Port Douglas Overview
Port Douglas is an iconic, unique and stylish tropical Australian destination developed in a similar manner to Noosa in the south east of Queensland. 'Port', as the locals call the town, lies about an hour north from Cairns.
Port Douglas is set on a promontory (the ocean to the east and a winding river to the west) with lush green tropical vegetation and the coconut palm lined white sands of the idyllic four mile beach.
A holiday here can comprise browsing chic boutiques and galleries, lazing, walking or mountain biking on the beach or if you prefer, taking a Great Barrier Reef tour or a trip to the Daintree and Cape Tribulation National Parks.
The unspoilt Four Mile Beach borders the town to the east and is one of 'Port's' main attractions. Thoughtful low rise housing and resort developments, built behind the fringing palm trees and minimal beachside construction gives this beautiful beach a timeless, pristine feel.
Although quite small and intimate, the Port Douglas is centred around the bustling Macrossan Street which is lined with accommodation, restaurants, cafes and bars. Here you can order take away fish and chips or if you prefer dine at a fine dining restaurant.
In recent years Port Douglas has grown substantially but thankfully it still retains its unique character which brings back visitors year after year.
Four Mile Beach
Four Mile Beach is one of the main attractions of visiting Port Douglas. The beach is thankfully largerly free of any development and is bordered by tropical trees, including coconut palms, which screen most of the signs of the twenty first century. Sympathetic planning has restricted any high rise development from being built close to the beach and this must be applauded.
Even at 6 am walkers, joggers and mountain bikers can be seen enjoying the beach. It is not surprising though as this beautiful beach has some stunning views down the coast and across to the distant mountains surrounding Cairns.
Various species of bird life can be seen at the beach; you may be lucky enough to spot Sea Eagles diving at the sea emerging with their prey.
Adjacent to Port Douglas, the beach gets set up with all the paraphernalia of a busy sea side town. Operators hire our sea kayaks, beach chairs and sun beds and at certain times life guards set up patrolled areas.
This part of the beach can become very busy but it does become less crowded the further south you go.
Four Mile beach has sections of stinger net protected beach for all year bathing .During Box Jelly Fish season from November to May, it is not advised to swim outside of net protected beaches.
Check the tide times as at high tide the beach can narrow to a thin strip near the tree line.
It can take over an hour to stroll the entire length of the beach but even a shorter walk or just relaxing on the sand will reward you.
An interesting market operates every sunday at Anzac Park, which is opposite the northern entrance to Macrossan Street.
The market is open from 8am to 12 noon and has a distinctly tropical feel.
You can buy tropical fruit and even drink sugar cane juice or coconut milk direct from a coconut husk (which is skillfully cleaved in front of you.)
Throughout the market, several performers and buskers entertain the crowds
You will be able to find some unique Australian souveniours art work, opals, crafts and produce here or alternatively indulge yourself with a water side massage which is enhanced by the sound of the lapping surf .
The quaint wooden Saint Mary's Church is located adjacent to Anzac Park. The church is a famous Port Douglas landmark and is a popular venue for weddings.
The Great Barrier Reef
Port Douglas is an ideal destination to visit the Great Barrier Reef.
Several companies are based at the Marina, ( located to the north west of the town) including Quicksilver which operate fast catamarans which sail to their own dedicated reef centres which are moored off Agincourt Reef.
The most popular option is to take a trip on the high speed catamarans which sail out to pontoons moored just off a reef system. You will be able to snorkel, scuba dive, take a tour in a glass bottomed boat or submersible.
Whatever you choose, a trip to the reef will be memorable experience
Port Douglas Marina
The Port Douglas Marina Mirage is located to the north west of the town on the mouth of the river as part of the main Mirage hotel development and offers a shopping arcade, water side restaurants, cafes and bars.
Several operators including the acclaimed Quicksilver, offer excursions to the Great Barrier Reef and you can also charter or hire boats from here.
Port Douglas Carnivale
The Port Douglas Carnivale is a week long event held towards the end of May and includes colourful night-time parades down Macrossan Street, live music, food and wine stalls, arts and crafts and family fun days on the beach etc.
Carnivale also loosely marks the start of the 'season' in Port Douglas.
The Daintree Forest is also accessible from Port Douglas and is home to over 20 % of all the bird, frog, reptile and butterfly species in Australia.
