The only Port Douglas holidays planning guide you’ll ever need
Before you go to Port Douglas you need to know the risks.
There’s a risk you’ll fall in love with the perfect weather, the warm water, the glorious food, and the chilled-out lifestyle.
There’s a big risk that after reading our ultimate guide to Port Douglas holidays, you’ll never want to leave this piece of paradise in Tropical North Queensland ever again.
With spectacular beaches and easy access to the ancient Daintree Rainforest and the captivating Great Barrier Reef, Port Douglas is an irresistible tropical getaway for everyone – couples, singles, families and friends.
Whether you want to laze in the sun, swim in the azure waters, go croc spotting, get a taste of Indigenous culture, go fishing or immerse yourself in nature, you can do it all (and more) in Port Douglas.
WHEN TO GO
With the mercury rarely dropping below 19°C, there’s never a bad time to holiday in Port Douglas and the Daintree.
This part of the world has two distinct seasons: winter/dry (May to October) and summer/wet (November to April).
While winter is peak time with warm days, cooler nights and low rainfall, there’s a lot of good reasons to visit Tropical North Queensland in the wet (also known as the ‘green season’). While it can be humid during the wet season, there are usually fewer tourists and cheaper accommodation options.
Regardless of when you come, you’ll be able to swim year-round and it’s unlikely that you’ll ever need to pull on a jumper.
WHAT TO DO THERE
The activities and experiences you can do in this region are pretty much limitless, so it’s worth thinking about your priorities.
Want to see the magical Great Barrier Reef? There are a huge variety of reef tours to choose from and if you fancy seeing the reef from the sky, a liveaboard boat or even if you’re keen to sleep on the reef, you can do that too.
Far north Queensland is one of the best regions for connecting with Indigenous culture, and a captivating way to learn more about traditional Aboriginal ways of life is by joining a local Kuku Yalanji guide on a dreamtime walk through the Daintree Rainforest.
If you’re keen to get up close to some of the area’s wilder personalities, take a cruise on the iconic Lady Douglas riverboat to glimpse estuarine crocodiles gliding through the water or spot them hiding amongst the mangroves.
There’s also plenty to do in Port Douglas once the sun goes down.
WHERE TO EAT AND DRINK
All that sightseeing is sure to build up an appetite, and happily, Port Douglas is a village where you can get a fantastic feed, with many dishes drawing on local tropical fruits, vegetables and a veritable bounty of seafood.
For fine dining, you can’t go past Harrison’s, the poolside restaurant at the Sheraton Grand Mirage. Chef Spencer Patrick draws on his English heritage and Michelin-starred training to create show-stopping dishes such as spiced duck breast with fennel, mandarin and gingerbread.
More casual dining options are plentiful, with great cafes like the enchanting Whileaway bookshop where you can browse and eat, and the uber-hip Origin Espresso (their brownies are next level).
The marina offers stunning views over glimmering white yachts bobbing in the water, and there are a number of delicious eateries there, such as gastro brew-pub Hemingway’s, modern Australian restaurant Choo-Choos or seafood specialists Lure.
There are great family restaurants too, like the Port Douglas Surf Club. It’s worth noting that at the Central Hotel kids eat free between 5-6pm with any main meal purchased.
WHERE TO STAY
Whether you want to be close to the action in the centre of town, enjoy all-inclusive luxury or get close to nature, there are myriad accommodation options, from hotels and self-contained units to holiday homes and villas.
A favourite for Port Douglas holidays with the family is the centrally located Cayman Villas. Cayman Villas is loved for it’s generous self-contained apartments and enormous central pool.
A little out of town is the Sheraton Grand Mirage, an iconic 5-star resort with two hectares of saltwater lagoon pools, excellent dining options and 18-hole golf course.
If you’re after peace and quiet, head to Thala Beach Nature Reserve. This is a magical spot, where verdant rainforest and a private beach surround 83 deluxe eco-villas.
BEST DAY TRIPS TO TAKE
If you can tear yourself away from the beaches, restaurants and activities in Port Douglas, it’s worth taking a day trip to explore this stunning region.
Head to the car ferry that takes you over the Daintree River towards Cape Tribulation, and spend the day exploring the world’s oldest rainforest, eating local ice-cream, spotting native animals like cassowaries, zip lining through the jungle or sampling local tropical fruits.
If the hinterland is more your thing, travel to the rainforest village of Kuranda, where you can glide over the forest canopy on the Skyrail Rainforest Cableway before wandering through the local artisans’ stalls at the Kuranda rainforest markets.
Food lovers will be in heaven in the Atherton Tablelands, where you can stock up on award-winning cheeses at Gallo Dairy and Mungalli Creek biodynamic dairy, visit Australia’s oldest coffee plantation or have a tipple at Mt Uncle craft distillery. (Here’s a handy post we prepared earlier.)
THINGS YOU NEED TO KNOW
The water always looks deliciously inviting, but due to the prevalence of crocodiles and stingers, always ensure you swim at patrolled beaches between the flags. Stinger nets are usually in place between November and May.
The Port Douglas Market on Sundays is very popular with tourists, but those in the know head to the Mossman Markets, held each Saturday from 7am until noon.