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daintree rainforest accommodation in cape tribulation
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Car hire and bus from Cairns to the Daintree

drive a hire car from cairns to cape tribulation
Spectacular views from Rex Lookout between Cairns and Port Douglas on your way to the Daintree

Nothing beats the freedom of having your own rental car and stopping when and where you want.
Although there are buses that do daily runs between Cairns and Cape Tribulation it is recommended that you rent a car to give you the ultimate freedom to explore the amazing Daintree region with all its attractions..
Book your hire car online and have it waiting for you at Cairns airport on arrival!
The road from Cairns through the Daintree to Cape Tribulation is now sealed all the way so any normal hire car can make the journey, no need to hire a four wheel drive, unless you want to head further north of Cape Tribulation along the Bloomfield Track to Cooktown.

The first section of the Daintree National Park is only an hours drive from Cairns at Mossman Gorge. After that it is another half hour to either Daintree Village or de Daintree River ferry.
Cape Tribulation is located 145 km. or 2.5 hours from Cairns, and 80km. or 1.5 hours from Port Douglas. The Daintree river ferry operates continuously from 6 am till midnight and costs $21.- return but there are multiple use passes available for $40.- if you stay in the Daintree area for a few days.
Bear in mind that these are driving times only, once you start stopping at interesting places along the way you can easily spend a full day on the Cairns to Cape Tribulation journey, or even two!
See our maps page for some directions to Cape Tribulation, all car rental offices in Cairns have free maps available too that they will give you when you collect your hire car.

rental car from cairns to the daintree
The drive from Cairns to Cape Tribulation is a very scenic drive

Vroomvroomvroom is the best place to start your search for a cheap hire car.
Ofcourse you can search all the major car hire companies one after the other but you'll find it saves you a lot of time to simply type in your car hire location and dates, and get presented with an overview where you see all available cars next to their prices to compare on one page. Can it get any easier?


budget car hire ifrom cairns to cape tribulation
Example of how easy Vroomvroomvroom makes choosing a car and comparing prices.


RentNewCars.com.au is an Australian company that exclusively distributes Europcar & Thrifty's Australian fleet of 16,000 new hire cars and four wheel drives from over 200 locations around Australia.

Cheap Car Hire Australia

Budget Car Hire needs little introduction, the name says it all: car hire at Budget Prices with a car hire company with an international reputation, and this sites makes it even easier to find yourself a cheap hire car or, campervan or four wheel drive.


click here for budget car rental


Thrifty Car Rental is another international car hire business with a reputation for cheap rental cars and fourwheel drives.

click here for budget rental cars

When you book through the above websites you are sure you deal with reputable car rental companies, without wanting to discredit the local businesses, we have received some not too happy customer reviews on Cairns Older Car And Ute Hire.

You can also download and print Mason's Cape Trib Tourist Information maps, but most car rental places will give you this map when you collect your hire car anyway. Daintree River to Cape Tribulation - Cape Tribulation only

Some approximate driving times:

Daintree Ferry to Mossman
Daintree Ferry to Cow Bay
Daintree Ferry to Daintree Village
Daintree Ferry to Cape Trib
Daintree Village to Mossman
Daintree Village to Cape Trib
Daintree Village to Cairns
Cow Bay to Cooper Creek
Cow Bay to Cape Tribulation
Cape Tribulation to Bloomfield
Cape Tribulation to Cooktown
Cape Tribulation to Mossman
Cape Tribulation to Port Douglas
Cape Tribulation to Cairns

20 mins
20 mins
10 mins
50 mins
30 mins
60 mins
1.5 hrs
10 mins
20 mins
60 mins
3 hrs
1.25 hrs
1.5 hrs


Bus to the Daintree

There are quite a few buscompanies that go up to the Daintree every day, picking up from Cairns accommodation, Cairns airport, Port Douglas accommodation and Daintree Village all the way to Cape Tribulation, or even further up to Cooktown. Depending on the number of people in your party and the duration of your stay in the Daintree it may be just as, or more, economical, to hire a small car as the bus fares are not all that cheap.
Timetables and prices are subject to change from time to time so you are advised to check their websites for updates and email them to verify departure times.

