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Things to do in Port Douglas

Things to do in Port Douglas (Queensland, Australia)

23 Jun 2021 | Travel tips
Photo: Things to do in Port Douglas

Port Douglas was our next destination after Fitzroy Island. We arrived back at Cairns harbor early in the morning. We only had to pick up our rental car we had already arranged from home. After a very short visit to Cairns, it was time to start our road trip to the Tropical North of Queensland, with Port Douglas as the first stop. Read our blog about Port Douglas in Australia now.

Our route in Tropical North Queensland

  • Darwin  Cairns
  • ⛴ Fitzroy Island
  • 🚘 Port Douglas (Mossman Gorge, Sweet Farm Tours)
  • 🚘 Cape Tribulation (Daintree River Cruise, Daintree Wilderness Lodge)
  • 🚘 Ellis Beach (Babinda Boulders & Devil’s Waterpool)
  • 🚘 Mission Beach (Paronella Park)
  • 🚘 Cardwell (Wallaman Falls)
  • 🚘 Townsville
  • ⛴ Magnetic Island
  • 🚍 Bowen
  • 🚕 Airlie Beach
  • ⛴ Hamilton Island
  • Airlie Beach ✈ Brisbane ✈ Darwin

Video about Port Douglas

The distance from Cairns to Port Douglas is an one hour’s drive. Between Cairns and Port Douglas, you can make beautiful stops in, for example Palm Cove, Macalister Range National Park, and Oak Beach, or visit Kuranda Village.

Tips for Port Douglas

We have visited the following places. Our tips and favorite sights:

  • Flagstaff Hill Walking Trail: take a hike along the coast of Port Douglas, you can read more about this later in this blog.
  • Mossman Gorge: a beautiful place to visit in Daintree National Park. Swim in a swimming hole in the Mossman River or take a beautiful hike through the rainforest. A touristic place, but really worth it. You will read more about this in a new blog soon.
  • Sweet Farm Tours: take a Sweet Farm Tour like us and learn all about the cocoa and sugar cane process in Northern Queensland. An instructive tour where a tour guide takes you to the beginning and end process. The ideal tour for inquisitive chocolate lovers. Read more about Sweet Farm Tours
  • Four Mile Beach: Go for a swim or go snorkeling at Port Douglas’ most famous beach. Please note: always swim within the nets during the rainy season, so that you do not get stung by a poisonous stinger.

We had expected a lot of rain because it’s in the middle of the rainy season and because of the weather phenomenon La Niña. La Niña creates different air currents that can cause more rain and more cyclones than usual. The first days it seems as if we were lucky because we drove the first kilometers under a clear blue sky.

The route to the north of Queensland is known for its beautiful coastline. The closer we got to Port Douglas, the more heavenly it looked. At one point, we came to a beautiful viewpoint, time for a photo stop!

Beautiful coast line in Tropical North Queensland
Beautiful coast line – Tropical North Queensland

Before we started our journey, we had heard that Port Douglas could be busy. Although Cairns was very busy, Port Douglas was not that busy. The road to Port Douglas was busier than Port Douglas itself.

Port Douglas Retreat

We stayed at the Port Douglas Retreat for 3 nights. On arrival, we were warmly welcomed and we immediately received the key to our room. We were on the first floor and had a great view of the beautiful pool. The location, clean room, and facilities make this retreat very good. I would definitely book this stay again on my next visit to Port Douglas. Read more about Port Douglas Retreat

Port Douglas Retreat
Port Douglas Retreat

Port Douglas is small compared to Cairns, it has about 4311 inhabitants and covers an area of 18 km². Maybe that’s why it feels so atmospheric. There are a few main streets with shops and restaurants, most of which are full. In the evening you have plenty of choices to dine.

