Australia, Travel

The Ultimate Travel Guide to Port Douglas

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Port Douglas is a beach town located in Far North Queensland and is an excellent place to base yourself to explore the Great Barrier Reef and Daintree Rainforest, which are both UNESCO World Heritage Sites. Whether you want to swim along gorgeous beaches and hike through the hinterlands or simply relax by your resort pool with a cocktail in hand, Port Douglas is the perfect holiday destination to relax!

In addition to being a holiday destination for exploring nature, the town’s restaurant scene is rapidly emerging and becoming a great spot for the discerning food-lover. I must admit I was worried the food would be tourist-focused and overpriced, but after some research, we ended up eating at some amazing places.

How to Get There

Jetstar offers multiple direct flights from Sydney to Cairns every day which take around 3 hours. Once you land at Cairns airport, hire a car or book yourself a seat on a shuttle (we went with Exemplar Coaches) to take you up to Port Douglas, which is a 1 hour drive further north. The road is windy but you get great views of the ocean. There are also some disconcerting signs that remind traffic to drive on the left hand side of the road!

Where to Stay

I considered staying in a nice resort, such as the QT Port Douglas or the Sheraton Grand Mirage Resort however I felt this splurge would be wasted on us as we had our days filled with lots of activities and day trips.

As we didn’t have a car, we wanted something central, and Le Cher Du Monde was located smack bang in the middle of town on Macrossan St. We secured a great deal online which worked out to around $140/night which gave us a huge 1 bedroom apartment with cooking facilities and access to the pool. The manager, Rob, blew me away with his customer service. Within minutes of booking he had called me up to confirm my arrival time, and then helped arrange and book airport transfers and our day trips to the Great Barrier Reef and Daintree. Every morning he greeted us by name and offered any restaurant or sightseeing information he could. Whilst I love stayed at big name resorts now and then, you never receive this level of personalised service. Thank you Rob!!

Where to Eat

Featuring cheap and cheerful cafes, trendy coffee shops and fine dining options, Port Douglas has something to offer for all budgets.

Breakfast/Lunch

The Little Larder Café – 487/40 Macrossan St, Port Douglas

We enjoyed the breakfast at The little Larder Cafe so much we ate here two days in a row! Their menu is filled with fresh, tasty and seasonal ingredients and is an affordable way to start your day.

Cafe Fresq – Cnr Grant & Macrossan Streets, Port Douglas

This cafe is always packed and you can see why – they have a great range of decadent breakfast and lunch options. I recommend the pancakes!

Betty’s Bohemian Cafe – Macrossan St | Shop 2, Pandanus Plaza Shop, Port Douglas

Betty’s has a great space to enjoy your healthy meals – they serve up acai bowls, egg dishes, hearty salads and fresh juices.

Sparrow Coffee – 39 Macrossan St, Port Douglas

This great coffee shop was conveniently located across the road from our apartment, and served us an amazing brew every morning.

Lunch/Dinner

Mocka’s Pies  – 9/34 Grant St, Port Douglas

Mocka’s offers up an array of award-winning pies, from classics such as beef and vegetarian options, to the more adventurous including crocodile and kangaroo!

Salsa Bar and Grill – 26 Wharf St, Port Douglas

Salsa Bar and Grill is an institution in Port Douglas, and we were recommended it numerous times. This place books out well in advance and we unfortunately couldn’t get in for dinner, so we ended up booking a lunch seating. The food is fresh and showcases local produce, and the service was impeccable.

The Mexican – Macrossan Street | Shop 4/43, Port Douglas

The Mexican opens up late in the afternoon and serves food and drinks until late. We ordered way too much food and feasted on tacos, enchiladas, nachos and roasted corn, washed down with a margarita. This food was seriously delicious!

Barbados – 44 Wharf Street | The Reef Marina, Port Douglas

This is a funky cocktail bar serving up great drinks and delicious nibbles by the water – grab a lounge or table, order a few rounds and watch the sunset.

Lotus Leaf Asian Salads – 11-17 Macrossan St | Shop 25, Port Village Shopping Centre, Port Douglas

This small shop tucked away in a shopping centre is the perfect place for a cheap and healthy lunch. There are a huge array of salads to order from which you can top with tofu or meat, and I highly recommend ordering an iced tea if you’re feeling hot.

Sassi – 4 Macrossan St, Port Douglas

This Italian restaurant serves up fresh, seafood-focused cuisine and has a great wine list. The squid ink pasta and pumpkin and saffron risotto went down a treat. Make sure you book, as they get busy.

Nautilus Restaurant – 17 Murphy St, Port Douglas

This upscale Modern Australian restaurant was out of our budget, but I felt it deserved a mention as it was suggested to me so many times. It is housed within a tropical rainforest setting, and would be the perfect place for a special occasion.

What to Do

Four Mile Beach and Four Mile Beach Lookout

Our apartment was a 10 minute walk from Four Mile Beach with golden sand that stretches along the coast and palm trees dotted along. Our trip was in late November, which is the start of stinger season, however there is a netted area at this beach so it’s safe to swim.

We also did a short hike up to the Four Mile Beach lookout for a great view of the  coastline.

Trinity Bay Lookout

This is arguably the better lookout, and is a little harder to get to. If you’re not particularly fit I recommend driving, as the walk is very steep. Once you get there you are rewarded with stunning views of Four Mile Beach & the Coral Sea.

Shopping

Every Sunday there is a market in Anzac Park which offer numerous stalls selling local arts, crafts and produce. There are also many boutiques dotted along Macrossan St offering a range of beachy fashion, homewares and accessories.

Watch the sunset at Rex Smeal Park

We went to this park every night to watch the sunset over the water. It’s a gorgeous place to bring a picnic and a chair and relax with friends and family. Afterwards I suggest heading to the nearby Tin Shed for a cocktail by the water.

Cane Toad Racing

Cane Toads are a pest in Far North Queensland, and some bright spark had the great idea to race them. Sure this is pretty trashy and touristy, but when will you get the chance to do this again? Head down to IronBar for a bit of mischief.

St Mary’s by the Sea

This gorgeous heritage-listed church was built in 1913, and is nestled under palm trees by the water. You can see why this is an extremely popular place to get married!

I hope you’ve enjoyed my Ultimate Guide to Port Douglas and now have a long list of things to see, eat and do. Stay tuned for my guide to day trips from Port Douglas, featuring the Great Barrier Reef and the Daintree Rainforest!

Love Swah + 1 flew to Cairns as a guest of Jetstar. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

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