Country Roads Coach Lines - This bus does a run all the way from Cairns to Cooktown, so is a good option if you plan to head further north after your Cape Tribulation stay. They depart Cairns at 07:00 in the morning, arriving in Cape Trib about 10:10 but not every day, only on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday, at the time of writing this page the one way fare Cairns to Cape Tribulation was $46.- See their website for up to date info and prices.
The return journey leaves Cape Trib at 10:10 on Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday and arrives in Cairns around 13:30.

Package deals are also available and are a very economical alternative to taking a normal bus and booking your own accommodation, and you get to stop at some places of interest.
You get picked up in Cairns or Port Douglas, and the usual stops include Mossman Gorge, a cruise on the Daintree river, a stop at the Alexandra Lookout, some boardwalks in the Daintree north of the river, the Daintree Icecream Company etc.
Companies such as Cape Trib Connections, Tropics Explorer, and Jungle Tours do package deals where you get your return transfer and one or two nights in a backpackers hostel all in one deal.
Tropical Horizons does the same thing but less targeted at backpackers and with more choice of accommodation.

There are other companies that do guided daytours to the Daintree and Cape Tribulation.


Fly to the Daintree

At Cow Bay there is an unsealed air-strip where you can land small planes.
For details contact Daintree Airstrip, Cow Bay. Phone: 07 4098 9202


Take your boat to the Daintree

It is possible to take your boat to the Daintree but anchorage off the coast between the Daintree River and Bloomfield River is fairly exposed to the winds, there is shelter behind Cape Tribulation but on the northside the best spots are taken up by the reef tour operators, and on the southside it is pretty shallow.
Snapper Island has some good fishing and some beautiful reef surrounding it, and you can sail your boat up the Daintree river, but be aware of the ferry cables under water so give the ferry plenty of room, and Mike Berwick's power cable that overhangs the river.
Cooper Creek is off limits to all boats, except the crocodile spotting tour that has a special permit.


Driving directions to the Daintree;

From Cairns: all you need to do is find Sheridan Street, the main road that goes through the city centre of Cairns, and then drive north, Sheridan St. becomes the Cook Highway.
From Cairns airport or Port Douglas: turn right when you hit the Cook Highway and drive north.
On the north side of Cairns you will go through some roundabouts, if you are new to Australia remember that traffic entering the roundabout gives way to traffic that is already on the roundabout. On these roundabouts follow the signs for Mossman and Port Douglas.
After about one hour from Cairns you will pass Port Douglas on your right hand side, and another 15 minutes or so later you will pass through Mossman.
Keep driving north after Mossman and after 20 minutes or so you will see the sign below, go straight ahead to Daintree Village or to go to Cape Tribulation turn right towards the ferry. There is the appropriately named Crossroads Cafe at this junction if you need to sit down with a drink to think about where to go from here.
(Don't expect Daintree Village to be the village in the rainforest, it is surrounded by cleared land with grazing cows, to see the world famous Daintree rainforest you will need to cross the Daintree river on the ferry.)

rent a car to go to the daintree
On the highway about 25km. north of Mossman
turn right at this sign

rental cars crossing daintree river
Cross the Daintree river on this ferry,
it runs continuously from 6 am till midnight.

After you have crossed the Daintree river it is another 36km. to Cape Tribulation, due to the speed limits and winding roads this can take you close to an hour, even without stops. Keep your speed down to save the wildlife, especially the cassowary.
On arrival in Cape Tribulation you will first see the signs for the Cape Trib shop/info centre, and 500 metre further the sign "Welcome to Cape Tribulation".

cape tribulatoin car hire
This sign will tell you that you have arrived in Cape Tribulation.
Because there is no main street with shops some people drive straight through!

The first accommodation options when you arrive in Cape Tribulation are just past the above sign, about 500 metres down the road on your left is Camelot Close, up this road you will find Rainforest Hideaway and Ferntree.

A bit further up the main road on the right is PK's Jungle Village and another four kilometres up the Bloomfield Track is the Cape Trib Beachhouse and the Cape Tribulation Sanctuary.

daintree tree frog

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