Cairns has more to offer than the Great Barrier Reef. If you have a car available, it is easy to explore the rainforest in small towns in the area. If you would like to add something, please leave a comment below.
Port Douglas is a small town North of Cairns. It is popular among Australian holiday makers. The local Yachting Club organizes each Wednesday free sail tours. However, you need a bit of luck to find a Skipper who is going to take you. The chances for backpackers are smaller, since they usually tend to take “normal” tourists.
Daintree Rainforest and Cape Tribulation
The Daintree Rainforest is about 160km North of Cairns. This is where the rainforest and beautiful beaches begin. In Cairns you find a number of tours.
If you are going by car, you have to take a ferry. A return ticket costs $26. This fee is basically the entrance fee to the national park. Cape Tribulation is perfect for just chilling at the beach or go hiking in the jungle.
For a proper hike, you want to go up the Mount Sorrow. The peak is not too high, however, the hike is super steep. To climb up the top, it will be very exhausting. Don’t forget to take water!
Be aware of crocodiles! Especially where the rivers meet the sea, they are often spot.
There is a number of camp sites, where you can camp for little money, and a hostel in Cape Tribulation.
Bac: It is forbidden to sleep in the car on the parking areas. However, if you wake up early enough, before the rangers start their control drive (between 6 and 8), you are safe. If you get caught, tell them that you arrived late at night and didn’t know where to go.
In the Daintree Nationalpark a must-see is the Mossman Gorge. This is a river, which sneaks across the rainforest. If you are keen, you can also take a dip there, without having to worry for crocodiles – the water is just too cold for them.
The town Kuranda is a small drive from Cairns in the middle of the rainforest. You can get there also by bus or the Skyrail or train (Kuranda Railway). These options, however, are quite expensive. The cheapest option is to go by car.
In Kuranda you find markets selling typical Australian products – skin care products, kangaroo fur, aborigines art etc. You can go for a hike in the rainforest from Kuranda.
The Barron Falls carry loads of water during the rainy season, while only a little water stream can be found during the dry season. During this time, starting from June, they are not as spectacular as during the wet season.
Millaa Millaa Falls
The Millaa Milla Falls are 100 km from Cairns. They became famous, when they were shown in a shot for a shampoo brand. You can drive right to the falls.
This place is great for stunning pictures, however, it is sad, that they built a parking area right next to the fall.
Innot Hot Springs
The hot springs are another 60 km from the Millaa Millaa Falls. If you are driving from Cairns to the Outback, it is well worth a stop. Stop at the Innot Hot Springs Hotel Motel, right next the Highway, there you find a small creek.
But don’t be fooled! The creek is small, but the water can be super hot.
Top places around Cairns on the map