9 Best Daintree Rainforest Walks (And Which to Avoid)

March 12, 2024 | By

Are you visiting Far North Queensland and looking for the best Daintree Rainforest walks?

The Daintree National Park is one of the most spectacular places to visit in Australia and is renowned for its stunning trails. It’s the oldest rainforest in the world (180 million years) and is home to diverse habitats and lush landscapes.

What’s the best way to take it all in? Explore on foot!

I’ve created this comprehensive list of the best Daintree Rainforest walks that take you to scenic viewpoints, gorgeous swimming holes and breathtaking canopies of fan palms and ancient vine forests.

The best Daintree rainforest walks
The Mossman Gorge walk in the Daintree Rainforest

9 Best Daintree walks: Summary

My favourite Daintree walkMossman Gorge
Best boardwalk walkJindalba Boardwalk
Top walking track with swimming holeEmmagen creek
Best walk with a viewKulki Boardwalk

Details of the best Daintree Rainforest hikes

The Daintree walks I’ve detailed below are all easily accessible, and I highly recommend doing at least two of them during your trip.

Some of the best walks are further north into the Daintree, at Cape Tribulation. If you’re short on time, you might have to skip those.

1. Jindalba Circuit Track: The best boardwalk trail

Jindalba Circuit track in Daintree National Park
The Jindaliba Circuit is surrounded by lush canopies and if one of my favourite Daintree Rainforest walks

Distance: 650 m (or 3 km loop)
Time needed: 30 minutes (or 1.5 hours)
Things to know: Jindalba Boardwalk is not wheelchair accessible

Jindalba was named by the traditional owners of the land, the Kuku Yalanji people, and means ‘foot of the mountain’. It’s located at the bottom of Mount Alexandra, close to the Daintree Discovery Centre.

I loved this walk!

Unlike the other boardwalk trails in the Daintree, Jindalba felt like a true rainforest walk as the entire path is surrounded by towering trees, ancient king ferns and lush greenery.

People ahead of us even saw a Cassowary here! And no trip to the Daintree is complete without seeing one. These birds resemble prehistoric dinosaurs and are only found in Tropical North Queensland and New Guinea.

If you have extra time, there’s an alternative 3 km loop to take. It’s a lot tougher than the shorter option, as it’s narrow and steep. The path has tree roots and creek crossings, so wear proper footwear.

Getting there: After crossing the Daintree River, drive for 20 minutes, and you’ll take the right turn that leads to the Daintree Discovery Centre. Jindalba is one of the easiest Daintree walks to get if you only have one day to explore.

Save the Google Maps location here.

2. Dubuji Boardwalk: Daintree walk with the most impressive mangroves

Dubuji Boardwalk in Daintree Rainforest
The Dubuji Boardwalk in Cape Tribulation crosses through mangroves and swamps before arriving at Myall Beach

Distance: 1.2 km
Time needed: 45 minutes
Things to know: Myall Beach is part of the trail, but you can’t swim due to crocs.

The Dubuji Boardwalk, meaning ‘place of spirits’ in Kuku Yalanji, was the first Daintree forest walk I did, and it didn’t disappoint.

It starts at Cape Tribulation, the meeting point of 2 world heritage sites: The Daintree Rainforest and the Great Barrier Reef. The boardwalk winds through swamplands and mangroves and is lined with fan palms and basket ferns.

As you near the trail’s end, you’ll reach Myall Beach. It’s a beautiful, long sandy beach, but don’t be tempted to take a dip here as there are saltwater crocodiles in these waters.

The Dubuji Boardwalk ends at a gorgeous picnic area under the trees. If you’re doing this walk around breakfast or lunchtime, I recommend bringing some food to prepare at the picnic area. We saw groups of people with their gas stoves making bacon and eggs and wished we hadn’t done the same!

This is an excellent walk in the Daintree National Park if you want something less crowded.

Getting there: The Dubuji Boardwalk is the furthest boardwalk track from the Daintree River crossing. It’s a 45-minute drive, but there are many places to stop along the way.

Save the Google Maps location here.

Top tip, if you’re going all the way to The Dubuji Boardwalk, I recommend adding Emmagen Creek to your Daintree itinerary as well, as it’s only a 10-minute drive north.

3. Emmagen Creek: My favourite Daintree walk with swimming hole

Swimming hole in the Daintree Rainforest
The Emmagen Creek swimming hole is one of the shortest (yet most amazing) Daintree walks

Distance: 800 m
Time needed: 15 minutes for the walk and 30 minutes to hang out at the swimming hole.
Things to know: It’s safe to swim here.

