This guest blog post was written by travel expert Nicola Easterby for her website Polkadot Passport – originally published here.
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 is a list of ten different ways you can explore the magical Daintree rainforest:
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.
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 caramelised pineapple and a delectable wattle seed mousse.
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 fulfil 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!
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)!
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 backdrop of mountains, trotting along a winding riverbed 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.
6) Jump into a private swimming hole 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.
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.
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 paddleboarding 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!
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:
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 Eco Lodge.
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 hires 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!
This trip was sponsored by Kayak AU, however, as always, all the opinions are my own.
Also Read>> 5 Mysterious Forests Worth Getting Lost In