Paradise by day, party after dark: What to do in Port Douglas at night
With bright blue water, snow white sand, and lush green rainforest, when the sun shines on Port Douglas, there’s no argument, this town is a kaleidoscope of colour.
But if you thought it was only the largest object in the solar system that gave this beachfront town its vibrancy, step out after 5pm to spin its colour wheel for a different view of Port Douglas. From foodie fantasylands to sunset sails, there’s plenty to do in this palm-fringed paradise once it’s too dark to call lounging by the resort pool an activity.
So, what to do in Port Douglas at night? We’ve wrapped up 10 of the best.
1. Sail off into the sunset
If JayZ and Beyoncé came to Port Douglas, one thing’s for certain, they’d be on Aquarius Sail’s luxury catamaran faster than you can say “Blue Ivy.”
This luxury charter launches from Port Douglas’ Reef Marina in time for sunset, passing through Dickson Inlet, before cruising out to sea for an hour and a half on the water.
You might be on tropical time, but aperitivo hour is still observed up here so you can expect a glass or two of bubbles as you watch the sun slip behind the mainland’s mountain ranges.
2. Get a taste of the Caribbean at Barbados
Your usual Taco Tuesday is getting a makeover, and yes, there’s a hula skirt involved.
Port Douglas’ own Caribbean-themed restaurant and bar, Barbados, gives two great reasons to go out on the town on a Tuesday:
- Tiki cocktails
What’s more, you’ll walk away with change from a $20 note.
Sitting right on the waterfront, it’s hard to pinpoint the best thing about this bar – its views or comprehensive cocktail menu, packing a drinks list which reads more like a Pirates of the Caribbean script, thanks to their extensive rum collection.
3. Witness an Aussie tradition
If you’re a longtime reader of this blog, you know we’ll race just about anything.
For all of Port Douglas’ sophistication, it has a down-to-earth side, which you can find at Iron Bar every night of the week as cane toads take to the track.
You’ll hear the commotion before you see it thanks to a crowd, three or four people deep, bent over a race track using party blowers to inch their toad into poll position.
If you’re not squeamish, why not volunteer your services to ride a toad to the finish line? We promise it will become a source of bragging rights when you get back home – “I mean, have you ever raced a cane toad?”
4. Become nocturnal for a night
You’ve seen the Daintree by day, but have you seen it after dark?
Kicking off at 7:30pm, the two-hour walk takes you into the depths of the 120 million-year-old rainforest, with nothing but a torch to explore your surroundings and an expert guide to act as your night goggles.
Just as the reef looks different during its 24-hour cycle, so too does the rainforest, and many of the 663 vertebrate animals don’t even come out until after dark, including the echidna, bandicoot and striped possum.
5. Ignite the spark at Flames of the Forest
If you like your dinner setting to be so Instagrammable it could rival a wedding, put down your mobile phone friends, we’ve just found the most photogenic restaurant and it’s in the Daintree Rainforest.
Every Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday Flames of the Forest takes you into the heart of the Daintree for a night under colourfully lit trees that arch over a dining marquee illuminated by candles and fairy lights.
During the week you’ll sit down to a banquet and cultural performances at their Aboriginal Experience, while on weekends, a six-course tasting menu and acoustic live music is what’s dished up.
Hungry for more tips about where to eat in Port Douglas? Check out this three-day foodie guide.
6. Have a picnic in the park
Considering you can still wear a T-shirt and shorts in July (thanks to Port Douglas’ nonexistent winter), it makes sense that the locals would rather spend their balmy tropical nights outside than cooped up indoors.
Soak up the warm Tropical North evening temperatures and have a picnic with a five-star backdrop at Rex Smeal Park, catching a sunset through its framing palm fronds.
A game of, ‘If we won the lotto, which boat would you buy’ proves endless with the stream of luxury crafts floating past your picnic rug.
7. Follow the sound of music
Forget your university pub crawl memories, it’s all about progressive live music in Port Douglas.
Follow local artists as they play at cafes and bars across town – Thursdays are Muso Night at the Central Motel and Hemingways (one of Queensland’s best breweries), while weekends at Paddy’s Irish Bar could rival Temple Bar in Dublin.
8. Sail the high seas
If you thought a WAG was only the wife of a footballer, you haven’t been to Port Douglas Yacht Club on a Wednesday for Wednesday Afternoon Group Sailing (WAGS).
Celebrate hump day on the water when club members offer to take the public out for a free sail.
Provided you’re happy to play deckhand, you’ll be shown the sailing ropes for over two hours before returning for drinks and dinner (at your own expense) at the club.
9. Catch a show at The Clink
It’s not every day you can catch a show in a former courthouse and prison in Australia, but The Clink in Port Douglas does just that.
The small theatre offers a rotating schedule of cabaret, dancing, plays, musical performances, and stand up comedy shows.
Its wooden exterior is a tardis so don’t judge this theatre by its cover. Inside you’ll find 120 tiered seating, dressing rooms, sets, box office and quite possibly, Port Douglas’ most secret bar.
10. Stargaze on the sea
Get your star fix by taking a sail on the sea (try saying that five times fast!) with Blue Dive Port Douglas.
Jump on board the Choo Choo Explorer to escape the last vestiges of Port Douglas’ light pollution, for a night of stargazing on the Great Barrier Reef.
Using military grade lasers, your guides will point out celestial wonders that go further than just the Southern Cross and Big Dipper.
Keen to find more treasures in Port Douglas?
- Escape for a weekend with this luxurious 48-hour guide
- Put your feet up at one of these accommodation options
- Hit the town for a spot at shopping with this ultimate guide
- Looking for things to do in the daylight? Tick off this list
- Holidaying with tiny travellers? We’ve got you covered with this list of family-friendly cafes and restaurants