About an hour’s drive north from Cairns is the quiet town of Port Douglas. Although its foundations are as a resort destination, there are some brilliant budget accommodation options as well. Its location is perfect for access to the reef and the rainforest and it sits next to the beautiful Four Mile Beach, which makes it a good alternative to Cairns if you are looking for something a little more laid-back. Port Douglas town is a short string of shops and restaurants with plenty of alfresco cafés and juice bars. It is quaint and inviting, albeit pricier than Cairns. Tour operators abound here and you have quicker access to the Low Isles of the Great Barrier Reef, Cape Tribulation and the Daintree Rainforest. It is a very popular place to take a dive course, and there are several reputable companies offering four-day PADI certifications.
23 Macrossan Street, Port Douglas
Tel (07) 4099 5599
Coral Reef Coaches (tel (07) 4098 2600) operate buses that run between Port Douglas and Cairns, Cairns Airport, Cape Tribulation, Cooktown and Mossman. Buses depart from the end of Dixie Street.
111 Davidson Street, Port Douglas
Tel (07) 4099 6047
37-39 Warner Street, Port Douglas
Tel (07) 4099 5011 or 1800 995 011
7 Craven Close, Port Douglas
Tel (07) 4099 5422 or 1800 892 800
This small museum in Port Douglas’s old courthouse has exhibits on local history.
Wharf Street, Port Douglas
Tel (07) 4099 4635
Open Tue, Thu & Sat-Sun 10am-3pm
Rainforest Habitat is an enclosed animal park in a rainforest setting, featuring 1600 animals and 180 different species.
Corner Port Douglas Road & Captain Cook Highway, Port Douglas
Tel (07) 4099 3235
Open 8am-5.30pm daily (last entry 4.30pm)
You can learn to dive in Port Douglas, but it is more expensive than Cairns.
1/18 Macrossan Street, Port Douglas
Tel (07) 4099 6880
Open water dive course $750
Several companies run trips to the outer Barrier Reef from Port Douglas, including:
Marina Mirage, Port Douglas
Tel (07) 4099 5050
Snorkelling day trip $157; introductory dive trip $219; certified dive trip $209-244
2/38 Wharf Street, Port Douglas
Tel (07) 4099 5031
Snorkelling day trip $180