Ultimate Travel Guide: Port Douglas, QLD
There is no other description needed for Port Douglas other than paradise.
When you have the world’s oldest tropical rainforest ready to explore and the pristine waters of the Great Barrier Reef at your doorstep, we really can’t provide another better reason to head to Port Douglas. The destination is a nature lovers dream and is every part beautiful as it is a luxurious destination to relax and unwind. Here are our top tips for a holiday in Port Douglas where the simple beauty of the great outdoors can dissolve any pressure of technology and the modern world.
Sassi La Cucina & Bar
All the heart needs is an authentic Italian meal to indulge in, and this is what is served up at Sassi La Cucina & Bar. The food is hearty and warm and lives up to the high-quality standard that one would expect from a restaurant located in Port Douglas. The menu appreciates local produce and focuses on seafood and pasta, with freshly shucked oysters and local prawns with avocado, red paw paw and chilli on offer for entrée. For the main meal, the crowd favourites include the Zuppa Di Pesce which is a selection of fresh seafood including reef fish, calamari, octopus, mussels and prawns. You can certainly put your European escape on hold when each meal at Sassi La Cucina & Bar transports you to the restaurant-lined streets of Italy. As stated on the bottom of the menu, those “who eat well, live well” – which we think is guaranteed regardless of your selection.
Sassi La Cucina & Bar – 4 Macrossan St, Port Douglas, QLD 4877
Dining at Nautilus Restaurant is a bucket list item for everyone travelling through Port Douglas, including Bill and Hilary Clinton who dined at the restaurant in celebration of their wedding anniversary in 1996. The restaurant exudes elegance and is the pinnacle of fine dining. Located on a balcony under the canopy of a tropical rainforest, Nautilus Restaurant is a pioneer for modern Australian dining with the menu being perfected and refined over the last 62 years. The menu includes the highly sought-after Nautilus Whole Coral Trout which is served with pickled paw paw, Thai caramel sauce, chilli jam and nahm jim. If you think the dining options should be left to the experts, then the five or seven course tasting menus are the perfect choice which come with a matching selection of fine wines.
Nautilus Restaurant – 17 Murphy St, Port Douglas, QLD 4877
Flames of the Forest
The Flames of the Forest dining experience is truly magical. The local Kuku Yalanji people take you on a cultural and storytelling journey while you indulge in a seven-dish banquet under the canopy of the Daintree Rainforest. The experience begins with a flaming ceremony before you are ushered to the candle lit marquee to enjoy the banquet and a selection of Australian wines. After dinner, a cultural performance including storytelling, didgeridoo and song and dance is performed by the local Kuku Yalanji people. This is an authentic and immerse experience which encourages you to converse with other guests all while learning about the Kuku Yalanji peoples’ connection to the rainforest. It should not be missed!
Court House Hotel
A trip to Port Douglas is not complete until the Court House Hotel is paid a visit. Also known as ‘The Courty’ by the locals, the Court House Hotel features a heritage Queenslander facade and wide-open verandas makes it one stylish place to relax and unwind. The Court House Hotel provides a great atmosphere with live music in the beer garden and perfect sunset views over Anzac Park and the harbour. Just like you would expect from any local pub, the champagne, wine, beer and cocktail list is extensive and varied including an option to create your own cocktail.
Court House Hotel – 18-20 Wharf Street, Port Douglas, QLD 4877
Barbados Port Douglas
If you are looking for a Caribbean atmosphere mixed in with the Port Douglas coastal luxury, then Barbados Port Douglas is where you should be heading for afternoon drinks with your friends or family. The bar and cocktail lounge has prime real estate overlooking the Dickson Inlet with views over the Coral Sea and the Daintree National Park. Picking which seat is best for optimal sunset views is the least of your worries compared to the decision for which cocktail to have first. The Caribbean mojito seems like a perfect afternoon drink with the rum, ginger beer, spiced pineapple wedges, pineapple syrup and mint however, the Lychee Lush has an assortment of fruity ingredients which would be refreshing throughout summer. The rum, wine and beer list is just as extensive meaning Barbados Port Douglas should be visited more than once.
Barbados Port Douglas – 44 Wharf St, Port Douglas, QLD 4877
Salsa Bar & Grill
This is one of the iconic dining meccas in Port Douglas and we don’t blame people for being drawn to the lively atmosphere at Salsa Bar & Grill. The restaurant is a local favourite and we agree with the choir when it is said that the drinks list is hard to beat for a coastal town. The restaurant has been in town for over 20 years and in that time, the team have perfected their staple cocktail – the Salsa Margarita. It includes tequila, triple sec and Salsa’s own sweet and sour mix poured over ice and was inspired by restaurant owner Billy Conway’s travels throughout America. Each of the drinks arrive at your table with fresh fruit. It’s hard to think of a more stylish restaurant in Port Douglas to enjoy a few sundowners.
