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Bucket list experience:

Last updated: 04 November, 2022
Expert travel writer: Mark Chipperfield

While adrenaline junkies might sneer at the idea of river snorkelling, there is nothing more exhilarating than drifting along under the jungle canopy of the Daintree Rainforest. The Mossman river carves its way through the etched sides of the Mossman Gorge, with sheer, rainforest-clad slopes rising up either side.

Along the way, swimmers will encounter an astonishing range of native animals – from turtles to water dragons and – if you’re really lucky – a platypus.

Whether paddling downriver or just drifting on an inflatable raft, river snorkelling is a delightful and very safe experience; the water in this part of the Mossman River is too cold for saltwater crocodiles. Drift snorkelling does not require any great athletic ability – just basic swimming skills and a taste for adventure.

Price from: £65
Minimum age: 4
Age suitable: 4+
When: All year around
Duration: 3.5+ hours

Getting there & doing it

Back Country Bliss Adventures provides transfers from either Port Douglas or Palm Cove to Mossman Gorge. Wetsuits, boots, snorkel masks and inflatable river sleds are all provided. People who weigh over 125kg cannot take part in this adventure. Snacks and water are provided on half-day tours, while a light lunch is included for those booking the full day.

When the river level is low (most of the year), it’s generally suitable for all ages (4+) and swimming abilities. When the river level is higher, the faster flowing water is only suitable for strong swimming adults (15+) with good fitness and mobility.

When to do it

Drift snorkelling is available all year round in both the dry and wet seasons. Water temperatures range from 16-22°C – thermal layers are provided during the winter months. Tours are only cancelled during extreme wet weather conditions.

Our writer’s picks of the best places to stay near this experience, closest first

Silky Oaks Lodge

Port Douglas, Queensland, Australia[0.5 miles]

Rainforest relaxation guaranteed at this beautifully run eco-lodge with a fantastic restaurant and award-winning spa.

Official star rating:

Shantara Resort

Port Douglas, Queensland, Australia[12.9 miles]

A modern apartment hotel in the centre of Port Douglas. A perfect, convenient base, close to all of the evening action, for those who want to spend their days out exploring (rather than lounging in a resort). Adults only.

Official star rating:

Peppers Beach Club

Port Douglas, Queensland, Australia[13 miles]

Decidedly upmarket beachside resort hotel with a fantastic in-house spa and award-winning restaurant. A good all-rounder with something for everyone.

Official star rating:

Port Douglas Peninsula Boutique Hotel

Port Douglas, Queensland, Australia[13.2 miles]

A compact, beachside hotel equipped with kitchenettes that’s an excellent choice for those travelling on a budget. Adults only.

Official star rating:

Destination guides including or relevant to this experience

Port Douglas

Queensland, Australia

Swish, cosmopolitan and delightfully laid-back, Port Douglas is an ideal stepping off point for trips to the Daintree and the Great Barrier Reef, and to connect with authentic indigenous culture.

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Our writer’s recommendations of other bucket list experiences our writer says you must do in this destination, closest first

Kuku Yalanji Cultural Habitat Tours

Cooya Beach, Queensland, Australia[7.3 miles]

Discover the secrets of Queensland’s coastal landscape and learn traditional aboriginal skills such as spear-throwing, mud-crabbing and fishing on an immersive tour with a Kuku Yalanji guide.

Best for ages: 4+ | £48 | 3 hours

Boat tours of the Daintree River

Daintree Rainforest, Queensland, Australia[24.1 miles]

Cruise through a 180 million-year-old rainforest of ancient flora, to spot hundreds of bird species, turtles, colourful tree frogs, exotic snakes and gigantuan ‘salties’ (saltwater crocodiles).

Best for ages: 4+ | £11 | 1-2 hours

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Other worthwhile experiences near this experience if you have time or interest..

Art gallery

Indigenous Art Gallery

Mossman, Queensland, Australia[0.5 miles]

This quality art gallery features the work of the best local Kuku Yalanji artists. The gallery is part of a unique indigenous tourism project which also includes dreamtime walks, a gift shop and a café serving local bush tucker.

Best for ages: 13+ | Free

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people wandering around an outdoor market with white roofed stalls, under trees

Port Douglas Markets

Port Douglas, Queensland, Australia[12.5 miles]

This buzzy local market, held every Sunday from 8am to 1.30pm, is a great place to catch up with some colourful personalities, pick up some local artwork or sample some fresh local produce.

Best for ages: 13+ | Free

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Nautilus Restaurant

Port Douglas, Queensland, Australia[12.8 miles]

This celebrated restaurant showcases local specialities like Moreton Bay Bugs, kingfish and mud crab, on the atmospheric wooden deck. Five- and seven-course degustation menus available.

Best for ages: 13+ | £35

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