Cairns to Daintree National Park

Hire a car in Cairns

Cairns is located in Australia’s stunning far north, in the tropical state of Queensland. The city serves as a gateway to much of the region’s natural attractions, including the Great Barrier Reef, Daintree Rainforest, and Atherton Tableland.

The city’s superb weather along with its laid-back vibe and casual atmosphere attracts backpackers and holiday makers all year round. The constant holiday atmosphere means it’s always beer o’clock in Cairns. Luckily, the city is awash with watering holes that offer happy hour prices and cheap food throughout the week.

There's no beach directly in the city, but the gorgeous Esplanade Lagoon is a great hangout spot that makes up for the lack of a beach. However, if you are craving some sand between your toes, Cairns’ northern beaches are only a short drive away.

Pause for thought in Palm Cove

About a 30 minute drive north of Cairns lies Palm Cove, a tiny village centred around a beachfront lined with 500-year-old melaleuca trees. The town has a relaxed vibe, with plenty of people choosing to walk the streets barefoot. There’s lots to do in town, including fishing, kayaking, and tours to nearby Double Island. The Palm Cove jetty is an ideal fishing spot, with plenty of mackerel, cod, whiting, and flathead to be caught – perfect for a sunset beach barbeque.

Palm Cove may be small, but it’s home to some beautiful boutique hotels and resorts. The Reef House, built in 1958, is one of Palm Cove’s original properties, a charming colonial beach house, ideal for a relaxing night’s stay.

Splash out in Port Douglas

A 40 minute drive from Palm Cove will take you to Port Douglas, an affluent and charming resort town. Although it’s small, Port Douglas’ population doubles in the busier months of the year. On multiple occasions, the town has featured in the top three of the Australian Traveller magazine’s 100 best towns list.

From the million-dollar marina, to the dreamy Four Mile Beach and the five-star hotels, you’ll have no trouble switching off and settling into holiday mode. Since its early days as a remote port and fishing village, Port Douglas has developed into an upmarket resort town that attracts ‘flashpackers’. No visit to Port Douglas would be complete without a sunset sail from the marina, taking in all the gorgeous views the town is famous for.

Explore the Daintree National Park

Of all the national parks in Queensland, Daintree National Park is the jewel in the crown. The park’s age, cultural importance and natural diversity make it an area of national and global importance.

With some 400,000 visitors each year, Daintree National Park is among the world’s most prestigious. The rainforest is the oldest continuously surviving tropical rainforest in the world, thought to be 165 million years old. That’s even older than the Amazon.

The Daintree is also the longest rainforest on the Australian continent, running for approximately 450km. To put it in perspective: that’s half the distance between Brisbane and Sydney. The park is so big, we’d recommend dedicating at least four days to exploring it.

Queensland is a tropical paradise, perfect for exploring in a hire car. Take to the road today and see what you’ll discover.

Hire a car from Cairns Airport to begin your Daintree adventure today.