Port Douglas dreaming; 4 best ways to indulge your days!
Plonked right on the coastline of the Coral Sea in Far North Queensland, the town of Port Douglas is nestled between the Great Barrier Reef and the Daintree Rainforest, creating a perfect spot for your tropical adventure. About an hour’s drive north of Cairns, Port Douglas offers a backyard for some of the world’s best-loved stretches of coastline and hinterland all in one. And though it might be an adventure packed playground for some, for others, the town is a laid back natural wonderland and vacay spot that travellers everywhere have come to seek out.
Locals refer to Port Douglas simply as Port, and like the gentle hint of its after-dinner namesake, this breezy township along Queensland’s tropical coast is a welcome holiday escape. It splashed its way into travel brochures in the mid 80’s when flashy businessman, Christopher Skase developed The Sheraton Mirage, stamping Port Douglas as Australia’s upmarket resort getaway. It’s now home to three major resorts that back the beach, together with golf courses and a marina. Though some of the gloss has since worn off, the influx of eco-lovers has helped Port Douglas settle down into a relaxed township and gateway to Australia’s famed natural wonders.
Here’s your best ways to explore Port Douglas.
4 miles, a million adventures
Curving south of the town centre, the stretch of sand and the uninterrupted ocean views make 4-mile beach the drawcard of Port Douglas, even if it is 4 kilometers not miles. Pressed alongside the township at the northern end of the beach is the Port Douglas Surf Life Saving Club where the broad views are surprisingly natural and unencumbered. Pristine waters and bleached fine sand are home to sun seekers everywhere. Whether you’re keen to explore the nature trails or simply lay a picnic blanket on the grassy bluffs to watch the world go by, it’s barefoot luxury at its best!
Covering around 1,200 square kilometres, the Daintree is a part of the largest continuous area of tropical rainforest in Australia. It’s UNESCO World Heritage listed so there’s plenty of day tours to choose from to explore its beckoning wilderness. The trees sing with the chatter of birds and the flitting of rainbow butterflies creates a rich ecosystem that soars from ancient roots into a deep blue sky. Day tours take in the renowned Mossman Gorge, with an easy guided walk and optional cruise along the Daintree river. The boat cuts through the mangroves and abundant river life, sailing towards a gently setting sun.
The old world charm of a scenic train journey blends beautifully with the placid pace of rainforest and village life. The Kuranda Train & Scenic Railway is an unforgettable 1 hour and 45 minute journey. Winding its way at 300 metres above sea level it rides along the mountainous range from Cairns City to Barron Gorge and the whimsical village of Kuranda. Full of old world character, the Kuranda Scenic Railway captures the pioneering spirit of early Australia.
From Cairns, the Great Barrier Reef Drive heading north to Cape Tribulation is a few hours of magnificent road trip beauty, with the Wet Tropics Rainforest on one side and the reef on the other; at times the way the road hugs the coast it’s as if you could wind down the window and let your fingers dip in the cool water. Other than dive head first into its depths, there are plenty of ways to appreciate the Great Barrier Reef. To really experience its vastness, day cruises, luxury sailing or chopper ride are always on hand.
The underwater coral gardens are a silent wonderland and with subs and wall to wall viewing on day cruises, there’s nothing you can’t experience up close. Tour operators have become savvy enough to genuinely cater for everybody. You’re spoilt for choice when it comes to boat hires, snorkeling and diving tours, each one taking you on an underwater journey that is truly sublime. Through the glass you’ll see turquoise and lime colored corals, little nemo and angel fish darting around curiously and maybe even a reef shark.
Adventures are not reserved for the young. The real adventure holiday is about that of the spirit, where we gather reflective experiences that connect us to our world. For the true adventure seeker, the northern tip of tropical Queensland is an abundant playground. Twilight beach walks, lazy days poolside or journeying by train or river cruise through the age-old rainforest lets you explore Port Douglas at the gentle pace of a tropical holiday.
Discover more of Queensland’s tropical escapes on Fitzroy Island.