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

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Carlo Sand Blow

Rainbow Beach, Gympie Area
Free Entry
Carlo Sand Blow is a unique "moonscape" sand mass covering over 15 hectares and overlooks the towering coloured sands and the coastline from Double Island Point to Inskip Peninsula and the southern tip of Fraser Island.

Round Bommie

Rainbow Beach, Gympie Area
Round Bommie is a large granite monolith divers can explore off Rainbow Beach. This huge slab of rock rises out of the sand at 15 metres and reaches within 6 metres of the surface. It takes about 30 minutes to swim around Round Bommie, but with many ledges and holes to investigate divers are lucky to complete a circuit in an hour.

Wolf Rock Dive Site

Rainbow Beach, Gympie Area
Free Entry
Wolf Rock, located off the coast of Rainbow Beach near Gympie, is an action packed dive site with few equals. A dive for experienced divers only, due to the depth and strong currents, Wolf Rock comprises of five interconnecting pinnacles that rising from 35 metres.

Tinnanbar

Great Sandy Strait, Fraser Coast Area
Discover one of Queensland's most beautiful and secluded beaches at the small seaside village of Tinnanbar in the Fraser Coast, with white sandy beach, clear turquoise water and stunning views to World Heritage-listed Fraser Island.

Nursery Reef

Rainbow Beach, Gympie Area
Nursery Reef is a shallow rocky reef off Rainbow Beach that is always full of surprises. The least dived site in the area, due to its shallow depth and exposed location, Nursery Reef is only 5 metres to 7 metres deep.

Bird Watching - Tin Can Bay

Tin Can Bay, Gympie Area
Free Entry
The Cooloola Coast is part of the Great Sandy Strait, which is an internationally important wetland. It is an area of tidal swamps and intertidal sand and mud flats. The vegetation includes beds of seagrass, mangrove forests and saltmarsh wetlands.

Tin Can Bay

Tin Can Bay, Gympie Area
Secluded in the midst of picturesque Tin Can Inlet, experience a tranquil getaway to this area known for its eco-tourism surroundings. Tin Can Bay is a perfect place to unwind and relax. Originally known by the aborigines as Tuncanbar, this peaceful bayside town is well known for its recreational fishing and boating pleasures.

Rainbow Beach

Rainbow Beach, Gympie Area
This is heavenly sub-tropical, coastal town situated on the Great Beach Drive that is an aquatic lovers playground. Rainbow Beach, is a major entry point to the 41,000 hectare Cooloola National Park and the southern gateway to world heritage listed Fraser Island.
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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).