How to do a family holiday in Port Douglas in 3 days
If you’re looking for a family getaway to somewhere warm and tropical, then look no further than Port Douglas.
Located just a hop, skip and a jump (aka an hour’s drive) north of Cairns, Port Douglas is the perfect playground for families
Whether you’re looking to take a long weekend, or a mid-week getaway, here’s how to spend 72 hours in beautiful Port Douglas with your family.
AM: Cruise for crocodiles
What better way to start your holiday than with a little croc hunting. And by hunting I don’t actually mean ‘hunting’, I mean cruising down the Daintree River in the safety of a boat with colourful host Bruce Belcher, seeing how many crocodiles you can spot.
Pack your hat, the kids and your sense of adventure, and take the short trip (around 40 minutes) north to the Daintree River, stopping at Bruce Belcher’s Daintree River Cruise.
The Daintree River is home to many crocodiles, and while they’re more visible in the cooler months as they come onto the banks to bask in the winter sun, there’s still some to spot in the warmer months, as well as other wildlife to discover. We’ve been lucky on each trip we’ve taken down the Daintree, spotting a handful of crocs every visit.
Each croc has a name and a story, and Bruce and his team are the best at the job of telling you the tales of the Daintree and its resident crocs, keeping you engrossed and entertained the whole time.
After your cruise, jump back in the car and continue north, via the river crossing, with a stop at WHET for lunch. Nestled among lush rainforest filled with wildlife, WHET is a popular spot for a delicious pit stop.
PM: Go surfing. Jungle surfing
Forget catching waves for an afternoon, and instead surf the jungle. During our holiday in Port Douglas, locals and tourists that we spoke to kept encouraging us to try Jungle Surfing.
It was one thing that everyone seemed to rave about, and so if it feels only right to also encourage you to do the same; Try the Jungle Surfing.
You’ll be in awe as you drive from Port Douglas to Cape Tribulation, but you’ll be absolutely gob-smacked as you surf over the rainforest canopy, soaring like a bird metres above the rainforest floor.
Jungle Surfing is run in groups, with a guide who explains the history and the detail of the area during the activity, which runs for a few hours. It’s popular with people of all ages and adventure levels, and if you’re truly feeling like a daredevil you can hang upside down and race your family members too.
After you’ve wound down from the thrill of Jungle Surfing, head to the lookout at Cape Tribulation to check out the stunning 360º view. It’s the perfect stop to cool down under the canopy of the trees, before heading back to base at Port Douglas for dinner.
It’s easy to stroll the streets of Port Douglas and choose a spot to eat based on which restaurant tickles your fancy. We asked the locals where they loved to eat most, and Salsas was at the top of their list. We loved On The Inlet for their indulgent seafood platter for two (which just quietly easily fed our family of four), and we also enjoyed the chilled out vibe of The Courthouse Hotel, while watching the sunset and sipping on a few beverages.
After more options for dining? Here’s our full guide on where to eat or drink in Port Douglas.
AM: Eat brekky with the birds
Is there any better way to start the day than getting up close and personal with Australia’s favourite animals over breakfast?
Habitat in Port Douglas is one of the most popular experiences for families, offering the opportunity to meet a python, cuddle the cutest koalas, hand-feed a kangaroo, meet a cassowary and even walk the predator plank to stand above a crocodile (only if you’re feeling brave).
Breakfast with the Birds is a fun experience for the whole family, where you can indulge in local tropical fruits, freshly baked pastries and a range of hot food while getting to know the resident birds. It’s a fun experience and the perfect way to kick off your day.
PM: Sprint to the Reef
Change the pace completely from a lazy morning with the animals, and head to the marina to board the Reef Sprinter.
Grab some sandwiches from the local bakeries, and a drink, as well as your swimming costume and a towel, and get ready for the ride of your life.
While some boats might like to take their time to get guests to the Reef, the Reef Sprinter definitely does not muck around. Before you can say Great Barrier Reef, you’re out at the beautiful Low Isles snorkelling and taking in the stunning Reef.
Low Isles is one of our favourite spots to snorkel in Queensland, as it’s perfect for families. The older kids can snorkel further offshore, while the younger kids can play in the sand and snorkel in shallower water.
During our trip, we were treated to six baby reef sharks playing around the shoreline as we splashed about. It’s the perfect reminder of why Queensland is the perfect playground, and how lucky we are to have it right in our own backyard.
If one afternoon on the Reef isn’t enough for the kids, start preparing for more with our ultimate family-friendly Great Barrier Reef guide.
To finish off an ideal afternoon on the water, head to the Tin Shed for small bites and dinner, the best view of the sun setting over Port Douglas.
AM: Feel on top of the world, literally
A short day trip out of Port Douglas is the unmissable Skyrail, a magical rainforest experience.
The Skyrail is a 7.5km scenic cableway journey, giving the family a bird’s eye view of the rainforest below. Not only do you get to take in the sights of the rainforest below, but you’ll also get to smell, and feel the cool air that the rainforest brings.
The trip has two stops at rainforest stations, giving you an opportunity to walk through the greenery and check out the impressive Barron Falls from the new Edge Lookout.
Once you’ve arrived at Kuranda you can take a stroll around the town, grab a bite to eat, and take in the sweet stores filled with local goodies.
We love popping into the Butterfly Sanctuary, the largest in Australia. It’s home to over 1500 butterflies, and if you happen to be wearing bright colours, you might find one landing on you, stopping to say a little hello.
One of Kuranda’s must-visit spots is the Rainforestation, which is a large nature park, with animals (including crocodiles) and Army Duck Tour.
Our favourite activity is the Pamagirri Aboriginal Experience, where we learned how to throw a boomerang (not as easy as it looks), play the didgeridoo and throw a spear and actually hit a target. There is also a bush tucker walk, and the Pamagirri Corroboree, which is a traditional Aboriginal performance and storytelling.
PM: Choo Choo your way back to reality
What’s the perfect way to end a fun getaway in Tropical North Queensland? There’s no better way than the Kuranda Scenic Railway that takes you slowly and beautifully through the World Heritage-listed rainforest.
Grab a seat by the window and take in the twelve hundred species of plants, and spot the stunning Barron Gorge as you weave your way through the rainforest.
The railway is a favourite of the whole family and the perfect end to a fun-filled 72 hours.
And with that, you can jam-pack family fun into three days in Port Douglas.
You’ll jungle-surf, snorkel and travel way above the rainforest. But I must warn you, you’re sure to fall in love with beautiful Port Douglas and want to come back time and time again.