Stepping straight on to the beach from the rainforest is a very special experience at Cape Tribulation where the dual World Heritage areas of the Great Barrier Reef and the Wet Tropics Daintree rainforest meet.
From the colourful cassowary to the vibrant Ulysses butterfly the Daintree is filled with truly unique and rare wildlife. Journey through the evolutionary timeline strolling rainforest boardwalks, soar through the rainforest canopy on a zipline or go in search of the nocturnal creatures on a guided night walk.
Head south towards the river and return trip on the cable ferry but not before sampling ice-cream made from locally grown rainforest fruits. Along the way explore the Daintree Coast encompassing Noah Valley, Cooper Creek, Thornton Beach, Cape Kimberley and Cow Bay. Returning to Cairns, the last turns of The Great Barrier Reef Drive highlight the natural beauty of Sir David Attenborough’s favourite place on earth after home sweet home.
Myall Beach is on the southern side of the Cape Tribulation headland; the place where two World Heritage areas meet, the Daintree Rainforest and the Great Barrier Reef. It is at this magnificent location that the end of the Great Barrier Reef Drive journey is achieved. To reach Myall Beach, park in the Kulki Boardwalk carpark and begin the walk over the ridge of the Cape Tribulation headland and down through the coastal forest. An exquisite sight awaits, the stunning Myall Beach. The Myall Beach walk joins the Kulki Boardwalk to the north and the Dubuki Boardwalk to the south, a distance of about 1.5km. Look out for horses on a guided rainforest and beach horse ride.
Just south of Cape Tribulation is the Dubuji Boardwalk, which was constructed by the Daintree Rescue Program to minimise tourism impacts on this senstive area. The 1.3km wheelchair accessible, loop track abuts Myall Beach and begins at the carpark, meandering through forest, mangroves, fan palms and over spring fed creeks. There are many viewing areas of the path, with information signs to allow visitors to appreciate the significance of this special place.
Thornton Beach along the Great Barrier Reef Drive presents visitors with views of the Coral Sea from your car seat, however, the true beauty of this beach is observed when you step foot onto it. The small yet eye-catching Struck Island is just off the beach and is a point of interest on your beach walk, where you can take in views of the lower ranges of Thornton Peak and walk south to meet the mouth of the Cooper Creek. If you needed more convincing to stop the car, the beachfront cafe offers a welcome opportunity for those wanting to swap a steering wheel for a strong cup of tea (and maybe a treat). Closeby you can check into a number of accommodation options, guided rainforest walks, as well as embark on a crocodile spotting river cruise at Cooper Creek.
*Petrol Station/Servo is located at Daintree Rainforest Village, 2094 Cape Tribulation Road, Diwan QLD 4873
North of the Alexandra Range, Cow Bay is the first coastal Daintree village in the Daintree Rainforest and thought to be named after the dugongs (sea cows) that feed on the seagrass beds in the bay. Turn off the Great Barrier Reef Drive (Cape Tribulation Road) at the ice creamery onto Buchanan Creek Road to arrive at Cow Bay Beach. There are three secluded bays to explore along this deserted beach and at low tide you are able to walk north around the headland to other isolated beaches. There is tourist accommodation in the area of Cow Bay and Diwan and as you go through the area you'll go past a tea plantation, tourist activities and boardwalks.
After crossing the mighty Daintree River into the Daintree Rainforest, the first coastal beach area to explore along the Great Barrier Reef Drive is Cape Kimberley. To access the beach, turn into Cape Kimberley Road for 10km, with 5km being along a dirt road. At Cape Kimberley there is a resort and camping area, parking and facilities and offers views of nearby Snapper Island. It is a 3.5km long beach with a direct and stunning coastal walk to the mouth of the Daintree River.
Named after the palms that line the beach, Palm Cove is a secluded coastal village dotted with cafes, restaurants and boutique shopping along the paperbark-lined Williams Esplanade. The beach is the most popular of the Cairns Northern Beaches, with the pristine sand and water, free BBQs, jetty and walking paths. Sitting off the coast you’ll spy the twin-peaked Double Island, a private luxury island and popular kayaking destination. Sit back and enjoy the view from a beachfront bar, sipping to the success of a fabulous day on the Great Barrier Reef Drive.
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