificent Daintree Rainforest, offers sustainable luxury in a breathtaking location. Wake up to the sound of the birds in the canopy above, take in the majesty of the ancient tropical wilderness and discover the Ecolodges’ private and pristine waterfall on a leisurely walk through the enchanting rainforest.
Meals included: Breakfast

Driving distance and time (approximate) for this leg: 62 kms / 38 miles : 0.9 hours

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Tropical Reef and Rainforest Tour - Day 6
Ngana Julaymba Dungay: We All Going Daintree Walkabout Cultural Adventures Full Day Tour - Lunch Included

Spend the day with a local Aboriginal tour guide, learning about culturally significant areas and the relationships the Kuku Yalanji people still have with their land. Learn the history, culture and traditions of the local Aboriginal people and the area. Walk through the rainforest and coastal habitats learning about the different environments, different foods and medicines utilised from nature, sample some seasonal bush tucker, collect shellfish and learn traditional Aboriginal hunting practices, have a go at spear throwing and if you are lucky, catch a mud crab. Complete the adventure by cooling off in a pristine freshwater stream.

Your accommodation: Daintree Ecolodge

Daintree Ecolodge, situated in the heart of the magnificent Daintree Rainforest, offers sustainable luxury in a breathtaking location. Wake up to the sound of the birds in the canopy above, take in the majesty of the ancient tropical wilderness and discover the Ecolodges’ private and pristine waterfall on a leisurely walk through the enchanting rainforest.
Meals included: Breakfast, Lunch

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Tropical Reef and Rainforest Tour - Day 7
Daintree to Cape Tribulation

Today, you will be driving towards the world's oldest rainforest - the Daintree Rainforest. At the Daintree River, you will need to take the Daintree Ferry across (at your own expense). This is the only cable ferry operating within tropical Australia and the journey across takes about 10 minutes, but there can be wait times, especially in the peak season of July-September. Once across, you will follow Cape Tribulation Road through the rainforest until your final destination for the day, Cape Tribulation. It is a unique place, the only one in the world, where two UNESCO World Heritage listed sites, The Daintree Rainforest and the Great Barrier Reef, meet.

Great Barrier Reef Turtle Tripper Adventure with Ocean Safari

This half day tour will take you on an exhilarating ride from Cape Tribulation Beach to snorkel the pristine Great Barrier Reef bordering the Daintree Coast. After boarding the semi-rigid inflatable boat, your custom-built vessel will embark on the 25 minute journey out to your snorkelling sites, Mckay Cay and Undine Reef. From here you will often be able to see the rainforest along the mainland as you paddle, and on most days you will find yourself swimming with sea turtles as well as an extraordinary array of marine life and coral species. Throughout your tour you will also receive personalised snorkelling instruction and reef interpretation talks from your ultra-qualified eco hosts.

Cape Tribulation to Daintree

Today, you will be heading down South, from magnificent Cape Tribulation to Daintree. You will be driving through the most ancient rainforest in the world, which is over 180 million years old, and is a home to wonderful and unique ecosystems and wildlife. You will follow Cape Tribulation Road, and will be passing Daintree Discovery Centre, which is a park's visitor center with a canopy tower, aerial walkways & educational exhibits. At the Daintree River, you will need to take the Daintree Ferry across (at your own expense). This is the only cable ferry operating within tropical Australia and the journey across takes about 10 minutes, but there can be wait times, especially in the peak season of July-September. Once across, you will follow Mossman Daintree Rd towards Daintree village.

Your accommodation: Daintree Ecolodge

Daintree Ecolodge, situated in the heart of the magnificent Daintree Rainforest, offers sustainable luxury in a breathtaking location. Wake up to the sound of the birds in the canopy above, take in the majesty of the ancient tropical wilderness and discover the Ecolodges’ private and pristine waterfall on a leisurely walk through the enchanting rainforest.
Meals included: Breakfast

Driving distance and time (approximate) for this leg: 98 kms / 61 miles : 2.7 hours

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Tropical Reef and Rainforest Tour - Day 8
Daintree to Malanda via Atherton

Today, you will head to a small rural town Malanda in the Tablelands Region. You can take a direct and faster way via State Route 81, but the best option is to choose a longer, but spectacular Captain Cook Highway (State Route 44). This drive offers countless opportunities to stop and admire the breathtaking views or walks along the beaches. Head towards Port Douglas, stopping at Four Mile Beach, a stunning coastline with wide sandy beaches and rainforests. There is a patrolled swimming area in front of the surf life-saving club (with a stinger net in summer). Continuing down South, you will be passing Hartley's Crocodile Adventures, featuring crocodile & reptile shows, as well as guided tours with views of koalas & kangaroos. Stretch your legs and grab a snack on Palm Cove Beach, an esplanade with palm trees and cafes, a popular swimming and fishing spot. Just 20 minutes north of Cairns is Smithfield, home to the Skyrail Rainforest Cableway where you can take a bird's eye view of the world's oldest continually surviving tropical rainforest, or divert a little further to Kuranda for the historic Kuranda Scenic Railway. Keep driving towards Atherton and then onto Malanda, passing the wonderful Curtain Fig Tree, estimated to be over 500 years old.

