Home » Travel » DON’T Waste Your Time Booking This Tour in Cairns, Australia

DON’T Waste Your Time Booking This Tour in Cairns, Australia

I hate to keep being such a Negative Nancy on the blog (two Mondays in a row – sorry!), but I really don’t want anyone else to make the same mistakes I did if I can help it. And I promise next Monday’s post will be all rainbows and sunshine-filled with a giveaway! But before we get to that, I’m first going to do my best to convince you why you shouldn’t waste a precious day in Cairns, Australia doing this tour (and it’s very easy to get suckered into it).

Daintree & Cape Tribulation Safari – DON’T Do It!

The main reason folks go to Cairns is to snorkel the Great Barrier Reef. Which was exactly why we went there. However, there are quite a few awesome attractions near Cairns that don’t include snorkeling, and I had quite the list of things I wanted to see and do while I was there: Great Barrier Reef, Kuranda, hold a koala, ride the Scenic Railway, Daintree Rainforest, Port Douglas, see a crocodile in the wild..the list goes on.

But I only had 3 days to do all this. So, this 3-day tour I booked on Travastar seemed to be the answer to everything I wanted to do! It had it all: snorkeling, Kuranda, koalas, the Scenic Railway, Daintree Rainforest, crocodiles – it was perfect. Except for the fact the 3rd day, “The Daintree & Cape Tribulation Safari” was a complete waste of a day!

cairns at sunset
Cairns at sunset.

And here’s the real kicker, I had actually read fellow travel blogger, One Chel of an Adventure’s post on this tour. Let’s just say her day was even a bit worse than mine, and I did not heed her warning about this tour. Instead, I hoped my day would just be better. BIG MISTAKE.

Here’s Why…

The day started off with the bus driver telling me I couldn’t bring my coffee on his bus (and dear god, do I need coffee in the morning). There was a reason for this, however. Once we sat down on the bus it had to have been the bumpiest ride I have ever been on in my entire life. My goodness, do they need to invest in a new tour bus (or at the very least new shocks and struts)! I was honestly getting motion sickness.

Oh, and there was zero legroom on this bus – not cool for nearly an 11 hour day!! Oh, and after 20 minutes of driving…our bus driver realized he forgot to pick someone up. So, we had to turn back around and pick this girl up. (Who had been waiting outside her hostel as the bus drove by the first time – she must have been so panicked!)

That being said, though, our bus driver/tour guide was actually a very nice guy and did his best to make the day enjoyable…despite this tour being such a turd. (If you read One Chel of an Adventure’s post, though, her tour guide was not so nice or professional – so it was really the luck of the draw!)


Wildlife Habitat

Our first stop was the Rainforest Wildlife Habitat. This was a wildlife park very similar to Featherdale Wildlife Park. I did enjoy this part of the trip! However, I had already had this same experience at Featherdale and it wasn’t really necessary to repeat it. (But who doesn’t love petting kangaroos and wallabies and seeing pretty birds?)

This little guy was my buddy, and really wanted some of my coffee. Haha.
My husband was quite the popular dude at the park. Haha.

We had an hour at the wildlife park to hang out with all the critters before we hopped back on the bus. (Going to the wildlife park meant we didn’t get to see Port Douglas too FYI.) Our next stop was the Daintree Rainforest & Mossman Gorge.

Daintree Rainforest
A path through the Daintree Rainforest.

Daintree Rainforest & Mossman Gorge

This had to have been the biggest disappointment of the day. I had really been looking forward to “hiking” through the Daintree Rainforest and seeing some unique plants and possibly wildlife. This “hike” was a 20-minute walk on a boardwalk through the forest (athletic shoes not required, I just left my sandals on). There really just wasn’t much to see, at all.

I’m not trying to discourage you from visiting the Daintree Rainforest by any means. I just think it’s something that needs to be explored for longer than 20 minutes to really get the experience (otherwise, don’t even bother).


The tree above was the only cool thing we had seen in my opinion. It’s actually a parasite tree (can’t remember the name) that wrapped itself around another tree, killed it, and continued growing on top of it. Really mean bugger of a tree – but it looked cool, nonetheless.

I was really stretching trying to make my photos interesting. This had to be the most disappointing tour ever. I can’t stress that enough!

