Luxury Escapes

Luxury Escapes Guide to Port Douglas

The laidback town of Port Douglas is your gateway to Tropical North Queensland, where the sounds of the rainforest meet the wonders of the reef.

A longtime Australian holiday favourite and launchpad to the wonders of Tropical North Queensland, Port Douglas radiates relaxed coastal sophistication.

The tropical town finds itself at the privileged intersection of the Great Barrier Reef (which stretches from Cairns to Cape Tribulation) and the Daintree Rainforest – the only place in the world where two UNESCO World Heritage sites meet.

High-end resorts host visitors who flock to Port Douglas for the wealth of activities on land and sea. A day must be dedicated to visiting Mossman Gorge and swimming in the wild – healing for your body, mind and soul.

Macrossan Street is the heartbeat of town and home to over 60 places to drink and dine. Whether you’re a seafood aficionado or crave flavours from around the globe, there are plenty of spots that satisfy. Restaurants are blessed with produce from one of the most plethoric and biodiverse food regions in the country, spoiled with everything from wild prawns to sun-kissed mangoes.

The ever-popular Four Mile Beach appears to stretch further than its name suggests, bringing holidaymakers together for sunbathing, safe swimming and a cool sea breeze. Rise early and join one of the many tour groups heading for the rainforest or make for the marina, where countless cruise ships sit waiting to host your Great Barrier Reef adventure.

Please note that due to current restrictions some operators may be temporarily closed. Check their websites for the most up-to-date information. Landing Page Sponsor TNQ

Featured escape

Things to see and do

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Revel in the Great Barrier Reef

A trip to Port Douglas is incomplete without experiencing the glories of the Great Barrier Reef. Sailaway is an industry leader in eco-friendly sailing trips and runs a full-day snorkelling tour, led by its passionate marine biologists. Jump off a catamaran to explore the Outer Reef or Low Isles, snorkelling through unimaginable coral compositions, which enormous clams, green turtles, manta rays and a sensational number of reef fish call home. Enjoy morning tea and a tropical buffet as part of your adventure. Sailaway’s Sunset Cruise is a luxurious experience, on a first-class catamaran, which takes small groups of guests over the stunning Coral Sea and along the coastline of Port Douglas – with a side of drinks and canapés, of course.

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Explore the Daintree Rainforest with Walkabout Cultural Adventures

There are countless opportunities to enjoy the wonders of the Daintree Rainforest, but Walkabout Cultural Adventures – 100 percent owned and run by local Indigenous guides – is one of the best ways to learn about its ecosystem and history. The company runs both half and full-day tours through rainforest and coastal habitats, explaining how connected Kuku Yalanji people are to the land. Learn about the cultural significance, array of wildlife, natural medicines and native foods of the area. You can also visit Mossman town’s celebrated markets, cruise down the Mossman River and even try spear and boomerang throwing if you’re up for a challenge.

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Explore Mossman Gorge

Ancient Mossman Gorge, nestled in the 180 million-year-old Daintree Rainforest, is a must-see in this part of the world. Start a visit by walking a track that surrounds the gorge, either the easy River Circuit Track (400-metre return) or the Rainforest Circuit Track (2.7 kilometres return). To understand its history more deeply, join a Ngadiku Dreamtime Walk, hosted by local Indigenous guides. Learn about the thriving ecosystem here and listen to Dreamtime stories of the world’s oldest rainforest. Then, take some time to rejuvenate in the refreshing waters of Mossman Gorge itself.

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Seaside rejuvenation at Four Mile Beach

Palm-fringed Four Mile Beach is one of the most iconic scenes in Queensland. Warm, crystalline waters gently kiss the golden shores, making this a popular place to swim the day away, get lost in a book or scout rockpool life at the northern headlands. You could start the day here with a morning stroll and wind it down as the sun sets into the ocean, or visit Trinity Bay Lookout for a bird’s eye perspective of its beauty. Four Mile Beach is netted during stinger season, so swim within the designated area to keep safe.

Sunset picnic at Rex Smeal Park

Rex Smeal Park is perched on Port Douglas’ peninsula and is a firm favourite when it comes to picnic spots. As the sun sets and the tropics prepare to rest, pack a picnic full of the town’s sensational produce or pick up some local fish and chips to enjoy as you look out to the Coral Sea, Low Isles and Daintree mountain ranges in the distance. Little ones can enjoy the park’s playground, and there’s plenty of space for a game of footy, soccer or cricket on the lawns.

Pick up local treasures at the markets

Port Douglas proves strong on the shopping front, from luxury designer wear to handmade treasures. Head down to the Port Douglas Markets every Sunday to acquaint yourself with local products. In 1998, the council declared it a ‘cotters market’, meaning everything for sale is made by the stallholder. Punters will find handmade jewellery, a bounty of tropical fruits and artworks for sale. For a culinary shopping spree, visit the Mossman Community Markets on Saturdays, renowned for incredibly fresh produce and delectable baked goods.

