Thornton Beach: Best Visitors Guide 2024 (UPDATED)

Remote beach near Cape Tribulation on the Daintree Coast in Tropical North Queensland


Thornton Beach Visitor Guide for Tropical North Queensland, Australia


Table of Contents

Welcome to my Tourist Visitor Guide to Thornton Beach in Tropical North Queensland! To make it easier for you to follow I have organised it into the various heading below:

1. Introduction
2. Where is Thornton Beach?
3. Best Time To Visit Thornton Beach
4. What Facilities do they have at Thornton Beach?
5. How to get to Thornton Beach
6. Things to do at Thornton Beach
7. Thornton Beach Accommodation
8. Where to Eat at Thornton Beach
9. Final Thought
10. FAQs

Please read this visitor guide until the end. If you do, I hope it will have inspired you to visit this fabulous Tropical North Queensland beach!

(My post about Thornton Beach may contain affiliate links, which means I may receive a small commission at no additional cost to you).

Read Time: 8 Minutes



Sandwiched between the suburb of Diwan and the beautiful coastline of Cape Tribulation is Thornton Beach, a gorgeous stretch of remote sand that makes the perfect spot for some rest and relaxation during your exploration of the Daintree Coast.

Undoubtedly one of the nicest beaches in the Daintree National Park, Thornton Beach is the kind of destination where you can easily while away a whole afternoon in a happy state of bliss. Its remote and isolated location means there are never more than a few people here, if any at all during your visit, which makes strolling along its flat, golden sand an absolute pleasure.

As you do so, you will be able to take in stunning views of Thornton Peak. The tiny yet captivating 1-hectare Struck Island also lies tantalisingly off-shore. But don’t be tempted to swim there. Stingers and crocodiles abound in the shimmering waters of the Coral Sea and around the Cooper Creek, which the beach will eventually take you to.

Thornton Beach makes a nice alternative to Cape Tribulation Beach as it is a fantastic place for sunbathing and enjoying a digital detox. However, if you are trying to get pregnant you might want to make a special point of coming here. Apparently, the local KuKu Yalanji indigenous people hold a tribal belief that the beach has properties that can stimulate fertility. Indeed, it was once a place where young tribeswomen spent time before being taken to Struck Island to receive marks of marriageability and womanhood such as tribal scars.


The great thing about Thornton Beach, and for that matter the Daintree Rainforest, is that you can visit it all year round.


Where is Thornton Beach?

Thornton Beach is a locality and coastal town situated within the shire of Douglas in Tropical North Queensland. It is about 127 km north of Cairns and more specifically resides within the Daintree Coast about a 20 minute drive south of Cape Tribulation and half an hour to the north of the Daintree Ferry.

The town is bound by the Coral Sea to the east and Cape Tribulation Road to the south. Much of its western and southern parts lie within the Daintree National Park. It currently has a resident population of eight people and occupies an area of land that is traditionally owned by the indigenous Eastern Kuku Yalanji people.


Distance to Other Beaches in TNQ

  • Cow Bay (15km)
  • Newell Beach (51km)
  • Four Mile Beach (67km)
  • Wangetti Beach (90km)
  • Ellis Beach (99km)
  • Palm Cove (102km)
  • Clifton Beach (104km)
  • Kewarra Beach (108km)
  • Trinity Beach (111km)
  • Yorkeys Knob (117km)
  • Machans Beach (121km)
  • Holloways Beach (121km)
  • Bramston Beach (208km)
  • Etty Bay (225km)
  • Best Time To Visit Thornton Beach

    The great thing about Thornton Beach, and for that matter the Daintree Rainforest, is that you can visit it all year round. However, WHEN you should go is a different matter because the different weather conditions at different times of the year will suit some people more than others.

    During the wet season, which runs roughly around mid-December to early-April, you’ll likely experience very high humidity and heavy rainfall that can seemingly come from nowhere. However, at this time you will be able to see cascading waterfalls and the stunning rainforest at its most verdant. As the mercury can often exceed 30 degrees Celsius, it is not a good idea to spend too much time on the beach in the sun, unless you have a cabana.

    For this reason, the peak season months of mid-May to early November – which is known as the dry season – might be a more preferable time for you to go to the region. The weather should be much more pleasant, with far less humidity and clear blue skies on most days, although the temperature may be a bit chilly at night. You might find more people in the area at this time though and prices for accommodation will be higher.

    You should avoid being on Thornton Beach after dark due to the possible presence of crocodiles. However, if you can make it for sunrise then you will be in for a visual treat as the dusk colours on the horizon are sensational. You can check the sunrise timings here – just type Thornton Beach into the search box and it should come up.


    Thornton Beach Tropical North Queensland Holiday Guide


    What Facilities do they have at Thornton Beach?

    Due to its remote nature, Thornton Beach is not blessed with a huge range of facilities. However, there is enough to sustain you whilst you are there.

    As well as beachside parking and picnic tables you will find public toilets available around the back of Thornton’s Restaurant, which is a good place to get something to eat when it is open. (Unfortunately, it is not always open due to supply issues, particularly when bad storms hit. For this reason you might want to check out their Facebook page and plan to bring a packed lunch or eat elsewhere).

    Unfortunately, there are no Surf Life Saving Australia services currently on offer at Thornton’s Beach or a stinger net in place. However, if you should be happy to note there is a petrol station situated at the Daintree Rainforest Village, where you can top up on fuel and grab some basic supplies.


    To get to Thornton Beach you should continue on Cape Tribulation road for around half an hour until you reach the destination. It is signposted, so you will know when you are there.