Cape Tribulation Beach
Cape Tribulation Beach

Cape Tribulation Beach

Next stop was lunch at Cape Tribulation Beach. It’s quite remote..and I know that photo above is pretty, but it really wasn’t worth the hour + drive to get there. Mostly because the waters are infested with crocodiles! Therefore, you shouldn’t do more than dip your toes in the water or risk being eaten. (Kind of defeats the purpose, right?)

And the lunch was just kind of, meh. I appreciated the fresh fruit they had out for us and the fact I could buy a beer at this point. But the place was nothing to write home about, and like I said the beach was pretty…but all the beaches are pretty in Australia, and aren’t all infested with crocodiles..soooo, yeah. (Insert big shrug and sigh.)

cape trib

Had a quick stop at a pretty lookout point before heading to our next location. Apparently, the island off to the left is where Steve Irwin was killed. So, that’s uber depressing.

Daintree River
Daintree River

Daintree River Wildlife Cruise

I do feel bad about being negative about this one, but gosh, this was another waste of time. Again, our guide for this portion was really nice, which is why I feel bad…but we didn’t really see all that much. This, however, was to be expected. Summer is not the time to see crocodiles, as the water is warm and therefore, they like to stay in the water and not come onto shore to sunbathe.

Also, it’s illegal to bait crocodiles here (unlike by Darwin), so you would just have to happen on one in the wild. Needless to say, we didn’t see any crocs.

We did some huge bats, though! But before you get too excited, you can see huge bats just about anywhere. (Cairns is crawling with them…and I’m currently looking out my window in the middle of Sydney watching some huge bats swoop by my window.) So, not really necessary to take a river cruise to see them.

mango tree roots
I believe these are mango tree roots sticking straight out of the water.

Oh, and we saw some roots growing straight up out of the water. That was actually quite interesting. But tree roots being the highlight of the tours isn’t really a good thing…


I’m sure if you take this cruise in winter it’s a ton of fun, though. But my gosh, it is just not worth your time in the summer!!

Rex Lookout

rex lookout
Rex Lookout

The last stop of the day was a brief break at Rex Lookout to take that photo you see above. Not much else to say on that subject. Pretty view, but at this point, I just wanted to get back to Cairns to get some water…because, no one mentioned the last time I would see water was at lunch.

I just had (stupidly) assumed I could refill a water bottle at the croc cruise place. NOPE. That was a long time to go with only one bottle of water between two people in this heat (90 degrees and super humid). Granted, I should’ve just been prepared, and had more water on me…but, I was still surprised that so many tourist spots had no water bottles for sale or spots to fill one up.

But, oh well, I survived! And if I didn’t convince you that this tour was a waste of money and time, I really encourage you to read One Chel of an Adventure’s post! Her day was a bit worse than mine, but overall, our experiences were very similar. (Click here to read it.)

What to Do Instead…

And at this point, you may be wondering…”Well, what would you have done instead?” In retrospect, I would’ve booked this tour to Fitzroy Island to do some more snorkeling and hike at leisure through the rainforest and lounge on a beach not infested with crocodiles. 

  • Click here to see all of my posts from Cairns.
  • Click here to see all of my posts from Australia. 

**Reminder, this three day tour through Travastar is what I had booked. The third day made this entire package not worth purchasing. DON’T do it.

"Woven Fish" sclupture in Cairns.
“Woven Fish” sculpture in Cairns…also, TONS of bats in Cairns (see).

Where we stayed in Cairns

We had stayed at the Rydges Esplanade Resort. The pool and restaurant here are FANTASTIC! It’s also in a great location and close to the waterfront and within walking distance of the city centre. Our room was a bit dated, but it was clean and comfortable. I would recommend staying at this hotel.

  • Click here for current Rydges Esplanade Resort rates.
  • Click here to see all hotel rates in Cairns. 

DON'T Waste Your Time Booking This Tour in Cairns, Australia

_don't_waste your time booking this cairns tour
If you liked it – Pin it!

*Disclosure: some of these links are affiliate links. Meaning, if you click a link and make a purchase, Have Clothes, Will Travel gets a very small commission at no extra cost to you. Thank you for supporting the brands that make this blog possible! I am also a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for us to earn fees by linking to Amazon.com and affiliated sites.


