Port Douglas, considered the gateway to the Great Barrier Reef, is an easy one hour’s drive north of Cairns.
WHAT TO LOVE ABOUT CAIRNS AND PORT DOUGLAS
Whereas Cairns is a modern, vibrant city, Port Douglas is its quieter, more chic, relaxed village style sister.
Blue skies, white timber ‘Queenslander’ style houses and vibrant birdlife pop against a backdrop of emerald green mountains filled with palm trees and rainforests. It’s a dream for a shutterbug like me!
Between boutique browsing, gallery exhibitions, laneway whiskey bars, seafood sessions, resorts and botanical gardens, I’m stopping into some favourite places and discovering some new.
Where to Stay in Cairns and Port Douglas
Sheraton Mirage Resort, Port Douglas
Five star luxury just one hour’s drive north of Cairns’ international airport and the only resort to claim absolute beachfront on a powdery white sand beach. The biggest lagoon pool you’ve ever seen surrounded by whitewashed pavilion style apartments surrounded by verdant gardens, lush palms and pink bougainvillea blooms.
Villa San Michele, Port Douglas
Boutique Mediterranean styled apartments in the heart of Port Douglas. Wander in to a discreet laneway entrance featuring a gorgeous mural leading to a maze of three storey private dwellings reminiscent of Tuscan cobblestone laneways. The perfect location from which to explore the Great Barrier Reef or the nearby World Heritage Listed Daintree rainforest.
Where to Drink + Dine In Cairns
Start your day with a long walk north along the Esplanade, then sip on an excellent coffee or fresh juice here with a bowl of gluten-free granola and coconut yogurt for breakfast, overlooking the islands in the distance.
Perch yourself on board a fishing boat right in the harbour for lunch, and devour fresh, locally caught prawns, Moreton Bay bugs, salmon and more served with chilled white wine. The location is spectacular and the seafood platter for two to-die-for. Go on an empty stomach.
“Eat, Drink, Share” is their motto and that’s exactly what they serve up. We enjoyed happy hour with large glasses of French rosé wine and plates of tantalising tapas.
Three Wolves Whisky Bar
Hidden down an alley in the heart of the city lies a dusky, dimly lit whisky bar which is hard to leave once seated. Breathtaking selections of whiskeys line the walls but my favourite is the Coco Chanel cocktail.
If you’re feeling slightly the worse for wear after glasses of rosé the night before and/or whiskey cocktails, take yourself here for the quintessential Aussie breakfast - an almighty mound of eggs your way with a side of Vegemite. The pastries are wicked, too.
Where to Shop in Cairns + Port Douglas
Beautifully styled emporium with gorgeously styled homewares and furniture, with inspirational settings such as Organic Coastal, Hamptons, Australian Tropical and Bahamas.
Tamar, Port Douglas
Beautiful, feminine and highly decorative artworks complement artisanal lifestyle wares and Australian gypset fashion in a chic, minimalistic boutique.
The only collection in Far North Queensland of luxury brands. Louis Vuitton has an entire boutique and you can shop a smaller selection of other luxe brands like Burberry, Chanel, Gucci and Polo Ralph Lauren in the complex as well. Don’t miss the Tommy Bahamas store right around the corner, for bright, tropical homewares and fashion.
What to Discover in Cairns + Port Douglas
Cairns Art Gallery
I enjoyed the current exhibition of Sidney Nolan’s iconic Australian ‘Ned Kelly’ works in this regional gallery featuring a permanent collection and regional tours.
Flecker Botanic Gardens, Cairns
Wander through ancient fig trees, immense palm trees and exotic blooms. Be surrounded by multitudes of butterflies inside the Conservatory and marvel at hundreds of species of exotic plants and flowers including orchids.
St Mary’s By The Sea, Port Douglas
The prettiest little white timber church, complete with stained glass windows and an altar overlooking the Coral Sea.
Happy holidays | Bon vacance !