Great Barrier Reef Drive

Multiple Locations

The Great Barrier Reef Drive from Cairns to Cape Tribulation is along spectacular coastline hugging two World Heritage areas, the Great Barrier Reef and the Wet Tropics rainforest.

From Cairns you head north across the Barron River to the Cairns Northern Beaches including Trinity Beach, Palm Cove and Ellis Beach. The drive then winds along the edge of the Coral Sea past unspoiled tropical beaches to Port Douglas, the ideal place to cruise to the Great Barrier Reef. Intimate, relaxed Port Douglas is the gateway to the Daintree, the world’s oldest tropical rainforest. To the north is beautiful Mossman Gorge where you can discover the culture of the Kuku Yalanji people before driving through sugar cane fields to the township of Daintree. Take a crocodile spotting tour, fish for barramundi or marvel at the incredible birdlife.

Cross the Daintree River on the cable ferry for a leisurely drive through ancient rainforest, pausing at lookouts for a glimpse of the Coral Sea as you wind your way past pretty beaches to Cape Tribulation where the rainforest meets the reef. Turn your journey into a 4WD rainforest adventure, follow a food trail, or learn more about the Aboriginal people of the rainforest.

Journey Details

Duration
2.5 Hours
Distance
140 Kilometres

Full Itinerary

Cairns to Port Douglas

Leaving Cairns behind, head north past the northern beaches of Clifton beach, Trinity beach and Palm Cove. With its long sandy beach lapped by the Coral Sea and a backdrop of rainforest-clad mountains, Palm Cove has the perfect setting for an intimate getaway.

Driving north you pass through pretty Ellis Beach before the road hugs the coastline as it winds between rainforest clad mountains and the waters of the Great Barrier Reef. Stop at a deserted beach along the way and linger at the Rex Lookout where an incredible 180-degree view of the Coral Sea and its coastline begs a photograph. The road leaves the blue of the ocean for the green of sugar cane fields just before the palm-lined entrance to Port Douglas.

Known as the place where A-list celebrities escape, Port Douglas has an incredible array of restaurants, great boutique shopping and the iconic Four Mile Beach. It is the closest mainland port to the Great Barrier Reef and only a short drive to the rainforest at Daintree and Cape Tribulation. Settle into your exclusive resort or spacious boutique apartment where everything is in close proximity.

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Route Details
Mode of Travel 4x4, Bus, Car, Four Wheel Drive, Motorcycle
Distance 140 kms
Route Type Return
Port Douglas to Mossman Gorge

The short drive from Port Douglas to Daintree Village offers the opportunity to learn about the Aboriginal people who have called the Daintree rainforest home for thousands of years. This is the traditional country of the Kuku Yalanji Aboriginal people who continue to have ongoing connections with the area and offer tours where you can experience their culture.

Mossman Gorge is the southern section of the Daintree National Park where steep mountains, thick with rainforest send the Mossman River tumbling over the Gorge’s massive granite boulders creating cool, clear freshwater swimming holes.

You can visit an Indigenous gallery in Mossman, experience traditional hunting at nearby Cooya Beach or relax with an Indigenous spa treatment at Daintree Village.

The quaint township of Daintree Village is perched on the southern side of the Daintree River and is famous for the resident saltwater crocodiles that live on its banks. The village has a number of crocodile, bird and wildlife spotting cruises that depart regularly.

Choose from a luxurious rainforest lodge, hidden holiday houses or cosy safari tents to immerse yourself in the rainforest.

Route Details
Mode of Travel 4x4, Bus, Car, Four Wheel Drive, Motorcycle
Distance 140 kms
Route Type Return
Mossman Gorge to Cape Tribulation

40 kilometres north of Mossman Gorge you will arrive at the Daintree River where the cable ferry transports you into the worlds oldest Rainforest. Continue the leisurely drive, pausing at lookouts for a glimpse of the Coral Sea as you wind your way past pretty beaches. Alexandra Lookout enjoys spectacular views of Snapper Island, Port Douglas and beyond and is located on the fringes of dense Daintree rainforest.

