PORT DOUGLAS TRAVEL GUIDE
Port Douglas, a small coastal town in Far North Queensland in Australia is a destination I recently discovered, and fell in love with. Did I have any expectations before I went? Well, not really. To be honest, I was just happy to get away for a few days. But what we got was a relaxing break in the most beautiful corner of Queensland and sun filled humid days. So if you’re looking for an escape amongst tropical palm trees as tall as office buildings, Port Douglas it should be. In short, it’s spectacular! Here’s what we got up to and where we stayed.
From what my dad told me, 20 years ago Port Douglas used to be a pretty basic town with not much to do. But it couldn’t be any more different these days. Located along Four Mile Beach on the Coral Sea, it’s now known for its beach resorts and it’s close proximity to the Great Barrier Reef and the Daintree National Park.
It’s got that Hawaiian old school glam, which I love. Expect thick palm trees and frangipanis lining the streets, huge mansions nestled amongst the hills as you drive up to Trinity Bay Lookout, and in town, Macrossan Street lined with boutique shops and restaurants; if anything, if reminded me of Hastings St back home in Noosa, but longer.
Getting to Port Douglas is easy; you just need a car. We flew from Brisbane into Cairns, hired a car (there are several car hire companies at the airport including Budget and Thrifty – I recommend booking in advance) and we drove north for an hour to get to Port Douglas. Along the way, we stopped into Palm Cove, a must for anyone driving north of Cairns. It’s palm tree lined beach and long jetty at the north end is simply stunning, especially at sunrise and sunset.
We chose to stay at the Sheraton Grand Mirage Resort and it’s without a doubt, the most luxurious resort along Four Mile Beach. We booked a Lagoon Edge Studio, which gave us immediate access to one of their exclusive salt water lagoons. All we had to do was walk about on our private deck, open the gate, step down the ladder and into the water; it was absolute bliss and made swimming with Dusty so easy. Because Four Mile Beach if often closed to swimming due to the poisonous jelly fish (mostly in summer) and hectic swells (all year round) in the Coral Sea, the choice of two hectares of salt water lagoons and fresh water swimming pools at the resort completely made up for it.
SEE & DO
By staying at the Sheraton, you could easily spend your days between eating at one of the many restaurants and swimming in the many lagoons and pools.
Macrossan Street is the main street in town and it’s worth spending a morning walking up and down, and stopping into the many boutiques.
For beautiful linen pieces, you have to visit Josephine’s. It honestly doesn’t look like much from the front, but as soon as you walk in, you’ll see beautiful swimwear styles and towards the back, some of the most beautiful linen pieces I have ever come across. I ended up buying a pair of black and white French linen, high waisted pants and love them so much!
If you’re looking for the best coffee in town, we really liked Sparrow. It’s a hip little hole in the wall on Macrossan Street and mid-morning, you can expect a line of locals waiting for their coffees so our tip is to get there before 7am.
For breakfast, the Sheraton does a great gourmet buffet but we really liked The Little Larder on Macrossan Street.
My favourite boutique was Ahoy; it had an excellent mix of brands including Rowie the Label, Peony and Faithfull. So good to see these labels in the flesh as I often buy them online. For beautiful rattan and straw baskets, this boutique is the place!
If you want a midday beer, Central Hotel Pub and The Court House Hotel are the places to be seen.
For lunch (or dinner) you have to go to Watergate. Jason literally stumbled across this restaurant when it began to rain (as it does a bit in summer) and we were pleasantly surprised. The cocktails are delicious and the food, well, it’s some of the best we’ve ever had. I highly recommend the fish of the day!
If you feel like heading into the Daintree, which I seriously recommend you do, Mossman Gorge is just a short 20 minute drive from Port Douglas. And oh so worth it. You have to pay an admission fee, which goes to the local Aboriginal community and the centre, then you’re able to get a shuttle to the Gorge. It’s absolutely breathtaking.
Also if you have time, you can organise a tour to one of the islands of the Great Barrier Reef. We didn’t have any time on this trip but your hotel can organise this for you. Otherwise we saw a few tour groups located in Macrossan Street.
This post is in collaboration with Qantas