While in Port Douglas we worked closely with Tourism Port Douglas to make sure we had the most authentic Australian experience while we were there for a month.
They did not disappoint. They helped us find the right tours that were family friendly and in our budget. If your looking for the locals that have the insider knowledge look no further.
After everything we did there, here are our top 15 things to do in Port Douglas for families.
- Sunday Markets in Port Douglas. A must try is the coconut stand - super yummy but also super healthy. This lady and her family harvest coconuts from their own land and every Sunday they set up shop at the market. After you purchase your coconut, there's a delicious protocol. First, drink the coconut water, then hand it back the coco mistress. She'll cut it in half and shred the inside with a power tool to make coconut flakes. Then you choose your own adventure: bananas and coconut syrup for sweet or beans, greens and tamarind sauce for savory. Both our 3 yr old and 11 month old loved it! All in all the market is quaint and fun - you can buy fresh fruit, handmade dresses, toys, custom necklaces and lots more next door to a historical church on gorgeous inlet. Prices range from $-$$$ all depending on the booth. A must see!
- Rent a car. Being able to see so many amazing places on your own timetable is priceless, but if you choose to go self-guided, you'll save some money on tours, too.
- Do a Walkabout with local indiginous leaders, the Walker Brothers, came highly recommended. We weren't able to go because Isla got sick but this is a MUST if you go. The locals even take the tour...thats how you know it's good!, You'll gain amazing insight into aboriginal culture, Go crab hunting, sample some bush tucker, and learn about the local culture.
- Picnic like its 1917. Yes, the simple pleasures seem to be on steroids in Port Douglas. Grab a bottle of wine, a baguette, ham cheeses and fresh fruit and head to the beach to watch the sunset. It’s pretty magical.
- Morning and evening walks on 4 Mile Beach were some of my favorite moments. Also the coolest time to swim in the water, too - so grab a spontaneous beach workout and then plunge in the water. Although the beach side technically doesn't get the sunset, it does tend to get gorgeous pink clouds at sunrise and sunset.
- Boat watching. Grab Fish and Chips and take it to watch the sail boats roll in around 4:30 by the palm trees we did this a handful of times, because (bonus alert) there was a playground right there, too.
- Go to Mossman Gorge to swim. These sacred Aboriginal lands are littered with swimming holes - but this one is spectacular and well-organized. Pack a lunch and have a picnic by the water. Mind the current, but don’t be scared to wade in by the rocks if you've got bubs (I love how they call their kids "bubs". I will die and come back Aussie).
- See the world's oldest rainforest. No big deal - just millions of years old alongside the breathtaking Coral Sea and infested with giant dinosaur-looking birds -- that I feel weird admitting I had never heard of until I saw one with my own two eyes -- Cassowaries. The Daintree Rainforest is an hour north of Port Douglas. Hike the trails, check out the beaches and have a lovely lunch at one of the many spots along the way. Also YOU MUST have some Ice Cream from the Daintree Ice Cream Co. As you drive in you are driving right through their fruit orchard. IT WAS DELICIOUS. We tried their sample cup with four delicious scoops of ice cream. Passion fruit, Durian, Soursop, and Mulberry. Isla slurped her cup and said, "mo'."
- Sho-pping! Spend the day shopping around Port Douglas. Take a pit stop at the sweet book store in town they have toys and books to read and coffee and treats for you while you sit and relax. Also, you must stop in and see my buddy at With Sugar, she has the perfect selection of gifts for anyone on your souvenir list. Then grab a nice coffee next store at The Little Larder. Pro tip: don't try to order a cup of coffee anywhere in Australia. The attempt will go down in flames. It's called a long black. I had a memory lapse at Little Larder and was taken to task quickly!
- Photo op! If you like views (and you know I do), head up to the look out. From this vantage point you can get the best view of 4 mile beach:)
- Do an Outback Safari, Kathryn style. And by Kathryn style, I mean there shall be scones. We drove through the stunning Julatten hills (wild Kangaroos spotted: 1) on a day trip to Yungaburra, the cutest little outback town - the kind that has lamp posts adorned with flowers for no reason. We had an amazing brunch at The Whistle Stop Cafe (the sheer poundage of the scones' cream still prances in my dreams). Later on Isla and Gisele played in the local library, Cullen hunted for duck-billed platypus, and we all made friends with a little girl named Josephine. Her family owns the only Christmas tree farm in the area. From here we headed to a near by waterfall-slash-swimming hole to cool off, where we promptly crashed a 4 year old's b-day party!
- Head to Kuranda, an aboriginal town in the mountains. Or better yet, skim through the touristy town and go look in awe at Barron Falls. There's also a pretty train ride you can take that we weren't able to do, but from what I hear it's really worth it, check it out here.
- Of course, you have to check out the Great Barrier Reef! I mean, how can you not? It’s one of the wonders of the world and it’s absolutely breath taking. We took Calypso Tours thanks to Tourism Port Douglas. We were really impressed with Calypso Tours they did an amazing job. They had great staff we enjoyed high tea when we first got on and had a big spread for lunch. The staff played peek a boo with the girls and they shared with us what we would see at each reef so we knew what we were looking at when we went snorkeling. Read more of our experience and how to do it with kids here.
- We loved The Wildlife Habitat. We got to see koalas, ducks, wallabies, snakes and crocodiles up close and there was no one else there! And we got to FEED kangaroos, too! What do they eat you ask? Roo food of course 🙂
- Meet a giant hungry fish named George. Grab a beer and a bucket of shrimp at the On the Inlet and wait for the George the 250KG Groper to make his appearance for dinner (unfortunately, in Australia they call Grouper "Groper" - though trust me, George is not a molester). He is seriously huge and quite the sight! It gets kinda crowed so show up early to grab a seat by the water.
If you've been to Port Douglas and you feel I've missed something please share!! If you haven't been...add this to your bucket list!