Of all the Daintree hikes I did, this one was one of my favourites. Why?

Because it was rugged and didn’t follow a boardwalk track. Oh yes, and the excellent swimming hole at the end!

After reaching the car park, follow the path that leads upstream.

There’s no signage, and we mistakingly took the wrong path. But we quickly found our way and ended up at the most incredible swimming hole!

Unlike the beaches in the Daintree, it’s safe to swim at the Emmagen Creek swimming hole. But make sure you go upstream from the parking area. If you go downstream instead, you may see a few crocodiles!

Getting there: Emmagen Creek is close to the Kulki Boardwalk in Cape Tribulation. It’s accessible via 2WD, but it’s the furthest you can go. If you want to continue further north of the Daintree, you’ll need a 4WD.

Save the Google Maps location here.

4. Mossman Gorge

Mossman Gorge walk in Daintree Rainforest
Not only does Mossman Gorge have the best walking tracks, but it also has impressive swimming holes

Distance: 400 m River Circuit | 2.4 km Rainforest Circuit
Time needed: 2.5 hours
Things to know: There is a cost to access Mossman Gorge ($13 per person)

Mossman Gorge is one of the most popular attractions near Cairns.

Unlike all the other Daintree Rainforest walking tracks, Mossman Gorge lies in the southernmost part of the Daintree. This means you don’t need to cross the Daintree River to access it.

Mossman Gorge is home to fantastic walking tracks that lead to several swimming holes and streams.

The shorter River Circuit passes the main swimming hole and Mossman River lookout point. If you continue to the Rex River Suspension Bridge, you’ll reach the Rainforest Circuit track. This is the best part of Mossman Gorge, as it takes you deeper into the Daintree.

I recommend doing both tracks, which will be under 3 km.

The experience at Mossman Gorge is entirely different to the other Daintree Rainforest walks, so don’t give it a skip.

Getting there: Mossman Gorge is the easiest walk to get to from Cairns and is only a 20-minute drive from Port Douglas. But you’ll need a bit more time to explore as the areas it is truly magical.

Save the Google Maps location here.

5. Madja Boardwalk

Madja Boardwalk Daintree National park
Madja Boardwalk has the most impressive mangroves of all the walks in the Daintree Rainforest

Distance: 1.2 km loop
Time needed: 30 minutes
Things to know: Wheelchair accessible (and also the busiest Daintree Rainforest walk)

Nestled halfway between Jindalba Boardwalk and Dubuji Boardwalk lies Madja Boardwalk (meaning “Rainforest” or” Jungle”).

It’s an easy loop trail that has a raised platform. Of all the Daintree walks, I found the mangroves here to be the most impressive.

Like Dubuji and Jindalba Boardwalks, you’ll see basket ferns, fan palms and vine forests. Cassowaries are also spotted here.

Halfway through the trail, you’ll reach a viewing deck overlooking Noah Creek. You might be lucky and see crocodiles from here, so keep your eyes open.

Getting there: Madja Boardwalk is a 30-minute drive from the Daintree River Crossing. It’s hard to miss as the parking area is on the main road and is often packed to capacity.

Save the Google Maps location here.

6. Kulki Boardwalk

Kulki Boardwalk Cape Tribulation
The Kulki Boardwalk viewpoint over Cape Tribulation in the Daintree

Distance: 700 m
Time needed: 15 minutes

The Kulki Boardwalk is a 350 m walk to an iconic viewpoint offering sprawling views of Cape Tribulation beach.

It’s a quick and easy trail and can easily be added to your itinerary if you’re planning on visiting Cape Tribulation.

Getting there: It’s a 3-minute drive north of the Dubuji Boardwalk.

Save the Google Maps location here.

7. Daintree Discovery Centre Walk

Daintree Discovery Centre
The Daintree Discovery Centre is a must-visit if you’re visiting the Daintree with kids

Distance: 1 km
Time needed: 30 minutes
Things to know: This is one of the few Daintree walks that you need to pay for ($37 per adult)

The Daintree Discovery Centre has everything you need to know about visiting the Daintree, from its history, things to do in the area and where to stay.

But there’s more! The Discovery Centre is a wonderland for kids with several walking trails.

There are various sections to explore, including a Cassowary Circuit, Aerial Walkway, 23 m Canopy Tower, Jurassic Forest, Bush Tucker Trail and even a Discovery Theatre.

