Cow Bay Australia

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Cow Bay is the first tun off from the Cape Tribulation Rd. after the Alexandra Range Lookout (currently closed) and the Daintree Discovery Centre (open) and Jindalba Board Walk (partially open in March 2024.) The road you turn into is Buchanan Rd and the Floravilla Ice Crem place is on the corner.

Cow Bay is a small settlement in The Daintree, about 11 Km (17 minutes to an hour, depending on traffic delays currently) north of the Daintree River ferry crossing. It is before the settlement of Cape Tribulation, roughly half way between the two.

Cow Bay Name
Cow Bay in the traditional land of the Kuku Yalangi People. Its Aboriginal Name is Kaba-Kada (Rain a Lot).
cow bay beach entry
Cow Bay beach, photo taken near the entry to the beach.
Looking north along Cow Bay beach, there are more coves which can be reached on foot at low tide.
Cow Bay creek
Cow Bay after tropical cyclone/storm Jasper. The creek (Bailey’s Creek) looks a little deeper and there is sand erosion, but Cow Bay is still beautiful and worth visiting.

Cow Bay Beach has a parking area and public conveniences, but is often deserted. It’s a good place to walk on the beach, but look out for crocodiles, don’t swim here or stay too close to the creek that bisects the bay.

The palm trees at the back of the beach give good shady spots to relax, but of course, never sit under coconuts! You’ll quite often find rope swings here.

Why is Cow Bay Called Cow Bay

As you drive towards Cow Bay, you’ll likely see cattle grazing on the right of the road, on the slopes of the Alexander range. One theory has it that Cow Bay is named after early forest clearing and cattle farming. I prefer the theory that it was named after dugongs, sea cows, that frequented the bay, grazing on sea grass.  Many places along this stretch of coast got their names from Captain Cook’s voyage, most notably, Cooktown. Cook’s crew most likely named this place Cow Bay in 1770.

It is not enough to have great dreams; one must also have the courage to pursue them.” ― Captain Cook.

There are a number of residential properties and small businesses along Buchanan Rd, the biggest being Daintree Crocodylus backpacker resort, this provides jungle accommodation for those wanting to sleep in close proximity to nature. Daintree Crocodylus has a restaurant and it was open in February 2024.

Diwan is the next local as you drive north of the Cow Bay turn-off.

Can You Swim at Cow Bay Beach?

No, there are too many crocodiles for people to swim at Cow Bay. In summer there is also a risk of deadly jellyfish in these waters.

Is it Worth Visiting Cow Bay?

Yes, Cow Bay is a perfect, unspoiled tropical sandy beach. It is incredibly beautiful, with pale sand, blue waters and the deep green rainforest backdrop. It’s a great place to go for a walk, or to go fishing.

Cow Bay is just one of the places you can visit if you decide to tour The Daintree and Cape Tribulation from Port Douglas. It is included on most tours of the Daintree.

About the author
Alyson Long

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