Port Douglas is set on a headland, and on one side you have the pretty Dickson Inlet and harbour. In my opinion, the best way to admire the inlet is to find a table at one of the bars/restaurants that overlook it (see my restaurant tips), and sit back around sunset time. You can watch the boats coming back into the harbour and enjoy the stunning Port Douglas sunsets.
Perhaps you will even get the chance to get out on the water if you take one of the trips out to the reef.
No swimming in the inlet though - there are even signs warning about crocodiles!
Do me a favour next time you are there and see if the "Coral Sea Calling" attraction is still docked around the back of the harbour (near the Bally Hooley station). It was a boat with this whole 'coral' formation built on top, along with fish and a waterfall - very strange. (see photos 3&4)
Also by the inlet you may spot a cute little white church. This is St. Mary's by the Sea (photo 5), a historic church dating back to 1880. These days it has been fully restored and is very popular for weddings due to its picturesque location by the sea.
What an experience! The Skyrail Rainforest Cableway is an amazing cable car ride which takes you for a 7.5km trip across the top of the rainforest, just north of Cairns, about 50 minutes drive south of Port Douglas.
A one-way trip takes about 1.5 hours and departs from either Caravonica or Kuranda, depending on your direction of travel. If you are going to take just the one-way option (you can do a return trip as well) then I would recommend starting in Kuranda so you get the great views as you come down the hill into Cairns. There are two station stops along the way if you want to get off and go for a wander in the rainforest.
We found this to be a fabulous experience and loved the feeling that we were floating about the trees. A friend of mine who is scared of heights also thought it was an amazing experience, but did confess to being terrified the whole time!
Each Sunday in Port Douglas the whole town turns out for a shop and a browse in the weekly market. It is located in Anzac Park, by the inlet, from 8am-12noon each Sunday.
The market sells a very good range of items. My parents always buy lots of fresh fruit and veggies there, along with honey and jams. The bananas are said to be the best in the area and always good value. You can always find various tasty treats to snack on while you browse.
There are plenty of stalls selling all sorts of arts and crafts - last time I was there I was quite taken with some bright modern paintings. You can stop off for a foot massage or how about getting a temporary tattoo along the way.
The market is one of the highlights of a visit to Port Douglas - it has such a community feel about it. Even Alex liked it, and he doesn't 'do' markets ; )
Port Douglas is the closest gateway to the Great Barrier Reef, and on our first visit to Port Douglas we took a trip out to the Low Isles. Located 15km from Port Douglas, the Low Isles is a large coral cay surrounded by many different species of hard and soft corals.
This beautiful coral island is the prefect place for beginner snorkellers and families. There is a sandy beach to relax on, and calm water to swim and snorkel in.
We travelled out there on the Quicksilver Wavedancer, which departs most days from Port Douglas Harbour. We really enjoyed the trip and made use of their snorkelling equipment to get up close with the local underwater life.
If you are susceptible to seasickness (as I am) you may want to have your tablets on hand - on the trip back to Port Douglas the wind had picked up and it was pretty choppy.
The Bally Hooley is a small steam train that runs for 4km from the Port Douglas Marina Mirage centre up to St.Crispins Station near the Sheraton Mirage Resort. This cute little train is a bit of a novelty and a fun way to keep the kids amused. Ok, we are not kids and we really enjoyed a ride!
Jump on the train at the main station at the Marina Mirage centre. Then sit back and enjoy the scenery as is chuffs along to St.Crispins Station. Upon arrival you can get off and go for a wander along the edge of the Sheraton's golf course and check out the lake.
When the Bally Hooley reaches the end of the line at St.Crispins Station the driver then has to push the engine around on a large turntable to reconnect with the train for the return journey.
Trains run every Wednesday and Sunday (see website for timetable)
Prices as at June 2007 were: Adults $5/Child $2.50/Children under 4yrs Free
Located a few kilometres from the centre of Port Douglas, on the way into town, is the Rainforest Habitat Wildlife Sanctuary. This park is filled with a variety of flora and fauna and is a great place for all the family.
There are four different environments to discover - rainforest, grasslands, woodlands and wetlands. You take a walk through each section, enjoying the animal spotting and the changing surroundings.
You will see stunning parrots, friendly kangaroos, massive crocodiles, and beautiful storks. We were thrilled to see some large, elegant storks nesting on a couple of giant eggs (which we heard hatched not long after our visit).
On one side of Port Douglas is the stunning Four Mile Beach. Unsurprisingly, the beach runs for 4 miles along the headland and is a fabulous place to relax or go for a walk. Perhaps the kids can build a sandcastle whilst you catch up on that trashy holiday novel.
If you're lucky you may see a celebrity or two coming out of the surf in the morning....or maybe even my Dad during the (mild) winter months ; )
Take a walk up to the northern headland for great views back along the beach.
The beach has a stinger net during the stinger season (see Warning or Danger Tip) - when the net is in place you should only swim in the marked areas.
Our visit was for Breakfast With The Birds which includes a buffet breakfast within an extremely large enclosure, similar to a circuis tent, but larger.
All varieties of local birds free fly within the enclosure. You can get real close and often they land on your head, if your lucky they might land on your arm. Guides are there to answer your questions.
