Home to white-sand beaches, Port Douglas is the gateway to Far North Queensland, Australia, including the Great Barrier Reef, Daintree Rainforest and Cape Tribulation. Just a one-hour drive from Cairns, this backpacker-friendly fishing town has discreet hotels – bookable on Culture Trip – in tropical palm-lined surroundings. And with plenty of restaurants and nightlife dotting the shoreline, it’s no wonder that visitors come for breakfast and stay all day.
Things to do in Port Douglas
Port Douglas isn’t the largest town in Queensland, but it’s probably the most adventurous. As the jumping-off point for the Great Barrier Reef (GBR) and Daintree Rainforest, it’s a nature lover’s paradise. You can’t come all this way without strapping on a scuba kit and exploring the most famous coral reef, electric with marine life, in the world. Whether you go out on one of the many group day trips that leave from Port Douglas or book a private tour, the GBR is a must-see.
Destinations Unlocked:Let our travel expert Stefano help you find your perfect Culture trip
Looking for an expert's perspective?Uncover my top 3 recommended places from each continent on the map.
1. GuatemalaAn express adventure for those with limited time off. Prepare yourself incredible experiences. You will hike a volcano, visit mayan temples and witness a ceremony and take in beautiful colonial Antigua.
2. BelizeA quick trip not too far away for those seeking a relaxing mini break. You will have plenty of free time to relax but also some awesome activities to experience the rainforest and the caribbean sea.
3. MexicoAn exciting mini trip exploring the lesser known colonial towns of central Mexico. This is hte perfect trip for someone with limited time off and still wants to turn on explorer mode and do something different.
1. EcuadorA remarkable 8 days adventure through the Andes and the Amazon rainforest. The best choice for adventure seekers wishing to visit the 2 most iconic areas of South America, in only 1 week and no flights.
2. PeruAn alternative itinerary to classic Peru, from Cusco to Arequipa. This itinerary is great combination of highlights Cusco and Machu Picchu with the lesser known Arequipa and Colca Canyon.
1. ItalyThe ultimate Italian experience from the vibrant streets of Naples to the breathtaking sceneries of the Amalfi Coast followed by Matera and down to Puglia with its golden beaches, intense flavours and fascinating destinations.
2. ScotlandEmbark on this great adventure starting from London all the way to Scotland with a true Scottish experience made of breathtaking sceneries, whisky tasting and ..lots of fun! Ideal for train lovers and explorers.
3. PortugalA wonderful train journey around Portugal, from the romantic city of Porto to the Douro Valley, to the beautiful Aveiro all the way to Lisbon and Sintra. The perfect trip to train, culinary and culture lovers.
1. South KoreaDiscover incredible temples, mountains and modern cities on this 10 day adventure. This trip is perfect for those seeking immersion in the cuisine, culture and natural wonders of South Korea.
2. ThailandFrom Bankgok to Angkor Wat to Ho Chi Minh City and everything in between - adventure through the heart of South-East Asia. Taste the delights, see history brought to life and unwind on a Mekong River cruise.
3. Sri LankaA fantastic adventure that showcases Sri Lanka's fantastic landscapes, wildlife and flavours. With 3 epic rail journeys, 3 UNESCO heritage sites and time to relax, this trip has loads to offer at a great price
1. MoroccoAn epic journey across Morocco: from Casablanca to Marrakech, through the blue city of Chefchaouen to the wonders of the desert and deep to the High Atlas Mountains - this trip has it all! Ideal for true explorers!
2. EgyptFrom Cairo to Aswan, this trip brings the land of the pharaohs to life. You'll visit the Pyramids, Valley of the Kings and Luxor Temple and cruise down the Nile in style. This is the perfect way to explore Egypt.
So, too, is the Daintree Rainforest. A drive up the coast from Port Douglas to Cape Tribulation is like taking a road back in time; you’ll be driving through the oldest indigenous rainforest in the world, an area of damp, mossy green almost oppressive in its scale and density. You can stop for downhill mountain biking, zip-lining or horse riding along the white stretches of sand that fringe it. However you tackle it, you won’t forget it.
Back at base, Port Douglas’s Four Mile Beach is the ideal spot for a honeymoon stroll. Slip off your shoes to tread along the silky-white shoreline before stopping for crispy fish tacos from a beachside shack. Alternatively, when you fancy more of a night out, head into the town centre to go pub-hopping along Macrossan Street.
