Do It For Less: Self-Drive Tour From Port Douglas to Cape Tribulation
Visiting Cape Tribulation is a very popular day trip option for individuals staying in Port Douglas. Several tour operators will offer patrons transportation, including a stop at Mossman Gorge, a Daintree River cruise, lunch, Cape Tribulation stop-off and then some. However, this can come in at the hefty price of around $160.
That seemed like yet another big payout for Heather and I, so since we had the Autobarn Wagon already, we decided to self-drive to Cape Tribulation, and do it for less. Here’s what we put together from our day’s adventures, and how much it cost when two people are participating.
8:00 – 9:45 am Wildlife Habitat: Breakfast with the Birds $44
Wildlife Habitat is located just in Port Douglas and offers visitors the ability to come early for a breakfast buffet. The catch here is that you get to eat your food in the large open aviary area, meaning birds of all sorts of shapes and sizes just might come to join you. It was loads of fun, especially to see the little kids get involved, and I was happy that we got the experience. Fees for the breakfast also include entry into the entire building, so grab a $2 bag of roo food and feed those adorable wallabies!
*We substituted the tour’s buffet lunch with a buffet breakfast and a self-catered nibbler lunch on the go.
10:15 – 11:30 am Mossman Gorge $0
It takes around a half hour to drive to Mossman Gorge from Port Douglas. Once you arrive, you will park your car (for free) and catch a free shuttle bus that takes you to the entrance. There you have access to the national park to either swim or hike. If you plan on doing a hike, allow for about an hour to have a good look around. It may start getting hot around this time, so grab a quick swim before heading out.
12:00 – 12:15 pm Daintree River Ferry Crossing $10.50
From Mossman Gorge, you will need to head north towards the Daintree River. To proceed to Cape Tribulation, you will need to take a car ferry to cross it. The cable ferry can handle up to 40 cars at one time, taking only 5 minutes to complete the journey across the river. They run nearly every 15 minutes and costs $21 for a return trip. I am assuming that there are at least two people in the vehicle, so splitting that costs a mere $10.50 each.
*Have some snacks or your lunch while waiting to cross!
1:00 – 2:15 pm Cape Tribulation $0
The road to Cape Tribulation is only 30 km, but it is a curvy one with narrow lanes. Be prepared to drive at least 45 minutes to reach the beach. Once you arrive, get out your towel and your sunscreen, and get ready to relax in beautiful surrounds.
2:30 – 2:45 pm Daintree Ice Cream Company $5
Nothing beats the heat quite like ice cream. The Daintree Ice Cream Company is not too far away from the beach when driving back, and it offers some of the most unique flavors of ice cream, including: black sapote, custard apple, durian, wattle seed, mango and jackfruit. A mixed cup of the daily special is only $5, and you can enjoy that treat with the most gorgeous scenery.
3:15 – 3:30 pm Daintree River Ferry Crossing $0
You may or may not need to cross the river ferry again before heading to your river cruise. Some companies operate on either side, but for this itinerary we will assume that you need to cross first. You should allow a good amount of time in case there is a wait so that you don’t miss the last cruise.
4:00 – 5:00 pm Daintree River Cruise $25
Daintree River cruises are run by several companies and usually last for an hour. These cruises give you the opportunity to relax on the river and hopefully spot some crocodiles in the wild. The last cruise of the day generally runs around 4 pm.
After the cruise, you can start the drive back to Port Douglas with just enough sun time left to light the way. You will have had the most excellent adventure, and if you consider that each person contributed $5 to gas, then the entire day would have only cost $90 per person – about half the price of the original tour!
>> This trip is part of the 16 Day Itinerary from Cairns to Sydney.