After breakfast we took the tour through the 3 unique enviroments: Wetlands,Rainforest and Grasslands which included, kangaroos, fresh water crockodiles, salt water crocodiles, lorikeets, emu, owls, water fowl,tree kangaroos, snakes etc etc.
For overseas visitors wishing to see a variety of native animals this is the place to visit.
Open 7 days: 8am to 5pm.
If your type of holiday is not relaxing by the pool at a beachside resort, then accommodation on or walking distance to Macrossan Street could be your taste.
The busiest street in town it has everything there is to offer in Port Douglas. Accommodation to suit all budgets, restaurants, cafes, hotels and hotels with entertainment each evening. For the ladies there are many upmarket speciality stores.
Travel agent selling day tours to the outer reef, Daintree River and Rainforest, etc etc can find the tour for you.
At one end of Macrossan Street is the beach and Surf Club, whilst at the other end is Anzac Park, the old Sugar Wharf and the Combined services Club.
Flagstaff Hill has a popular lookout with sweeping views along the coast of Port Douglas.
Bring your camera to capture the panoramic coast.
You will see the entire stretch of the sandy Four Mile Beach, the rainforest of Far North Queensland and the calm blue waters and coral cays of the Great Barrier Reef.
The easiest way to the top is to drive, however for those who like waling it is close to town but a tough climb.
This sign at Four Mile Beach warns the public of "Stingers" which could be in the water. The stingers are seasonal and only appear during certain months of the year.
If stung Vinegar will lessen the pain. A bottle is attached to the sign, just dab vinegar on the sting to bring relief.
If visiting the area enquire to find out if it is "Stinger " season.
We were lucky our resort was less than 5 minutes walk from the beach. We like the beach much better than any swimming pool.
The beach changes daily, usually due to the weather conditions, however human activity on the beach is always there to grab your attention. In this instance it was Kite Surfing, on the next day it was a topless woman doing her daily 4 mile run.
Who knows what tomorrow may bring?
We visited the club late afternoon for a cold drink on the balcony and watch the sun go down as the dive boats return to port after a day on the Great Barrier Reef.
The balcony gives one of the best views in Port Douglas. This is not an exclusive club for the rich and famous. Any visitor is welcome, you must be 18 years or older and just sign the visitors book to be a member for the day.
The club has a full service bar, restaurant for lunch and dinner.
A trip to the reef is a must for any visitor to the far North Qld. You can do this from Cairns or Port Douglas. There a number of boats that do this daily. It will depend on what you want and how confidant you are in the water.
Quicksliver trips:- These leave daily from the Marina in Wharf Street. There is the Quicksilver shop and booking area on the Marina. The tickets are $185 per person. What you get for this is morning tea as you set off from Port Douglas, your snorkling gear, tour of the reef in a semi submersible submerine, viewing area of the reef and fish from the Quicksilver pontoon, a buffet lunch of salads/seafood/cold meats and hot dishes plus yummy fresh fruit. Afternoon tea as you head home.
Extras are Helicopter flight/scuba diving/ snorkling reef tours with guide who will explain corals and fish etc.
This particular cruise is excellent for children and those that are confidant in the water. You are on a large pontoon and the area where you snorkling is roped so you can't go too far. There is a yellow rope area that you can hold on too and reat areas where you can stop and get your breath. The area that you snorkle has a life saver watching all the time. If you happen to go too far they will come out and tell you. There is help for people that haven't done this before, they will help put snorkle/flippers etc on.
The day begins at 10am and you are back in Port about 4.30pm. You travel approx 72K's out from Port to the reef.
I love this trip and highly recommend.
There are also smaller cruises that head to the Outer Reef. Some of these are Wavelength/Poseidon/Calypso
All these tours are excellent. They are smaller boats and cater for smaller groups. They have buffet lunch supplied.
They don't actually stop at a Pontton, you go into the water from the end of the boat.
A number of these are booked by the younger people.
What ever you decide I am sure you will have the best time.
As we walked along the main street in Port Douglas, we strolled by the Iron Bar and noticed signs up about Cane Toad Races... we were excited to see they took place on Tuesday, Thursday, & Fridays and knew we were in town long enough to make a show. So, of course we HAD to go!! We decided to go to the 7:15 show. We later learned that the 'Adults Only' show was at 9pm, but were glad we went earlier, cause there were kids there and they were having tons of fun.
The races are hosted by Clancy, a local muso and comedian, the comedy show is based around funny Australiana and includes four or five cane toad races. Prizes include cane toad beer, hats, stubby holders and cane toad T-shirts.The cane toads are colour-coded and start from under a bucket placed in the middle of a table. Six people, selected by their entry tickets, chase them with party whistles, making each whistle blow out like a lizard tongue. The aim is to make the cane toad jump off the table and then the competitor must chase and capture it, returning it to the bucket.
We paid $5 per person to get in and then your ticket goes in a bucket to get picked to race a toad for the first 2 races. For the 3rd & last race, he auctions off the toads and there are bigger prizes to be won. The toads went for between $15-$30 the night we were there. At the end, we all thought it was well worth the $5. It lasted at least an hour and was very entertaining. Especially considering there isn't much other nightlife in Port Douglas.
If you are in Port Douglas for a few days, be SURE you make it to the Cane Toad Races!!!