Port Douglas is a stunning town on the Coral Sea in tropical Queensland that’s known for its spectacular beaches, diverse rainforest, colourful reefs and kid-friendly attractions. You’ll find no shortage of things to see and do in Port Douglas, from diving and snorkelling on the edge of the Great Barrier Reef to taking a tour of the landscape by vintage railway. Port Douglas has something for every age and interest, so you can find adventures with older kids or spend time exploring the natural environment and relaxing on the beach with young children. However you wish to spend your time, find out all you need to know about activities and attractions for your Port Douglas family holiday.
Helpful information when visiting Port Douglas
Port Douglas is a beautiful and popular destination for travellers. Plan the details of your trip with helpful information about the best time of year to visit, how to get there and how to get around so you can make the most of your trip.
Best time to visit Port Douglas
Port Douglas is blessed with mild, sunny weather most of the year. The climate is warm, even during the winter months, giving you endless opportunities to enjoy the beaches, ocean and parks. The summer season does have more rainfall than the winter, however, and is the height of stinger season. If you’re planning to spend a lot of time in the water, you may want to go at a different time of year. That said, the beaches have precautions like stinger nets and stinger suits for diving and snorkelling. The busy tourism season varies, especially around the many events Port Douglas holds throughout the year.
Travel to Port Douglas
Located north of Cairns, Port Douglas is easy to get to from just about anywhere in Australia by air, road or rail. You can fly to Cairns from major Australian cities and take an hour-long car ride along the Captain Cook Highway to get to Port Douglas. The Cairns airport offers both domestic and international flights. Other major cities, such as Sydney, Brisbane and Melbourne, offer flights that take just a few hours. If you prefer to drive, you can take a scenic road trip along the coast and see local attractions. Railway options are also available from Brisbane that connect to Port Douglas, giving you a relaxing trip through subtropical regions and inland coastal towns like Bundaberg and Bowen.
How to get around Port Douglas
Port Douglas is a small town that’s easy to get around in. You can walk to most places or hire a car to sightsee or take a day trip to nearby areas. If you’re planning on visiting a lot of different attractions in town, you can book a guided tour or a resort package that includes shuttles.
Family accommodation in Port Douglas
You’ll have numerous options for family accommodation in Port Douglas. From family resorts with everything you need at your doorstep to cosy holiday hideaways near the beach or local attractions, you can find a range of places to stay in Port Douglas.
Family resorts in Port Douglas
Family resorts are one of the best choices for families with young children. Booking a resort can give you access to on-site amenities like a pool, hot tub, shop, restaurant and bar. Many resorts also offer organised activities, such as sightseeing tours and children’s activities. Resorts are also a good choice if you’re travelling with a larger group. Everyone can stay close by at the resort, but it offers more privacy than sharing a large holiday home.
Family holiday homes in Port Douglas
If you prefer having a house to yourself, you can find family-friendly holiday home rentals in Port Douglas. You’ll have a whole self-catering house to yourself with a full kitchen, laundry facilities, a backyard, beach access and other amenities. Holiday homes with multiple bedrooms provide space for all the kids, and several options offer additional perks like toys, board games, DVDs, cable service and outdoor sports equipment.
Family apartments in Port Douglas
Apartments are a great way to stay in the heart of the action. Numerous family apartments are available in Port Douglas and offer multiple bedrooms and on-site amenities such as pools, beach access, children’s splash areas and more. Apartments also keep you close to the points of interest and the dining and activities that Port Douglas has to offer.
Things to do with kids in Port Douglas
Port Douglas offers a wide array of attractions and activities, whether you want to have adventures in the diverse landscape or spend your time relaxing by the water and enjoying picnics on the beach.
Get up close to animals at Wildlife Habitat
Wildlife Habitat is an exciting experience for all ages. When you visit, you can hand-feed wallabies, watch a demonstration of a crocodile feeding or pose with a koala. The award-winning wildlife sanctuary offers an opportunity to interact with Australian wildlife in naturalistic environments, including wetlands, savannah and nocturnal environments. The Wildlife Habitat also has the Tropical Animal Rehabilitation Centre, a conservation facility with a wildlife rescue program for injured, orphaned or sick animals, and elevated boardwalks for trekking through some of the environments and seeing wildlife.
Relax in the sun at Four Mile Beach
Four Mile Beach is one of the main highlights of travelling to Port Douglas. The tranquil beach has white sand and crystal-blue waters that epitomise a tropical escape. Spanning 4 kilometres, the beachfront has some of the best panoramic beach views, especially at sunset. The Coral Sea is also calm and quiet, making it ideal for beach trips with young children. If you want some adventure with older kids, the southern part of the beach has reefs and mangroves that are home to marine life like crabs and tropical fish. Nearby, you’ll find charming cafes and restaurants for a beachfront breakfast or brunch and smoothies.
Take a thrilling reef tour
Port Douglas is known for its turquoise waters and vibrant coral reefs, such as the Agincourt Reef, which forms a ribbon at the edge of the Great Barrier Reef. You can experience the reef in all its splendour with a reef tour that takes you snorkelling or diving. If you have younger children, or snorkelling and diving aren’t for you, tour operators also offer semi-submersible tours that allow you to see all the beauty of the reef and colourful marine life from beneath the surface without entering the water. Some companies also have underwater viewing platforms so you can see parrotfish, butterflyfish and nudibranchs in coral gardens through a viewing window.
Take a scenic train ride with Bally Hooley Train
One of the most unique experiences for a Port Douglas family holiday is taking a scenic steam engine ride on the Bally Hooley Train. The narrow-gauge heritage railway departs from Marina Station, Mirage Country Club Station, Oaks Resort Station and St. Crispins Station and takes about an hour, so you can see stunning views of the landscape and the sights of Port Douglas along the way. After the ride, you can visit the station’s restaurant, Choo Choos at the Marina, and have a bite to eat and drinks with the family.
See spectacular butterflies at the Australian Butterfly Sanctuary
Located near Port Douglas in Kuranda, the Australian Butterfly Sanctuary is a must-visit attraction for families with kids. One of the largest free-flight butterfly aviaries in Australia, the Australian Butterfly Sanctuary has about 1,500 free-flying butterflies that represent a variety of species. All butterflies are raised in the sanctuary's laboratory and are released into the aviary. Some of the species you’ll encounter include the monarch butterfly, the Australian lurcher butterfly, the orchard swallowtail butterfly and the silk moth.
Experience the Daintree Rainforest with a tour
Located northeast of Port Douglas, the Daintree Rainforest is part of one of the largest areas of tropical rainforest on the continent. You can take a short trip to the Daintree and book a guided tour to experience this jewel of the natural environment. Numerous tour operators are available and offer tour options for hiking, river cruises and adventure tours, depending on your interests and abilities. Canopy tours and elevated rainforest walkways are among the best ways to take in the views of the rainforest and spot local wildlife, such as the southern cassowary, the musky rat kangaroo, spectacled flying foxes and Boyd’s forest dragons.
Have a picnic at Rex Smeal Park
Rex Smeal Park is the perfect place for a relaxing day out with the family. Located along the peninsula of Port Douglas, the park offers views of the Coral Sea and Daintree mountains and is a tranquil place for a picnic. You can relax by the shore and watch the reef boats and yachts, or stop in the local seafood shop to grab some fresh catches to enjoy by the water. The kids will love exploring the park, and there’s a playground nearby for them to burn off some energy.