Centre of Port Douglas
The centre with shops and restaurants
Main street Port Douglas
Main street
Great cafés and restaurants in Port Douglas
Great cafés and restaurants

The first day we walked to the center to discover Port Douglas ourselves. This is only a 5-minute walk from Port Douglas Retreat. In Queensland, covid-19 is well under control, thanks in part to the strict approach of the government and the proper following of the rules of the residents of Queensland.

When you visit a restaurant or pub, it is mandatory to check-in via a QR code, so that it can be traced if there is a new outbreak. A small effort for us.

Mocka’s Pies

The first day we hadn’t had lunch yet and we wanted a small meal because it was already 2:30 in the afternoon. We happened to pass by Mocka’s Pies, a bakery specialized in pie (a puff pastry snack filled with meat and/or vegetables and gravy). And these weren’t just any pies, Mocka’s Pies have regularly won awards with them.

Newspaper clippings about Mocka's Pies
Newspaper clippings about Mocka’s Pies

It’s just as well that I love this Australian delicacy. I have to admit: those prices are completely justified! What a delicious lunch that was!!

Delicious pie
Delicious pie!!

The next day we decided to have lunch here again and go for pie with a different filling. This one was also delicious! Read more about Mocka’s Pies

Sugar Wharf Port Douglas

After strolling around the main streets of Port Douglas for a bit, we decided to walk towards Sugar Wharf. In my opinion the most beautiful part of Port Douglas. The Sugar Wharf, which is often used as a wedding venue, is beautifully situated in the sun while several sailboats pass by.

Sugar Wharf
Sugar Wharf

The Sugar Wharf is a very photogenic place, no matter where you stand it remains beautiful. Near the wharf, you have a small beach where people get a breath of fresh air and walk their dogs. The ‘Queensland’ or perhaps better said the ‘Australian laidback’ feeling will meet you here.

Sugar Wharf
Sugar Wharf
Idyllic place
Idyllic place

Also striking is St. Mary’s by sea, a small (idyllic) church surrounded by palm trees. A beautiful church in a beautiful location.

St. Mary’s by sea
St. Mary’s by sea

Also, don’t forget to look up, nature is again very beautiful here. For example, we saw these special parasites in trees.

Parasite plant
Parasite plant

What also makes Port Douglas special is that the town is located against mountains. It is therefore also a very green place. When you walk in the streets you see green hills with beautiful houses on them.

Steep streets in the center
Steep streets in the center
Beautiful blossom trees
Beautiful blossom trees

Our favourite red blossom trees also look great in Port Douglas.

Food in Port Douglas

In the center of Port Douglas you will find several restaurants. There are various Asian places, including Thai and Chinese, and there is a Mexican restaurant and many pub-like restaurants where you can score Australian dishes.

Christmas lights -  Port Douglas
Christmas lights

We ate a delicious pizza at Rattle n Hum the first night and went to Iron Bar the second night. This bar is worth a visit for the decoration alone. But the food is also excellent, where we ate one of the tastiest steaks ever. The restaurant is slightly more expensive than the average restaurant in Port Douglas but totally worth it in our opinion.

Iron Bar - delicious steaks
Iron Bar: delicious steaks
Enjoying a delicious tender steak at Iron Bar
Enjoying a delicious tender steak at Iron Bar

I’m never a big fan of steaks myself because I often find them disappointing, but Iron Bar’s steak has changed my mind.

Flagstaff Hill Walking Trail

On the second day, we decided to go for a nice hike. You don’t have to travel far in Port Douglas for a nice hike. You can do the Flagstaff Hill Walking Trail, which starts at Four Mile Beach and ends 1.5 kilometers away in Rex Smeal Park. In my opinion, a walk that you can’t miss when you’re in Port Douglas.

Start of the trail - view of Four Mile Beach -  Port Douglas
Start of the trail – view of Four Mile Beach

We started the walk in the morning on the advice of locals. It can be very hot during the day. When we took the walk it was already 30 degrees with high humidity. It’s a sweaty walk, but totally worth it.