You will be able to take an organised tour or hire a 4WD (as the roads through the Daintree are not sealed). Cape Tribulation is also accessed via the Daintree Rainforest.
If you do not want to travel to the Daintree you can experience some of the wonders of the rainforest by a visit to The Rainforest Habitat which is located just a few Km from Port Douglas at the entrance to Port Douglas road
Where To Stay
Port Douglas has a wide range of accommodation from Back Packer hostels, camping sites to some of the most luxurious hotels and resorts in Australia (such as as the Sheraton Mirage )
For an extensive list of places to stay please visit our Port Douglas Accommodation page.
Port Douglas is located in FNQ (Far North Queensland) and has a geographical location of Latitude 16.5°S and Longitude of 145.4° E.
Port Douglas is located to the north of Cairns.
Driving To Port Douglas
Some Approx Driving Time/Distance
32Hrs From Sydney (2500Km)
36Hrs From Melbourne (2900Km) )
23Hrs From Brisbane (1800Km) )
1hr From Cairns (100Km) )
See Route and Distance Calculator for more driving times and routes.
Flying To Port Douglas
Cairns airport is the closest airport to Port Douglas. Both Virgin Blue and Jet Star have regular flights to Cairns.
Port Douglas is around an hour from Cairns along a beautiful stretch of the Cook Highway which offers scenic coastal views and passes several secluded bays including Ellis Beach, Oak Beach, Thala Beach and Pebbly Beach. This will not just be another boring airport transfer!
Macrossan Street is the heart and soul of Port Douglas and it is a stylish mix of bohemian cafes, pubs, fine dining restaurants, ice cream parlors, internet cafes, boutiques, spas, shops, galleries, tourist information centres, car - bike hire outlets and holiday accommodation.
As would be expected, there is a good range of eateries, some offering pavement side dining. These include take away's as well as indian, Thai, Chinese, modern Australian, Italian restaurants. Many of the hotels and resorts also have restaurants.
Here is just a selection of some of the many places to eat or take a pit stop.
The lively and fun Re: Hab serves excellent coffee which can be enjoyed whilst surfing the net, over a game of backgammon or just people watching if you sit outside at the quaint wooden bar.
Nautilus Restaurant is a must for a special celebration -it is discreetly tucked away off Macrossan Street beneath a canopy of trees and has known to been frequented by US Presidents and film stars.
At the northern end of Macrossan Street is the Bistro Three. This restaurant serves excellent food as well as operating a stylish bar.
There are several pubs including The Iron Bar which is easily spotted by its corrugated iron cladding and its quaint 'flintstone' style, rustic wooden furniture.
This pub has become something of an Australian Institution and has attracted a lot of national as well as international media coverage. The popular Iron Bar has a uniquely Australian heritage atmosphere and often has live music as well ,as cane toad racing.
The Sheraton Mirage Resort was constructed in the then sleepy, largely un developed Port Douglas by Christopher Skase in the late 1980's. This iconic and unashamedly luxurious resort has been a catalyst for the subsequent and continuing development of Port Douglas and is therefore an important part of the history and future of the town.
The resort is considered one of the finest in Australia and is set on acres of immaculately manicured grounds which include its famous golf course. Accommodation options include hotel style rooms next to the main hotel complex as well self contained villas set within the resort grounds.
Although the Mirage is set adjacent to Four Mile Beach, the discreet entrances are difficult to spot as the low rise hotel is built below and behind the tree line. .
The resort's hotel accommodation wings are surrounded by extensive lagoons style swimming pools some of which have their own sandy beaches, complete with beach umbrellas and sun loungers.
Unsurprisingly, the Mirage is popular for weddings and honeymoons, one of the reasons being the resorts quaint wedding chapel which overlooks the beach.
Port Douglas has a tropical climate, with a latitude of approximately 16.5 deg south.
Wet Season: November - May
Dry Season: June - October
During Box Jelly Fish season from November to May, it is not advised to swim outside of net protected beaches. Four Mile beach has sections of stinger net protected beach for all year bathing.
Approx Max Average Temperature
Deg C/ Deg F
Winter(June-Aug):25 / 76
Spring(Sep-Nov):28 / 82.5
Summer(Dec-Feb):30 / 86
Autumn(Mar-May):28 / 82.5
Approx Average Monthly Rainfall - mm