This former fishing village’s easy access to the Great Barrier Reef is just one of the draws of this famous vacation paradise.
In tropical Port Douglas the unique ecosystem of the Daintree Rainforest meets the biggest barrier reef in the world. This perfect combination makes this laid-back Queensland town popular with visitors from all over the world.
A lush rainforest and a pristine beach lined with waving palm trees are just some of the town’s attractions. The Sunday craft markets, lunches on breezy pub balconies, a tropical zoo, art galleries and boutique stores are other appealing highlights.
Walk or drive to Island Point Lookout for excellent views over Four Mile Beach and beyond. Port Douglas’ environmentally minded residents have always opposed beach development; this explains the lack of high-rise buildings, which adds to the area’s appeal. Stroll along the water’s edge and take a dip in the warm ocean tide. In summer, poisonous jellyfish inhabit the Coral Sea, so wear adequate protection or stick to beachcombing.
Book a cruise to explore the Great Barrier Reef. All boats depart from the Marina Mirage. One of the shortest tours available is a cruise to Low Isles, with its historic lighthouse, turtles and sting rays. Most trips take a day and allow you to scuba dive and snorkel along the outer reefs.
On the weekend, head to the Sunday markets at Anzac Park to meet the artistic locals and shop for souvenirs. Come back later for sunset views of the historic Port Douglas Sugar Wharf standing over the Coral Sea.
Port Douglas is full of accommodation options, from hostels and town houses to spa resorts. High season is between November and May, the hottest part of the year. The town is small enough to walk around and buses and taxis can drop you off at major attractions.
The freshwater creek of Mossman Gorge, on the edge of the precious Daintree Rainforest, is just a 20-minute drive away. Rental cars and tours can be booked in town.
Port Douglas is one of Australia’s best vacation destinations if you love sunshine, beaches and snorkeling in the tropics.