When you’ve made the first few meters up, you’ll soon arrive at Flagstaff Hill Lookout, a lookout with spectacular views of the Coral Sea, Low Isles, and all the way to the Daintree Rainforest.

Flagstaff Hill Lookout
Flagstaff Hill Lookout

From Flagstaff Hill Lookout, you can see Four Mile Beach and the rainforest-clad mountain ranges to the south. A beautiful combination, just have a look at the photo below.

Four Mile Beach with the rainforest on the background
Four Mile Beach with the rainforest on the background

As in many places in North Queensland, it is also not wise to go swimming in the sea at Port Douglas because of dangerous stingers. At Four Mile Beach, the municipality has laid out nets to keep stingers and other dangerous animals at a distance, but you can swim ‘safely’ here (see photo above).

The trails of the Flagstaff Hill Walking Trail are well laid out. Be aware of a lot of climbing! Only embark on this trail if you are in good shape and if it is not raining or has just rained, the trails can be treacherously slippery.

Flagstaff Hill Walking Trail
Flagstaff Hill Walking Trail
Coral sea, with different shades of blue -  Port Douglas
Coral sea, with different shades of blue

The first part of the trail (if you start at Four Mile Beach) is especially beautiful because of the views. The middle part is a bit duller, but here too you can occasionally see the sea glittering through the trees and shrubs, which gives a nice picture. At a certain point, you come to a long staircase, which leads you to yet another landscape.

Steep stairs down back to the coast
Steep stairs down, back to the coast

Straight through and under the lianas, you come back to the coast. This time a somewhat rougher coast, with a plant or tree here and there. Another nice spot in Port Douglas.

Walk under and through the lianas
Walk under and through the lianas
Rugged coastline
Rugged coastline

Eventually, the path leads you to another idyllic beach with large cupboards of houses on top of the hill. Wow! What a great place again!

Beach at the end of the Flagstaff Hill Walking Trail -  Port Douglas
Beach at the end of the Flagstaff Hill Walking Trail

If you go hiking in the Port Douglas area, be sure to keep an eye out for the trees. You can spot a lot of Kookaburras in all kinds of beautiful colors. In any case, we noticed that you can spot many beautiful birds in North Queensland. You will also see many bee-eaters, bush stone curlews, and cockatoos.

Beautiful Kookaburra
Beautiful Kookaburra
Curious Curlews
Curious Curlews

Port Douglas Harbor

On the last day, we decided to take a look at the harbor. It was a lot cloudier and it even rained for a while today. This was very good for nature because not much rain had fallen recently.

Port Douglas harbor
Harbor with Hemingways Brewery
Boats at the harbor
Boats at the harbor

From a distance, we saw that the harbor of Port Douglas is a beautiful place. The harbor was filled with beautiful sailing boats and on the walkways were cozy restaurants with a few locals and tourists. It was quiet, maybe because the boats for tours were already out to sea and the weather was a bit rainy.

Coffee shop at the harbor - Port Douglas
Coffee shop at the harbor

Normally you can also board a steam train from Marina Station and drive through Port Douglas, but due to COVID-19, it was not running.

Marina Station, where the steam train normally departs
Marina Station, where the steam train normally departs

Port Douglas harbor is a nice place to visit. Many tourists come here to take a boat trip to the Great Barrier Reef or to take the steam train.

The surroundings of the port
The surroundings of the port

About Port Douglas

We were very happy to stay in Port Douglas for 3 nights. There is plenty to discover in this city and the surrounding area. Port Douglas is centrally located for visiting Mossman Gorge and for a Sweet Farm Tour.

Planning a trip to Port Douglas?

The cheapest flight you will find here. The best accommodations you will find here. Hiring a car? Check the Rentalcars deals.

In the following travel blogs we travel further to Cape Tribulation and spend a night in the middle of the Daintree rainforest.

Searching for more great travel tips about Tropical North Queensland? Take a look at the Tropical North Queensland tourism website.

  1. Travel blogger

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