One of the key justifications for World Heritage listing of the Wet Tropics is its superlative natural phenomena and areas of exceptional natural beauty and aesthetic importance. The Wet Tropics embraces many spectacular landscapes and a diverse range of outstanding landforms, including rainforests, coastlines, wild rivers, waterfalls, rugged gorges, mountain peaks and volcanic crater lakes.
The landscapes of the Wet Tropics contribute greatly to the quality of life of the local community and to the visitor experience. Many people have a strong appreciation and spiritual connection with the scenic and aesthetic values of the Area. Places of natural beauty with high aesthetic importance include large regions such as the Daintree Coast, sections of river catchments such as the wild rapids and rugged gorges of the North and South Johnstone Rivers, spectacular features such as Wallaman Falls, or scenic routes that offer breathtaking views such as sections of the Captain Cook Highway. In many coastal areas you can see where the rainforest meets the reef - the only place in the world where two World Heritage Areas are side by side.
Presentation of scenic values is often dependent upon the development of infrastructure such as roads and lookouts. However, diminished scenic values are often associated with development occurring within and around the World Heritage Area - for example, scarring from roads, vegetation clearing, domestic and commercial buildings and community services infrastructure. Some scenic landscapes are especially vulnerable to visual impact due to the prominence or exposure of built structures. For instance, development on coastal headlands and dunes can affect views over long stretches of coast. Infrastructure such as powerlines, roads, and telecommunications towers on ridges and mountains can be particularly unsightly in the natural environment. Building development on hillsides can detract from the beauty of natural landscapes.