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

Activities

  • Birdwatching
  • Camping
  • Cycling
  • Hiking/Trekking
  • Horseriding
  • Off Road Driving
  • Sailing
  • Scuba-Diving
  • Snorkelling
  • Swimming

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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Paradise On The Beach Resort

Palm Cove, Cairns Area
From AU$160 - 360
Framed by giant melaleuca trees, Paradise on the Beach is Palm Cove's hidden secret. Located just 15 metres from a picture perfect tropical beach edged by palm trees and a sparkling seascape of offshore islands.

Sheraton Grand Mirage Resort Port Douglas

Port Douglas, Douglas Area
From AU$329 - 1199
Welcome to Port Douglas, one of Australia's most stunning holiday destinations in Tropical North Queensland and the gateway to explore the world famous Great Barrier Reef and Daintree Rainforest. A newly renovated beachfront luxury resort on famous Four Mile Beach surrounded by 147 hectares of lush tropical gardens, 2 hectares of sparkling saltwater lagoon pools and an 18-hole golf course, their resort amenities and service will make you feel at home in paradise.

Hilton Cairns

Cairns, Cairns Area
From AU$149 - 934
Situated in lush Tropical North Queensland and set overlooking Trinity Inlet and Marlin Marina, Hilton Cairns is the ideal base from which to explore the region's many attractions. Hilton Cairns continues to demonstrate a commitment to industry leadership and innovation.

Thala Beach Nature Reserve

Oak Beach, Douglas Area
From AU$256.00 - 899.00
Thala Beach Nature Reserve is a deluxe family-owned eco and wildlife retreat on Oak Beach 15 minutes south of Port Douglas. Overlooking the Coral Sea, Thala’s 83 deluxe eco-designed bungalows are set amongst 58-hectares of lush native beachfront native forest.

Lizard Island

Lizard Island, Cook Area
From AU$1800 - 6380
Lizard Island, Australia's northernmost island resort on the Great Barrier Reef, is truly secluded from the rest of the world and is located a one hour scenic flight over the reef from Cairns. With only one resort on the island hosting 40 rooms – it is the tranquillity and natural beauty of the island that will first greet you.

Coconut Grove Apartments Port Douglas

Port Douglas,
From AU$340 - 900
A heavenly retreat waits at Coconut Grove Apartments Port Douglas - one of tropical north Queensland's most impressive interpretation of luxurious Port Douglas accommodation. Situated in cosmopolitan Macrossan Street, just 140 metres from magnificent Four-Mile Beach, divine views of rainforest mountains can be enjoyed in absolute privacy from a choice of 33 glamorous holiday apartments.

Silky Oaks Lodge and Healing Waters Spa

Mossman, Douglas Area
From AU$396 - 898
From the moment you arrive at Silky Oaks Lodge overlooking the Mossman River, you will feel the aura of the Daintree, the oldest living rainforest on earth. Simply relax, escape from everyday life or get out and discover many of the Regions attractions.

Fitzroy Island Resort

Fitzroy Island, Cairns Area
From AU$155 - 410
Fitzroy Island is a tropical paradise of rainforest and coral beaches within the calm sheltered waters of the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Australia, located only 29 kilometres off Cairns. Just 45 minutes by Fast Cat, Fitzroy Island Resort offers affordable 4.

Kewarra Beach Resort and Spa

Kewarra Beach, Cairns Area
From AU$195 - 626
An idyllic Romantic nature resort on the shores of the Great Barrier Reef, Kewarra Beach Resort and Spa is a private boutique beach retreat, boasting a strong focus on environmental sensitivity with superb cuisine and world class service.

Pullman Palm Cove Sea Temple Resort and Spa

Palm Cove, Cairns Area
From AU$299 - 1149
Located in the very heart of majestic Palm Cove, Pullman Palm Cove Sea Temple Resort and Spa is the absolute luxury escape. Designed for those with total luxury in mind, this magnificent resort features 126 luxuriously appointed studios, apartments and stunning penthouses with the choice of luxurious swim-outs, private plunge pool and rooftop terraces.
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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).