Cruising along the Great Barrier Reef Drive between Cairns and Cape
The Great Barrier Reef
Drive is a sensational coastal drive along deserted beaches and
blue seas between Cairns and Cape Tribulation, incorporating no less
than two World Heritage Areas, the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park and
the Daintree Rainforest.
‘The Great Barrier Reef Drive is amongst the best coastal drives
in Australia, up there with the Great Ocean Road and other famous drives.
Starting from Cairns, you are treated to magnificent views of the Coral
Sea as soon as you leave the nortnern beaches of Cairns
This is a bit unfortunate for the driver who has to keep their eyes
on the road, our advice is to stop often at the various view points
and take turns driving.
There are plenty of lookouts along the way, the most popular one at
the Rex Lookout where you can also try hang gliding to make the coastl
views even more spectacular.
From the Smithfield roundabout simply follow the brown coconut signs
Barrier Reef Drive from Cairns to Cape Tribulation is about 140
km. in length and in driving time without stops takes about 2.5 hours.
Of course you will be stopping frequently so the adventure can quickly
take up a day, or even several days to a week!
Our recommendation is to take your time exploring the sights along the
way, and to spend a couple of nights at the end of the drive, Cape Tribulation
as that truly is the crown on this majestic drive.
Cape Tribulation has some great accommodation where you can stay right
inside the world's oldest rain forest, and Rainforest Hideaway is probably
your best choice for some memorable accommodation to stay while you
explore the area on some of the local tours or by yourself.
After passing beautiful Ellis Beach which is basically the end of Cairns
you start a World Heritage section without any development. All you
will see is deserted remote beaches and beautiful views. The Rex Lookout
is a must-do stop along this drive.
One of the views along the Great Barrier Reef Drive,
looking south from Rex Lookout over Wangetti Beach
About 70km. from Cairns you will see the turn off to Port Douglas,
a popular resort town with long sweeping Four Mile Beach and varioius
tourist attractions such as day tours to the Great Barrier Reef and
the Wildlife Habitat.
A little bit further up the road you come to the sugar cane town of
Mossman, mostly known for the Mossman Gorge, a river runs through the
rain forest with scenic spots to swim in the river, and guided walks
can teach you some of the indigenous culture of this area.
After leaving Mossman the real adventure begins, it is another 65 km.
or 1.5 hours (driving time only) the the grand finale of the Great Barrier
Reef Drive; Cape Tribulation.
Soon after Mossman there are several more beautiful beaches, such as
Newell Beach and Wonga Beach.
Then you will come to a T intersectin on the highway where you will
see the sign to turn right to the Daintree ferry where you cross the
river to do the final 36 km. to Cape Tribulation.
One of the many vistas along the Great Barrier Reef Drive;
the mouth of the Daintree river seen from the Alexandra Lookout
Once you have crossed the Daintree river and you drive off the ferry
you immediately find youself in a different world, the dense rain forest
on the sides of the road gives a definite Jurassic Park feel to the
There are less of the sweeping sea views along this final stretch, but
the ancient rain forest more than makes up for this, stop at some of
the National Park board walks to fully appreciate the spectacular beauty
of the oldest rain forest on the planet, estimated to be around 120
million years old.
You will also pass quite a few pristine untouched deserted beaches
along the Daintree coast here, and then reach your final destination
of the Great
Barrier Reef Drive; Cape Tribulation.
This small rain forest settlement in the rain forest by the beach has
everything you need for a few days of exploring and experiences; Bed
and Breakfast accommodation, real jungle accommodation in the Daintree
Jungle Treehouse, shops, bars, restaurants, hiking trails, and local
tours such as jungle surfing and snorkel tours to the Great Barrier