Where else but Tropical North Queensland can you sleep soundly in a spot where two World Heritage listed sites meet?
Home to two of Queensland’s five UNESCO World Heritage-listed sites, the Daintree and Cape Tribulation are the ultimate destinations for travellers seeking real connection to the great outdoors.
With the Great Barrier Reef serving as a coral front garden and Wet Tropics growing out the back, you’ll want to set aside enough time to explore the very spot where the world’s oldest rainforest meets the world’s most famous reef.
After all, this precinct of Tropical North Queensland has been described as a “Botanical Ark” and one of the most biologically diverse on the planet, so you’ll want to stay and play long enough to understand why.
Set your sights two hours north of Cairns and follow the road that lays beyond the Daintree River to explore the Daintree and Cape Tribulation with this accommodation guide.
Stay in the thick of the 180-million-year-old rainforest action at the Heritage Lodge. With 20 cabins nestled amongst lush rainforest, this is the kind of property that makes it hard to tell where the Wet Tropics stops and their landscaping begins. As inviting as Heritage Lodge’s swimming pool is on a warm summer’s day, it’s hard to beat a dip in the bright blue waters of Cooper Creek, which runs through the property.
Long days exploring the property or the 1200km2 of Daintree Rainforest that lies beyond it are rewarded with an evening meal at the Lodge’s onsite restaurant ‘On the Turps’. Don’t let its name put you off, this restaurant is the absolute definition of serenity, with a lunch and dinner menu that’s guaranteed to be accompanied by a soundtrack of forest sounds.
Nature bathe in luxury and check into the Daintree Ecolodge, which you’ll find nestled into the rainforest on the Cairns’ side of the Daintree Ferry crossing. You and the 20 or so other guests will be sparely scattered across the property, settling into 15 luxury banyans that favour rainforest views, privacy and eco-design. In the spirit of being a true nature escape, at Daintree Ecolodge the only thing to do on repeat is eat, sleep and retreat, swanning between the Daintree Wellness Spa, Julaymba Restaurant and the privacy of your very own treehouse.
Silky Oaks Lodge
If you like your rainforest wilderness with a side of luxury, the newly renovated Silky Oaks Lodge delivers. If the multimillion-dollar rebuild by the team at Baillie Lodges isn’t enough to sway you, the dreamy tree-house accommodation and on-site Healing Waters Spa will. Rest your head in a rainforest utopia, ranging from the Garden Retreat Room, complete with an outdoor daybed, to the Daintree Pavilion, which features a tiered infinity pool and a plunge spa floating in the ancient rainforest.
Cape Tribulation Camping
While high-rises and resort complexes have taken over most of the Queensland coastline, there’s a patch of beach where time and urban development has stood still, Cape Trib Camping. This absolute beachfront campground will have you pitching practically in the sand and waking up to Coral Sea views for as little as $27 a night. Good news for those whose camp experience is only made better by sitting around a campfire – you can have a fire on the beach, just outside the grounds. If you’re making your pilgrimage up the Cape, this campground just happens to be minutes away from the Bloomfield Track entrance. Just remember pets are not allowed at this park.
Daintree Wilderness Lodge
Set amongst the famous foliage, the Daintree Wilderness Lodge offers true rainforest immersion, greeting guests with not just warm hospitality, but the sounds and smells of the forest. As you walk towards your treehouse, meander amongst the ancient ferns and towering forest and keep your eyes peeled for iconic forest species like the Ulysses Butterfly. You can also taste the tropics at Daintree Wilderness Lodge’s onsite restaurant, Cycad, which celebrates locally sourced produce. Its name is not just a nod to the Fan Palm Gully hidden within the property, but the wider rainforest surroundings. Did you know that out of the 19 primate plants remaining on earth, 12 of them are found in the Daintree Rainforest?
