Getting around the Great Barrier Reef Drive

Rent a car or take the bus?

Renting a car is our recommendation as it will give you the freedom to pull over at the many deserted beaches along the way and give you the flexibility to stay as long as you like in the many spectacular places along the way.

Renting a camper van or mobile home gives you even more freedom. There are lots of beautiful camping spots along the Great Barrier Reef Drive, and a few are right by the sea, such as Ellis Beach, Wonga Beach, Noah Beach and Cape Trib camping.

Jump on the bus if you do not like to drive, or have no licence, or you're worried about the left hand traffic, or you simply want to take it easy and sit back and enjoy the spectacular views along the Great Barrier Reef Drive while someone else drives.
Click here for a listing of coach transport between Cairns, Port Douglas and Cape Tribulation, both day tours and extended multi-day trips.



Frequently Asked Car Hire Questions:

Do we need a fourwheel drive to go to Cape Tribulation?

No, the road is sealed all the way to Cape Tribulation, if you want to go further up the unsealed Bloomfield Track then you will need a fourwheel drive.
If you hire a 4WD t is still worth checking where you can take it, although it sounds ridiculous some car hire companies do not allow their 4WDs off the sealed road.

I have heard some car rental companies do not allow their cars across the Daintree river?

That is old outdated information, the road has been sealed all the way to Cape Tribulation since 2002.

What are the operating times of the Daintree river ferry?

The ferry runs continuously up and down from 5 AM until midnight every day except Christmas Day, the current cost is $30.- return per car, EFTPOS only during office hours.

Can you recommend a Cairns car hire place?

There are many and those that are good or cheap today might be different again tomorrow, the situation can change daily.
You can spend a lot of time searching the websites of Avis, Budget, Hertz, Thrifty and so many others, or you can see them all next to eachother on Discover Car Hire and find the best deal available in a much shorter time.

Renting a car in Cairns or Port Douglas

Don't leave looking for a rental car until you arrive in north Queensland, book it online in advance with a comparison website like Discover Car Hire and your car will be waiting for you at Cairns airport when you fly in, or they will pick you up from the airport and take you to their Cairns car hire office.
Most car hire companies also give you the Daintree map so you will easily find your way to Cape Tribulation.


Renting a campervan or mobile home in Cairns

Use the search box above to see a range of camper vans and mobile homes if you want to camp your way along the Great Barrier Reef Drive.
Ellis Beach has beautiful absolute beachfront camping, and also Port Douglas has a good range of caravan parks with powered sites.
Even in the Daintree you will find camping areas with powered sites, and there is a National Parks camping area at Noah Beach, just south of Cape Tribulation.
In Cape Tribulation you can camp with your mobile home at Cape Trib Camping, at the Jungle Lodge or at PK's Jungle Village.

Cape Trib Adventure Bus

This bus leaves Port Douglas at 08:30 and arrives in Cape Tribulation around 10:30, and it leaves Cape Tribulation at 16:30 returning to Port Douglas around 18:00, you have time in Cape Trib to explore the area or to go on one or two of the exciting tours the town has on offer.
Return fare is $100.- , you don't have to come back to Port the same day, you can stay in Cape Trib for one or more nights.

Bookings on 0488 425 968 or online via

How do we choose a rental car to do the Great Barrier Reef Drive?

  • Cairns Car Hire
  • Hire cars in Cairns or Port Douglas
    There's many different websites to compare car rental prices. You may even prefer to go directly to the car hire companies themselves.
    We recommend Discover Car Hire which gives you the whole range of available hire cars making it easy to compare prices and find the best deal in a few clicks.

Transport along the Great Barrier Reef Drive

Airport Transfers

First you will need to get from the airport to your hotel to start your north Queensland adventure.There are some motels in north Cairns only ten minutes from the airport which will not be an expensive taxi fare but if you are staying a bit further out like the Northern Beaches or Port Douglas then a coach airport transfer will be more economical. If you are going to stay in Cape Tribulation then you will find that all buses leave Cairns around 8AM so you will need to spend a night in Cairns first.

Cairns airport transfers

Cairns to Cape Tribulation

Cape Trib Connections does day tours and overnight trips from Cairns, they will pick you up from your Cairns accommodation, drive you up to Cape Tribulation with scenic stops at lookouts, rain forest boardwalks, the Daintree Icecream Company, and a croc cruise along the way. They will either get you back to Cairns that evening or drop you off at your Cape Tribulation accommodation for one or two nights in the jungle before heading back again.

Book Cape Tribulation tours online

Jungle Tours

Jungle Tours is a long established company that gives you a choice in Cape Tribulation tours; day tours that include all the scenic stops, croc cruise and Daintree rainforest walks along the way, tours that include the above plus jungle surfing, or longer trips that include one or two nights at Cape Tribulation accommodation like PK's, the Beach House or Ferntree Resort. This gives you more time to explore this amazing place.

Book Cape Tribulation tours online