Located about a two and a half hour drive north of Cairns, Cape Tribulation offers the opportunity to get in touch with nature and relax on clear blue, white sand beaches in an area that isn’t too cluttered by tourism.
Cape Tribulation is located within the Daintree National Park and the Wet Tropics World Heritage area, meaning that you can go for a swim in an ocean whose water feels more like a warm bathtub, walk onto the beach and straight into the world’s oldest rainforest, whose trees hang over the sand, serving as a natural umbrella.
Cape Tribulation offers a more private, less crowded getaway as a result of it being a slightly more difficult location to get to than the more popular destinations in the area such as Port Douglas, which is a little over an hour drive south along the coast. In order to get to Cape Tribulation, one must cross a short ferry over crocodile infested waters and then take the lone road that winds through the hills of the forest and along the coastline, until the tiny village is reached. If you are trying to head further north beyond Cape Tribulation to Cooktown, a four-wheel drive is necessary as the roads turn to dirt and cross through creeks and rivers (I saw one unfortunate group in a non four wheel drive get their car drowned trying to cross a creek).
The area only has a handful of places to eat and buy food, but there is definitely enough to live comfortably. In terms of accommodation, there are a few B&Bs scattered throughout the forest and a couple of major backpacker hostels/campsites. I chose to stay at PK’s Jungle Village, which offered very reasonably priced rooms, easy and affordable meals and activities to do in the area such as exotic fruit tasting at the Cape Trip Exotic Fruit Farm (a definite must-do activity, I had a great time trying crazy tropical fruits and walking around the farm), kayaking, and diving trips to the Great Barrier Reef.
The biggest attraction of Cape Tribulation is undoubtedly its surreal beaches, which I would say were definitely the most beautiful that I have ever been to. However, the appeal goes beyond simply the beautiful beaches and I enjoyed other activities in the area just as much as I enjoyed the beaches. The forest area offers the unique opportunity on going on walks and hikes in search of one of the world’s most unique creatures, the cassowary.
Cassowaries are the world’s third tallest and second heaviest bird and have a striking resemblance to the bird from the Pixar film Up. North Queensland is one of the few places on earth that this bird exists and is a definite symbol of the area. The birds have been known to being aggressive and quite dangerous if provoked, but seeing one in person is definitely a very cool, very unique experience. Another unique animal experience is the crocodile cruises. There are heaps of companies offering affordable tours and guarantees of seeing crocodiles as they take you on an informative tour along the river, showing and teaching you about one of Australia’s most notorious creatures.
If swimming at the beach gets tiresome for whatever reason, there are also a few excellent swimming holes in the area, offering cooler water in the middle of the forest and rope swings. Swimming holes are a great break from the beach and give the opportunity to take a long walk through the forest and then cool off by jumping in some fresh river water. However, many of the areas are crocodile infested, so it is important to make sure to swim in designated swimming areas.
My favorite part of Cape Tribulation was the hike up Mt. Sorrow. The top of Mt. Sorrow only has an elevation of 680 meters, making it a fairly reasonable and doable hike, but the views from the top are unparalleled. There is a fenced off lookout point at the top of the mountain; however a better view is found beyond the fenced off area, which is semi-hidden. The trail continues to a group of rocks that lookout over all of Cape Tribulation, the forest, the beach, and Great Barrier Reef can all be seen from atop the mountain. The hike will take a few hours of climbing through rainforest, but the view makes it well worth the effort.
Cape Tribulation offers the perfect location for a beach getaway, avoiding a good amount of tourism, and providing plenty of things to do to experience both the tropical ocean and in the rainforest.