Newest Review: ... and above during our stay in August and had no rain. Port Douglas has a beautiful beach that stretches for 4 miles. The world famous ... more
The Port .
Port Douglas (Australia)
Member Name: anwar7
Port Douglas (Australia)
Advantages: lovely town with lots to do!
Port Douglas is about an hours drive from Cairns in the tropical north of Queensland. The coastal road that leads from Cairns is really spectacular and it was hard work keeping my eyes on the road! Just to give an idea of distances it is 1700 km from Brisbane to Cairns, that's about 22 hours of driving! Its then just 70 km on to Port Douglas.
The nearest airport is in Cairns and there are busses to Port Douglas from the airport. Many of the hotels can also arrange airport transfers. It will cost you around 40 dollars one way from Cairns to Port Douglas by shuttle. The airport serves both international and domestic flights. There are several car hire firms located at the airport.
It is also possible to arrive in Cairns by tilt train. Cairns is served by many towns and cities and I really did consider using the train as an alternative to hiring a car. I decided to hire a car and booked before leaving the UK.
Port Douglas is a small manageable town and really does have a laid back *holiday feel*. The first thing to say is that its located in the tropical north of Queensland and so experiences a tropical climate. This means it has warm, dry winters (when we were there) and hot, wet summers. During the summer (November-April) there are often afternoon thunder storms. This is also cyclone season, although the town is well set up for these. The weather is usually warm whatever time of year you visit. We experienced temperatures in the mid twenties and above during our stay in August and had no rain.
Port Douglas has a beautiful beach that stretches for 4 miles. The world famous 4 mile beach has a life guard patrolled area for safe swimming. There are few facilities on the beach but there is a small van where you can hire water toys such as body boards and sea kayaks to enjoy in the surf. There are toilets located at the entrance to the beach where you can take a shower and change. The beach is really beautiful, backed by tropical plants and coconut trees. We really enjoyed riding bikes along the firm sand. The sea temperature during our winter visit was around 24 degrees. During the summer months box jelly fish are present so you will need to wear stinger suits!
If you can tear yourself away from the beach then there is a lot more to do and see! Port Douglas is a good place to access the Great Barrier Reef and several boats leave from Port Douglas to both the outer and inner reef. We took a day trip to the outer reef where you could either dive or snorkel. The trips are very expensive and the trip can be rough. It really is worth checking the weather if you suffer from sea sickness! Another tip is to bring anti seasickness medication with you as it is expensive in Australia. The trip out to the reef takes over an hour and most of the boats serve lunch and snacks included in the price. I think it is a much better option to get to the reef via cape Tribulation further north as the boat is smaller and more personal; it's cheaper and only takes about 20 minutes to the reef. However if this is not an option then a trip from Port Douglas is a must!
Port Douglas is only a short drive from the Daintree river crossing that gives access to the rain forest and Daintree national park on to cape tribulation. There are several companies offering day trips to the rain forest and cape Tribulation but I would strongly advise you to spend several days as a minimum in this amazing area! We spent a week in Cape Tribulation and it was the most wonderful place I have ever seen! However you can visit beyond the Daintree River in a day, although you will miss much!
About a 30 minute drive from Port Douglas is Mossman gorge, the spiritual home of an Aboriginal community. The gorge is situated in the southern part of the Daintree national park and is surrounded by ancient rain forest. There are 2.4 km of easy walking trails with a water hole where you can swim. There is a large, free car park at entrance to the gorge and a newly built visitor centre with an (expensive) café, toilets and information boards. You will need to purchase tickets to take the shuttle bus to the start of the walking trail as cars are not allowed into the gorge area. There are Aboriginal led tours on offer that take you into the forest and explain the culture. However these were prohibitively expensive! When we visited the swing bridge over the river that gives access to the longer walking trails was closed. We did enjoy viewing the numerous bird species (there are over 400 species here) but saw no other wildlife. Overall we were disappointed in our visit to Mossman gorge finding it crowded and the walkways a little too *tame*. If you want to visit then I would allow half a day and take a picnic! There are picnic benches located along the walkways.
The town itself is quite small and easy to explore. If you are self catering there is a large supermarket with underground car park. There is a bottle shop next to the supermarket as Australian supermarkets don't sell alcohol. The town has lots of tourist type shops in addition to tour operators where you can book trips to the reef or rainforest. My favourite shop was the bookstore located at the end of Macrossan Street and then down the road to the left. The store sells both new and 2nd hand books and has chairs for you to sit and read. There are numerous cafes and eating places in the town.
At the end of Macrossan street is the Marina and the area known as the *inlet* where the boats leave for the Reef. The yacht club serves good meals with a friendly unpretentious atmosphere. On Wednesdays you can bag a free trip with members; just turn up and wait to be allocated a crew! We didn't do this but did have a very enjoyable meal at the club and were made to feel very welcome. Another fun place to eat is the tin shack overlooking the inlet. The views from the front tables are lovely! The food is average however, although not too expensive.
We were keen to spot crocodiles in the wild and Port Douglas is a good place to do this. We took a boat tour from the marina with the Lady Douglas and saw several large crocs. We also saw a crocodile from the parking area of the Mowbray River. The river trip was excellent and one I would highly recommend!
Port Douglas also has a golf course, tennis club and horse riding opportunities, all within easy reach. At the entrance to the town there is a large wildlife sanctuary where you can pay to have breakfast with the birds. We didn't visit as we prefer our wildlife to be wild!
Port Douglas has numerous places to stay to suit all budgets, including basis hostels and 5 star hotels. There is a big 4 camping ground just outside the town centre.
We stayed at the Lazy Lizard motel inn owned by Best Western. I have reviewed this separately so won't go into too much detail here. The motel is situated on Davidson street about a 20 minute walk from the town centre. The rooms are very comfortable and there is a small kitchen area to allow self catering. We paid around £100 per night for our room with continental breakfast. I would highly recommend the motel and its lovely friendly managers!
Overall I loved Port Douglas and would love to go back one day! It really does have something for everyone.
Summary: Port Douglas,tropical north Queensland