Oh, the places you’ll go! In Port Douglas and the Daintree, you’ll never be short of things to do here with the Great Barrier Reef, Daintree Rainforest, waterfalls, gorges and abundant natural beauty, and a treasure chest of tasty treats to keep you excited. But if you’re looking for a little inspiration, here are 50 unmissable tropical things to tick off the list.
1. Rev your engines and get a little mud under your wheels as you 4WD one of the most exciting off-road routes in Australia on the CREB track (check for opening – weather conditions can shut the track for safety).
2. Get gorge-ous at the Mossman Gorge. Go for a dip in her crystal clear, soul-refreshing waters, while discovering the cultural significance this spellbinding spot has to the Kuku Yalangi people of the region. Take a walk through the 160-million-year-old ancient rainforest along the established tracks, or soak up Aboriginal culture and experience Dreamtime stories on one of the Dreamtime Walks.
3. Missed out on Mardi Gras? Come join the festivities for Port Douglas Carnivale! This annual event traditionally kicks off the sugar harvesting season and is a weekend of events each May including a street parade, the Longest Lunch, sandcastle and kite flying competitions, and a tropic rock concert.
4. Wake up to the sun on your own private beach as you pitch your tent alongside the sand at Noah’s Beach, Cape Tribulation.
5. Swim with Crush and his mates as they cruise the EAC! Translation? Green sea turtles are in abundance up this way, and they aren’t shy! From Low Isles to Mackay Cay and everywhere in between, swimming alongside these gorgeous creatures makes for a magnificent experience with nature (and they love a camera!).
6. Tap into your inner salty seadog and get involved (or watch) the Port Douglas Race Week. This world class regatta is held over 5 days in May, celebrating sailing, food, and fun in the tropics.
7. Be casso-wary along the road in Cape Tribulation as you spot the southern cassowary on your travels. Bonus points if you spot Daddy-o with his baby chicks.
8. Take the time to visit Daintree Village, just 35km north of Port Douglas. Enjoy a homestyle Devonshire Tea from the cafe, explore plentiful local artworks, book a crocodile cruise or just soak in the serenity.
9. Ride horses along sandy beaches or tackle bushwalking trails through lush rainforest at Cape Tribulation, the only place in the world where two World Heritage areas meet.
10. Spread out that picnic blanket under the palms at Rex Smeal Park and watch the sun spread her fairyfloss coloured fingers over the Coral Sea and behind the majestic Daintree Mountains.
11. If you want to see crocs, head to Hartley’s Crocodile Adventures off the Captain Cook Highway at Wangetti. Prefer to see them in the wild? Solar Whisper in the Daintree almost guarantees showtime with The King.
12. Dive into the pristine waters of Mackay and Undine Reefs to see a kaleidoscope of coral and marine life.
13. Rack up all the romantic brownie points and chopper out to your very own private sand cay for a perfectly catered champagne picnic.
14. Get up close and personal with cuddly critters and observe a huge range of flora and fauna at the Wildlife Habitat in Port Douglas.
15. Go waterfall hopping along some beautiful walks and waterholes including Spring Creek Falls, Mowbray Falls and Cassowary Falls. Many can be done with or without hiking guides.
16. Drift down Mossman River under the rainforest canopy with no other sound other than the lapping of water and the soundtrack of Mother Nature filling your ears. Follow that with a fresh water snorkel and you've got yourself an adventure.
17. Take a walk among the treetops of the world’s most ancient rainforest at the Daintree Discovery Centre.
18. Fancy yourself an athlete? The IronMan 70.3 is one of the most gruelling races on the fitspo calendar – 3.8km swim, 180km bike ride and a casual 42.2km run through some of the most picturesque landscapes in the region. For the spectators, watching these feats of endurance from the sidelines is an experience itself.
19. Enjoy the short walks and lookouts of Cape Tribulation Boardwalks.
20. Learn to kite surf around Snapper Island with Windswell Kite Surf & SUP Tours. And when you’re done with that, grab your snorkel and fins and explore the Great Barrier Reef around this deserted island.
21. Stroll back through time as you grab a map from the Douglas Shire Historical Society and follow the walks through Port Douglas, Mossman and Daintree Village, marking out significant spots in the birth of these towns.
22. Grab yourself some fish and chips from Newell Beach, 20 minutes north of Port Douglas, and watch the sun go down over Island Point.
23. Collect freshly caught local prawns from off the back of the trawler Santiego in Port Douglas (selected weekends).
24. Challenge yourself with a hike to Devils Thumb. A 10km round trip, Manjal Jimalji is the Eastern Kuku Yalanji place name for the locally known Devils Thumb and is a significant cultural site that tells the story of fire creation. Your glutes will feel like fire after you’re done.
25. Go coconutty at Thala Beach! An Instagrammer’s dream, this coconut plantation about 10 minutes outside Port Douglas will have everyone double-tapping in delight. While there, check out Thala Beach Nature Reserve, the beautiful beachfront ecolodge – a perfect spot for dinner, drinks, or a cheeky night or two away.