Salsa Bar & Grill – 26 Wharf St, Port Douglas, QLD 4877
Great Barrier Reef
This is a friendly call to action to remind everyone to visit the Great Barrier Reef and view this rainbow oasis at least once with the naked eye. It is the most beautiful stretch of coral reef in the world. The large schools of fish and the intricate maze of colourful reef and coral are testament to the rich diversity located in this oasis which runs the whole length of Queensland. Port Douglas is the closest departure point to the Great Barrier Reef and therefore provides the perfect home base to head out and explore, whether that be through snorkelling, scuba diving or jumping on a glass bottom boat. The Low Isles are just 30 minutes from the Port Douglas marina, however, a number of tour operators are located in the town who can take you out on half or full day tours. If time permits, although we highly recommend slotting in time for this, make sure to take a trip along the Great Barrier Reef Drive which hugs the coastline and offers 140km of beautiful and jaw dropping scenery.
The coastal resort town of Port Douglas is home to the oldest tropical rainforest in the world; the Daintree Rainforest. It is estimated the rainforest is over 180 million years old and 1200 square kilometres in size, so it is no surprise that there is a plethora of diverse flora and fauna to explore. The overwhelming grandeur of the rainforest can be better understood by taking part in a guided tour with a local Kaku Yalanji Aboriginal guide. The tour highlights the beautiful connection the local people have with the rainforest and gives you access to hidden gems such as the Mossman Gorge – an emerald pool of large mossy boulders. Keep a look out for the Ulysses butterfly with its notable blue and black wings. Exploring the Daintree Rainforest is your chance to be still and reconnect with nature in an area which is completely untouched by urban development and the modern world.
Four Mile Beach
Port Douglas is the epitome of natural beauty and the tranquil stretch of coastline at Four Mile Beach is just one vista fighting for first place. The golden sand, palm tree lined shoreline and azure waters are juxtaposed against the tropical rainforest and hilly terrain making it the perfect escape from the hustle of the town centre. As the name suggests, there is plenty of shore for you to set up for a day of swimming and relaxing with lifeguard patrolled areas located at the northern end of the beach. While you are at this end, the Flagstaff Hill lookout provides the ultimate panoramic view of the beach, the Coral Sea, the Low Isles and the Daintree Rainforest. To place the cherry on top, Four Mile Beach is also offering the best seat in Port Douglas to watch the sunrise or sunset with the water reflecting vibrant shades of red, orange and yellow.
Cape Tribulation is the place where two World Heritage Sites meet: the Daintree Rainforest and the Great Barrier Reef. This should be enough appeal to motivate any person to explore the lengths of Cape Tribulation, regardless of the fact that both locations are teeming with vibrant plant and animal life and that the Great Barrier Reef can be seen from space. While Cape Tribulation was once known as the place where James Cook’s troubles began, it is now more synonymous with relaxation and gentle exploration. In this region located north of Port Douglas, a worthwhile thing to do includes the 45-minute hike to the lookout at Cape Tribulation beach.
Peppers Beach Club
In a town which is seriously competitive in the luxury accommodation field, Peppers Beach Club is leading the race mainly due to its ability to make all visitors feel welcome and prioritised. Only a short walk away from Four Mile Beach with premium access, Peppers has perfectly manicured gardens, a large central swimming pool and an exclusive day spa. This means you can spend the day at the spa and relaxing by the pool before heading down to the beach for a beautiful Port Douglas sunset. The accommodation begins at $380 in low season which is perfect considering the luxury on offer and the service from staff makes you feel like a million bucks.
Peppers Beach Club – 20-22 Davidson St, Port Douglas, QLD 4877
Silky Oaks Lodge
The Silky Oaks Lodge is located a 20-minute drive away from Port Douglas, in a sublime position above the Mossman River. The luxury eco-lodge is perched up high amongst the Daintree Rainforest which gives anyone staying at this accommodation a resounding sense of isolation. The experience at Silky Oaks Lodge is very tranquil and the only sounds you will hear are the calming tunes of the birds in the trees and the river gently lapping against the banks down below. The accommodation is based in treehouses which have large balconies with hammocks and optimal views over the Daintree Rainforest and private spa baths. The dining area in the Treehouse Restaurant is located in an open-air balcony and provides another engaging viewing spot. Every inch of the Silky Oaks Lodge is beautiful and exudes luxury in an immersive rainforest location.
Silky Oaks Lodge, Finlayvale Rd, Mossman, QLD 4873
Thala Beach Nature Reserve
Port Douglas certainly hits the nail on the head when it comes to luxury- and eco-accommodation, and the Thala Beach Nature Reserve is definitely no exception. The venue spans over an approximate 145 acres and was granted exclusive membership to the National Geographic’s ‘Unique Lodges of the World’ for its sustainable and environmental practices. The bungalows at Thala Beach are positioned perfectly so that those staying can be rewarded with beautiful views across the Great Barrier Reef and the Daintree Rainforest. Located on a private headland, Thala Beach Nature Reserve is the perfect combination of luxury, seclusion and untouched natural beauty.
Thala Beach Nature Reserve – 5078 Captain Cook Hwy, Oak Beach, QLD 4877