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Cane toad racing at Iron Bar

From 8pm every night, Iron Bar in the heart of town hosts its famed cane toad races. The legendary, saloon-style venue attracts curious visitors from far and wide to watch the sporting event, unique to the East Coast of Australia. How does it work exactly? Cane toads are placed into a ring, each with a designated jockey, i.e. the bar’s patrons. Jockeys use party blowers to encourage toads to move or jump – the toad that reaches the edge of the run first wins.

Go river drift snorkelling on Mossman River

Back Country Bliss Adventures’ river drift snorkelling tour takes small groups out on a water-based adventure, gliding down the rainforest’s Mossman River on inflatable bodyboards. Look above and you’ll see ferns shading you or dive underwater to play hide and seek with cheeky fish that dart in and out of the river stones. If you’re lucky, a green turtle or a platypus may peacefully pass by. This family-friendly activity for confident swimmers also takes the heat off during the warmer months.

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Visit Janbal Gallery art workshop

Gallery artist-owner Brian "Binna" Swindley runs the Mossman-based Janbal Gallery workshops, teaching students – from beginner level to pro – about Indigenous art history and how to tell stories through dot painting. Simply select your object of choice, either a canvas or boomerang, listen in and let your mind do the rest. Depending on the season, Binna may teach you how to use plants for painting, including Black Palm (Duwar), Soap Tree (Karrandal) and Mat Rash (Jilngan), all of which are grown on site at the gallery.

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Cape Trib Horse Rides

The experienced guides at Cape Trib Horse Rides have the pleasure of hosting trail rides that commence in the rainforest and end on the beach. A guide will pair you with a trusty steed suited to your level of horse riding experience and needs. Following a briefing at the start of the tour, sit back in the saddle and take in the wilderness, trailing through the rainforest (be sure to keep your eyes peeled for wildlife) before coming out onto the shores of Myall Beach and riding through the ocean's shallow waters.

Top places to eat and drink

Hemingway's Brewery

Craft beer aficionados need to look no further than Hemingway’s. The award-winning brewery, situated in Crystalbrook Superyacht Marina, is a heralded drinking hole in Port Douglas. Lounge back with your beer of choice – all of which are brewed using water from Mossman Gorge – and take in the ocean backdrop. If you’re stumped on what to order, consider the 7th Heaven Tropical Ale. If Port Douglas were a drink, it would be this, with hints of pineapple and citrus shining through.


Set atop a timber boardwalk, overlooking Dickson Inlet, Barbados invites you to pull up a chair under an umbrella or in the lively interior and delve into the world of rum. Barbados’ tiki cocktails draw upon an extensive rum list – most of which come from the Caribbean – and feature fun concoctions such as the Coconut Sour with Bacardi Carta Blanca rum and Malibu and the Caribbean Mojito with house-infused Bacardi Oro rum and ginger beer. Enjoy with a selection of small plates, an antipasto platter or some fresh seafood as you sip away and glance out at the Daintree in the distance.

Salsa Bar & Grill

For over 25 years, Salsa Bar & Grill has represented the flavours of the world on its plates. Head Chef Goran Zonai, who holds an international masters in cookery, is at the helm. His multicultural team transforms local produce into elegant dishes, making for a diverse menu featuring unique dishes such as eye fillet carpaccio and sand crab dumplings with a pickled green paw paw salad. Pair your meal with a drop from Australia or New Zealand and you’re set. Located right on the waterfront, Salsa Bar & Grill lets you enjoy your meal as fresh air from the louvred windows floods in.

Sassi La Cucina + Bar

Fried whitebait, salmon carpaccio, mussels in white wine – if your tastebuds call for classic Italian cuisine with a fresh seafood twist, consider Sassi La Cucina + Bar. he menu is also well equipped for families, with pasta, risotto, seafood and meat dishes covering an array of dietary requirements. Diners can even order pasta dishes in smaller sizes to enable easy sharing and cater for smaller appetites. Leave room for dessert – the basil gelato, tiramisu with dark chocolate sorbet and mango crème brûlée are highlights.

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A flame-lit path leads the way to Watergate, a sophisticated yet laid-back setting surrounded by tropical greenery. This casual fine diner serves a spread of modern Australian dishes and isn't shy about flaunting regional produce such as fresh fish, meats and locally made cheeses. Think kangaroo loin with beetroot and goats’ cheese arancini, sauteed greens and sesame-crusted yellowfin tuna with pilaf and crab sauce. There's a dedicated vegetarian menu, too and an impressive wine list that focuses heavily on Australia and New Zealand.

