Cape Tribulation is a stunning part of Australia where the wild rainforest meets the empty beaches. Australia’s richest flora and fauna can be found in this part of the Cape York Peninsula.
Cape Tribulation thanks its name to James Cook, who was stranded on the reef and couldn’t find his way through the labyrinth of wilderness. According to him, this was the point where his troubles began.
1. Getting to Cape Tribulation is already amazing
Not just Cape Tribulation itself makes it worth a visit. The road to it is already incredible and an absolutely must-do on your Australia bucket list!
Great Barrier Reef Drive
Take route 44, or the so-called Great Barrier Reef Drive along the coast to make your way up to Cape Tribulation from Cairns. You will pass some stunning places along the coast. Think of Palm Cove, which is a unique and relaxing village by the sea where centuries old “paperbark” trees line the casual esplanade.
If you like boutique shops and high-end restaurants, Port Douglas is another stop for you. Once there, don’t forget to drive to one of the 3 look-out points. Or check them all out.
You’ll also pass a World Heritage Center: The wet tropics of Queensland. This s a region of spectacular and rugged landscapes with fast-flowing rivers, deep gorges, and numerous waterfalls. Make sure you stop at every viewpoint to breathe in the breath-taking views.
Via Route 81
If you take the inland route from Cairns (route 81), you’ll pass Ngarrabullgan, also known as Mount Mulligan. This is a huge table-top mountain around ten times the size of Uluru. It is over 18 kilometers long.
The Traditional Owners of Ngarrabullgan, the Djungan people, believe that this mountain is a sacred and dangerous place inhabited by the mean spirit Eekoo and they always approach it with caution.
Where route 81 and route 44 meet, there is a junction towards the Daintree road. This road will lead you along the Mossman gorge into Daintree. Both stunning places to have a look around or take a tour to explore these natural wonders.
At the end of the Daintree road, you will cross the river with a ferry to make your way to Cape Tribulation.
2. Incredible views
Cape Tribulation is spread out along the ocean. The roads will lead you through the rainforest that grows in the mountains. Every now and then you are able to see the ocean through the rainforest and that makes the views spectacular.
Mount Alexandra lookout point
When you head your way North through the Forest, one of the first things you pass by is the Mount Alexandra lookout point.
The lookout provides views as you have never seen them before. They include many different landscapes, like multiple islands, vast coastlines, flowing rivers, the Rainforest, the reef, and the ocean.
If you have a bit more time to spend in Cape Tribulation, take the day hike to the top of Mount Sorrow. Don’t let the distance of ‘only’ 7km return distract you. It isn’t a hike everyone is able to do and it will take about 6 hours to complete.
The path up to Mount Sorrow is steep and walking is hard on the uneven grounds. Paths are marked with signs, but you wouldn’t be the first one to get lost. Make sure you prepare your trip and let someone know your plans. Let them take action if they don’t hear from you (don’t forget to inform them when you are back, hehe).
Once at the top, you will be rewarded with incredible views. You’ll see the Daintree and Cape Tribulation coastline, many islands, white sandy beaches, and rivers flowing into the ocean. The most incredible is that you see the top of the Rainforest, which you can’t see from any other viewpoint in the Daintree and Cape Tribulation area.
3. Exploring Cape Tribulation with a 2WD
The best part of exploring Cape Tribulation is that you don’t need a 4WD to explore the biggest part of it. This is unlike most other national parks in Australia.
With a 2WD you can get all the way to Cape Tribulation and even a bit more North. Depending on the water levels in the rivers (some are dry) you can even drive the first part of the Cape Tribulation Bloomfield road. At a certain moment, you have to cross rivers,“ and that is the point from where you need a 4WD to continue your way to Bloomfield.
4. Stunning empty beaches
Cape Tribulation is known as the place where the Rainforest meets the Reef. The only little barriers are sandy strips, which we call beaches. The reef behind you and the ocean in front of you make these beaches really beautiful.
As Cape Tribulation is spread out along the coast, there are many beaches to explore. A lot of them will be empty and you have them all for yourself. Take breakfast or lunch with you to enjoy the sounds of the waves crashing on the rocks, while the birds sing their songs in the background.
A nice way to explore the beaches is by doing some beach walks. The following beach walks are a couple of the nicest in Daintree and Cape Tribulation
- Cape Kimberley beach walk: Not a lot of people, but a lot of nature! Enjoy views on snapper Island and at low tide you can do rock-hopping. Explore little rock pools and see if you can spot some sea life, like crabs and oysters.
- Coconut beach walk: This beach is a stunning place to take pictures. You will see mature mangroves and stones smoothened by the sand.
