If you’re looking for a quieter destination for your Tropical North Queensland getaway, look no further than Port Douglas.
Only about an hour drive from Cairns, this beautiful beach town is a great place to base yourself if you’re planning to explore more of TNQ. Within easy driving distance of trips to the Great Barrier Reef, the Daintree Rainforest and everything Cairns has to offer, there’s more to explore than you could imagine.
Whether you have a day or a week set aside to explore this lovely little town, here as some of the can’t miss things to do in Port Douglas.
In this post:
1. Relax on Four Mile Beach
Four Mile Beach is the main beach in Port Douglas, and it’s a great one. It literally stretches for miles, so it’s super easy to find a spot all to yourself to set up a great picnic spot. Four Mile Beach is only a short five minute walk from the main street of Port Douglas, and all the hotels along the beach have their own little access walkway so you can get straight down to the beach.
Depending on the time of year you’re travelling, make sure you check the danger reports before you jump into the water. At different times of the year, Four Mile Beach can be jellyfish hotspot, and the occasional crocodile can also sometimes be spotted here.
Check out the best places to stay along Four Mile Beach
2. Visit the Sunday Markets
The Port Douglas Sunday Markets are an important part of life in TNQ. These markets are huge in the community, and always bring out hundreds of people each week.
On every Sunday from the early morning until about 2pm, the markets offer beautiful unique arts and crafts, gifts and souvenirs, vintage clothes and a whole variety of sweet and savoury treats. There are some really special, beautiful and unique pieces that can be found at the market, it’s not your typical souvenir type market, so make sure you give yourself enough time to check out all the different stalls.
The market continues to grow every year, gaining more and more stallholders all the time, and there is absolutely something for everyone at these cute stands.
Sunday Markets Port Douglas || 40 Macrossan Street, Port Douglas
3. Wander around the town
Port Douglas is actually one of the cutest little towns we’ve come across in Queensland. It has a distinct and very different style from Cairns and the surrounding towns in Tropical North Queensland, and it’s just so cute! Take some time to wander down the main streets, it is full of beautiful boutiques, great restaurants and all different unique spots with amazing cocktail menus.
Some of our favourite spots around the main area of Port Douglas include:
- Rex Smeal Park
- The Port Douglas marina
- St Mary’s by the Sea Chapel
- Little Cove
- The Court House Hotel
4. Watch the sunrise at Palm Cove
Located about twenty minutes south of Port Douglas, Palm Cove is the picture perfect sleepy beach town, flanked with tall palm trees and heaps of cute outdoor dining spots. The sunrise here is just absolutely beautiful, often changing the sky to all different shades of pink and orange, and with the sun rising straight over the ocean and lighting up the palms.
The small town is a great location to grab a bite to eat and have a swim or a picnic if you’re staying in either Cairns or Port Douglas. If you come for the sunrise, check out some of the places on the beach for breakfast, or make a day of it and grab yourself a spot on the beach.
With a view of Double Island Reef and Haycock Reef out in the distance, it’s very easy to spend most of your day just enjoying the tropical beach vibe and soaking up the sunshine.
5. Explore the Great Barrier Reef
Port Douglas is a great place to explore some of the outer Great Barrier Reef. There are lots of day trips that head out to the GBR right from the Port Douglas marina, so you don’t have to drive to far to get there. Low Isles is one of the favourites for snorkelling trips from Port Douglas, which is a tiny little island just for snorkelling, with an abandoned lighthouse in the middle of it!
It’s often a great place to spot turtles when you’re snorkelling as well, so make sure you keep an eye out because they are so good at camouflaging themselves.
Check out all the adventures and experiences you can have around Cairns
6. Experience a cane toad race at Iron Bar
The Iron Bar on the main street of Port Douglas is an iconic hot spot, that has been racing cane toads for almost 20 years. Yep, you read that right! As crazy as it sounds you can catch a cane toad race every night from 8pm.
Every night is a party at the Cane Toad Races, so get ready for a fun big night if you’re coming down. The Iron Bar also have amazing meals, but make sure you book a table if you’re planning to come down for dinner, because they can often be booked out. We can highly recommend the steak, it’s delicious.
Iron Bar || 5 Macrossan Street, Port Douglas || Ph: (07) 4099 4776
7. Road trip along the Captain Cook Highway
Just take a drive. Relax, explore, enjoy your freedom!
The Captain Cook Highway runs between Cairns and Port Douglas, covered in beautiful trees and greenery from the rainforest on one side and the ocean on the other. Stop to explore many of the hidden beaches and tropical pockets of paradise that North Queensland has to offer.
Book your rental car in advance to find the best deals
8. Take a palm tree selfie
If you’re looking for the perfect place to take a palm tree photo, Thala Beach Reserve is where you want to go. There are HEAPS of palm trees in the field out here, that just make for the perfect tropical environment. You can literally park your car right on the side of the road and they’re right there, so it’s an easy place for a quick photo shoot.
9. Visit Hartleys Crocodile Adventures
If you’re looking for a crocodile experience in TNQ, Hartleys Crocodile Adventures is the place to go. It’s a wildlife park, home to countless crocodiles as well as other native Australian animals, including koalas, emus and dingos. And it’s also a real working crocodile farm, where saltwater crocodiles are bred and raised for their skin and meat.
Take a cruise on Hartleys Lagoon through the wetlands, where you can get a jumping crocodile demonstration, wander around the Wildlife Discovery Trail to check out lots of the freshwater crocs, turtles and lizards, or check out some of their wildlife presentations, including koala feeding and a crocodile attack show.
Hartleys Crocodile Adventures || Captain Cook Highway, Wangetti Beach || Ph: (07) 4055 3576
10. Visit Mossman Gorge
Nestled in the Daintree Rainforest is the perfect little oasis that is Mossman Gorge. Home to the Kuku Yalanji Indigenous People and a significant part of the World Heritage Listed Daintree Rainforest, Mossman Gorge is part of the oldest, continuously surviving rainforest on Earth.
Such a peaceful place in the middle of the rain forest, Mossman Gorge is home to a crystal clear river, surrounded by tall trees and containing a pool of water that can only be described as absolutely freezing. Mossman Gorge is only about a half hour drive north of Port Douglas, an easy drive along the Captain Cook Highway.
Mossman Gorge Centre || 212 Mossman Gorge Road, Mossman || Ph: (07) 4099 7000
Check out more of our adventures around Tropical North Queensland