The kids will love it, especially the dinosaur walk!

However, the Jindalba Boardwalk is only a 2-minute drive away, so if you’re not travelling as a family and you’d prefer to save some money (it’s $37 per adult), then opt for the free Jindalba walk instead.

Getting there: After crossing the Daintree River, drive for 20 minutes, and you’ll take the right turn that leads to the Daintree Discovery Centre. This is one of the easiest Daintree walks to get if you only have one day to explore.

Save the Google Maps location here.

8. Mount Sorrow Ridge Trail: The most challenging of all Daintree Rainforest walks

Distance: 7 km
Time needed: 4-6 hours
Things to know: If you’re only going for the views, rather give Mount Sorrow a skip

The Mount Sorrow hike suits adventure seekers who are up for a challenge. It’s a tough climb, and you must come prepared with enough water (and fitness).

The viewpoint at the end offers sweeping views of the Daintree, but I wouldn’t recommend doing this hike solely for the viewpoint.

Getting there: The Mount Sorrow Ridge Walk is close to the Kulki Boardwalk in Cape Tribulation.

Save the Google Maps location here.

9. Mount Alexandra Lookout

Mount Alexandra lookout in Daintree National Park
Lookout out to the Great Barrier Reef from Mount Alexandra Lookout

The Mount Alexandra lookout isn’t quite a walk to get to – because you drive right up to the viewpoint!

But it’s one of the best places to visit in the Daintree, and the views from here are on par with those from Mount Sorrow (that involved a gruelling 5-hour hike to get to!)

Save the Google Maps location for Mount Alexander here.

FAQs for Daintree hiking trails

How many days do you need to explore the Daintree?

3 Days is the best amount of time to spend in the Daintree, but you can get by with two days. There is so much to do and see, and you definitely won’t be able to experience it all on a day trip from Cairns.

Can you do the Daintree by yourself?

Yes, all these Daintree walks can be done without a tour, but you need a car to get around. I rented a campervan and spent three nights in the Daintree, which was an incredible experience.

Can you walk through the Daintree Rainforest?

There are a number of different sections of the Daintree forest that you can explore on foot. These are either marked by boardwalks or dirt footpaths and are easy to navigate.

Can you walk the Daintree without a tour?

Yes, it’s best to explore the Daintree without a tour as this gives you more freedom to enjoy the walking tracks at your own pace.

Things to do in the Daintree National park
The Rainforest Walk at Mossman Gorge was one of the highlights of my trip

Where to stay

If you’re renting a van, I highly recommend staying at Cape Tribulation Camping (which is where I stayed). This incredible campsite is right next to the beach where you can make open fires.

If you’re not camping or living your best van life, here’s where you should stay.

Luxury: Situated just a stone’s throw away from the Daintree River lies Daintree EcoLodge. This property is magnificent and oozes luxury. You’ll be sleeping amongst the trees and waking up to bird song! There’s also a spa onsite and a restaurant that guests rave about. Read reviews here.

Mid Range: Noah Creek Eco Huts is the perfect place to come home to after a day walking in the Daintree Rainforest. These self-contained units have open-air bathrooms, outdoor fire pits and gorgeous views. If you’re looking for a romantic escape in a peaceful setting, this is it. Read reviews here.

Budget: Daintree Crocodylus is one of the most affordable places to stay in the Daintree. But it’s not short on character! The location is out of this world, and the safari tents are nestled between lush trees. The furnishings are simplistic, but if you’re ok with a magical setting over luxury spaces, you’ll love it here. Read reviews here.

Tips for hiking in the Daintree Rainforest

  • Bring mosquito repellent (and apply it often).
  • You don’t need hiking boots for the Daintree. Regular trainers or sneakers will do.
  • Make a pit stop at the Daintree Ice Cream Company for the most delicious ice cream.
  • It’s a quick 5-minute ferry across the Daintree River to the forest. This will cost $45 for the return trip.

Have you done any of these walks in the Daintree Rainforest? Or are you planning your trip and looking for the best things to do? If you have any questions or recommendations, drop me a message in the comments section below!

Visiting Australia? Check out these other awesome destinations!

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Carryn Beard Author Bio

About Me

Hi, I'm Carryn. Travel junkie. Nature enthusiast. Adventurer. I'm a South African expat living in Gold Coast, Australia. Join me as I explore the land down under and share stories of the best that Australia has to offer. Find out more about me here.

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