  1. WOW! What a disaster! Thanks to you, I’ve written this down on my NOT to do list! I’m so sorry for you. It’s such rotten luck when you are so exited to do something and pay money for it, only to turn into something not very cool. Cheer up, though, tomorrow is another day and there for sure is something exciting ahead for you!

    1. Oh yes! This kinda stunk…but it could’ve been much worse! And the rest of the trip was wonderful. 🙂 Thank you so much for reading, Ashley!

  2. I’ve been to Cairns before but I didn’t take any tours. I didn’t risk going into the water either because of the crocodiles and jellyfish. Did you enjoy Kuranda and the scenic railway?

    1. Oh yes, there was a risk of jellyfish too. I wore one of the stinger suits…but it sounds like that wasn’t necessary. Oh well! Better safe than sorry! And I LOVED Kuranda and the Scenic Railway. 🙂 Just posted about it here. 🙂

  3. Hi Lindsey, I must say that this post is hilarious and really sad at the same time. I am sorry your trip was bad but at the same time, the way you described it made me laugh. No coffee on a bus and roots being a highlight of a tour?! No comment.
    Thank you for sharing sweetie and have a wonderful Wednesday! I hope you will have more luck next time.


    1. Haha! I am glad you enjoyed it found it funny, Miri. I was trying to be light-hearted about it. 🙂 Thank you so much for reading! And I hope you’re having a wonderful Wednesday too!

  4. That’s a shame 🙁
    I have been to Port Douglas, the Daintree and Cape Tribulation before and thoroughly enjoyed it. I didn’t do it as a tour – we had just hired a car and gone wherever we wanted and spent time wherever we wanted too which I guess you don’t have the option on while on tour.

    Looking forward to reading your post on Cairns next 🙂

    1. Oh yes! I imagine each spot is fantastic if you spend more than 20 minutes at them. Rushing through it just didn’t give us a good sense of how great they all are. (Sometimes tours like that can work…but not for this one.) And thank you so much! 🙂

  5. It’s really absurd to be in Australia, a country with so many tourists and hot now, and no way to fuel a bottle water for a long time. I was waiting for your adventures there, like a kid, like I were there through you! And I am so sorry that you had those experiences – bumpy road, no coffee, driver forgetting a passenger, 20 min only at the forest and that the highlight of the 3rd day was roots from water. Thankfully 2 of the days were good, but it’s just bad when it’s the last to be that bad – it really makes the experience look worse. And a fellow blogger had even a worse day! Hope that you have a nice time now, relax from the bad experience! Hugs!

    1. Yeah, it’s no fun when the last day is the stinker. But the other 2 were both SO good, it certainly didn’t ruin the trip. 🙂 And thank you so much for reading, Denise! Even if this was a bit of a bummer of a post. Hugs to you as well! 🙂

  6. Hi there, I cam across your blog and throughly enjoy what I see.. Keep it up! It would be great if we could support each other. I just started my own blog if you would like to check it out:D


  7. It’s a pity that the third day of this trip was dissapointing for you, the pictures are gorgeous, but beach with waters full of crocodiles sounds frightfully!
    Thanks for sharing this, I hope that some day me and my husband will have the posibility to visit Australia.


    1. Oh yes! That is frightening isn’t it?! I didn’t like that at all, haha. And thank you so much for reading! So glad you enjoyed the photos too. 🙂

  8. Ah thanks for the links to my post! SUCH a bummer you didn’t have a great day either, just proves its really not worth booking :/

    1. I should’ve listened to you!! Hopefully between the two posts – no one else will make the same mistake. 🙂

  9. We always struggle with tours, on one hand it sounds really great to see everything we want to see. On the other hand, the tours usually disappoint, too long at a destination for what we want, stops at touristy souvenir shops, or the tour does something no matter your physical ability you could do (such as the boardwalk you experienced through the rainforest).

    Still looked like a fun time. I would love to see the wallabies and kangaroos too.

    1. Oh yes, I know what you mean. We’ve been really fortunate with the tours we’ve taken, though, up until this point. This one just wasn’t worth the whole day.

Leave a comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.