Port Douglas – Heaven is a Place on Earth!


Published on: July 15, 2016

About two hours drive from Cairns in a northerly direction, Port Douglas is the perfect place to get seduced by the idyllic charms of tropical North Queensland. Visitors to this part of North Queensland relish the natural beauty and warm, balmy climate at any time of the year.

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Small enough to cover in an hour it also serves as a spring board to the off lying getaway destinations. The town itself has some great attractions – the famous ‘Four Mile’ beach with it’s powdery white sand beach & crystal clear waters, the Flagstaff lookout with a glorious vantage point overlooking the beach backed by swaying coconut trees and the northern waterfront overlooking the bay, a perfect spot to watch the glorious tropical sunsets.

The Great Barrier Reef Drive from Cairns to Cape Tribulation is along spectacular Queensland coastline hugging two World Heritage areas, the Great Barrier Reef and the Wet Tropics Rainforest. From Cairns you head north across the Barron River to the Cairns Northern Beaches including Trinity Beach, Palm Cove and Ellis Beach. The drive then winds along the edge of the Coral Sea past unspoiled tropical beaches to Port Douglas, the ideal place to cruise to the Great Barrier Reef. Intimate, relaxed Port Douglas is the gateway to the Daintree, the world’s oldest tropical rainforest. To the north is beautiful Mossman Gorge where you can discover the culture of the Kuku Yalanji people before driving through sugar cane fields to the township of Daintree. Take a crocodile spotting tour, fish for barramundi or marvel at the incredible birdlife. Cross the Daintree River on the cable ferry for a leisurely drive through ancient rainforest, pausing at lookouts for a glimpse of the Coral Sea as you wind your way past pretty beaches to Cape Tribulation where the rainforest meets the reef. Total distance – 140 kilometers.

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 Our Experience

Personally, I would rate this drive as one of the most spectacular in Australia, second only to the Great Ocean Road Drive! The entire route is along the Captain Cook Highway which skirts the coastline and you are never far away from the glimpses of the mesmerizing Coral Sea lapping against the jagged coast line. One is treated with some glorious viewpoints and fleeting views of virgin beaches, near enough to attract but remote enough to remain untouched.

We drove to Port Douglas from Cairns and made it our base for a couple of days. As we had done for most of our Australian backpacking trip, we stayed in an AirBnB house. Our hosts were a young couple with two overly excited dogs and a small little garden patch. We were at once taken by their lifestyle, the location of their house and the laid back and relaxed outlook towards life, something we city folks would not think possible.

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After receiving some pointers from them, we spend the first day exploring Port Douglas itself. The town seems like a larger than life set of ‘The Lifestyle of Rich & Famous‘ television series. Only this time, we were a member of the cast! White washed mansions with flowing tendrils sat side by side with boutique resorts, complete with flaming torches and impressive waterfalls at the entrances.

We spent the afternoon at the Four Mile beach followed with a drive along Macrossan Street. We ended the night sipping wine and enjoying a lovely Fish and Chips Meal at the Restaurant Central.

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Port Douglas – View of Four Mile Beach from Flagstaff Hill

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Port Douglas FlagStaff Look Out

The next day we had an early start and drove all the way to Cape Tribulation via the Daintree Cable Ferry Crossing.

Day Three was reserved for a visit to Mossman Gorge where we were left spechless by the pristine beauty of the place. Follow the Link for more. In the evening we drove up to Flagstaff Hill before sunset to catch an elevated view of Four Mile Beach. We sat by the waterfront at the Rex Smeal Park to watch the tropical sunset with the backdrop of the ANZAC mountains and the million year old rain forests as a back drop!

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Rex Smeal Park Lookout

We drove back to Cairns on Day Four and handed our rental car back before moving onto our next destination – Townsville.

If you do have the time and the resources I would highly recommend to hire a car from Cairns and visit Port Douglas by car and spend a few days here and use it as a base to visit Mossman Gorge, Daintree Forest and Cape Tribulation. Although these tourist spots can be covered as a day trip from Cairns you would spend more time on the road that actually visiting the sights.

 Further Information

Nestled at the end of a peninsula, the tranquil waters of a natural harbour on one side of the village lead to the The Reef Marina. Along the other side of the peninsula stretches the breathtaking sandy sweep of beautiful Four Mile Beach

Things to do in Port Douglas:

  • Port Douglas is the closest gateway to the Great Barrier Reef. There is a Great Barrier Reef tour to suit all ability and experience levels, whether you want to go diving and snorkelling, fishing, or perhaps staying dry on a reef pontoon
  • Sunset Cruise on one of the Chartered Sail boats
  • Soak up the sunshine on Four Mile Beach. Voted in Australia’s ‘Best Beach’ lists every year, Four Mile Beach continues to deliver. Unspoilt by any man made structures the 4 miles of beach is simply stunning to stroll sunrise to sunset
  • Stroll along Macrossan Street
  • See the sunset and dusk from the Rex Smeal Park on the point. From 4:00pm on any given day you can see the flotilla of Great Barrier Reef cruise operators return from their day out. The Anzac mountains make perfect backdrop from this park.
  • Walk or Drive up Flagstaff Hill and see Four Mile Beach in all its glory. Look out for the World Cities Distance Compass
  • From Mid-June to early October, Moonlight Cinema (a giant outdoor cinema) screens the latest release movies on the lawns of QT Hotel & Resort. Gates open at 6pm and screenings start at approximately 7:15pm. There is a licensed bar and catering at the venue, or BYO picnic and wine for a relaxed night out. Visit Moonlight for the film program and tickets, or grab them at the gate.

Things to Do Around Port Douglas :

  • Visit Daintree Forest and Village – The Daintree National Park holds the site of the oldest living rainforest on earth, the Daintree Rainforest.
  • Visit Cape Tribulation – Cape Tribulation is the village where two spectacular World Heritage sites meet, the Daintree Rainforest and the Great Barrier Reef. Located on the northern side of the Daintree River, at the end of the sealed road, here you can position yourself between the tumbling rainforest and glistening corals. The only way across is via the Daintree cable ferry which can ferry vehicles too.
  • Visit Mossman Gorge – Fifteen minutes from Port Douglas Mossman Gorge is a very accessible and scenic section of the World Heritage listed Daintree National Park. Here the Mossman River tumbles its way over and around huge granite boulders that line the gorge creating cool clear freshwater swimming holes. This beauty of this place will take your breath away.

Getting Here:

Port Douglas is 70km north (approx 1 hour drive) north of Cairns Airport. Hire a car from the airport and stop along the way at secluded beaches and a photo at Rex Lookout, all you need to do is turn right onto the Captain Cook Highway from the airport and then right at Port Douglas. For an even easier option, jump on a coach transfer so you don’t miss out on the view.  The coaches meet every flight into the airport and will take you directly to your accommodation.

Further Research : 

Port Douglas TourismInfo Port DouglasTourism Port Douglas

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FOUR MILE BEACH – View from Flagstaff Hill


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For further reading and travel Inspirations to this region buy one of the recommended books on Amazon. LINKS BELOW

NOTE – These are affiliate links so I get a teenie-weenie commission when you buy the product through my website. There is no additional cost to you but it helps with the costs of running this website. 
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Sailor, Adventurer, Thrill seeker. I am an avid traveler who seeks every opportunity to travel and evolve . Join me on my numerous adventures and voyages of discovery of the Outside World as well as the Inner Self.

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  1. Mossmon Gorge - On Hallowed Grounds - The Evolving Backpacker - […] We visited Mossman Gorge as a Day Trip from Port Douglas. See my earlier post on Port Douglas here…

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