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, 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. Get gorge-ous at the Mossman Gorge. Dip your toes in her crystal clear, soul-refreshing waters, while discovering the cultural significance this spellbinding spot has to the Kuku Yalanji people of the region. Take a walk through the 135 million-year-old ancient rainforest along the established tracks, or soak up Aboriginal culture and experience Dreamtime stories on one of the Dreamtime Walks.
2. 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, 4 Mile Beach Day with sandcastle and kite flying competitions, a gin fest, seafood extravaganza and a tropic rock concert.
3. Wake up to the sun on your own private beach as you pitch your tent alongside the sand at Noah’s Beach, Cape Tribulation.
4. 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!).
5. 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.
6. 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.
7. 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.
8. 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.
9. 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.
10. 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 "Scarface" - The King.
11. Rack up all the romantic brownie points and chopper out to your very own private sand cay for a perfectly catered champagne picnic.
12. Get up close and personal with cuddly critters and observe a huge range of flora and fauna at the Wildlife Habitat in Port Douglas. Indulge in “Breakfast with the Birds”, meet a cassowary or for the ultimate adventure “Swim with the Salties” – a thrilling experience that allows you to get up close and personal with these magnificent crocodiles in a safe and controlled environment. Are you brave enough to take the plunge?
13. 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.
14. Drift down Mossman River with Back Country Bliss 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.
15. Take a walk among the treetops of the world’s most ancient rainforest at the Daintree Discovery Centre. Marvel at the special 3D hologram attraction for an immersive experience of Kuku Jalanji country and culture.
16. Fancy yourself an athlete? The IRONMAN Cairns 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.
17. Enjoy the short walks and lookouts of Cape Tribulation Boardwalk and simply be, where two World Heritage listed areas collide, the Daintree Rainforest and the Great Barrier Reef. You can quite literally stroll the beach with rainforest to the left of you, reef to the right and you, in the middle where these iconic areas meet.
18. 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.
19. 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.
20. Grab yourself some fish and chips from Newell Beach, 20 minutes north of Port Douglas, and watch the sun go down over Island Point.
21. Collect freshly caught local prawns from off the back of the trawler Santiego in Port Douglas (selected weekends).
22. 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.
23. Enjoy the island vibe of Low Isles. Learn about the famous Low Isles lighthouse, the very first lighthouse in Queensland to have portholes.
24. 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.
25. 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.
26. Mountain bike on the original link road between Port Douglas and the Atherton Tablelands, the famous Bump Track, on a self guided mountain bike adventure with the Bike Shop and Hire Travelling with a group? Do a private guided tour with Bike and Hike Tours.
27. Explore the rivers and creeks and rainforest waterholes, beginning with Emmagen Creek, Mason’s Waterhole, Mossman Gorge, Shannonvale and the Mossman River. Safe to swim in, these little pockets of paradise clear the mind and cleanse the soul. Be sure to always check current conditions with the locals and be crocwise in croc country.
28. 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.
29. 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.
30. 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.
31. 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.
32. 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.
33. 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.
34. 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.
35. 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.
36. 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.
37. 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. Dig in to an expertly crafted Daintree Estates Chocolate Souffle at Salsa Bar & Grill. You’re welcome!
38. 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, taking in the sights, smells and sounds of nature, and relaaaax.
39. Live out all your luxury live aboard 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.
40. 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.
41. 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.
42. 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.
43. 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).
44. Learn to spear a fish, throw a boomerang, 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.
45. 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.
46. Love Barramundi? So do Hook-A-Barra at Wonga Beach. You’ll be hooked with this first class facility and an hour of catch and release “fish on” fun. *Disclaimer: Hook-A-Barra takes no responsibility for tantrums resulting from children catching larger fish than their parents!
47. Fancy scooting about? Beam Scooters are affordable, convenient and much better for the environment. Oh, and did we mention it’s really fun? Find and unlock a Beam – you’ll find them everywhere in Port Douglas. Enjoy the ride!
48. Take the ultimate spin down the road in one of the most beautiful locations in the world as part of the annual Port Douglas Gran Fondo Festival. Road riders rejoice in cycling the Great Barrier Reef Drive sans vehicles for one glorious day in September.
49. 3 to 75 years? Novice or nature lover? Channel your inner Tarzan and fly through the ancient Daintree Rainforest with Treetops Adventure in Cape Tribulation. Enjoy a tranquil journey amongst the treetops with a fully guided zipline canopy tour for the ultimate bird’s eye view and your chance to soar through a World Heritage rainforest.
50. Foodies unite! Celebrate the food culture and lifestyle of Tropical North Queensland as Taste Port Douglas Food & Drink Festival bring together world class chefs and inspiring food and beverage experiences. Prepare to immerse yourself in a weekend committed to the discovery of all things delicious in August.