Things to Do
Below is an overview list of items included in this Things to Do section:
- Great Barrier Reef Tours
- Daintree Rainforest
- Mossman Gorge
- Cape Tribulation
- Bloomfield Track
- Walking & Hiking
- Shopping & Markets
- Eat & Drink
- Adrenaline Thrills
- Museums & History
- Art & Culture
- Sports & Activity
Port Douglas in Tropical North Queensland is one of Australia’s most famous destinations, renowned for its spectrum of experiences from laid-back bohemian charm to luxury style and experiences.
Find everything from street-side snacks to award-winning dining, adrenalin-pumping adventure to relaxing retreats, and casual to luxurious stays – all surrounded by the laid back tropical environment.
Nestled between the two world heritage icons of the Daintree Rainforest and the Great Barrier Reef, means there is a bounty of things to do in ‘Port’.
Great Barrier Reef Tours
The charming coastal location of Port Douglas makes it the perfect gateway to the Great Barrier Reef.
Depart by luxury catamaran or private yacht from the Port Douglas Reef Marina to head out to reef waters for sightseeing, snorkelling and diving.
Choose from half-day, full-day or longer overnight stays out on the reef and islands, with trips to the Low Isles and Agincourt Reef among the highlights.
A visit to Port Douglas, lets you tick off visits two world wonders, so as well as your reef tour, make sure your itinerary includes the ancient Daintree Rainforest.
This pristine environmental paradise is home to a host of rainforest tours, water activities, and cultural experiences including the Indigenous ecotourism venture Mossman Gorge Centre.
Nestled in the Daintree National Park, you will find Mossman Gorge, a pristine environmental paradise. Home to rainforest tours, water activities, and cultural experiences including the Indigenous ecotourism venture, Mossman Gorge Centre.
This remote eco-tourism destination is unique as the place where the world’s oldest rainforest meets the waters of the Coral Sea. Isolated in every aspect from urban sights and sounds, it is an awesome natural amphitheatre where personal rejuvenation is possible. Visitors can choose adventure, relaxation or a combination of the two with walking and hiking, horse-riding on the beach, surfing the jungle canopy, or partying in the jungle setting.
A visit to Port Douglas puts you in the middle of reef and rainforest; the headline acts for the tropics. But head off from Port in the right direction, and you get to another Aussie masterpiece – the Bloomfield Track, a scenic coastal and rainforest drive through the wilds of the wet tropics, and simply a must-do for 4WD enthusiasts.
The surface has no gravel, it can be slippery on steep slopes, there are unimproved creek crossings, and being wary of setting out in the wet season is strongly advised.
But it is a unique experience, with stunning views, secluded beaches, a rainforest archway, majestic plants, and unexpected wildlife and history. It can be done as a self-drive or you can book guided tours.
Walking & Hiking
Don’t get stuck just looking at the best of Port Douglas and the tropics through the window of a vehicle. Set out on foot with a range of walking and hiking experiences to savour first-hand the beauty and wonder of the tropical rainforest and coast. The compact size of Port Douglas means you can easily chart your own course around the main streets, marina and beach. A walk down Four Mile Beach is a spectacular experience.
If you are looking for a simple stroll through the rainforest that is easy on the feet but also caters to the wheels of prams and wheelchairs, head to the short Baral Marrjanga track at Mossman Gorge. The Marrdja Botanical Boardwalk is also an easy 1.2 km walk in regular comfortable walking shoes
If you need something a little more strenuous, serious hikers can put their kit on, set aside the bulk of a day, and tackle the 7 km incline up Mount Sorrow. The walking doesn’t need to stop when the sun goes down as guided night walks of the rainforest take you into an extraordinary world of nocturnal wildlife. Or take a ‘hike’ with a difference and sign up for the stand-up paddleboarding tour down the Mossman Gorge and through the Daintree Rainforest.
Shopping & Markets
Port Douglas’ shopping style isn’t practised in lavish duty-free stores and big, shiny malls, although there is a smattering of glitz and luxury.
Its free-wheeling character dominates and is evoked in the diverse nature of boutique outlets that sell holiday gear suitable for the climate. Look for colourful sarongs and wraps, sparkly casual apparel for the girls at night, and comfortable wear shorts, jeans, Akubras and tees for the boys.
Souvenir lines are bountiful, in both the retail outlets and markets. There are enough upmarket venues to satisfy those wanting fashion with an edge, and for the practical shopper, there are beach-inspired homeware brands to consider.
Overall, there’s an emphasis on locally made products, from clothing to consumables, organic and recycle, and health and wholesomeness.
The Sunday markets shouldn’t be missed, if only for the location beside the stunning Coral Sea coastline. More than 100 vendors, contracted to only sell locally produced goods, feature fresh fruits, hot foods, quirky organic drinks, collectable fashion, souvenirs, and local bric-a-brac.
The living nightlife scene means you can settle in or hop around for night-time food and drinks from classy cocktails to local live music. But the sights and sounds of the tropics don’t stop when the sun goes down.
Head offshore for sunset sailing from Port Douglas’ Reef Marina, or even pop along to the Yacht Club for Wednesday evening sailing as a deckhand on one of the member’s boats.
Venture into the rainforest for a nightlife experience with a twist. Guided night walks through the Daintree Rainforest will let you see the rainforest come to life under the moonlight and stars, with the nocturnal animals making an appearance.