Journey through the world’s oldest surviving tropical rainforest to see an endangered cassowary, be dwarfed by an ancient king fern or swim in a clear freshwater creek. Spot turtles and dugongs as you kayak over the coastal reef, join a night tour to spotlight nocturnal animals or fly through the rainforest canopy on a flying fox.

The drive journey concludes at the only place in the world where dual World Heritage areas of the Daintree Rainforest and Great Barrier Reef collide and is nothing short of spectacular. It is indeed the perfect climax to the completing of the Great Barrier Reef Drive.

Route Details
Mode of Travel 4x4, Bus, Car, Four Wheel Drive, Minibus, Motorcycle
Distance 140 kms
Route Type Return

Find What's Nearby

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Cannonvale

Cannonvale, Whitsunday Area
Just three minutes to the west of the tourist hot spot of Airlie Beach you’ll find its quieter, less known, but just as beautiful cousin Cannonvale. A perfect place to base the family, Cannonvale is conveniently located close to all the sights and sounds the Whitsundays has to offer.

Conway National Park

Airlie Beach, Whitsunday Area
Free Entry
Conway National Park is a peaceful coastal park with rainforest-clad hills, secluded beaches and panoramic outlooks over the scenic Whitsunday area. This park includes the rainforest-clad Conway Peninsula and protects the largest area of lowland tropical rainforest in Queensland outside Tropical North Queensland.

Shute Harbour

Shute Harbour, Whitsunday Area
Shute Harbour, near Airlie Beach, is a port facility for the transfer of visitors to the Whitsunday Islands and resort destinations. A small residential community, it commands outstanding views from most locations.

Jubilee Pocket

Jubilee Pocket, Whitsunday Area
Tucked away in the hills of the Whitsunday mainland, Jubilee Pocket is just two minutes drive from the tourist haven of Airlie Beach on the road to Shute Harbour. Jubilee Pocket’s relaxed ambience and proximity to the tropical, seaside town of Airlie Beach has made it popular in recent years with sea-changers.

Cannonvale Beach

Cannonvale, Whitsunday Area
Free Entry
Situated just three kilometres to the west of Airlie Beach, on a north facing stretch of sand, is Cannonvale Beach. With a stinger net for safe swimming in the summer months, a children's playground, and a delightful cafe on the foreshore, Cannonvale Beach is a favourite spot for families to play.

Long Island

Long Island, Whitsunday Area
With 13 kilometres of extensive walking tracks, stunning lookouts, protected bays and beautiful secluded beaches, Long Island is well worth a visit. Much of the island is national park and you can enjoy bush walks, exploring the fringing coral reef, snorkelling off the beaches or relaxing under the coconut palms.

Airlie Creek Track, The

Airlie Beach, Whitsunday Area
Free Entry
The 850 metre Airlie Creek Track slowly winds up the hill behind Airlie Beach along a gravel path, featuring rare flora and fauna such as the Whitsunday Bottle Tree and the endangered Proserpine Rock Wallaby which are only found in this region.

Conway Beach

Conway Beach, Whitsunday Area
Conway Beach is located on the southern Whitsunday Coast, approximately 30 minutes drive from Airlie Beach and Proserpine. A small hamlet, along with Wilsons Beach, Conway Beach is a popular spot for fishing and wind-powered sports such as kite surfing and land kiting.

Airlie Beach

Airlie Beach, Whitsunday Area
Airlie Beach is the vibrant hub of the Whitsundays and the ideal mainland base for fun and adventure in the Whitsundays. It is the perfect launching pad for activities on the water and in the lush, green rainforest of the Whitsunday Coast.

Boathaven Beach

Airlie Beach, Whitsunday Area
Free Entry
It's not every day that a town gets a new beach, but Airlie Beach is proud to announce the opening of the brand new Boathaven Beach! Part of the new Port of Airlie development, Boathaven Beach is situated on the new peninsula known as The Beacons, and boasts 60,000 cubic metres of soft, white sand, a northerly aspect and is the area's first true all-tide beach.
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Note: Information on listed products and services are provided by the operator and were correct at the time of publishing. Rates are indicative based on the minimum and maximum available prices of products and services. Please visit the operator’s website for further information. All prices quoted are in Australian dollars (AUD).