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Tourism Port Douglas Daintree helped me put together this Port Douglas to Daintree 4 day itinerary. I’m not going to lie, it was a lot to do in 4 days, but it’s soooooooo worth it. I got to see and do so much, it was incredible. I rented a car with JUCY and loved having the freedom and flexibility to be able to spend as much or little time at each place as I like. This road trip technically begins in Cairns, but is more focused on Port Douglas to Daintree!
Great Barrier Reef Drive
The drive up to Daintree is pretty straight forward, but absolutely stunning. You will go past lots of gorgeous coastline, and should definitely stop at the viewpoints along the way to really take it all in. If you’re lucky enough to pass Yule Point at low tide you’ll be treated to a hell of a view.
From Port Douglas to Daintree, you’ll eventually take the ferry across the Daintree River so keep your eyes open for crocs, hopefully you’ll be luckier than me and get to see one!
Drive carefully on the way up to Cape Tribulation, where you’ll spend the night. Keep a look out for cassowary, I was lucky enough to see one with a baby but they moved too quickly for me to get a decent photo.
Sunrise at Yule Point
Cape Trib Beach House
I stayed the night at Cape Trib Beach House, which, as the name suggests, is located right on the beach. The accommodation is somewhat basic but clean and the staff were fantastic. The beach is stunning, although you can’t swim due to crocs.
Sunrise on Cape Trib Beach
Get up out of bed and watch the sunrise on Cape Trib beach, seriously I’m not a morning person but the sunrises were gorgeous here. Take a stroll either direction along the beach, it’s pretty both ways!
The heart of Cape Trib
I spent the morning horse riding along the beach and I was lucky enough to be the only person in the group. I would highly recommend the morning ride as it’s cooler and also a great way to start the day! The ride takes you through the Daintree rainforest to Myall beach where you can even take the horses into the water.
(*safety first – please wear a helmet and shoes – I took mine off just for the photo!!). Photos by @weownthemoment
If you’re feeling like a swim then Emmagen Creek is the place to go. It’s one of the few places in the Daintree area that offers safe swimming holes (due to all the crocs – seriously there’s signs everywhere about crocs and I never got to see one, I was very disappointed!). It’s worth walking up along the creek for a bit as a bus load of tourists arrived at the closest swimming hole to the road minutes after I did!
Cape Trib Beach Lookout
Ok, so disclaimer: I never actually made it to the lookout, I somehow ended up on the other side of the headland (after taking directions from a local for the best spot to watch the sunset) looking out towards Myall beach. However, the view was still pretty epic and you can apparently see turtles just off the shore there (so I’m told, I didn’t see any of those either, they must’ve been busy playing with the crocs that I also didn’t see!). This was a pretty nice spot for sunset, but to be honest this part of the country is all about sunrises as the coastline faces east.
Looking out for turtles!
Not the view we’d been looking for but a gorgeous one nonetheless! Photo by @weownthemoment
Sunrise on Cape Trib beach
If you were too lazy to get your butt out of bed yesterday for sunrise then do it today… I promise it’ll be worth it. Plus it makes breakfast all that more rewarding!
I honestly kind of expected a dinosaur to jump out from behind a tree on this boardwalk. It’s soooo pretty though, it takes you through the rainforest and mangroves to Myall beach. It says it’ll take an hour, but it probably took me longer as I got distracted taking photos along the way.
This looped walkway takes you once again through the rainforest, but passes Oliver Creek where you can watch for crocs… you guessed it though, I didn’t see any.
I made my way back to Port Douglas in time for lunch and to check into my Airbnb. There’s so many options for hostels, hotels and b&bs in Port Douglas, you’ll be spoilt for choice. It was also time for a quick lunch! Lotus Leaf does amazing Asian salads! Or there’s a host of other restaurats to grab lunch.
Ok so it was pretty awesome to be out on the sea again, I LOVE boats. The sail I did with Tropical Journeys was also great because it’s BYO – you can bring any drinks you want, they provide the coolers and glasses. Downside – you’re back before sunset which feels like a bit of an anti-climax. In my opinion, it’s still totally worth doing, it’s a really pretty sail and the staff were great. And if you’re quick enough you can make it to Rex Smeal Park in time to watch the sun go down behind the mountains.
Pretending to be captain 🙂
Rex Smeal park is the perfect romantic location for watching the sunset
Honestly after such a full on couple of days (and with more on the itinerary for tomorrow) I was pretty ready to grab a take away and crash… However I then came across Capannina. They do the BEST ice cream, seriously I’m obsessed with ice cream and this stuff is AMAZING. Plus I ate a salad at lunch, so totally guilt free 😉
Sunrise on Four Mile Beach
Yep, I dragged myself out of bed for another sunrise. Totally worth it though! As the name suggests, the beach stretches out for 4 miles. And even better, you can actually swim here! Just make sure to stay within the nets during stinger season (Nov-May).
I stumbled across this bonfire on the beach but please be aware that fires on the beach here are illegal and dangerous
No trip to this part of the country is complete without exploring the reef. I did a half day snorkel trip with Tropical Journeys. You have the option of doing a glass bottom boat trip included in the price, but I was too keen to get in the water! I immediately found a turtle cruising along the beach. The visibility wasn’t particularly good on the reef itself, but there were plenty of turtles popping their heads up in the shallow water near the beach. The island itself is also gorgeous and you can walk around it or keep a look out for the ospreys nesting there. I felt like a half day trip here was plenty, maybe if the visibility had been better then I’d have been happier to spend longer snorkelling.
Silky Oaks Lodge
I stopped by Silky Oaks Lodge for lunch and if you fancy something a bit more high end I really couldn’t recommend this place enough. The food was outstanding and they had a good selection of beers on the menu… win win. The grounds are also stunning, I can imagine it would be a perfect place to stay.
So I was supposed to do the Dreamtime Gorge Walk, but I’m an idiot. I’d thought it started at 3:30pm, and casually enjoyed lunch safe in the knowledge that I had plenty of time to get there. Nope. It started at 3pm and I arrived half hour too late. However, they were kind enough to still let me jump on the shuttle and head off unguided to explore. It’s still one of my favourite parts of the Daintree. I just love being fully immersed in the rainforest. It’s like stepping back in time. I stayed right up until the last minute, and ran to get back just in time for the last shuttle (otherwise it’s about a 45 minute walk back to the visitor centre).
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