For a relaxing evening, set up under the stars at the Moonlight Cinema, or create your own twilight picnic on Four Mile Beach or in the park with a harvest of great produce from local stores.
For some culture, grab a ticket for a show at The Clink, the former courthouse and prison that now hosts cabaret shows, dancing and musical performances.
For a quintessentially rowdy Aussie experience, check out the nightly Cane Toad Racing at the Iron Bar Saloon in Macrossan Street.
A not-to-be-missed night out can be had at Flames of the Forest. This scintillating rainforest setting has flame-lit paths that guide you to pre-dinner drinks and appetisers. These are followed by a magnificent Aboriginal cultural performance accompanied by exquisite Australian cuisine, both channelling the spirituality of the sublime Daintree Rainforest.
Eat & Drink
Visitors may come for the reef and the rainforest, but inevitably end up falling in love with the local food and flavours. You can find it all in Port Douglas with relaxed cafes, open-air dining on the main promenade, 5-star restaurants, innovative ventures and long-standing institutions all beckoning tourists.
Tuck into traditional Australian cuisine, ranging from delectable seafood to the best-priced and flavoursome pub grub, to more exotic flavours such as kangaroo, crocodile, and macadamias.
There’s also a full range of international menu options, all using the freshest tropical produce.
Locals and visitors alike head to local icons the Court House Hotel, Iron Bar Hotel, Sassi Cucina e Bar, On the Inlet, the Salsa Bar and Grill and Harrison’s. The real gems include smaller outlets like The Little Larder, Origin Espresso and Betty’s Bohemian Beach Cafe. A visit to Port is incomplete without popping into long-standing Mocka’s Pies, whether for a classic meat pie or a slightly more adventurous filling of kangaroo with red wine or spicy crocodile laksa.
The food is so great. There a whole host of operators keen to help you sample the delights of Port Douglas and surrounds. From tropical fruits to chocolate and coffee, to beer, wine and spirits, to unique Australian flavours in seafood and meats, nuts and spices, and of course, desserts!
The cruisy charm of Port Douglas is addictive, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t time to get the adrenaline pumping. Amidst the rainforest, you can ‘surf’ the jungle canopy or zipline through the towering ancient trees at Cape Tribulation. On the road, you can challenge yourself to a 4WD drive along with the wild beauty of the Bloomfield Track. On the water, you can challenge yourself to the depths of the Great Barrier Reef with a dive tour or sport fishing on board a luxury charter vessel.
Adventure on your own two legs, the 7 km incline up Mount Sorrow near Cape Tribulation, There are also mountain bike and hiking tours in the Daintree Rainforest, and motorised trike, motorcycle and Harley tours leaving from Port Douglas.
Try kitesurfing and paddle boarding and to reach bigger heights check out the hot-air ballooning options over the Tablelands from Port Douglas. Nautilus Aviation and GBR Helicopters offer scenic and VIP flights to private sand cays and floating pontoons in the middle of the Reef. And to get your speed mojo running, check out the Reef Sprinter speedboat to Low Isles in 15 minutes and the Outer Reef in just 40 minutes.
Museums & History
The heritage-listed Port Douglas Court House Museum features exhibits on the shipping, sugar and Chinese history of the area, World War II battles, and a controversial case involving the only woman to be hanged in Queensland.
Art & Culture
There’s a thriving art scene in Port Douglas that dabbles in a range of mediums from oils and watercolour to photography and sculpture and is inspired by the natural beauty of the region. Local indigenous artists are also prolific in offering contemporary and traditional artworks. There are many reputable galleries in and around town, and more affordable and unique pieces can be acquired at Port Douglas Markets on Sundays at Anzac Park on the waterfront.
The main venue for the performing arts is The Clink, a former courthouse and jail, which is now home to Douglas Theatre Arts Group. Catch a live show or musical performance and visit one of Port’s secret bars.
Port Douglas has plenty of activities, open spaces, parklands and playgrounds to ensure a happy and safe family holiday for visitors with children. Running along the alluring sands and splashing in the azure waters of Four Mile Beach in the heart of town is just the beginning of the fun for parents and kids in Port Douglas.
Day or half-day tours out to the Great Barrier Reef for snorkelling and diving among the colourful coral are an ideal way to start a holiday in the area. And once you have exhausted the water options, take a road trip to the Mossman Gorge for a rainforest walk and swim in the granite rock pools. Night tours in the Daintree Rainforest are sure to get those young eyes popping at the sight of so many amazing nocturnal creatures.
Sports & Activity
Port Douglas is the home to water sports, activity from snorkelling, diving and exploring around reefs in the Coral Sea. To a whole range of other exertions from extreme sports that get the adrenaline pumping to family-friendly leisure activity.
Cape Tribulation is the best place for thrill-seekers who fancy flying-fox zip lining, also known as jungle surfing, across the top of the rainforest. Stand-up paddleboarding, windsurfing, jet skiing and kite surfing are relatively easier on fitness levels and a whole lot of fun.
The golf courses in Port Douglas are world standard and lend a whole new value to handicaps. Which you will be happy to sacrifice to appreciate the sheer beauty of the fairways.
Mountain biking enthusiasts will find it hard to choose from the significant number of courses they can follow, including the infamous Bump Track. If interested in game fishing, you have found the right location, with charters available to the Outer Reef for all manner of sport fishing.