FODOR'S GO LIST 2015
The top 25 places we think should be on every traveler's radar this year.More
Back Country Bliss Adventures. This company is based in Port Douglas but ranges much farther afield; its customized, culturally and eco-sensitive small-group day and multiday trips take you to nature and adventure hotspots from the Atherton Tablelands and Mareeba Wetlands to Cape Trib and Cooktown. They'll take you sea kayaking, wakeboarding, kite-surfing, rafting, mountain biking, drift-snorkeling in rain-forest streams, or "jungle surfing" over the canopy. Well-chosen wilderness locations, quality equipment, excellent staff including indigenous guides, and Wet Tropic World Heritage Tour Operator accreditation give the Bliss team the edge. QLD, 4877. 07/4099–3677. www.backcountrybliss.com.au.
Daintree Tours by Deluxe Safaris. This operator conducts day-long, well-guided trips in top-of-the-line 4WD vehicles and custom-built trucks. Visit the Atherton Tablelands, Mossman Gorge, and Cape Tribulation (A$185) or take the rugged track to Bloomfield Falls (POA). All safaris stop for guided walks, swims, and croc-spotting cruises, and visit the Daintree Ice Cream Factory if time permits. You can also arrange a day-long private wildlife-spotting charter to the Outback, west of Mareeba. Ample lunch and refreshments, included in all excursions, ensure you keep your strength up. Port Douglas pick-ups and drop-offs make the early-morning starts simple. Shop 3A, 23 Warner St., Port Douglas, QLD, 4877. 07/4099–6406 or 1800/005–966. www.deluxesafaris.com.au.
Reef and Rainforest Connections. This long-established, eco-friendly operator offers day trips to Kuranda's attractions, including the historic Scenic Railway, Skyrail Rainforest Cableway, and the Tjapukai Aboriginal Cultural Park or Rainforestation (A$155-A205); excursions to Cape Tribulation, the Daintree rain-forest, and Mossman Gorge; and Great Barrier Reef cruises with Quicksilver. The company also runs excursions to Cape Tribulation, the Daintree, and Mossman Gorge, and Great Barrier Reef cruises with Quicksilver Connections. 40 Macrossan St., Port Douglas, QLD, 4877. 1300/780–455 reservations; 07/4035–5566 administration. www.reefandrainforest.com.au.
Tony's Tropical Tours. This company gives entertaining small-group day tours in luxe land cruisers that take in rain-forest sights and attractions as far as Cape Tribulation (A$180) or, if you're prepared to get up earlier, the renowned and ruggedly beautiful Bloomfield Track (A$205). Well-informed, witty commentary from Tony and other local experts, and non-rushed, well-chosen stops and activities—from interpretative ancient-rain-forest walks and Daintree River wildlife (croc) cruises, to handmade ice-cream and tropical-fruit tasting—make these trips crowd-pleasers. Refreshments, included in the cost, are a cut above the norm: think plunger (French press) coffee, rain-forest tea, and a satisfying BBQ lunch with damper (traditional Aussie bushmen's bread). There's also a terrific charter tour to the crater lakes, Atherton Tablelands, and Mareeba Wetlands (A$1020 for 4 people), on which you might see kangaroos, birdlife, and the famed Curtain Fig tree. QLD, 4877. 07/4099–3230. www.tropicaltours.com.au.