Hands up who doesn’t like eating? Yeah, we thought so. As the wise say, calories don’t count on holiday. With more deliciousness in Port Douglas and Daintree than you can shake a sugar cane stick at, food lovers will rejoice with all the choices. In a town where seafood is the star and local tropical produce is found on every menu from fine diners to swanky bars and everything in between, the hardest choice you’ll have to make is where to sate your appetite.
Aside from all the restaurants and cafes that line the tropical streets, there are plenty of local foods in and around Port Douglas waiting to be discovered. It makes sense; being in the heart of the tropics, the abundant annual rainfall and plentiful sunshine makes for prime growing conditions. While the area is predominantly sugarcane country fringed by coast and rainforest, you can get everything from paw paws to mangosteens (what?!), soursop and hand-pollinated vanilla pods at the local markets or roadside stalls as you meander through the countryside. If you’re looking to taste your way around Port Douglas and the Daintree, start with these top local ideas:
The Mossman Markets, held from 7am-1pm every Saturday under the majestic raintrees on Foxton Ave offer a smorgasbord of local produce.
You’ll find a diverse harvest of tropical fruits and vegetables on offer, as well as fresh honey, jams, old school cakes and slices (who doesn't love a lamington from the markets?!). There's produce that's either sold fresh by the farmers or transformed into healthy products such as probiotic kefirs, dark rye sourdough, key lime pie or anti-inflammatory Jamu Jamu.
Back it up with the legendary Sunday Markets in Port Douglas (8am - 2pm) and fill your tums with delectable treats like Vanilla Bean ice cream, artisan doughnuts, fresh coconuts, fruit poo (yes, it's a thing!) and prawns straight off the trawler.
When you’re exploring a region, eating the local fare isn’t just about sustenance - it’s culture, authenticity and experience. It’s interaction with locals. It’s life at its simplest and its most convivial. Have you even travelled if you haven't tested all those tasty morsels along the way? Nom nom.
From gelato to microgreens, barramundi to breadfruit, and chocolate to chorizo, the Daintree Food Trail celebrates the produce and people of the Daintree and Douglas Shire. This region is home to an eclectic range of small farms, orchards, fisheries, growers and micro-manufacturers, often hidden from view in our lush environment.
The Daintree Food Trail is a downloadable map that celebrates local tropical produce and the people who make it. People who are as diverse as their products but bound by a desire to showcase the bounty of this unique part of Australia.
You’ll need to take a road trip to find Scomazzon’s Fruit Market, just off the highway north of Mossman near the Newell Beach turn off. Widely loved by locals and suppliers to many of the restaurants and cafes in town, it's easy to see why there's lineups of cars on a weekend morning - bountiful baskets of fresh produce, vibrant colours of tropical fruit bursting from every corner, and plenty of baked goods supplied by other small producers in the region.
As the Scomazzon Road address suggests, the Scomazzon family has been growing tropical produce in the region for generations and depending on what’s in season you can collect your treasures virtually straight from the paddock.
Fancy someone else taking the wheel to show you 'round? Meet the farmers with the foodies behind Port On A Plate, a food tour designed to explore local Mossman and Daintree local farms, tasting wares and hearing stories direct from farmers. At the end of the tour, enjoy a tasty sit down lunch followed by dessert.
If you’re keen to explore the delights of the Atherton Tablelands where chocolate, cheese, coffee and distilleries exist in plentiful perfect harmony, why not explore with full-day tours from Port Douglas with Brett’s Outback Tasting Adventures. Alternatively, jump in your own car and join in on their Tag-A-Long Tasting Adventure - join the bus tour in your own vehicle, equipped with a 2-way radio so you still get all the fun commentary, stopping to tease tastebuds and fill your tums.
At Cape Trib Farm you can either indulge in a fruit tasting, pick some up to take with you from the farm gate, collect jams and preserves made from the array of exotic ingredients grown on-site or stay in a cabin among the orchard’s 30 acres of tropical trees.
The farm grows more than 60 species of tropical fruits exported weekly to southern markets, from wampi plums to rambutans, and you can learn enough about the origins, uses and strange anecdotes about each fruit to pass any pub quiz at the tasting.
If you haven’t completely satisfied your sweet tooth, stop for a natural fix at either biodynamic Floravilla Ice Cream or the neighbouring Daintree Ice Cream Company, both in Cow Bay - possibly the most naturally beautiful ice creamies ever. At Floravilla, indulge in your selection of 26 flavours to choose from, including Goji Berry and Yoghurt or Ginger and Pineapple while exploring famed local artist Betty Hinton's wildlife painting exhibitions.
At Daintree Ice Cream Company, pull up a perch and overlook the exotic fruits orchard where fruits are harvested to make their ice creams. Indulge in a smorgasbord of tropical fruit flavours in their famous Four-Scoop Taster, a cup consisting of daily specials including wattleseed, coconut, dragonfruit, black sapote and the cassowary’s favourite, Davidson Plum.
The fertile lands around Mossman are also the birthplace of Australia’s commercial cocoa industry, where the raw product for Daintree Estates chocolates is grown. You can meet one of the original local growers and learn all about the production of cocoa and sugarcane at Sweet Farm Tours located on Miallo-Bamboo Creek Rd. Sample the chocolate and enjoy a sugarcane juice, check out their koala food tree plantation or wander through the visitor centre.
If off-beat wineries are your cup of sparkling wine, Shannonvale Tropical Fruit Winery just south of Mossman is well worth a sample.
You won’t find your usual shiraz or sav blanc here – the winery boasts 13 fruity varieties of table wine and tawny port made from mango, lime, passionfruit, ginger, jaboticaba, lychee, black sapote and chocolate.
All the fruits are harvested from the winery grounds on Shannonvale Road where you can enjoy a tasting from 10am to 4:30pm most days.
You can’t get any fresher than catching your own dinner, and the odds are in your favour at Hook-A-Barra near Wonga Beach. Here they supply you with all the gear to fish the barramundi-filled ponds and experience the thrill of reeling in the Aussie favourite for dinner. The Barramundi is at the top of every fisherman’s bucket list, and this sustainable fishing adventure almost guarantees you'll be firing up the BBQ that night. Sidenote: Hook-A-Barra takes no responsibility for tantrums resulting from kids catching bigger fish than their folks.
Prefer someone else to do the work while you do the eating? Follow the signs that lead to the public jetty near Dixie Park every second weekend and collect your fresh seafood bounty straight off the back of the trawler! Several local fishing trawlers sell their ocean wares from here, everything from prawns, bugs, scallops, crayfish all the way through to seasonal reef fish, filleted and ready to cook. And if you're in town a weekend the trawlers aren't, insider tip is to head over to Marano's Fuel on Port Road behind the Yacht Club who snap freeze the freshest catch.
As you weave your way further into the rainforest, heading across on the Daintree vehicle ferry towards Cape Tribulation, keep an eye out for roadside produce stalls stocking whatever is fresh that day next to an honesty tin. You’ll find home-grown rainforest honey in the produce treasure-chest at the Daintree Tea plantation north of Cow Bay, and another batch just before you get to Cape Tribulation.
Whatever your indulgence, make sure you don’t leave Port Douglas and the Daintree without experiencing a taste of the tropics.