When you pick up your car rental in Cairns, you will want to make the most of your trip up north. There’s so much to see and do in the far north tropics, however, that you can become exhausted simply trying to do it all!
So to make the most of your trip, it’s a good idea to have a flexible itinerary that includes some of the most stunning attractions in Cairns. Car hire gives you the freedom to enjoy your trip in comfort, working to your own timetable and not worrying about buses, coaches and taxis. Some of the attractions you just can’t miss, however, are between Cairns and the Daintree, so a hire car is the right choice for this fabulous trip.
Let’s start by driving along the Cook Highway, which runs from Cairns to Mossman (where it turns into the Mossman-Daintree Road) and continues on to the Daintree rainforest. It’s a great road that’s easy for your car rental to negotiate and provides plenty of awesome views of both the rainforest and the Coral Sea between Cairns and Port Douglas. One of your first stops along this highway should be Palm Cove, just 30 to 40 minutes north of Cairns.
Palm Cove: This is a lovely spot that’s named after the swaying palm trees that line the beaches. It’s a tiny beachside village (population around 2000) with luxury hotels and restaurants, but still has a small community vibe. You can go fishing or kayaking off the beach, even buy some fresh seafood and have a picnic on the beach next to the glistening sea. Stay here for as long as you want before heading north for 15 or 20 minutes to arrive at Hartley’s Crocodile Adventures in Wangetti (still in Palm Cove).
Hartley’s Crocodile Adventures: Whether you have kids or not on your road trip, a stop at this attraction is definitely worth your time. There’s plenty to do and at the end of the day, you can either take your car hire back towards Cairns and stay at Palm Cove for the night or continue on for another 30 minutes to Port Douglas. Your admission to Hartley’s Crocodile Adventures includes a lagoon cruise to spot resident crocodiles, as well as watching the crocs, cassowaries, wallabies, koalas and snakes being fed. There’s also plenty of walking tracks where you can explore the wildlife, not forgetting the premium activities, such as breakfast with the koalas, pole feeding a croc and a personalised guided tour.
Port Douglas: If you’ve driven straight from Cairns in your car rental, you will arrive at Port Douglas in a little over an hour. There’s plenty of great activities here, from the local community markets to swimming, reef trips, wildlife tours, shopping and spa treatments! The 1.5km Flagstaff Hill trail that ends at the Port Douglas lookout gives you fabulous views along Four Mile Beach, all the way out to Snapper Island and the Daintree Rainforest and is definitely worth the walk. You can also drive 40 mins north from Port Douglas to Wonga Beach and go horse riding along the beach – a wonderful stress free option! There’s nothing better than riding along the beach or even kayaking out to Snapper Island!
Mossman Gorge: Just a 20 minute drive from Port Douglas in your Cairns car rental brings you to Mossman Gorge where you can experience the delights of the rainforest, mountains and waterfalls. Start at the Mossman Gorge Centre and book in for one of their award winning Ngadiku Dreamtime Walks, where you are guided by one of the traditional owners of the Gorge, the Kaku Yalanji people. You can also take a shuttle bus to the heart of the gorge and a guided tour through the Gorge or simply wander at your own pace. Don’t forget to take your swimmers, because there are some fabulous freshwater swimming sports in the Gorge.
Hook-A-Burra: Just 35 mins north of Port Douglas is Hook-A-Burra, offering you one of the best fishing experiences ever! If you’ve wanted to hook a Barramundi or a Mangrove Jack then now’s your chance! This is a catch and release fishing experience where all the family can join in the fun. Whether you’re an expert fisher or a beginner, you will have a great time at Hook-A-Burra! They supply everything you need, as well as tuition, so you can just park and fish!
Daintree River Cruises: No trip to far north Queensland is complete without a cruise on the Daintree River. Located on the Mossman-Daintree Road, just 40 minutes north of Port Douglas, you’ll find Daintree River Cruises offering one-hour wild life cruises. Take a guided cruise along the river and spot all the local birds, crocs and sea snakes.