26. Enjoy the island vibe of Low Isles. Learn about the famous Low Isles lighthouse, the very first lighthouse in Queensland to have portholes.
27. Try a cornucopia of rare, tropical fruits such as mangosteens, jackfruit, breadfruit and the chocolate lover’s delight, black sapote from the Cape Trib Fruit Farm or the Daintree Ice Cream Company.
28. Celebrate love, diversity and LGBTIQ pride at the annual Port Douglas Hot & Steamy Festival. A three-day festival that showcases the beauty of the town across multiple ticketed events from lunches to dance parties, all while celebrating diversity in all its rainbow colours.
29. Mountain bike on the original link road between Port Douglas and the Atherton Tablelands, the famous Bump Track. Dial it up to eleven and do it at midnight with Bike and Hike Tours.
30. Explore the rivers and creeks and rainforest waterholes, beginning with Emmagen Creek, Mason’s Waterhole, Mossman Gorge and the Mossman River. Safe to swim in, these little pockets of paradise clear the mind and cleanse the soul.
31. Run away with the circus… or at least come visit them when they’re in town! The Wonderland Spiegeltent visits each year in May, bringing world class cabaret, comedy, music and magic to the tropics.
32. Are you a film buff? Settle in under the stars overlooking the Coral Sea for a night of independent film making and popcorn snacking with the Port Shorts Film Festival, held each October.
33. Go see where the rainforest meets the reef. In Cape Tribulation, you can quite literally put your hand on a tree and stick your toe in the ocean, putting yourself right at the point where two World Heritage areas meet, the Daintree Rainforest and the Great Barrier Reef.
34. Looking for your next “It Was *This Big*” story? In Port Douglas you can pop for Giant Trevally, trawl for Mackerel or bottom bash for Trout and Barra. And for the reely serious anglers (pun intended), there’s the Port Douglas Marlin Challenge in November.
35. Drive the tropics’ answer to the Amalfi Coast as you cruise along the Great Barrier Reef Drive – 140 km of bitumen that hugs the coast between Cairns and Cape Tribulation.
36. See the sunrise along Four Mile Beach and catch the sun’s morning rays from the Flagstaff Hill Lookout platform, looking directly out over the Coral Sea.
37. Smell the molasses in the air during sugar cane season, June – November. Make like Gang Gajang and catch the views of some of the last sugarcane fires in the country.
38. Excite your inner gastronome with the self-driving tour Daintree Food Trail, a downloadable food map taking you through all the deliciousness of the region and is an excellent way to get all the background info on producers as you go.
39. Want to keep your flippers dry but still see the reef? The Quicksilver Pontoon is for you! The Quicksilver vessels will have you out to Agincourt reef pontoon where you can still see under the sea in their semi-submersible and underwater observatory from the comfort of a dry seat.
40. Ignite your inner pirate and hop aboard the glorious Shaolin Junk boat with her fiery red sails. This former spice trader (and rumoured pirate ship) is an incredible way to see in a sunset sail or ride to the reef around Low Isles.
41. Transport yourself to a 1930s Hollywood bar an imbibe in theatrical cocktails at the legendary Jimmy Rums Mixing Lounge. From the classics to the contemporary, the magic is in the mixology.
42. Eat chocolate straight from the source! At Daintree Estates Chocolate, they grow pure A-grade cocoa, hand-picked by local farmers, made in small batches to achieve the most distinctive Australian chocolate.
43. Orrrr, dig in to an expertly crafted Daintree Estates Chocolate Souffle at Salsa Bar & Grill. You’re welcome.
44. Cue the whale and pan flute music and grab your significant other for a cheeky couples’ rainforest spa date to get those love chemicals a-brewing. Take in those sights, smells and sounds of nature, and relaaaax.
45. Live out all your yachting dreams and add ‘superyacht experience’ to your bucket list. These majestic vessels leave you wanting for absolutely nothing, and can take your to the most pristine parts of the Great Barrier Reef with your very on dive master on board.
46. Explore the Port Douglas Sunday Markets for gifts for friends and treats for yourself! With everything from locally made pearl and silver jewellery through to local handcrafted art and plenty of tasty treats, whiling away the hours is an easy feat.
47. Enjoy the sounds of live music! Throw a guitar pick anywhere along the main street and tune those ears into the sweet sounds of sweet songs in busy bars.
48. Want to learn to sail? The Port Douglas Yacht Club run their WAGS sailing every Wednesday afternoon. The Club’s very generous members volunteer their time and their yachts to take out a few people sunset sailing. All it costs is an adventurous spirit and dinner and drinks at the Club afterwards.
49. Learn to spear a fish, throw a boomarang, sample some seasonal bush tucker while appreciating the history, culture and traditions of Australian Aboriginal people with Walkabout Cultural Adventures. And if you’re lucky, you may even catch a mud crab.
50. Swing on the Cow Bay rope swing at the edge of the Northern East Coast. Fire up the Instagram as you swing back and forth while getting lost in the breathtaking Coral Sea vistas, planning your next trip back to paradise.