78kms from Cairns
10am – Brunch
After the scenic drive on the Great Barrier Reef Drive from Cairns, you’re bound to have worked up quite the appetite. You may notice a busy little cafe, The Little Larder, about halfway along Macrossan Street, the vibrant hub of Port Douglas. Don’t let the crowds deter you, it’s quick to get a seat and it will satisfy all of your brunch fantasies. It’s difficult to go past the Mushrooms on Toast (truffle oil – say no more), but the Nutella stuffed brioche French Toast sure does sound incredibly tempting.
11am – Explore
The hippy shops in Port Douglas have long since evolved to funky boutiques reminiscent to Byron Bay with flowing wrap dresses, soy candles instead of incense, art galleries, shops themed with colourful prints and pom poms, and others sticking to various shades of white and natural textures. Treat yourself to a gelato to combat the tropical heat and take note of the numerous restaurants and bars lining Macrossan and Wharf Streets (you will return later).
1pm – Lunch at Hemingway's
Sit back and admire the view with a beer or five in hand at Hemingway’s Brewery. Situated on the Reef Marina, Hemingway’s prides itself on its handcrafted beers and food sourced from fresh, local produce. Each beer has its own story and you can sample them on a tasting paddle. Does life get any better?
2pm – Check in at QT
Fun, quirky and offering retro-modern vibes, QT will be your tropical oasis. Do the obligatory once-over in the room, checking if it has a comfy bed (it does). But don’t get too comfortable because there’s a pool calling your name and an icy cold mojito awaiting you.
4pm – Life’s a beach
Borrow one of QT’s complimentary bikes and pedal down to Four Mile Beach. As you’ve probably learned by now, it can get pretty warm in the ol’ Port so the afternoon is the perfect time to put those legs to work. Find a private spot along any of the four miles to chill out or if you’re feeling up to it, head to the northern-most end and follow the walking trail up Flagstaff Hill – this will reward you with views of the entire golden beach and surrounding mountains.
6pm – Relaxed dinner
After a big day, a laid-back dinner at local favourite, The Beach Shack, is just what the doctor ordered. Enjoy the beachy ambience, sand between your toes and a selection of delicious tapas, top-notch pizzas and quality mains.
8pm – Cane toad racing
Yes really, it’s a thing. Get ready for some good ol’ fashion Aussie shenanigans. Your $5 will ensure the cheapest laugh you’ve had regardless of whether you’re lucky (or unlucky) enough to have your ticket drawn to participate. Stay back afterwards and enjoy the casual nightlife that Port Douglas has to offer.
7:15am – Buffet breakfast
Think international street food stalls with a patchwork of foods to suit all tastes. Daily flavoured smoothies, eggs any way you like, fresh omelettes to order and a selection of colourful fruit make up QT’s own buffet breakfast, Bazaar. You’ve got a big day ahead so don’t be shy to tuck in, you’re going to need the energy.
8:20am – Reef day
Get ready for pristine, blue waters, more fish than you can poke a stick at and corals to inspire your inner artist as you jump on board Tropical Journeys, Calypso. Your day at either Agincourt or Opal Reefs can include introductory or certified dives, or you can admire the reef gardens from above with a snorkel and mask. Morning tea, lunch and afternoon tea are all included so all you need to bring is your camera and yourself.
7:30pm – Flames of the Forest
Encircled by a flame lit forest with seating underneath a crystal chandelier laden marquee, Flames of the Forest introduces you to the tastes of Tropical North Queensland with a six-course Rainforest Dining Experience every Saturday evening. Unwind as the melodies of resident acoustic guitarist, Stu Forbes, permeate the surroundings. Transfers from your hotel are included so you can fully enjoy the selection of beautiful wine and quality beer on offer. If you’re around on a Tuesday or Thursday, check out the Aboriginal Cultural Experience which blends contemporary food with an intimate, Indigenous performance.
Sunday 9am – Markets
All trips to Port Douglas should be timed to include the famous Sunday Markets. Head down early to beat the heat, test your pedal power on the bicycle sugar cane juicer and indulge in a light breakfast served from a coconut. Enjoy the sounds of buskers, stalls brimming with local handicrafts, artisan products, exquisite jewellery, clothes and toys. Don’t forget to wear sunscreen and a hat – you’ll thank yourself later.
11am – Lunch & live tunes
Meander across the road to The Court House Hotel (The Courty, as the locals call it), grab a cold refresher, nab a front row seat to the live band and order some lunch. From seafood to schnitties and steak, there’s nothing quite like a quality pub feed on a balmy, tropical day.
1pm – Mossman Gorge
Trade the coast for the rainforest and learn about the local indigenous culture on an intimate guided Dreamtime Walk at Mossman Gorge. An Aboriginal guide will give you exclusive access to Kuku Yalanji lands while providing a narrative of the rainforest, uses of the land and the stories and legends of the local indigenous people. Finish with bush tea and damper, then cool off in the emerald waters of Mossman Gorge.
5pm – Drinks
“Whoa, you’re going to Barbados. Whoa, back to the palm trees.” It may not be in the Caribbean Sea, but award-winning Barbados Port Douglas overlooking the Coral Sea is definitely comparable. In true Caribbean style, lounge back with a signature rum cocktail on one of their many daybeds and watch as the sun disappears over the mountains and the boats drift into the marina.
7pm – Last hoorah
There’s no better place to conclude your stay in Port Douglas than at Trip Advisor’s 2017 Travellers’ Choice Awards fourth Best Fine Dining Restaurant in Australia, Watergate Port Douglas. Set on an ambient deck overlooking lush, tropical gardens and surrounded by flaming lanterns, take the time to reflect on your whirlwind trip while sampling crocodile spring rolls, seafood direct from the trawler, mouthwatering meats or a caramelised leek and mushroom risotto that will melt in your mouth.
10am – Breakfast
Unfortunately, all good things must come to an end. On your back to the real world (what’s that again?), stop for a lakeside breakfast overlooking majestic mountain ranges and the manicured lawns of the Mirage Country Club at Choo Choos @ St Crispins. Serving locally roasted coffee and superb breakfast, Choo Choos is the perfect place to say goodbye to your incredible three-day getaway.
Explore Port Douglas’ award-winning restaurants and fashion boutiques, or get out of town to discover the Daintree Rainforest and the Great Barrier Reef, right on your doorstep.
Dive into this guide of swim-out hotel rooms
Walk in: swim out. For that added splash of luxury to your weekend getaway, family holiday or romantic retreat the following hotels will get you as close as you can to the most convenient and luxurious pools in the region.
Meet a local: Shaolin, the Port Douglas pirate ship
The word pirate conjures images that have been with us for centuries: skull and cross bone flags, eye patches, quick-witted parrots, buried treasure, and of course, mutiny on the high seas. This pirate ship, however, is a little different and you can find it in Port Douglas.
Spa-tripping in Port Douglas and the Daintree
Deep tissue massages, vichy showers, hot stone therapies, seaweed wraps and coconut coffee scrubs, here are a few places to bliss out in Tropical North Queensland.
Take a road trip on the Great Barrier Reef Drive
The strip of bitumen between Cairns and Cape Tribulation, now known as the Great Barrier Reef Drive, is 140 km of jaw-dropping beauty. The road winds between two world heritage icons that Tropical North Queensland is famous for: the Wet Tropics Rainforest and the Great Barrier Reef.