Planning to explore the Great Barrier Reef in Australia? Then, Port Douglas will be your best gateway to the great wonders of the sea. Located close to Cairns, the other popular gateway to the reef, Port Douglas attracts tourists and travelers who want to enjoy the seclusion that Cairns lacks while being easily able to access the reefs.
The perfect location of Port Douglas amidst the trio of natural beauties – Cape Tribulation, the Great Barrier Reef and Daintree Rainforest, along with the mild climate of the region, makes it a perfect holiday location in all aspects. That is why, in spite of being costlier than other cities that offer access to the reef, Port Douglas is preferred by travelers who want to make the most of their trip. It’s peaceful, partly secluded, easily accessible and offers numerous activity options, inland as well as in water – the best that you could plan to get during a vacation. So, to make your trip memorable as well pleasurable, here is a list of the Top 10 must visit and must do activities in Port Douglas.
- Visit to the Reef
A visit to the Great Barrier Reef, more specifically the Outer Reef, is first and foremost attraction or must do activity while in Port Douglas. You may either opt for snorkeling in the closer waters or venture out further into the reef area and dive into the depths to be closer to the fantastic reef life of the Outer Reef. You needn’t be an experienced diver to have the best experience. Tours are conducted by expert operators who are well equipped to train newbies and beginners with the dos and don’ts of diving so that you can experience the reefs better. Being closer to the outer reef than other popular gateway points, the journey from Port Douglas is fast and easy. With a number of tour operators operating in the region, your trip to the Outer Reef can be easily arranged.
The one and only way to the reefs is joining the tour operators and then diving to the depths to get a close view of the corals and other marine life as well.
- The Wildlife Habitat Sanctuary
This wildlife sanctuary located in Port Douglas attracts tourists due to its diverse offerings in terms of both flora and fauna. This rainforest section allows visitors to interact directly with the endangered Southern Cassowary, Eclectus Parrots, and Boyd’s Forest Dragon while meandering pathways take you through the various micro environ systems that have been meticulously developed and nurtured. The wetlands area is famous for fruit bats, macropods, black necked storks and numerous other bird species while the grasslands section treat guests with its display of Parma wallabies, eastern grey kangaroos, Lumholtz’s Tree Kangaroo, frogs, waterfowls, turtles and native varieties of birds.
Getting to the Sanctuary from the port region will cost about $20 for a cab ride that takes approximately 5-7 minutes,
- Four Mile Beach
The next most charming attracting in Port Douglas is the Four Mile beach that offers a fantastic day out option while Port Douglas. With expansive stretches of crystal clear water and dazzling, golden sand, the beach welcomes visitors for a lovely day enjoying sun bathing, swimming, tanning, bonfires and even some yoga. Whether its early morning or late night, the Four Mile Beach can be enjoyed at all times, in a variety of moods – from refreshing in the morning to romantics on full moon nights.
The beach is located next to the esplanade in Port Douglas and is within the easy reach.
- Cape Tribulation National Park
If the beauty of Port Douglas appealed to you, you surely would be mesmerized by the charm of the Cape Tribulation and the National Park located thereof. This site, located across the Daintree River, is dotted with walking trails, beaches, beautiful lookouts and numerous shops and stores while the park exhibits fan palms, ferns and the endangered cassowaries.
The park can be accessed via a ferry that transports vehicles from Port Douglas which when arriving on the other side can be driven directly to the park. Cab rides will cost about $200.
- Flagstaff Hill
Another spot to enjoy nature’s beauty in Port Douglas is surely the Flagstaff Hill, otherwise known as Island point. Whatever may the name be, a climb or drive up the hill and the views from the top, are nothing short of incredible. The extensive stretch of the Four Mile Beach and the Coral Sea when viewed from atop the hill forms a postcard perfect image. You can sit there for hours and enjoy the extensive waters and beaches spread out before you and let time slip by as you get soaked in the tranquility of the place.
If you are in Port Douglas, walking to the Flagstaff Hill is the most viable option. Make sure that you reach to the top of the hill to get the best view.
- Mossman Gorge
Located slightly north of Port Douglas, the Mossman Gorge is another beauty to behold. Located within the Daintree National Park, the Mossman Gorge is as beautiful as it gets. The beauty of the cascading waters along with the lush green surroundings make up for a great view and a real treat to your eyes. Travelers may join guided tours or walk around the areas all by themselves to soak in the peacefulness of the area and also capture some of the best shots of the region.
You can either ride a cab or drive your own car till the parking lot of the Mossman Gorge and take a shuttle further to reach the actual walkable area of the gorge.
- Hartley’s Crocodile Adventures
Well, this place is quite a distance from the port area yet a visit to the facilities is a must as this is home to some of the large and ferocious crocodiles in the region and they allow you to get as close to the cros as possible without being eaten or injured. The crocodiles are nurtured in the wild and you can almost faint seeing the huge ones, measuring as long as 5 feet or more. You can also enjoy the Crocodile Feeding facilities and the Crocodile Attack Show that are performed by the experts. The zoo also hosts a good collection of birds, snakes and koalas.
The drive to this zoo takes approximately 20 minutes from the port region and will cost around $75 in fares.
- Sea Temple Golf and Country Club
For those interested in golf or those who to try it out the very first time, the Sea temple will be an ideal spot to hit with friends. Spend an afternoon enjoying the beautiful surroundings formed by the Daintree Forest and the Great Barrier Reef and the royal game of golf. This links-style course ranks 6th amongst top golf courses of Australia of the style.
If you are close to the port area, it would be convenient to take a cab to the club.
- Bally Hooley
The Bally Hooley is quaint, enjoyable train trip that one can take from the Marina Station to the Crispins Station in the Mawbray Valley. Although, actually this end of the line was used by the Mossman Sugar Mill, yet after its switch to the diesel locomotive, the original steam engines and coaches were transformed as a fun ride for the visitors as well as the locals. The return trip that lasts over an hour takes you through the various mangrove areas of the region, the Sheraton Country Club and a few resorts and back again. The engines in use are more than 55 years old and the every Sunday rides attract quite a number of visitors.
The train starts from the Marina station close to the port.
- Cotters Markets
The Anzac Park, located just by the sea, hosts markets every Sunday between 8 am to 1 pm where local artists, bakers and farmers put up their products for sale to the public. From handcrafted goods, paintings, photographs, import clothing to freshly prepared fruit juices – all can be had at these markets. On your way back, you could pay a quick visit to the St. Mary’s Chapel too.