A spectacular 67km scenic coastal drive north from Cairns, Port Douglas is a place to discover the ‘Reef And Rainforest Coast’. It is also the gateway the World Heritage rainforest areas of Daintree and Cape Tribulation.
Founded in 1877, Port Douglas came into being as a port where riches from the goldfields of the Hodgkinson and Palmer Rivers were trafficked by bullock drays to be loaded onto vessels for southern cities.
Today, the locals affectionately call the place Port, a sign of the laid-back lifestyle that has evolved in this once sleepy fishing town.
How to get to Port Douglas & Daintree
Port Douglas lies 1 hour north of Cairns, accessible via the Captain Cook Highway. This scenic coastal drive is ideal for those who appreciate self-drive tours and showcases some of the finest tropical beaches and rainforest that Cairns and Far North Queensland has to offer. Flights into Cairns are slowly returning with more capacity.
Top things to do in Port Douglas & Daintree
Port Douglas is blessed to be surrounded by not one but two World Heritage listed areas, The Great Barrier Reef and the Daintree Rainforest. Being the closest place to access the Outer Reef, a visit to Port Douglas would not be complete without a visit to the reef. Sunset cruises to the Low Isles are also a popular way to end a day in Port Douglas. With the Daintree so close, nature lovers can access the region via self-drive, a day tour or spend a little longer with an overnight stay.
From day trips to immersive tours that take a little longer, here is what you can do in the Port Douglas.
Visit the Great barrier Reef
Spend 5 hours on the Great Barrier Reef with SilverSonic Ultimate Dive and Snorkel Adventure and visit three different Agincourt ribbon reef sites. Departing from Port Douglas, the ultramodern Silversonic offers a smooth ride to the outer reef for an exhilarating day of fun, discovery and adventure in the natural wonderland of the Great Barrier Reef. You’ll have access to explore three stunning and exclusive reef sites at the renowned Agincourt ribbon reefs, each chosen for visual and ecological diversity for your dive and snorkel adventures. The boat offers snorkelling and diving from beginners to experienced and certified divers. As an added bonus during the whale season, Silversonic has one of the few permits available from the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority that allows our guests to swim with dwarf minke whales if encountered – a truly unforgettable experience.
Dine at Flames of the Forest
Probably the most unique dining experience you will have and certainly the only rainforest dining experience in Australia, Flames of the Forest is a must do when in Port Douglas. The evening transports you into a world beyond your imagination, uplifting your soul while learning about the Australian indigenous Aboriginal culture. Not just a tantalising dining experience but a feast for your senses. Without giving too much away as the best part of this tour is the surprise and awe on arrival, this tour proves that not all activities are for the daytime. Choose from two unique dining experiences in the pristine natural environment – the Aboriginal Cultural Experience from $219.00 per person or the Rainforest Dining Experience from $189.00 per person whilst enjoying an award-winning menu and inspirational entertainment. While Flames of the Forest are currently closed due to COVID19 restrictions, they hope to be opening soon. Please check the website for most up to date information.
Snorkel down a river
There is no better way to stay cool in the hot tropics than to get in the water. However, while most people think of swimming and snorkelling on the reef, there is another option – river snorkelling with Back Country Bliss. Within an ancient rainforest, step into the cool, crystal-clear water and drift with the current as you explore life under the water’s surface. Watch fish dart in and around the river stones and keep your eyes out for the occasional turtle or even an eel. This family friendly tour is the perfect introduction to snorkelling before heading out to the reefs. Small children (and adults) can journey down the river on large river sleds. Then, just lay back on your mat and enjoy the serenity of the beautiful surroundings. This is an amazing eco-immersion adventure that’s different every time.
Day trip to Cape Tribulation
Cape Tribulation is like stepping back in time to when dinosaurs roamed. Just cross the Daintree River and enter the Daintree Rainforest and you will find out why. It is a world untouched by urban development, noise and air pollution, where you can completely disconnect from the bustle, breathe in the purity and explore your natural surroundings. It is here in the breathtaking region of Cape Tribulation where two World Heritage listed areas collide, the world’s oldest rainforest with the spectacular Great Barrier Reef. Explore by a mountain bike ride through rainforest tracks, tackle the rugged terrain by 4WD. Just relax on the beach or wander through the rainforest where ancient stories whisper through the leaves, just as they have for centuries.
Take the Shaolin Sunset Cruise
While there are many sailing boats, catamarans and luxury boats to take you out to the reef, there is no option as unique and exciting as Shaolin Tours. The Shaolin Junk is one of only a few authentic Junks in the world. The sunset sail over the coral sea is the perfect way to admire the spectacular views of the Daintree Mountains and local islands while relaxing on the teak deck or cushioned lounge area. The cruise includes a complimentary beverage and canapes. With only 23 guests maximum on board, it is an intimate relaxing cruise. Boarding starts at 4:45pm and returns at 6:30pm. Cost is just $50 per person (plus EMC of $3.20 payable onboard).
Go on a Daintree Walkabout Tour
Get a taste of culture and nature on the Daintree Walkabout Tour. Offering a wonderful insight into ancient indigenous culture, the Daintree Walkabout Tour includes the Kuku Yalanji Dreamtime Walk at the picturesque Mossman Gorge. Prices start from $195 for an adult and $124 for a child.
Shop at the weekend markets
Be sure to drop by the Sunday markets in the idyllic setting of shady palm trees and warm, caressing ocean breezes blowing in from the sparkling ocean. It’s located in a grassy park, right on the waterfront overlooking the Coral Sea. Vendors come from all over the Far North to sell their products to inquisitive tourists and Port Douglas locals. Here you will find arts and crafts, jewellery, fruit and vegetables, glassware, books, coffee, boats, and more. They run every Sunday from 8:00am to 2:00pm
For more visit www.visitportdouglasdaintree.com.au
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