    How to get to Thornton Beach

    For those coming from Port Douglas or Cairns you will need to follow signs whilst on the road from National Route 1 to the Captain Cook Highway/State Route 44. This gorgeous drive provides sensational views of the Coral Sea and the coastline as you go to the suburbs of Mossman and Wonga, until you eventually get to the turn off for Cape Tribulation.

    Whilst there, keep your eyes open for the sign which says ‘Welcome to the Daintree – Kadayda Wawu Ngugi Bubu’. Once you see it, make a right and continue onwards until you get to the ferry crossing.

    As there are no bridges or an adjoining road to get you to the other side of the river, so you will have to catch the Daintree Ferry. Thankfully, it runs constantly between 5am and midnight everyday of the year, including Christmas Day and Easter, with the average crossing time being around 5-8 minutes.

    Once you get to the other side of the river you will be on the Daintree Coast. To get to Thornton Beach you should continue on Cape Tribulation road for around half an hour until you reach the destination. It is signposted, so you will know when you are there.


    Distance to Other places in Queensland

  • Cairns (127km)
  • Cooktown (115km)
  • Port Douglas (71km)
  • Townsville (472km)
  • Mission Beach (264km)
  • Kuranda (129km)
  • Mackay (858km)
  • Airlie Beach (746km)
  • Brisbane (1833km)
  • Noosa (1701km)
  • Hervey Bay (1570km)
  • Longreach (1075km)
  • Mt Isa (1204km)
  • Surfers Paradise (1901km)
  • Things to do at Thornton Beach

    Ironically enough, the best things to do at Thornton Beach involve essentially doing nothing! Essentially it is the perfect place for sunbathing, relaxing and generally letting go of any stresses you have.

    That said, it is a nice 1km stretch of flat and wide beach to walk on and photograph. Just be careful around the mouth of Cooper Creek where crocodiles may be residing. If you want to see some crocodiles, you can book a river cruise that will take you along it.

    Fishing is a popular activity at the beach, especially offshore around Stuck Island and around Cooper Creek. You can launch a boat off the beach’s northern end to find a prime spot.


    Thornton Beach Vacation Guide Tropical North Queensland


    Thornton Beach Accommodation

    If you are wanting a place to stay at Thornton Beach your best bet is the Thornton Beach Bungalows. This spacious house with detached bungalows is situated directly opposite the beach.

    The bungalows feature en suite bathrooms which are very convenient and private porches which showcase tremendous views of the Coral Sea. The beach house meanwhile has a dining room, kitchen, BBQ, verandah and lounge room with a flat-screen TV. Wherever you choose to stay, parking is free.

    For those who want to stay elsewhere in the Daintree Rainforest you will find plenty of other options including the:

  • Daintree Deep Forest Lodge
  • Wompoo Eco Retreat
  • Daintree Cascades
  • Daintree Riverview Lodges
  • Heritage Lodge
  • Daintree Peaks ECO Stays
  • Coral Sea Views
  • Daintree Crocodylus

    You can make a booking at any of these holiday accommodation options here.


    Thornton Beach is somewhere you should definitely put on your itinerary when you visit the Daintree National Park in Tropical North Queensland.


    Where to Eat at Thornton Beach

    You will be pleased to know that when you are feeling hungry there are some good options at Thornton Beach and the surrounding Daintree Rainforest.

    As mentioned, directly at the beach is Thornton’s Restaurant and Bar which offers a nice selection of meals – especially seafood – and a good wine list.

    Elsewhere the likes of Daintree Siesta Restaurant, Mason’s Cafe Cape Tribulation and On The Turps Restaurant are all within easy driving distance. However, many of the restaurants and cafes in the Daintree Rainforest have opening times that change with the seasons. So it pays to do a Google search and phone them up to clarify if they will be open on the day of your visit.


    Daintree National Park Restaurants

  • Croc Xpresso Cafe (Daintree Village)
  • Daintree Fan Palm Farm (Diwan)
  • Daintree Siesta (Diwan)
  • Daintree Village Hotel (Daintree Village)
  • Julaymba Restaurant (Lower Daintree)
  • Mason's Cafe Cape Tribulation (Cape Tribulation)
  • On The Turps (Diwan)
  • The Cassowary Restaurant (Cape Tribulation)
  • The Original Daintree Ice Cream Company (Diwan)
  • The Turtle Rock Café (Cape Tribulation)
  • Thornton's Restaurant and Bar (Thornton's Beach)
  • Tides Bar & Restaurant at Cape Trib Beach House (Cape Tribulation)
  • Final Thought

    Thornton Beach is somewhere you should definitely put on your itinerary when you visit the Daintree National Park in Tropical North Queensland.

    A place of incredible beauty, within an area that has been designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site, this tranquil beach sits about 1900km after from Surfer’s Paradise on the Gold Coast and is about as far removed from it as seemingly possible.

    If you are looking for a place to get away from it all, you couldn’t pick a better destination.



    Can you swim at Thornton Beach?

    Unfortunately, Thornton Beach is home to some plenty of saltwater crocodiles who are always looking for a bite to eat. So you are advised in no uncertain terms not to enter the water. The presence of stingers are further reason not to venture into the water too.


    Can you launch boats at Thornton Beach?

    Yes, you can. You can launch your boat from the beach's northern end.


    How many people live in Thornton Beach?

    According to the 2021 Census, Thornton Beach has a population of precisely 8 people!


    Can you get a wi-fi reception or phone network at Thornton Beach?

    Generally speaking, yes, you can get a wi-fi reception or phone network at Thornton Beach, however the reception can be patchy. I use Boost and had no issues, though I believe reception might be dependent on weather conditions as well.


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