To help you plan ahead, we’ve rounded up 10 of the best tours to book in Port Douglas.
With its vast tracts of rainforest and reef, it isn’t hard to see why the pretty seaside village of Port Douglas is a popular spot for a holiday. Looking for inspiration? Cast your gaze to our list of tours to book when in Tropical North Queensland, from Port Douglas reef tours to cultural Dreamtime walks and hardcore rainforest hikes.
Sailaway to Mackay Coral Cay
The quintessential thing to do while in Port Douglas is enjoy a reef tour. Sailaway to the Great Barrier Reef on a full-day reef sailing tour led by qualified marine biologists who will take you to a quiet corner of the outer reef and seek out coral gardens you can explore at your own pace. Sail to stunning Mackay Coral Cay onboard the luxury catamaran and step off the powder-white sand into an underwater garden where you will see vibrant corals, giant clams, turtles and abundant fish life. This Port Douglas reef tour focuses on small groups, which means the snorkelling can be somewhat tailored to individual needs.
Paddle-board near Port Douglas
You’ll find plenty of places to paddleboard around Port Douglas. But there’s something about paddleboarding along the peaceful Mossman River that makes the sport feel more meditative. The Windswell Port Douglas paddleboarding tour screams ‘memorable family activity’ or ‘girls’ own adventure’ and is one of the most ecologically sensitive ways to explore the scenic waterway. Drifting downstream under the tangled limbs of giant strangler fig trees is a thoughtful exercise, as is doing on-board yoga followed by a tropical fruit tasting and refreshing dip in the river, located in Kuku Yalanji Country. There’s also a rope swing for big and little kids.
Enjoy a sunset sail
The beauty of Port Douglas and Tropical North Queensland really unfolds from the water. Set sail with Indigo Charters, one of the region’s most elegant yachts, for a two-hour sunset cruise where you can admire the long, white beaches of Port Douglas, the blue and green seas, rainbow-coloured reefs and soft, verdant landscapes. In addition to the sunset cruise, Indigo Charters can tailor an experience to suit: from swimming with the turtles at Low Isles to playing with dolphins at Brampton Island and a full-day sailing and snorkelling expedition that includes a sunset sail on the way home. BYO alcoholic drinks and toast the sunset.
Take a cultural walk into the rainforest
Join one of the elders from the Mossman Gorge Cultural Centre on Mossman Gorge Dreamtime Walks to learn about the history of the Kuku Yalanji First Nations people. Spend an hour or two with one of the Indigenous guides and you will tap into knowledge that is thousands of years old as the tour meanders around culturally significant sites and over cool rainforest streams that ribbon around Mossman Gorge. As well as providing a poetic narrative about the natural environment, the guides thread together practical demonstrations such as how to make bush soaps and identify native food sources. The tour finishes with bush tea and damper.
Explore a hidden cloud forest
Embark on a hardcore hike with Back Country Bliss up to the top of the aptly named Devils Thumb hike, an enormous boulder-sized digit overhanging the rainforest. The challenging tour is for Amazonian types who are up for the challenge of hiking the 10-kilometre return track that features this spectacular granite rock formation, Devils Thumb (Manjal Jimalji), at its halfway point. Nature lovers will enjoy traversing through a variety of terrain along the track which starts off hugging Cabin Creek before looping into lowland rainforest that leads to a clearing carpeted in pretty coral ferns. High-five your mates when you get to the top of the rock to enjoy unimaginably excellent views over the Daintree and Coral Sea.
See the Daintree National Park on a small-group luxury tour
Enjoy the glittering emerald panorama of the Daintree Rainforest and kaleidoscopic colours of the Great Barrier Reef on a small-group luxury package with Daintree Tours. The Reef & Rainforest package includes a full day tour that visits three outer reef snorkelling sites in the shimmering Coral Sea, as well as a rainforest tour that loops in Mossman Gorge, and includes wildlife and crocodile spotting along the way. In addition to the Daintree Tours, which includes interpretative rainforest walks, secluded lunch sites, and a crocodile-spotting river cruise, Daintree Tours designs custom itineraries that will align with individual interests.
Get a taste of Port on a Plate
From farm-fresh tropical fruit, to stellar cafes, restaurants and ice creameries, Port Douglas is paradise for people who love their food and wine. What makes gourmands’ heart’s sing is not just the farm-to-fork movement, which has been a way of life up here for decades, or the sunny cafes and farmers’ markets, it’s intimate foodie tours such as Port on a Plate, which is a half-day epicurean adventure that collects ingredients at the farmgate to use in a three-course BBQ lunch cooked by your very own private chef and tour guide. The tour includes a chocolate tasting, tropical fruit wine tasting, visit to a barramundi farm and private lunch in an orchard.
Swim with dwarf minke whales
The Port Douglas-based Silversonic whisks visitors out to the Outer Reef while trying to leave as few footprints as possible. Glide through the silvery seas onboard the 29-metre fast aluminium catamaran to get views of the coastline cloaked in dense rainforest and the underwater wonder that is the Great Barrier Reef. The Silversonic Port Douglas Dive & Snorkel Adventures tour departs daily bound for the Agincourt ribbon reefs where passengers can snorkel or dive in the deep blue waters which are filled with marine life and colourful corals. The boat has an exclusive permit to swim with dwarf minke whales if encountered during their migration along Australia’s east coast between June and August.
Get Scuba Certified in Port Douglas
The advantage of getting your PADI (Professional Association of Diving Instructors) certification in Tropical North Queensland is that you can put it to good use on a tour of the reefs off Port Douglas. The three-to-four-day Quicksilver Dive course starts in the purpose-built dive training centre in Port Douglas where your time will be divided between the classroom and the heated dive pool. Once you’ve progressed to a certain level, you will complete your PADI training in the warm waters of the Great Barrier Reef. After your course, you are certified to dive anywhere on earth up to a depth of 18 metres.
Learn Indigenous painting techniques
Artist Brian ‘Binna’ Swindley of the Janbal Gallery in Mossman sees art as a universal language to communicate and connect with people about his culture. The gallery is open to visitors who are interested in purchasing local Aboriginal art. It’s also open to those who are interested in learning Indigenous painting techniques as Binna draws on his heritage to tell stories that relate to his Kuku Yalanji heritage and culture. Find inspiration to paint your own canvas using a palette of colours inspired by the Tropical North Queenlsand landscape, to which Binna has strong ancestral ties to or sign up for a boomerang workshop to bring home your own bespoke souvenir.