Cairns to Cape Tribulation Road Trip

It’s time for one of the most beautiful road trips in Australia! This northern Queensland road trip from Cairns to Cape Tribulation will take you across over 140-kilometres of scenic views and sights. Simply head north along the Captain Cook Highway to see endless beaches, unspoilt coastline, as well as emerald green rainforests, too. Yes, that’s right, this road trip really does have the best of both worlds of epic coast and beautiful bushland. Make sure to pack plenty of snacks as well as your sense of adventure, because you’ll be on the road for a while and have plenty of stops along the way. We explore the best stop along the way on the Cairns to Cape Tribulation road trip below, so if you’re ever in Northern Queensland you know exactly where to head!

Ellis Beach

Just a half hour’s drive from Cairns, Ellis Beach should be the first stop on your road trip. Here you’ll get the first glimpse of the magic of this drive: the magical deserted beaches juxtaposed against the vivid green rainforest. It’s not something you’ll see often, so make the most of it as you drive through. If you choose to stop here, the beach is 1-kilometre in length, so it’s the perfect place for a sandy walk or a morning coffee! 

Wangetti Beach

This is a short drive, but it’s worth stopping at if you have the time. This beach is well known amongst locals but is still something of a mystery to tourists, so stop here if you want a relatively untouched gem. It’s a gorgeous untouched beach that stretches as far as the eye can see. Stop here for a quiet seaside break before any of the real long stretches of driving start. Wangetti Beach is just a ten-minute drive from Ellis, so it’s clear that this road trip will be full of plenty of jaw-dropping stops!

Mossman Gorge
Mossman Gorge

Another half an hour on the road will bring you to Mossman Gorge. This stop is rich in Indigenous culture, so it’s the perfect place to stop for a while and learn about the local culture and history. Perhaps take some time to learn about the traditional values of the Kuku Yalanji People that call the Daintree Rainforest their home, or explore the national park itself. Mossman Gorge is fairly inland, so this will be your first encounter with the beautiful bushland that North Queensland is renowned for. There are plenty of walks you can try out on this stop too, like Baral Marrjanga, the Lower River Track, Rex Creek Bridge, or the Rainforest Circuit Track. 

Daintree Village

After another half-hour drive, it’s time for a Daintree Village stop! This is a beautiful unspoilt and nature-filled township, where friendly locals will welcome you to explore. Perhaps take this time to grab a bite for lunch or even hop on a nature cruise. Keep an eye out for crocodiles and other animals while driving through and exploring the area. It’s a gorgeous rest spot along the Great Barrier Reef Drive and one that you’ll definitely enjoy. 

Alexandra Lookout in the Daintree Rainforest
Alexandra Lookout

Mount Alexandra Lookout is also known as Walu Wugirriga, which means ‘look about’, which you’ll definitely do if you stop here. It boasts incredibly beautiful views of the Daintree Coast, Port Douglas, and even as far as Palm Cove on a clear day! Enjoy the incredible combination of rainforest-meets-reef views: you’re unlikely to see such a contrasting point anywhere else in the world. This is a 45-minute drive from Daintree Village.

Marrdja Boardwalk

This is a really informative and popular boardwalk through the bushland of North Queensland. At just over 1-kilometre in length, it’s easy to do, and fascinating to see! Some of the plants here date back to over 400 million years ago, so it’s an incredible place to learn and be amongst the natural history of the world. There are information signs to help you understand what is around you as you wander through. 

Cape Tribulation

The final spot on this road trip! Cape Tribulation is home to not one, but two World Heritage areas. It’s where the World Heritage Great Barrier Reef meets the Daintree Rainforest, so this is truly an incredible area of natural beauty and significance. Take some time to explore the beautiful end of this road trip. It’ll be worth it to  book a night or two to truly understand the beautiful nature of the area. 

This road trip is one of the most famous in Australia for a reason! The perfect combination of rainforest meets the sea comes to the epic conclusion of the two World Heritage areas. Take your time on this road trip, it’s well worth it to spread it out to really explore all that it has to offer in your rental car. 

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