Cape Trib Beach House
How does it sound to wake up and have mere footsteps between your bed and a beach named by Lonely Planet as one of the ‘top 100 beaches in the world’? Enter Cape Trib Beach House, which has direct beach access to the very spot where the rainforest meets the reef. Accommodation comes in a few different sizes (and price points) – whether it’s one of the family cabins, deluxe beachfront bungalows, or dorm style accommodation. The onsite restaurant, Tides Bar & Restaurant, means you don’t need to wander far for breakfast, lunch, or dinner, leaving more time to explore.
Mist at Cape Tribulation
Like most properties in Cape Tribulation, there’s something transformative about even getting to Mist at Cape Tribulation. The Daintree Ferry which separates Cape Tribulation from Cairns, acts like a portal between the modern world and the ancient wisdom of this rainforest. Once you arrive at Mist, you’ll be met with luxurious, treehouse-inspired accommodation that brings the outside in, dishing up views across the rainforest and its exotic fruit orchard which makes the most out of the nutrient rich soil and tropical growing conditions. The best seat in the house is undoubtably the day bed on your private deck where you can breathe in fresh, rainforest air and reset your circadian rhythms with the soothing sounds of the rainforest.
Fitting for a stay in the largest rainforest in Australia, Safari Lodge in Cape Tribulation puts guests amongst the action with both safari huts and campsites. Instead of waking up to the artificial sounds of birds as your alarm clock, let the rainforest that’s older than the Amazon (by more than 10 million years) take care of your early morning wake-up call. When you’re not exploring the rainforest, lounge by the pool or grab a bite to eat at Turtle Rock Café onsite. Ocean Safari runs from the reception, making Safari Lodge the perfect base for both reef and rainforest exploration.
Alkira Resort House and Rainforest Retreat
When budget is no barrier and you’ve got luxury on the mind, Alkira Resort House and Rainforest Retreat delivers in spades, with space for up to 12 guests. Taking arrivals by helicopter, or car, this property juxtaposes against its rainforest setting with a pre-formed concrete, steel and glass exterior, making it truly one of a kind in an accommodation line up of timber treehouses. While the footprint of this modern, angular property might be massive, it’s environmental one is negligible, being off-grid and carbon neutral. The architecture of the property is as outstanding as the landscape it’s set amongst, with access to 600m of private coral fringed beach at its doorstep. The house is made of six cantilevered wings over a literal moat of water, affording each room a spectacular view.
Noah Creek Eco Huts
Forest-chasers who prioritise their time in nature rather than the inclusions of their accommodation, should set their sights on Noah Creek Eco Huts. Accommodation ranges in size from private houses which sleep eight to glamping-style eco huts which take comfort up a notch from camping, without having to sacrifice any of the nature immersion you’re chasing. With little phone reception, Noah Creek Eco Huts, like most properties on this list, make digital detoxing here compulsory rather than optional. That said, the sights and sounds of the forest will fast become more attention-grabbing than any TV-streaming service you’re used to in the city.
Ferntree Rainforest Hotel
Feel your city-stress soften as you cross the threshold of Ferntree Rainforest Hotel. Each room has been designed with maximum holiday comfort in mind, with everything from garden loft style apartments to family cabins if you’re travelling with mini-Tarzans and little-Janes. Each cabin is linked by boardwalk and two oasis style pools, which form the centre piece of the property like two contemplative ponds. You won’t need to wander far for meals (breakfast and dinner), with the onsite Cassowary Restaurant transporting you from one tropical location to another with a Balinese-inspired menu.
PK’s Jungle Village
If your idea of jungle-adventure starts and ends by meeting new friends, PK’s Jungle Village bar and café delivers casual, laid back, Tropical North Queensland hospitality. Best suited to backpackers or those wanting to waive life’s luxuries in favour of a good time, PK’s Jungle Village gives you the choice of private cabins or dormitories. Up here, what you save on accommodation at the only budget accommodation this side of the Daintree River, you can splurge on the once-in-a-lifetime activities on show like Horseback riding on the beach, snorkelling or memories made by ordering another round of jungle juice from PK’s Jungle Bar.