Port Douglas is located an hour’s drive from Cairns in tropical far north Queensland. It is home to two World Heritage Sites: the Wet Tropics of Queensland and the Great Barrier Reef. From exploring beautiful beaches to getting up close to Australian wildlife, here are the best things to do and see in Port Douglas.
Explore the rainforest at Mossman Gorge
The Daintree Rainforest is the world’s oldest rainforest, as it’s estimated to be over 135 million years of age. Located within Daintree National Park, there are several tours departing Port Douglas daily to explore the area. But just a 20-minute drive from Port Douglas is Mossman Gorge, located at the national park’s far south end. Visitors can go on a self-guided walk through the rainforest at Mossman Gorge, or learn more about the area’s indigenous history on a guided Dreamtime walk. Marvel at the rainforest’s waterfalls, flora, and fauna.
Port Douglas is perfectly located on the Great Barrier Reef. Choose your own cruise and reef experience. There’s Low Isles, which is only 15 minutes from Port Douglas. Visitors can step off the sandy shoreline and immediately be snorkelling on the reef, or go on a glass bottom boat tour. Alternatively, Quicksilver Cruises takes their guests to Agincourt Reef on the outer Great Barrier Reef, where there’s a permanent floating pontoon. Activities include snorkelling, learning to dive, and visiting the pontoon’s underwater observatory.
In several Australian capital cities, the Moonlight Cinema is only open in summer. In tropical Port Douglas, the cinema under the stars is only open during the winter months. Located at the luxurious QT Port Douglas Resort, the Moonlight Cinema is set up beside the pool and recreation centre. There are different new movies shown weekly, and guests can hire bean bags or bring their own. You can also bring your own food, and there’s a bar on-site too. It’s the most fun night out in Port Douglas.
Four Mile Beach is Port Douglas’ main — and most beautiful — beach. From the town centre, it’s only a five-minute walk to the beach, which does indeed stretch for four miles. For the best view of the palm-fringed beach, head up to Trinity Bay Lookout. The lookout is located at the township end of the beach. During stinger season (October to March), there’s a stinger net installed at Four Mile Beach. Only swim within the net so you are not exposed to the harmful jellyfish.
Named Port Douglas’ number one attraction, Wildlife Habitat is known for its immersive experiences. Visitors can have Breakfast with the Birds, Lunch with the Lorikeets, and participate in the Wildnight Nocturnal Tour. You can also get koala souvenir photos, go on a kangaroo tour, and see turtles, koalas, and pelicans being fed. There are further reptile and bird interactive experiences as well, so Wildlife Habitat is the place to visit to get up close to a variety of Australian animals.
Macrossan Street is Port Douglas’ main thoroughfare. It’s lined with plenty of cafes, stores, and clothing boutiques. Tahitian Lime is a swimwear label designed by Australian sisters, Prue and Brooke Needham. Their Port Douglas boutique also stocks clothing, shoes, and bags. Aloha Lucy has everything from women’s clothing to homewares, and Whileaway Books and Cafe is a must-visit to pick up a beach read or two. For travelling families, Love Always is a very fashionable children’s clothing boutique too.
Built in 1913 and 1914, St Mary’s by the Sea is a non-denominational church on the waterfront in Port Douglas. It was previously a Roman Catholic Church, and was heritage-listed in Queensland in 1992. The small weatherboard chapel can comfortably fit 100 people on its wooden pews. It’s fitted with stained glass windows, a large glass window behind the altar, and amazing views out to the Coral Sea. Today, St Mary’s by the Sea is a very popular location for destination weddings in Port Douglas.
An hour’s drive south of Port Douglas is Kuranda, a small town surrounded by rainforest. The best part about visiting Kuranda, however, is choosing your mode of transport. Visitors can take the Skyrail Rainforest Cableway over the forested hills to Kuranda, and return via the Scenic Railway, which is very scenic indeed. For a small place, there’s plenty of things to do in Kuranda as well, including Barron Falls, the Rainforestation Nature Park, and the Butterfly Sanctuary.
There are two markets to check out in Port Douglas every week. The Reef Marina Markets occur every Wednesday afternoon on the boardwalk and include music, souvenir and food stalls. Then there’s the Port Douglas Markets every Sunday, which features local busking musicians and stalls selling jewellery, handmade souvenirs, beach towels, books, and fresh local produce. The market is located on the waterfront, so it’s the perfect place for a Sunday stroll in Port Douglas.
Flames of the Forest is Australia’s only rainforest dining experience. Guests have two choices: the Aboriginal Cultural Experience or the Rainforest Dining Experience, but both include return hotel transfers. The Aboriginal Cultural Experience includes pre-dinner drinks and canapes; a seven-dish contemporary Australian dinner in a marquee with sparkling chandeliers; and an Aboriginal cultural performance by two brothers that includes storytelling, singing, and the didgeridoo. The Rainforest Dining Experience is similar, but includes a solo guitarist instead of the cultural performance.