This is one of the most picturesque drives in the region, taking in some amazing coastline, flanked by rainforest on one side, and secluded beaches on the other. There are a number of crystal creek crossings (beware of crocs) and some steep terrain, so this can become impassable in the wet- Track Condition, Douglas Shire Council (07) 4099 9444. It is approximately 235km from Cairns to Cooktown via the coastal route, and this should take around 5-6hrs, with time to enjoy sights along the way (see map).
North of the Daintree Ferry, the sealed section of road continues for another 40km on to Cape Tribulation; a place Captain Cook aptly named after having trouble navigating his way through the nearby reefs on his way north. The Daintree Discovery Centre is a popular stop along this route. It has interpretive displays, a boardwalk, aerial walkway, and canopy tower, enabling visitors to experience life in the rainforest canopy. Fan palms, mangrove systems, beautiful cycads and ferns (the world’s largest and smallest!), vines and strangler figs are just a few of the plant species you will see while strolling along some of the free interpretive board walks in the area. There are also some great beaches and rest areas to stop at including Cow Bay, Myall Beach, and Thornton Beach.
Cape Tribulation has very pretty tropical beaches, showcasing ‘where rainforest meets the reef’. This is a popular spot for day trippers and backpackers, and has great camping at ‘Cape Tribulation Camping’ and other places. If you need a break from swimming and sunbaking, explore the rainforest on the Dubuji boardwalk, or the lively nightlife at PK’s Jungle Village. There are also some tour operators in the area, so you’ll have a chance to try swinging through the rainforest canopy with Jungle Surfing, cruise around the sea with a Paddletrek kayaking adventure, or take a guided night walk, and even ride along the tropical shores on horseback with Cape Trib Horse Rides.
North of Cape Tribulation the road is unsealed all the way to the new bridge over the Bloomfield River, at Wujal Wujal. During the journey you will pass through a series of small villages and communities scattered amongst the forest- Wujal Wujal, Ayton, Rossville and Helenvale. There are some good waterfalls to see, and other secret spots to be discovered. A visit to Bloomfield Falls and the Bana Yirriji Art & Cultural Centre at Wujal Wujal is a must, and the café has refreshments Monday to Friday. After crossing the new bridge over the Bloomfield River south of Wujal Wujal, turn left and drive a short distance to the Bloomfield Falls car park. The walk to the falls is 300-400m over stony riverbed, and only takes a few minutes. The falls are quite impressive, especially during the wetter months.
If you turn right after Hayley’s Cabins and Camping, this road will take you to Weary Bay Beach, and you can then turn right to go down to the mouth of the Bloomfield River, which runs into Weary Bay. The beach is great for a walk and a bit of beachcombing, or you can throw a fishing line in at the mouth of the river.