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Cairns to Cape Tribulation: What to do along the Stunning Coastal Headland

Fondly known as the Great Barrier Reef Drive, the route from Cairns to Cape Tribulation is undeniably one of the most scenic in Australia. With pristine rainforests, stunning Coral Sea views and hidden gems dotted along the coast, this is a road trip that you won’t soon forget. 

Journey with us through Far North Queensland with the ultimate Cairns to Cape Tribulation road trip guide. 

Cairns to Cape Tribulation 

The journey from Cairns to Cape Tribulation can be completed in under 3 hours, offering road trippers plenty of time to stop and see the sights along the picturesque coastline. 

Palm Cove

Located 30 minutes from Cairns, Palm Cove provides the perfect first stop on your Cairns to Cape Tribulation road trip. The charming seaside village, best known for its beautiful palm-fringed beach and paperbark-lined esplanade, is a favourite amongst foodies with an array of award-winning restaurants. Explore the town's colourful boutiques and grab a beachside bite before hitting the road. 

Ellis Beach

Ellis Beach is a pure slice of paradise just outside of Palm Cove. The pristine beach features a 6 km stretch of golden sand with palms and lush rainforest as its backdrop. For those looking to take a dip during the summer months, Ellis Beach has stinger nets and a local surf life-saving club on patrol. 

Rex Lookout 

Sitting at the halfway point between Palm Cove and Port Douglas, Rex Lookout offers the perfect pit stop and photo opportunity, with breath-taking views of Trinity Bay, the crystal blue waters and mountains in the background.

Port Douglas

Port Douglas is another iconic Queensland destination nestled between the Great Barrier Reef and Daintree Rainforest. The seaside town is famous for its laid back atmosphere, palm-fringed streets, and stunning Four Mile Beach, with plenty of cafes and restaurants, boutiques and art galleries to explore before continuing on your trip to Cape Tribulation.

Four Mile BeachImage Credit: Tourism and Events Queensland

Daintree River

Witness the magic of the world's oldest rainforest with a cruise down Daintree River, just 40 minutes from Port Douglas. Drift through mangrove-lined waterways and explore this lush ecosystem filled with vibrant birdlife and native wildlife such as Estuarine Crocodiles.

Mount Alexandra Lookout

Make your way from Daintree River to Mount Alexandra Lookout, located in Kimberly just south of Cape Tribulation. The lookout sits within Daintree National Park and offers spellbinding views of Daintree River mouth, Snapper Island and the Great Barrier Reef.

Cape Tribulation 

The journey culminates in Cape Tribulation, where ancient rainforest meets the sparkling cerulean waters of the Great Barrier Reef. This Queensland destination is a natural wonder in itself with unspoiled beaches, swaying coconut palms, Cape Tribulation horse riding and an abundance of things to do in Cape Tribulation.

Daintree Discovery CentreImage Credit: Tourism and Events Queensland

Things To Do In Cape Tribulation 

Cape Tribulation Adventures

Cape Tribulation is an adventurer’s paradise and the perfect base to explore the Great Barrier Reef. Hop on a fast boat from Cape Tribulation Beach, snorkel in the world’s most iconic underwater world, kayak through crystalline waters and explore some of the area’s nearby islands.  

While best known for its water-based adventures, Cape Tribulation has plenty of options for land lovers, including beach horse riding, rainforest hiking, guided walks and camping. 

Cape Tribulation Horse RidesImage Credit: Tourism and Events Queensland

Cape Tribulation Restaurants

Although Cape Tribulation is a small town, it is home to an excellent range of cafes and restaurants to help you recharge after a day of adventure. Located just 400m from the beach, Turtle Rock Cafe and Bar is the perfect spot for a beachside coffee, lazy lunch or sunset beers. 

Enjoy the freshest local produce in a beautiful rainforest setting at Whet, with succulent calamari, lightly crumbed barramundi and fillet mignon on the menu. If you're looking for Cape Tribulation restaurants with more rainforest dining, head to Bali-inspired Cassowary Restaurant and enjoy the fish of the day, seafood linguine or chargrilled crocodile.