Planning a trip to Port Douglas? This gorgeous little town in the heart of Tropical North Queensland is a fantastic place to spend a few days (or longer) exploring, relaxing and, of course, eating. It’s the ideal spot to visit the Great Barrier Reef, get lost in dense rainforest and learn about Indigenous Culture. You’ll find yourself unwinding and feeling all too at home in this perfect beachside destination.
If you’re in need of some inspiration on the very best things to see, do and eat while you’re there, I’ve got you covered! Having spent a few days getting the most out of the area, I’ve pulled together my top tips on the things you absolutely must do in Port Douglas. If you’ve been before and have any tips of your own, please share them.
1. Go out to the reef without getting boat sick!
Getting boat sick is the bane of my turtle-loving existence. Then I came across a little thing called a speedboat. Turns out, the savvy crew at Reef Sprinter have cornered the no-seasickness market by offering fantastic tours out to the reef that are budget, time and tummy-friendly. Their Low Isles Tour can have you out on the reef, snorkelling away, in 15 minutes with scarcely a spew bag in view. I cannot tell you how great this is. We had an AMAZING time on the reef, even though it was raining. It seems the fish don’t mind a bit of wet weather. We snorkelled for ages and saw a gorgeous little turtle, bright reef and beautiful fish, including some huge batfish. It was, seriously, fantastic. 10/10 would snorkel again. Find Reef Sprinter here.
2. Hit up the Sunday Market
Great news, you guys. There’s a market in Port Douglas and it happens every Sunday and it’s huge and it’s awesome (the official market criteria, no?) Anyway, this market goes down every Sunday and you cannot miss it. Drive to the end of Macrossan Street, toward Rex Smeal Park, and you’ll find it easily. It’s a fantastic market selling all kinds of yummy things, crafty things and arty, useful, cool things. Find the Sunday Market here.
3. Have breakfast at Betty’s Bohemian Beach Cafe
For the very BEST breakfast in Port Douglas, get your sweet caboose down to Betty’s. As co-owner Desi explained, Betty was her beautiful grandmother, with a photo of her proudly displayed at the counter. The food here is lovingly prepared by the chef, Natalie, a food-loving Melbournian. You can expect really fresh produce, delicious food and fantastic coffee (seriously, it’s so good). We were only meant to have breakfast there one morning, but it was so good we had to go back again the next day. That’s the ultimate seal of approval! Also, the interior of Betty’s is gorgeous, prepare to fall in love with it. Find Betty’s Bohemian Beach Cafe here.
4. Partake in cane toad races at the pub
If this is your first trip to Australia, I strongly recommend you attend this illustrious event. Yes, there will be racing. Yes, it will involve live Cane Toads and yes, it will involve alcohol. Don’t question it, don’t try to hold yourself back, just let yourself go. The races go down at Iron Bar (a pub) every night at precisely 8:30am with a $5 entry fee. Worth it. Find the Cane Toad races here. (No fascinator required).
5. Watch the sunset among palm trees at Rex Smeal Park
My favourite way to end a day in Port Douglas (other than face down in a glass of booze) is at Rex Smeal Park. It’s honestly the best place to watch the sunset. There are these dreamy palm trees and a few other people scattered around the place listening to music, drinking and eating. The sun casts all kinds of pretty colours over the water and it’s just…. wonderful. Find Rex Smeal Park here.
6. Eat really yummy gelato and sorbet
I live for sorbet and the guys at Shakes Gelati Bar have a huge range of sorbet options, including chocolate and raspberry (my favourites). They also have a big range of gelato as well, for all you milk-lovers. I’d definitely recommend it as a great place to end a lovely evening or just stop in mid-day for a scoop or four of yummy gelato. They don’t do tasters, which seemed to annoy a few people on the internet and one lady in-store but, seriously, give them a break! Ice cream is yummy, just buy it and eat it. Find Shakes Gelati Bar here.
7. Take a trip to Palm Cove
It’ll take you 40 minutes or so to drive to Palm Cove if you have a day to spare it’s a lovely drive and worth it. Snap a few photos of the iconic palm trees, laze around the beach, make yourself at home in a hammock or get cosy in a cafe for lunch. It’s a really lovely place and a nice spot to spend a day swimming, eating and relaxing. Find out more about Palm Cove here.
