Stunning Port Douglas beaches and swimming spots to cool off at year-round.
One of the most popular things to do in Tropical North Queensland is go for a swim to beat the heat. While swimming in the Wet Tropics isn’t without its dangers, you can take extra care to mitigate those risks by swimming between the flags (on Four Mile Beach), reading safety signs, talking to the famously friendly locals and checking the daily beach reports. Here are some of the top spots to swim in and around Port Douglas.
The Mossman River is unpatrolled so those that swim here do so at their own risk. Although Mossman Gorge Centre advises against swimming in the river during the wet season, there are a few spots preferred by locals who exercise caution and avoid the area if there’s been significant rainfall. During the dry season (from April to October), you will find a sheltered swimming hole at Mossman Gorge where the pristine rainforest water flows around the giant boulders.
Look out for the Hippy Hole along the way, which also has a sandy riverbank where you will often find the prerequisite knot of locals with tie-dyed t-shirts and dreadlocks who may well have inspired the name. It costs about $8.90 for adults and $4.45 for children to enter Mossman Gorge, which is an Indigenous ecotourism experience managed by the Kuku Yalanji people. The swimming hole is for strong swimmers only. Join a Windswell Port Douglas to paddle-board along the Mossman River through the pristine rainforest or a River Drift Snorkelling Tour with Back Country Bliss Adventures.
Four Mile Beach
If you’re pining for some sweet relief from the heat, you should follow the locals beating a path down to Four Mile Beach to swim between the flags. The beach, which is calm and protected, is just minutes from Macrossan Street and is shallow enough for the kids to splash around. Hire a sun bed and beach umbrella from Port Douglas Water Sports and stake out a spot near the surf club, where you can dip in and out of the water each day.
Walk the length of the strollable beach, to where the mountains meet the sea, or hire some cricket gear, a kayak or inner tube from Port Douglas Watersports. Take your copy of Field Guide to Birds of North Queensland by Phil Gregory to the beach and keep an eye out for osprey and sea eagles as well as scarlet honeyeaters. Oak Beach, 10 minutes’ south of Port Douglas is also a popular spot for paddle-boarding over the fringing reef.
During the dry season (April to October), it’s worth heading out from the Black Mountain Road Trailhead for a hike along the 3.2-kilometre trail to Big Mowbray Falls. In wet weather, the rocks are slippery and the area is best avoided. But on a sunny day, after a spell of dry weather, it’s worth the effort to get to the emerald-green swimming spot. The secluded swimming hole is like a natural plunge pool located at the top of the waterfall so it’s good for the ‘gram. Don’t dive here, as the water is shallow. But do feel smug about making the trek to the top of the waterfall, as it is a bit of a scene-stealer.
The deep rock pools near Spring Creek Falls are another popular swimming spot in Port Douglas, also located in the Mowbray Valley. The trek takes about two hours each way so active types will be rewarded with a dunk in the deep, rock pools, which sit in a basin amid the Tropical North Queensland wilderness.
Proponents of wild swimming will enjoy a day-trip from Port Douglas to the Daintree to have a dip in the stunning swimming hole at Emmagen Creek. The creek is located some five kilometres north of Cape Tribulation, in the heart of the Daintree National Park. The creek is particularly beguiling in the dappled light that filters through the rainforest and a swim here is feel-good forest bathing at its best.
For full rainforest immersion, head west and walk upstream to the larger swimming hole, which is the most enchanting place to swim. Please note: crocodiles are present in the lower, muddy brackish waters of the creek so only swim in the swimming hole itself. The pool is located in a pocket of Wet Tropics wilderness, so bring insect repellent, sunscreen and water. While it’s not recommended to dive here, there is a rope swing so you can break out a few inspired boomerangs on Instagram.
Sheraton Grand Mirage Resort & Plantation Resort
On a sun-drenched day, you can treat yourself by paying for a cabana and having lunch by the pool at the Sheraton Grand Mirage Resort, Port Douglas. The resort is built around its pool which blends seamlessly into its emerald-green golf course surrounds. Who says blue and green should never be seen? Set back from Four Mile Beach, the pool with the green-on-blue botanical colour theme is the perfect place to relax, cocktail in hand, in the manner in which you’re accustomed. Families looking for a more wallet-friendly option can head to Plantation Resort where you can enjoy the tropical resort-style lagoon pool. The resort-style setting has a tiki bar that opens in the afternoon serving really great Japanese food.
For more travel tips and itineraries read our Ultimate guide to Port Douglas holidays.