Top Things to Do in Port Douglas, Queensland, Australia
Featured destinations: Australia, Cairns
Published 30 March 2016
Tucked cosily between the world’s oldest rainforest and miles of pristine shoreline is the quaint and rather tropical Port Douglas. Close to many of Queensland’s historical nature spots, including the Great Barrier Reef, the town is a picturesque alternative to the very-much urbanised Cairns.
Here is a rundown of my favourite natural points of interest, World Heritage sights and things to do in Port Douglas.
Snorkelling at the Great Barrier Reef
This natural wonder of the world needs no introduction really! And a trip to Queensland would not be complete without visiting this vibrant Unesco World Heritage site. As the world’s largest coral reef, you can snorkel among its exotic rainbow of underwater reefs and coral cays, while at the same time spot the equally as diverse marine-life, that call the vast eco-system their home.
I literally felt like I was in my own version of Finding Nemo.
I had the chance to do this on Green Island, where I was lucky enough to swim among the illuminated stingrays, genteel turtles and even a friendly reef shark. I literally felt like I was in my own version of Finding Nemo. It was a truly memorable experience that has left me wanting to do it again and again. Also the deeper I snorkelled out, the brighter and more vivid the sea-life looked. The great thing about snorkelling at Green Island was that it is fairly shallow until quite far out; so if you are not too confident or experienced, this shouldn’t be an issue.
I did my trip with Big Cat Cruises who provided all my snorkel gear, refreshments and a glass bottom boat tour. This was a fantastic experience as you go even further afield and get to see a wider range of aquatic flora and fauna.
Hartley’s Crocodile Adventure
The highlight of my entire trip was definitely this award-winning eco-attraction! Take a boat cruise along the lagoon and see giant crocodiles in their natural surroundings. Get your perfect snap shots too as the tour guides bravely dangle large fish heads to the reptilian beasts, who will vertically leap feet in the air to catch their grub.
Elsewhere in the park, you can enjoy the various different trails, farms and a walk-through aviary, housing many of Australia’s native creatures including kangaroos, koalas, cassowaries and more. You can also feed the friendly animals as well as learn a bit more from interactive and entertaining daily shows. A must-see is the crocodile attack show, where the adrenaline junkie keepers get in the water with the crocs and show you exactly how crocodiles hunt their prey!
Take a stroll through the world’s oldest rainforest and the largest that Australia has to offer. Feel immersed in nature as you get lost among the towering ancient trees and rare plants that inhabit this vast and consuming place of natural beauty; that actually stretches out all the way to the ocean.
And, if you’re lucky – and rather quiet – you might be able to spot the bats, bugs, birds and frogs that call the Daintree home. While there are thousands of native species living on-site, they tend to be pretty agile when it comes to gawking visitors; making spotting something that ever the more poignant. A visit to this Wet Tropics Heritage site couldn’t be made more accessible too as the attraction is equipped with bridges and platforms so you can get closer to the intricacies of this awe-inspiring wonder, while not interrupting your experience or seeming out of place at the same time.
Relax along the miles of clear white sand and crystal blue waters that make up Cape Tribulation’s stunning deserted coastline. Just watch out for the crocodiles, which can be found lurking further out! Located inside the Daintree Rainforest, take in the dramatic and contrasting views, as the rainforest literally meets the ocean here. Other than the wonderfully empty beaches, make sure you saunter through the peaceful mangroves and take a refreshing dip in one of the many creeks – obviously avoiding any that indicate crocodiles.
Another part of the idyllic Daintree, explore its breath-taking scenery filled with thousands of species of plants and animals. Take a dip in one of the many cool crystal clear streams and discover the rich history of one of Australia’s aboriginal communities, who have called the gorge’s surroundings home for generations. Take part in one of the Kuku Yalanji people’s Dreamtime Walks and hear fascinating stories about the land and culture as well as witness traditional rituals and performances.
Skyrail Rainforest Cableway
Soar above the rainforest in one of Australia’s most-loved attractions. While you may have already wandered through the Daintree at ground level, the Skyrail offers a unique take on the rainforest experience. For miles you will be able to fully appreciate the landscape and feel a lot more absorbed in the landscape. From on-high you will notice different smells, sounds and sights as well as fully comprehend the vastness and breadth of this ancient wonder.
The trip will include four stop offs, where you can visit the rainforest floor, mangroves, Barron Falls waterfall and bohemian village Kuranda. Known as the ‘village in the rainforest’, Kuranda was my favourite destination on the tour. Wander through its open air markets where dreadlocked hippies will be selling one-of-a-kind souvenirs including home-made chillies, jams, beauty products and more. As well as the most vibrant and colourful clothing, jewellery and accessories and beautiful handicrafts made from leather and wood. Browse the book stalls, get a portrait painted, admire the wonderful street art and get entertained by one of the many wandering buskers while you sample the deliciously diverse delicacies on offer all at the same time. As well as all of that, there are a number of cafes, restaurants wildlife sanctuaries, creative workshops and aboriginal performances to check out too. If you are limited on time and funds, I would urge you just to head up to this village by car, as it really won’t disappoint.
Like a lot of Australia, the best way to maximise your time and get around all of the attractions, is to hire a car. A lot of places can be far between due to the surrounding terrain and landscape. It will make for some beautifully scenic rides and get you access that you might not be able to get on foot.