Holidays to Port Douglas, Australia

Situated on the coast of Tropical North Queensland, Port Douglas is just 67km from the bustling town of Cairns, and like its southern neighbour is an ideal jumping off point for experiencing the wonders of the Great Barrier Reef.

Yet it could hardly be more different. Small, low-key and lacking the brisk, in-your-face commercial activity that characterises Cairns, Port Douglas has a quiet, old-world charm that hints at a life before tourism.

Port Douglas has, in fact, been many things over the years, and had radically shifting fortunes. Established in 1877, during the Gold Rush it expanded rapidly, boosted by logging in the region, but declined just as fast as those industries faded. In 1911 all but two of its houses were destroyed by a cyclone, and by 1960 it had shrunk to a tiny fishing village of barely 100 inhabitants. Its reinvention as a resort has transformed it into the thriving town we see today – albeit one which retains an ambience of a simpler past. Like Cairns, this is one of the coast’s key gateways to the Great Barrier Reef, yet it attracts quite a different crowd; in the marina and along tree-lined Macrossan Street – which still has some of its 19thcentury wooden façades – you’ll find cool restaurants, boutiques and cafés catering to a less hectic clientele. Unlike Cairns, Port Douglas also has its own beach; fringed with coconut palms and bounded by rocky headlands, Four Mile Beach is a great place to relax and watch the kitesurfers wiping out.

Boat trips to the outer Reef are a must, of course, and whether diving, snorkelling or peering into the blue from the glass bubble of a semi-submersible, the sights are astonishing. Crusted layers of plate, boulder and staghorn corals, giant clams, clownfish, starfish and – depending on conditions and your luck – possibly sea turtles are all laid out before you. For an entirely different perspective – and to appreciate the awesome scale of the Reef (which is visible from space) you can also book a helicopter flight.

The other main attraction near Port Douglas is Daintree National Park, just 23km from town. One of the oldest forests on earth — it predates even the Amazon — Daintree rainforest is home to a dazzling array of plant and animal life, including cassowaries, green tree frogs, Victoria’s riflebirds and Bennett’s tree kangaroos. Saltwater crocodiles cans sometimes be spotted along the banks of the Daintree river, while the stunningly picturesque Mossman Gorge with its tumbling waters and freshwater pools provides a truly idyllic spot that is every bit as rich as the more famous Reef. All can be explored via gentle hiking trails and Aboriginal guided bushwalks, and should not be missed.

 

Highlights

  • Cruise out to the Great Barrier Reef

  • Discover the Daintree rainforest, the oldest rainforest on the planet

  • Relax or kitesurf on Four Mile Beach

Emilie
Travel Designer
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I love spending my days barefoot or in flip flops, so laid-back Melbourne was the perfect place to live. My favourite adventure from my time living in Australia was the 3-month campervan road trip along the East Coast – full of sun, sea and scuba diving!

Trips that include Port Douglas

Here are some trip ideas that include Port Douglas. All of our trip ideas shown below are examples, and we’ll amend, adapt or start from scratch, until we’ve created the perfect trip for you. See one you like, or have a trip in mind? Call us now to book: 01483 319 333

Map of Port Douglas