Your accommodation: Rose Gums Wilderness Retreat

Rose Gums Wilderness Retreat is a unique nature experience accommodation. It is a paradise for nature lovers with spectacular views of the rainforest and mountain scenery. It features a mix of tree-houses and villa tree-houses, a tennis court, and plentiful hiking options nearby. It is situated on the coastal mountain ranges of the Cairns Highlands and Atherton Tablelands. It is about 1.5 hours drive from Cairns.
Meals included: Breakfast

Driving distance and time (approximate) for this leg: 200 kms / 124 miles : 2.8 hours

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Tropical Reef and Rainforest Tour - Day 9
Free Day of Activities in Rose Gums Wilderness Retreat

Start your day in this beautiful natural paradise with wildlife viewing. It starts every morning at 8:30am, behind the reception. You will see the smallest and most primitive kangaroos in the world - the musky rat-kangaroo and also the colorful parrots, the King Parrots and Rainbow Lorikeets. You will also learn about the evolution of parrots and kangaroos in Australia. For those of you seeking more Kangaroo experience, why not follow the Kangaroo Trail, you can also spot one of the biggest, the Eastern Grey Kangaroo. After that, you can explore the numerous walking trails, rainforest creeks, native plants, and stunning waterfalls. You can start with the Creek Walk, a moderate 90 minutes walk and look for platypus in this pristine World Heritage Wooroonooran National Park. Or you can go for an easy, 1-hour long Reforestation Walk. This track follows the contour around the Spring Creek Gorge and is probably the best for bird watching. Towards the end of the track is a rainforest with fruiting trees which attracts cassowaries. You can also spot other bird life, such as Cattle Egrets, Red-backed Wrens, White-faced Herons and other grassland birds. You can also go for a wild swim in tropical pristine waters at Butchers Creek or at Hidden Waterfall. The roads around Rose Gums are also bike friendly, you can go for a ride to the wonderful volcanic crater lake, Lake Eacham, or explore the Wooroonooran National Park to the base of Mt Bartle Frere, Queensland's highest mountain.

Your accommodation: Rose Gums Wilderness Retreat

Rose Gums Wilderness Retreat is a unique nature experience accommodation. It is a paradise for nature lovers with spectacular views of the rainforest and mountain scenery. It features a mix of tree-houses and villa tree-houses, a tennis court, and plentiful hiking options nearby. It is situated on the coastal mountain ranges of the Cairns Highlands and Atherton Tablelands. It is about 1.5 hours drive from Cairns.
Meals included: Breakfast

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Tropical Reef and Rainforest Tour - Day 10
Malanda to Cairns

This route completes the second half of the popular Waterfall Circuit route. Departing Malanda to the south, the main road becomes Millaa Millaa - Malanda Road. If you missed the platypus in Yungaburra in the first half of the circuit, the Tarzali Lakes Australian Platypus Park gives you another chance to try. You can also taste delicious smoked Barramundi fish here. Once you reach Millaa Millaa you'll start tracking east back to the coast on what becomes the Palmerston Highway. Turn left onto Theresa Creek Road and discover the famous Millaa Millaa Falls. If you want to see more waterfalls and time allows, you can continue on the Theresa Creek Road loop to Zillie Falls and Ellinjaa Falls. If you're a foodie, or simply still feeling peckish, take a trip to Mungalli Creek Dairy & Cafe on Brooks & Junction Rd Loop.
Following the Palmerston Highway you will pass multiple waterfalls including Crawford Lookout & Mamu Tropical Skywalk. Close to Innisfail take a left to head back north on the Bruce Highway. A short drive later turn left onto Bartle Frere Road, where the tranquil Josephine Falls await you. Josephine Falls is really one of the crown jewels of this trip, closely followed by the Babinda Boulders. Back tracking on Bartle Frere Road, turn left onto the Bruce Highway & head for the township of Babinda. Turn off the highway and pass the township, heading out on The Boulders Road. The Babinda Boulders are culturally and spiritually significant to the first nations people of Australia, and the magnificent rock formations mark your last stop on this trip. Head back to the highway, follow once again through Gordonvale and return to Cairns.

Rainforest and Nocturnal Wildlife Tour

Visit the scenic Atherton Tablelands, rich in biodiversity, an area that features a range of habitats including lush tropical rainforest and volcanic crater lakes. During the adventure by day, you may see the musky rat kangaroo, Boyds Forest Dragon, a selection of rainforest birds, butterflies, and flying foxes. At dusk, venture to the viewing area by the river to search for the Platypus, one of the most unique mammals on earth.
Once night falls, stroll under the night stars, and into the World Heritage Rainforest, where you may be lucky enough to spot a Lumholtzs Tree Kangaroo, Northern Leaf Tailed Gecko, Ringtail Possums, gliders, frogs, owls, and more (most are endemic to the region). Every night is full of discoveries!

Your accommodation: Cairns Colonial Club Resort

Cairns Colonial Club Resort is set on 11 acres of lush, award-winning tropical gardens with three lagoon-style swimming pools. The resort combines the tranquillity of a tropical resort with the advantages of a mainstream hotel.
Meals included: Breakfast, Dinner

Driving distance and time (approximate) for this leg: 194 kms / 120 miles : 2.7 hours

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Tropical Reef and Rainforest Tour - Day 11
Return vehicle to Cairns City depot

Return your rental vehicle to Cairns City depot before continuing your onward journey.

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