Your guide to Port Douglas

The first time we stepped foot in Port Douglas, it brought back fond memories of a Spanish holiday town I had once been to as a child. Sunshine, music, colourful buildings, quirky cafes, bustling markets and sandy beaches, I can see the attraction it has on people. Port Douglas was unfamiliar territory, little did we know that we would become quite the regular visitors. 

Port Douglas is just a 40 minute drive or so from our home in the Daintree Rainforest. As you may already know, we like to escape on our days off and the first place you should look for us is usually here. Every time we’ve visited, it’s always been different. Our goal is to always experience something new, something that we might not have known even existed. Lucky for you, I am going to share my guide to Port Douglas, so that you can make the most of it when you go!

I will start with the obvious, Four Mile Beach. Any beach further north of Port Douglas for me is a complete NO GO for beach swimming. The risk of crocodiles is way way too high. Here, you have four miles of white sand, lined on one side with tropical coconut palms and the other, the Great Barrier Reef. Lifeguards on duty and a sea net out to prevent the crocs, jellies and sharks (not much to worry about then) makes me feel ever so slightly safer. I don’t only enjoy Four Mile Beach for the beach swimming, I enjoy it for the walking. My suggestion take a sunrise or sunset stroll down the beach, there is something so calming about it. Avoid the popular tourist spot and head down about 1km, and you will most likely find that you have it all to yourself. I mean just look… If you didn’t already know, I enjoy walking. Always have and probably always will. I’m that person that is a right ass on public transport and will walk absolutely everywhere I can to save the pennies. Any other tight asses out there? I’m going off on a tangent now but seriously, if you’re like me and you like too walk, then take yourself up to Flagstaff Hill Lookout. Probably, in fact, THE BEST possible views in all of Port Douglas. Free of charge. It will be here that you will really appreciate how and why Four Mile Beach got its name.I do love walking, but not as much as I love shopping. If you fancy treating yourself to  boutique shopping, then Port Douglas is the haven you need. Not everyone will agree, but I reckon most of you would stand by my side in saying retail therapy is good, but even better when in another country?! Tahitian Lime, Aloha Lucy, and Ahoy Trader are just a few of my weaknesses I have discovered in Port Douglas.  I have to tell you though, I’m pretty darn proud of myself for not shopping too much this last year. It could have been a lot worse but oh the annoying  limitations of a backpack. Be aware, shopping is an activity in this blog post that is not one of my free suggestions, it involves money, sometimes lots of it…

If you are yet to fulfil your shopping needs, wants and desires then just hang about in Port Douglas until the weekend for the Sunday Markets. The first time we visited Port was on a Sunday and considering we are in Far North Queensland (somewhere that is never very busy) it was busy. Remember I said it reminded me of a Spanish holiday town, well I think it was the market vibes that gave me this impression. Typically, the markets do hold a lot of toot and tat, but it is definitely worth having a wander around, even if you don’t buy anything. Like I say to myself, there is no harm in looking.

On any other day, apart from Sunday Port Douglas is noticeably quieter. Mid week days are the perfect opportunity to visit Rex Smeal Park and the Sugar Wharf. Two stunning and very ‘instragrammable’ locations. I didn’t quite see the beauty of them at first due to it being a Sunday and the markets had taken over, but just a few weeks ago, we went back for a second time and had the place to ourselves. How we hadn’t thought of going back sooner baffles me. It was beautiful, and again free of charge.Next up, I have something a little different you might enjoy – Port Douglas Escape Room. The escape room phenomenon that has taken the world by storm is incredible – like seriously, what an awesome invention! I knew how popular they were in major cities but I had no idea we would find one in Port Douglas. I had never found myself in an escape room before, Farley had, in London, and although this meant he was more experienced than me, I was still doubting my decision to enter a locked room with him that we had to try and get out by solving puzzles in just 60 minutes. It could only end in a disaster right?

We were told not to remove anything from the walls. 1 minute in, what was the first thing Farley did…removed the clock from the wall. 59 minutes to go! It was really good fun and we managed to escape in 52 minutes 38 seconds and no more clocks were removed. For only $39 per person, it is well worth the money for the laughter you will have. Go and have a go, see if you can beat our record, test yourself, and of course test your relationship.After you’ve escaped (if you escape), I know the perfect place for a dip. Just under a 20 minutes drive from Macrossan Street, you will find Shannonvale’s swimming hole. A natural swimming hole in the heart of the rainforest jungle with a swing that reminds me of something from a fairytale. I promise you no crocs. Just see for yourself… and guess what it’s free!Another hot spot for instagram and if you want to go crazy for coconuts is Thala Beach Nature Reserve. You will find the infinite amount of palm trees just a 15 minutes drive outside of Port Douglas on your way back to Cairns. Anyone would have thought we’d just discovered gold when we found this place. Palm trees for days! Just don’t get too close to underneath the coconuts, they might drop off onto your head!  I don’t know how you feel now, but telling you about all these activities have made me hungry. Port Douglas is not short of places to Eat and Drink. I won’t sit here and name every single restaurant, bar and cafe we’ve explored, otherwise we could be here a while. Instead, I will treat you to my favourites for breakfast, lunch and dinner.

Breakfast at Choo Choo’s in St Crispin’s. Not only is the food DELICIOUS, but the views over the lake and golf course are crazy beautiful. I enjoy dining at Choo Choo’s for breakfast, lunch and tapas but brekky is my all time fav. Brunch at Cafe Fresq. Ok, I love this place for breakfast and lunch so I guess you could say the best time to go is bang in the middle of both for brunch! Who doesn’t love brunch? Brunch is the best. I have eaten at Cafe Fresq many many times and have never been disappointed. Their smoothies are the one!

Lunch at The Court House Hotel. Located on the corner of Macrossan Street, The Court House Hotel is the place to be for awesome food, awesome service, awesome cocktails and awesome live entertainment! It’s worth going for dinner too! The Tree Bar & Bistro at Ramada Resort is another favourite lunch spot for us. Yummy lunch, followed by an afternoon of relaxing by the pool is one of our favourite past times. Secret confession… Farley and I enjoy going to lunch in these fancy hotels, pretending we are guests, so that we can use the pool facilities after… It makes us feel like we are on holiday 24/7. We do ask permission from the hotel first and 9 times out of 10 they are absolutely fine with it.

Dinner at Hemingway’s Brewery. We have only just discovered this gem recently. It was another “how on earth have we only just found out about this place now?!” moment. We ended up here after work one evening after Farley drank the boss’s beer that was given to her by Hemingways Brewery. When we arrived we decided to stay a little while. The brewery overlooks the marina and I can guarantee you that it is the best seat in the house for sunset. Nothing beats good food, local beer, live music and one heck of an atmosphere. Just go see for yourself!! There you have my favourite experiences in Port Douglas, which I hope will help if you ever find yourself visiting. There are still plenty of things that I am yet to discover for myself, like a sailing trip to the low isles and outer reef, or breakfast with the lorikeets at Wildlife Habitat. We still have a few weeks left in Australia, who knows what could happen between now and then!

Signing off now, it’s dinner time.

See you soon,

Steph

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Author: Stephanie Johnson

Life is too short to say no to experiences you have always dreamed of. The goal is to travel to every country in this world and take you with me ✈️🗺

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