Places to stay in Port Douglas
The Sheraton Grand Mirage Resort offers first-class, five-star accommodation surrounded by botanical gardens. Pick a room with a private terrace overlooking the lush greenery or a balcony with views of the seemingly endless saltwater lagoon pools. With 24-hour room service, a choice of five restaurants and bars, private white-sand beaches and an 18-hole golf course, you won’t want to leave this slice of paradise.
The Beach Terraces offers modern, fully equipped self-catering apartments just steps from the famous Four Mile Beach and a short stroll to restaurants and shops. For chill-out time, there are sunbeds on the terrace, and you’re free to throw a sausage or two on the communal gas-powered grills.
Over at the Ramada Resort by Wyndham Port Douglas, you’ll find plantation-style accommodation set among the lush greenery of rainforest gardens. Every morning you’ll be woken by the gentle sounds of birds and swaying palms whispering outside your shuttered windows.
Best places to eat in Port Douglas
Ask anyone who has been to Port Douglas where they go “out-out”, and the IronBar will definitely be in the mix. Popular with everyone from bearded bikers to backpackers, this is a friendly, local place good for beer, prime steaks from Cape Grim in Tasmania, pizzas and bar snacks. For something a little swankier, head to the candlelit Watergate Restaurant & Lounge Bar in the centre of town. Book a terrace table and enjoy whispering sweet nothings and eating contemporary Australian grub.
Best time to visit Port Douglas
April to June marks the beginning of the dry season in Port Douglas, with temperatures averaging a balmy 25C (77F). May also draws the close of stinger season. July through September brings cooler temperatures, lots of sunshine and minimal rainfall. If you’re planning on some serious hiking, September to November would be the best time to visit, as daytime temperatures hover around 23C (73F). November to April is the wet season, with hot and humid days.
Getting to Port Douglas
Cairns Airport is the gateway to this part of Queensland, and you’ll find daily direct flights from major cities across Australia, including Sydney, Brisbane and the Gold Coast. It’s then an easy drive up the coast to Port Douglas.
This is an updated version of an article originally by Caitlin Morahan.
Volcanic Iceland Epic Trip
meet our Local Insider
HOW LONG HAVE YOU BEEN A GUIDE?
WHAT DO YOU LOVE ABOUT YOUR JOB?
It's the personal contact, the personal experiences. I love meeting people from all over the world... I really like getting to know everyone and feeling like I'm traveling with a group of friends.
WHAT DESTINATION IS ON YOUR TRAVEL BUCKET-LIST?
I have so many places on my list, but I would really lobe to go to Africa. I consider myself an “adventure girl” and Africa feels like the ULTIMATE adventure!
Every CULTURE TRIP Small-group adventure is led by a Local Insider just like Hanna.
KEEN TO EXPLORE THE WORLD?
Connect with like-minded people on our premium trips curated by local insiders and with care for the world
Since you are here, we would like to share our vision for the future of travel - and the direction Culture Trip is moving in.
Culture Trip launched in 2011 with a simple yet passionate mission: to inspire people to go beyond their boundaries and experience what makes a place, its people and its culture special and meaningful — and this is still in our DNA today. We are proud that, for more than a decade, millions like you have trusted our award-winning recommendations by people who deeply understand what makes certain places and communities so special.
Increasingly we believe the world needs more meaningful, real-life connections between curious travellers keen to explore the world in a more responsible way. That is why we have intensively curated a collection of premium small-group trips as an invitation to meet and connect with new, like-minded people for once-in-a-lifetime experiences in three categories: Culture Trips, Rail Trips and Private Trips. Our Trips are suitable for both solo travelers, couples and friends who want to explore the world together.
Culture Trips are deeply immersive 5 to 16 days itineraries, that combine authentic local experiences, exciting activities and 4-5* accommodation to look forward to at the end of each day. Our Rail Trips are our most planet-friendly itineraries that invite you to take the scenic route, relax whilst getting under the skin of a destination. Our Private Trips are fully tailored itineraries, curated by our Travel Experts specifically for you, your friends or your family.
We know that many of you worry about the environmental impact of travel and are looking for ways of expanding horizons in ways that do minimal harm - and may even bring benefits. We are committed to go as far as possible in curating our trips with care for the planet. That is why all of our trips are flightless in destination, fully carbon offset - and we have ambitious plans to be net zero in the very near future.