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Bucket list destination:

Port Douglas

  • Port Douglas, Queensland, Australia

Last updated: 23 February, 2023
Expert travel writer: Mark Chipperfield

Tropical North Queensland is a global eco-tourism hotspot, blessed with two of the world’s greatest natural wonders: the Great Barrier Reef and the ancient rainforests of the World Heritage-listed Daintree National Park.

While most tourists looking to experience them head for backpacker-central Cairns, those looking for a more upscale, genteel base could no better than Port Douglas, Queensland’s smartest beach destination. The swanky, cosmopolitan town is home to upscale restaurants and shops, spas, swish hotels and a yacht-filled marina, and has increasingly become both a culinary and wellness destination.

It’s the ideal base from which to explore both reef and rainforest. It’s also a great place to experience and appreciate indigenous Aboriginal culture. The local Kuku Yalanji people have lived in the Daintree area for over 50,000 years and offer excellent and authentic guided forest walks, art classes and food gathering excursions.


The main thoroughfare in this former frontier town of about 4,000 residents is Macrossan Street, packed with stylish cafés, restaurants and boutiques. The marina is home to some of the world’s most expensive pleasure craft.

The Daintree National Park (about 20 minutes’ drive) and Cape Tribulation are to the north, while the Great Barrier Reef (and its most popular dive spots) is about 75 nautical miles off the coast – approximately 90 minutes’ travelling time by boat.

Tours, tickets & transfers


Our selection of the best Viator tours of this destination, plus helpful tickets and transfers

Airport Transfers between Cairns Airport and Port Douglas

  • Port Douglas

Exemplar is renowned in the region as the expert in airport transfers. Since 1993 we have offered award winning services across a range of services. All budgets are catered for. Seat in Coach is our shared service and popular with families, couples, backpackers and the cost conscious traveller. We also offer a several Private Transfer options. These range from limousines, seven seater People Movers to the larger 20 seaters and our Silver Service for that very special occasion. Our customer service is renowned and highly regarded, with many trying to imitate, but none able to replicate.We know that what ever service you book with Exemplar you won't be disappointed,

Price A$52

Min age 0

Rating 4.51 / 5 [120 ratings]

Tour supplied by:

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Port Douglas Scenic Flights

  • Port Douglas

The 30min and 45min flight showcase the magic of the Great Barrier Reef. Departing over Port Douglas and 4 Mile Beach, other highlights include sights of Snapper Island, Cape Tribulation and the Daintree Rainforest in the distance. Be treated to a picture-postcard view of Low Isles and flying low over Batt Reef there are opportunities to spot stingrays, manta rays, turtles, sharks, dugongs (many at Batt Reef), dolphins and even whales in the winter months! For those looking to make the most of their time in Port Douglas why not extend your flight to a 60-minute reef and rainforest scenic. Departing over Port Douglas and 4 Mile Beach, first enjoy sights of Rainforest over the town of Mossman and Mossman Gorge, followed by the Daintree River mouth, Cape Kimberley and past Snapper Island with views of Cow Bay and Cape Tribulation. The flight concludes with breathtaking views of Low Isles & the Reef.

Price A$399

Min age 0

Rating 4.84 / 5 [32 ratings]

Tour supplied by:

Viator Logo
Website >

Travel advice

When to go

Port Douglas is a year-round destination; temperatures vary only slightly between seasons.

The wet season (December to February) is hot and humid, with the highest rainfall plus the occasional thunderstorm and cyclone warning, but it’s quieter. November to May is also the so-called ‘stinger season’, when deadly box jellyfish congregate in the coastal waters. However, unless you specifically want to swim in the sea, this won’t impact your trip.

Winter (June-August), the dry season, is the best time weather-wise and jellyfish-wise, but if you can, avoid the main Australian school holidays (especially the winter vacation, from late June to early July) when accommodation is at a premium across Queensland – from the Gold Coast to Port Douglas – and when the resort is busiest.

Spring and Autumn are the best times, with clement weather without the crowds.

Getting there and away

Cairns is the major regional airport, with regular flights from most major Australian cities and some international flights from South – East Asia. There are frequent shuttle buses between Cairns and Port Douglas (approximately 1hr), or you can hire a private shuttle (it’s usually a group price). The smarter hotels provide their own airport transfer service. Your other option is to hire a car.

Getting around

Port Douglas is small enough to walk or cycle around. You will only need a car if you want to venture north to the Daintree National Park, Cape Tribulation or Cooktown – though if you book on organised tours (recommended) they’ll pick you up and drop you off from your accommodation in Port Douglas.

Where to eat or drink

Don’t leave without trying local specialties mud crab (from the local mangroves) and barramundi (delicious and firm white fish). The local coffee is also surprisingly good.

Health & Safety