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Sparrow Coffee Co

Sparrow focuses on one thing and making sure it’s mastered – coffee. Serving delicious, fresh-roasted Allpress coffee, this cute hole-in-the-wall has quickly become a go-to for holidaymakers thanks to its close attention to detail and friendly service. Whether you're up for a latte or Guatemalan cold brew, there’s something to satisfy every craving. There’s also a small range of tea on offer, as well as chai and hot chocolate if you’ve exceeded the day’s caffeine quota. Pick one up before a stroll down Four Mile Beach.

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Melaleuca is a 2020 newcomer, run by award-winning chef Adam Ion and wife Namhee – who hail from Scotland and Korea respectively. Together, their backgrounds make for an exciting food offering, including the likes of slow-cooked bungalow pork belly with a Vietnamese dressing, 12-hour cooked beef cheek with creamed potatoes, roasted shallots and glazed baby carrots, and oven-roasted Moreton Bay Bugs in a Thai coconut curry broth. Find a seat outdoors to enjoy a meal under a canopy of mango trees.

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Nautilus Restaurant

If you want to push the boat out so to speak, head to maritime-inspired Nautilus. A hidden pathway just off Macrossan Street leads the way to a grand open-air restaurant set in an oasis of palm trees and tropical vegetation. There are two degustation menus at Nautilus, with both the five and seven-plate options serving up modern Australian brilliance. The restaurant, which is now over 60 years old, has served its fair share of big names including the Clintons, David Bowie and Gough Whitlam.

Harrisons by Spencer Patrick

Gracing the Sheraton Grand Mirage Port Douglas Resort is contemporary British restaurant Harrisons by Spencer Patrick, a chandelier-clad dining room glamorously overlooking the resort’s flawless lagoon. The all-day restaurant flaunts some of the region’s best seafood, whether it’s barramundi with celeriac and native apples or lime-cured reef fish with coconut and green chilli. Head here if you’re celebrating a special occasion or for Apero hour from 4pm to 6pm. Score happy hour cocktails, beers and snacks, including crispy pigs’ ears and apple – a great accompaniment to the drinks menu.

A sunset picnic catered by Magic Mouthfuls

Picnics are more memorable with a luxe hamper from Magic Mouthfuls, a boutique catering and events company that fills its baskets with the flavours of Asia and the Mediterranean. Hampers are designed to be enjoyed outdoors, perhaps on the beach or in one of Port Douglas’ many green pockets. A typical selection for two features charcuterie, cheeses, noodle bowls, salads and dessert jars filled with sweet treats like cheesecake and lemon meringue pie. Plates, cutlery, napkins and glassware are included and you can get in touch to curate a bespoke hamper for a special occasion.

Lux moments

Treat yourself at Vie Spa

A whole new dimension of relaxation is found at Vie Spa, part of the Pullman Port Douglas Sea Temple Resort. This rejuvenating sanctuary offers a vast range of beauty and body treatments, from whole-body scrubs and bath soaks to hot stone massages. Couples packages are also available for those seeking romance. Feel like a little bit of everything? Look towards the Soothing Ritual, designed to rejuvenate the entire body, combining a full body massage, signature facial and scalp treatment.

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Fly high on a helicopter tour

Admire Port Douglas and its neighbours on an unforgettable helicopter tour. The Undine Cay Getaway by Nautilus Aviation is an exclusive experience that soars over the incredible coral reefs before landing on Undine Cay – a spotless, white-sand cay in the middle of the reef. Soak up the sun or snorkel straight off the cay to discover the otherworldly magic that lies underwater. Head back onshore for a gourmet picnic served with sparkling wine. If you’re more intrigued by what lies inland, helicopter tours are also available over Mossman Gorge and the Daintree Rainforest.

White-water rafting in Barron Gorge

For serious thrill factor, be enveloped in a cloud of mist as falls thunder spectacularly down Barron Gorge with a two-hour white-water rafting experience. This once-in-a-lifetime tour invites you to tumble endlessly over water-sculpted rocks, through the narrow gorge walls and see the rugged beauty of the rainforest from an utterly unique perspective. If this is your first-time water rafting, you will be well-catered for with return transfers from Port Douglas, the services of professional river guides, shoe hire and Barron Gorge National Park entry.

Tailor your escape to Port Douglas

Immerse yourself in Port Douglas with Luxury Escapes’ hand-picked Experiences. We’ve curated a selection of cultural activities, adrenaline thrills, food adventures and luxury add-ons to help you discover your destination. These Experiences are bookable when you purchase your next escape. Simply select your travel dates and number of travellers for any package, and opt to tailor your escape by selecting the available Experiences.