8. Go to the Trinity Bay Lookout
One of the most famous lookout spots in Queensland, Trinity Bay Lookout is surprisingly void of tourists. I don’t know how or why, but every time I go there I seem to be the only one. If you’re into fitness, you can walk up the hill to get to the lookout, from Rex Smeal Park. It’s an easy enough walk, along bitumen, but at the top, you get treated to some fantastic views of Trinity Bay. Find the Trinity Bay Lookout here.
9. Eat dinner at Chilly’s Pizza & Trattoria
A great thing about Queensland weather, especially Tropical North Queensland, is taking advantage of outdoor dining. At Chilli’s, you’ll find yourself spoiled with a large outdoor eating area, complete with cool picnic-style and dining tables, strings of festival lights and cool music. The food is really delicious, especially their pizzas. There are options for vegetarians and gluten-dodgers too. It’s kid-friendly, so if you despise small humans you should go after 8:30pm. Find Chilly’s here.
10. Visit the Mossman Gorge
Take a 20-minute drive north of Port Douglas and you’ll find yourself at the stunning Mossman Gorge, part of the Daintree Rainforest. You can go for a hike through the jungle then cool off in the crisp, cool and very refreshing water of the gorge. I have a killer blog post on must-know tips for visiting, you should definitely read that here. It’s a Pulitzer Prize-worthy.
11. Have dinner at Star of Siam
I freaking L-O-V-E Thai food and Star of Siam does not disappoint. Don’t let its casual little shop-front fool you, these guys serve up dang delicious Thai food. Everything is so fresh and bursting with flavour, they don’t skimp on the number of veggies in the curry (I assume that will also apply to meat). I didn’t really know what to expect when we sat down at the table, but I ate every single bite. The food was fantastic. 10/10 would munch again. Find Star of Siam here.
12. Go shopping along Macrossan Street
It’s hard to miss the main street of Port Douglas, it’s Macrossan Street and you’ll definitely be ma-crossin’ it more than once. Sorry, that’s a terrible joke. Moving on… The main street is lazy with shops to explore, from cute boutiques and art galleries to cafes and more. One of my favourite shops in Moonshine Bay, this place is full of really bright, cool and quirky items from jewellery and clothing to bags and just… cool… stuff. Definitely, check it out. Also, the owner is a sweetheart and there’s a cafe at the back. Find Moonshine Bay here.
13. Go stand up paddleboarding
To give you abs and legs a good workout, grab a paddleboard and spend a few hours paddling on the high seas. The guys at Windswell offer Kite Surfing and SUP tours and lessons. Port Douglas is a great place to learn, so jump in the water and give it a go. Find Windswell here.
14. Have a healthy lunch at Sejuice
Some days you just need a healthy and delicious lunch. This happened to us, so we went to Sejuice and absolutely loved it. They do great meals, but their fruit and muesli with yoghurt were top-notch. Loads of muesli, loads of fruit and, yep, you guessed it, loads of yoghurt. They also do yummy, fresh juices that I highly recommend. Find Sejuice here.
15. Swim at famous Four Mile Beach
Four Mile is the crowning jewel in Port Douglas’ beach empire. Does that make sense? You get the point. It’s a beach and it’s really great. There’s a stinger net set-up so you can swim without worry. Its’ a fantastic stretch of beach to spend the day. I recommend waking up at dawn to watch the sunrise then throwing yourself into the ocean for a morning swim, followed by breakfast and coffee. Bliss. Find Four Mile Beach here.
16. Take a day trip to Cairns
And do as many things as possible on my 16 Really awesome things to do in Cairns blog post. #ShamelessPlug
This very great tip comes from the lovely Natalie and Desi at Betty’s Bohemian Beach Cafe. They highly recommend a trip to incredible restaurant and accommodation, Silky Oaks Lodge. The food here is top-notch, according to the ladies, and absolutely not to be missed. You’ll dine along the river, enjoy gorgeous views and have a memorable meal. Nat and Desi should know, it’s actually where they got engaged! We ran out of time this trip, but it’s on the top of my to-do list for my next visit. Thanks for the tip, girls.
Where to stay
We stayed at Peppers Beach Club and had a fantastic time. The fully self-contained one-bedroom suites here are really great. They’re spacious, comfortable and have absolutely everything you could need (including a King bed, BBQ and balcony!). I wrote a whole thing about it, which you should also most definitely read by clicking here.
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