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A week in Port Douglas

A week in Port Douglas

Exhausted from moving to Sydney and Prue's new role, we decided to take a short break in Port Douglas.

Mat Hollingsworth
Mat Hollingsworth

6 min read

Exhausted from moving to Sydney and Prue's new role, we decided to take a short break in Port Douglas.

After a fantastic weekend of cycling on the Hawkesbury River, the next morning Prue and I hopped a flight to Cairns to begin our week in Port Douglas.

We booked a hire car and  got a triple upgrade to a Mitsubishi ASX. It turned out the the Mountain Bike World Championships were on in Cairns that week, so there were lots of professional cyclists training on the trails as we drove to Port Douglas.

Snorkeling

One of the days we took a Great Barrier Reef Snorkeling tour with Diver's Den. This was the highlight of the trip! We set off in the morning up the coast towards Cape Tribulation.

We were lucky enough to see a Humpback Whale and her two calves  breaching! The skipper turned the boat around and we watched them from about 50m a away and until the disappeared.

I didn't manage to get any images or video worth sharing, so I've included this dramatization. 

We soon arrived at the first reef, Angincourt Reef. There were amazing coral formations with schools of fish.

This was my first time on the Reef since the late 1980's. And while it was beautiful and we had a brilliant day, it was clear that the reef is in decline as much of it was less vibrant or even dead.

We spent about 1 hour at Angincourt, then had lunch on the boat and moved on to the next spot, Saint Crispin Reef.

This location was even more beautiful that the first. It was much shallower so we could see the ocean floor more easily. We were lucky enough to see a barracuda, two reef sharks, lots of parrot fish, starfish and sea cucumbers.

Seafood Buffet

Prue had been to Port Douglas twice before, and had established the tradition of treating herself to the seafood buffet at the Sheraton Mirage. On the Friday night we continue the tradition.

Daintree National Park

We also went for a drive up into the Daintree National Park.

We didn't see any but we did see a Bush Turkey and lots of fish in the creeks and estuary.

The Daintree Icecream Co is well worth a stop. We tried Black Sapote (a kind of chocolatey Mexican fruit, Banana and and I think Mango.

The Food & Drink

One of the best things about Port Douglas was the cheap and readily available 'bucket of prawns'. Most venues do 500g of Prawns for about $20 to $25. Several days we had Prawns and wine for lunch, because holidays.

We ate and drank at the following places:

  • The Port Douglas Yacht Club: Relaxed RSL vibes, nice setting on the water a bit out of town. I had fish (Mackerel) and chips. The food was delicious but overpriced and location is prone to insect bites.
  • On the Inlet: Another relaxed setting on the water. We had the cold seafood platter. It was wasn't cheap but it was generous and delicious. The curry smelled amazing. Friendly service, bookings recommended.
  • Sassi Cucina e Bar: We loved this place so much that we went twice. The seafood linguini is fantastic, as are all of the entree and small plates. Also an excellent selection of wine. Make a reservation to get an outside table.
  • Feast at the Sheraton Mirage: A bit of a stuffy atmosphere, some people very dressed up and many in 'resort wear'.  The food was terrific, and the service was quite good. Skip lunch to get your money's worth.

We drank at the following places:

  • Watergate Port Douglas: Excellent cocktails and friendly staff. Get there for happy hour and it's exceptional value.
  • Hemingway's Brewery: The beer here was ok but unremarkable. The best beers were actually the guest taps. The service was poor, the staff were dismissive and didn't seem to know much about the beers.  But the setting on the marina is lovely and it's a good spot for an afternoon or evening beer.
  • Barbados:  We went here three times, it has large day beds for lounging in and a good range of cocktails and food. The first time was 'Hawaiian night' so we got a drink special for wearing a lei (loaned to us by the bar). The second time was after the reef tour, we had a some light seafood plates (grilled prawns, calamari etc), all of which were very good. The last time we came early in the afternoon for happy hour, and unfortunately the margaritas that we ordered were so bad that we didn't finish them.
  • The Courthouse Hotel: a trendy pub with a nice fit out. This place is massive! We only came here for a bowl of Prawns and drinks, but it's a great place to spend a few hours. It has two large street level outdoor areas and another large balcony upstairs with a view over the park and the ocean. Bottles of Jansz were impossibly cheap, cheaper than the bottle shop.

Port Douglas is a big wedding destination. So we did miss out on a few places that we'd hoped to visit because they were closed for private events. We'd been recommended several times to eat at Salsa Bar and Grill, but each time we tried it was either fully booked to closed for a wedding. Next time we'll be a bit more organised and book some dinners in advance.