Distance: as far as you like
- Cape Tribulation beach walk: This beach has the most diverse coastal vegetation anywhere in Australia. The vegetation is rich and protected by the reef. Plants growing near this beach were used by indigenous people for food, medicines, fishing, and tools.
Distance: as far as you like
- Thornton beach walk: This walk will take you to the mouth of Cooper Creek, which is one of Australia’s richest mangrove systems.
Distance: 400m to the beach + as far as you like on the beach
- Wonga beach walk: Wonga beach is one of the longest beaches in the Daintree and Cape Tribulation area. At the Northern end, you will find the mangrove and wetland system of the Daintree river behind the sand dunes.
Distance: up to 9km
MUST READ: Brisbane to Cairns: The complete route guide
Exploring the ocean
Cape Tribulation and Daintree are the perfect locations to explore the world beyond the beach. Take a snorkeling or diving tour on the great barrier reef, or take your trip to a higher level and spend 2 days on a boat that sails you over the great barrier reef, to Cape Tribulation.
Below are a couple of tours I could recommend if you want to explore the Great Barrier Reef from Cape Tribulation. Or check out more to see what else you can do in Daintree and Cape Tribulation.
A 5th good reason that makes you want to visit Cape Tribulation is that the rainforest is very wild and very alive. It is huge and covers about 1200 square kilometers. It is one of the most complex ecosystems on earth and you will find many species of animals and plants that can only be found in this part of the world!
Did you know that the Daintree Rainforest is way older than the Amazon? And by way older, I mean millions of years older! Researchers believe this rainforest is over 180 million years old. No wonder you can find ancient plants, animals, and reptiles here.
Exploring this interesting Rainforest is made easy with the many boardwalks. These are elevated paths that lead you through the forest while protecting the fragile environment. Boardwalks are generally a couple of hundred meters long, with viewpoints and rest areas in between. Here are some of the best boardwalks in the Daintree Rainforest:
- Marrdja boardwalk: If you are interested in the evolution of land plants this is a walk for you. Signs explain the 400 million years of evolution of different ferns, cycads, ancient pines, primitive flowers, and more.
- Kulki boardwalk: This walk takes you through tropical lowlands to a viewpoint where you can see Cape Tribulation what it’s known for: where the rainforest meets the reef.
- Dubuji boardwalk: Mangroves and vast beaches are what you can expect from this boardwalk.
- Jindalba boardwalk: Look down into the forest as this boardwalk is elevated up to 4 meters above the ground. It crosses creeks and swampy areas and from the information signs, you learn everything about the development and evolution of different species.
- Bush-tucker boardwalk: An interesting boardwalk if you are interested in the indigenous people. Along the boardwalk is information provided about what trees, plants, and fruits they used for food, medicines, and tools.
6. The best ice creams
Another amazing reason that makes you want to visit Cape Tribulation is the Daintree Ice Cream Company. They produce fresh ice creams on-sight on a daily basis with fruits that organically grow on their Rainforest farm.
Give your taste buds a twist and try one or more of their exotic tastes, like dragonfruit, marang, jackfruit, davidson’s plum, malay apple, soursop or any other of their freshly made flavors.
7. Jungle adventures on Cape Tribulation
The Rainforest is a jungle for many. Both for animals as well as human beings. It is wild, rough, and if you go off the tracks you will get lost easily.
Take your jungle exploration to the next level and make it an adventure. Ride downhill on a mountain bike on one of the many tracks, get your tires dirty on a 4WD track or surrender yourself to the jungle while ziplining.
8. Indigenous culture
The Northern part of Australia is known for the indigenous culture that is still very alive. And so it is in Cape Tribulation. Everywhere you will find information signs that tell you more about the culture and how they used to live and survive in the rainforest.
Find out more about what they used to eat, how they cured diseases, and how they expressed their feelings with paintings and rock-art. There are also indigenous tours available, where an Aboriginal guide tells you about his or her life in the bush and takes you fishing with a speer. Catch anything? Prepare it on a campfire and enjoy it to the fullest.
9. Backpackers budget
The last, but not least good reason that makes you want to visit Cape Tribulation is that you don’t have to rush through it all in a day to avoid expensive accommodation costs. There are many backpacker hostels and campgrounds available for very reasonable prices. From AU$30 you can get a bed in a dorm room. Campsites might be a couple of dollars cheaper.
Make sure you do your grocery shopping before you cross the river with the ferry. There aren’t many grocery stores around and if they are, they are expensive.
TIP: Book your Daintree or Cape Tribulation accommodation with booking.com
We love to hear from you!
Hopefully, these 9 reasons really make you want to visit Cape Tribulation. It is a spectacular part of Australia, where nature is so pure and untouched. Have you been to Cape Tribulation? Did you explore the Daintree rainforest or do you have a question? Please leave a comment below.