Port Douglas, Tropical Queensland

"A better gateway to the Great Barrier Reef"

Port Douglas is 70km north of Cairns and is a great alternative to Cairns in terms of somewhere to stay for exploring the Great Barrier Reef

It's a fairly well to do seaside town with 5 star resorts and fancy restaurants. Probably not the place to stay if you are on a budget but definitely a great place if you fancy combining a relaxing seaside break with some diving or snorkeling.

When To Come

Given Port Douglas is in the tropical north of Queensland, the best time to come is during the dry season - May to October.

Most people want to visit the great Barrier Reef as part of their holiday to Australia, so don't be too put off. You can come outside of these times but expect there to be rain and for it to be pretty hot and humid. Locals say that the rain is only really bad for December and January.

Most rain fall January to March so if possible, avoid these months.

If you intend to come out of season during the wet season, I'd probably only spend a few days here. If however you are planning to be here in the dry season, you can easily spend a relaxing week around Port Douglas.

Getting here

To get here you need to fly from Cairns Australia which is easy from most Australian cities.

It's probably about an hours drive from Cairns airport. There are plenty of buses that will take you to Port Douglas but if you intend on exploring the area, then you should hire a car.

Click here for more information on flight routes and travel distances

What to see and do

Part of the charm of port douglas is to be lazy and enjoy being pampered in one of the many resorts or just enjoy lying in the sun on 4 mile beach.

There is a good golf course here too (Sheraton Golf Course) if that is of interest to you!

Of course, it's also about experiencing the Great Barrier Reef AustraliaYou can do day trips from Port Douglas but there may be less choice than in Cairns Australia. Given it's only an hour to Cairns, you may choose to go from there.

  • Kite surfing is very popular at the north end of the 4 mile beach in Port Douglas and you can get lessons whilst you are here.
  • There is a nice market every Sunday morning at the Anzac Park, end of Macrossan St. It's full of local produce and plenty of crafts, lotions/potions, drinks, music and jewellery.
  • If you fancy trying your hand at painting, search out Davvyd Brown (local exotic artist) offers art lessons in peaceful surroundings. A great way to spend half a day (lunch is included)

  • It's also a good base from which to explore Tropical North Queensland including Daintree Rainforest, Cape Tribulation or south of Cairns, Mission Beach. The page on the Great Barrier Reef. gives full details of the surrounding area.
  • One of the bars in Port Douglas has toad racing upstairs. It is very amusing and worth having a drink here to watch. The bar is called Iron Bar and is on the main strip in town
  • Another good option is to visit the Wildlife Habitat Centre to have breakfast or lunch with the tropical birds. It's a buffet style affair and then you can walk round the centre to see more birds and other animals including kangaroos. A great option if you have kids or a love for Australian Animals
  • Just up the road is Mossman Gorge. Here you can do a more extensive walk or take the short path (suitable for strollers and wheel chairs) to the gorge itself. There were plenty of people swimming there too when we were there

  • Where to stay

    This is a classic Australian holiday destination so prices are steep. It's a good idea to shop around and leave it as late as possible to try and grab a bargain.

    Be sure to understand exactly where your accommodation is as most of the bigger resorts are on the road leading into the town which is still a long walk. Most have bus services into town but you may not find this ultra convenient.

    We spent most of our time relaxing around the pool and then drove into town for dinner most nights.

  • Sea Temple Resort and Spa $$$- We had an amazing week here in a one bedroom apartment. The pool is gorgeous, accommodation spacious and staff very attentive. We managed to get a bargain which allowed us to upgrade to a penthouse apartment. Just outside of town but a bit too far to walk.
  • QT Hotel - We stayed here recently - a new resort that has just opened. A more designer hotel, good for couples. The food is AMAZING. Read my full post here to see if it is right for you.

  • Thala Beach Lodge $$($) - This is between Palm Cove and Port Douglas so you would need a car here unless you just want to stay at the resort the whole time. This would suit couples. It is olde worldy with stunning views. It tends to attract an older crowd.
  • Mandalay & Shalimar Beachfront Apartments - beachfront apartments $$($) - A good apartment option
  • Mai Tai Resortt - $$($) - a classic Port Douglas resort
  • Treetops Resort - a bit out of town but there is a regular bus service to and from the town. $200
  • Peppers Beach club Resort - £300 to $500
  • Modern, large swimming pool and lovely restaurants

  • Mantra serviced apartments - $200
  • - a good cheaper option for this area.

  • Oak Beach Boathouse - $300 up to 4 people
  • - a good option if you are looking for a beach house rather than a resort.

  • Frangipani Beach House at Newell - $550 up to 6 people- good if there are a few of you to share the cost.
  • Paradise Villa B&B $170 - a cheaper option

  • Where to eat

    There are so many great options on the main street in Port Douglas that it is hard to go wrong. We just wandered down the strip and picked where we fancied that evening. We didn't have a bad meal once.

    We enjoyed Bucci the Italian restaurant (good for kids too as they had a great value kids menu) We also enjoyed the Mexican place Tortillas Cucina.Underwraps for breakfast and lunch was a firm favourite.

    Salsa is not on the main strip but just opposite Anzac park ( where the market is). The food is great and the menu offers lots of choice. Mains are around $35 though.

    For the best value and most stunning views go to the Tin Shed. You'll have to sign in (its a club) and get here early - around 5 ish or earlier if you want a table right on the water. Steak and chips, fish and chips, kids menus and plenty of fish specials. All mains around $20 to $25 with a view to die for.

    Below are a couple of other suggestions that are not on the strip but worth the venture.

  • 2 Fish Seafood Restaurant, 7/20 Wharf Street
  • Beach Shack, 22 Barrier Street, four mile beach
  • Fiorellis, the Wharf

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