Port Douglas offers many unique and exciting day trips for visitors and residents alike. From its coastal waters and coral reefs to lush rainforests and hills, you can reach many spectacular scenes from the comfort of your car (or rental car). With many self-drive day trips from Port Douglas, the diverse countryside and topography of Queensland have something for all tastes.
1. Port Douglas to Cape Tribulation
At just about two hour’s drive away, Cape Tribulation is a protected beach area with stunning coastal views and a still, quiet beauty. This is where two World Heritage of Australia, its rainforests and great coral reefs, meet one another. Aside from the beautiful flora and fauna which inhabit the area, you can choose a variety of adventurous activities such as cycling, snorkelling, hiking and jungle surfing (zip-lining through the forest canopy), or simply relax on one of the area’s sandy beaches. Cape Tribulation tours from Port Douglas are a must do.
2. The Bloomfield Track from Port Douglas
A further hour north of Cape Tribulation, you can take this extended coastal drive through the Bloomfield Track. The track itself is 30km in length and accesses the Bloomfield Falls and Wujal Wujal aboriginal community. Crossing through dense rainforest and across beautiful streams and creeks, a four-wheel-drive car is highly recommended to traverse the beautiful and pristine Daintree Rainforest terrain.
3. Daintree Tours from Port Douglas
Located on the southern side of the Daintree River, a road trip through the rainforests and creeks of Daintree sees plentiful restaurants, hidden waterfalls, pristine swimming spots and crocodile spotting tours. The drive from Port Douglas to Daintree Village is only 45 minutes, but the area is rich in attractions from historic bomb sites to cocoa and sugar cane farms and experiences. Daintree Village itself offers many hikes, river cruises and fishing adventures.
4. Kuranda Village from Port Douglas
Kuranda tours from Port Douglas will only take an hour via the scenic Great Barrier Reef Drive. This takes you to the stunning mountain village of Kuranda just outside of Cairns. Kuranda itself has lively artisan markets daily for day trippers and tourists alike. With such breathtaking scenery, you can take a trip on the Kuranda Scenic Railway and Skyrail Rainforest Cableway to really soak in the rainforest views. Be sure to visit Barron Falls just 10-minute walk from the village.
5. Mossman Gorge tours from Port Douglas
Located in Mount Lewis National Park, Mossman Gorge is under thirty minutes-drive from Port Douglas and can be incorporated into many scenic drives. Part of the traditional lands of the Kuku Yalanji people, the gorge itself is set within the lush green rainforest, and it is an ideal spot for a relaxed hike through the rainforest followed by a swim. Keep a keen eye out for crocodiles and birds on your journey through the canopies via well-laid boardwalks.
6. The Tablelands
Located near Mossman Gorge and very much doable on the same day, the Atherton Tablelands include many spectacular rainforest and waterfall scenes. In particular, the Waterfall Way is a scenic drive around some ten beautiful waterfalls in the Tablelands, including Millaa Millaa, Ellinjaa and Zillie Falls.
This area is also renowned for its food and drinks, with chocolate, cheese, coffee and wine all made/grown in the area. If you have little ones with you, drive to the Malanda Visitor Centre for almost immediate access to Malanda Falls. There are many different drives and scenic routes through which to explore the area, either via the Rex Range, Kuranda Range or the Gillies Range. A drive from Port Douglas to the famed Millaa Millaa Falls will take about two hours and fifteen minutes.
7. The Great Barrier Reef Coastal Drive
There are many opportunities to take drives out to various parts of the Great Barrier Reef from Port Douglas. In fact, many travellers to Port Douglas visit the town precisely for a glimpse of this wonder of the world.
A Great Barrier Reef Drive specifically takes in the stunning scenes both north and south of the Port Douglas area. Driving south to Cairns, a one hour drive will take you along Four Mile Beach with snorkelling tours out to sections of the Great Barrier Reef if desired.
Alternatively, just soak up the beautiful drive as you hug a coast which overlooks many reefs and islands. If you want to experience an even larger section of this coastline going south, Mission Beach, which is two hours and forty-eight minutes-drive one way, will pass waterfalls and natural pools like Babinda Boulders. Cairns Tours from Port Douglas will take you along this winding coastal route.
Before You Go
Before setting off on your mini adventure, be sure to be safety smart with your vehicle. In particular, make sure you have the right car for your chosen terrain and route as some roads will require hardy four-wheel-drive. Check distances and plan your adventure with adequate breaks and refreshments. Aside from packing all the necessary essentials like a first aid kit, phone charging equipment, snacks, maps and water for a Queensland road trip, be sure to check your car’s maintenance before you begin your travels. In particular, look out for the following basics to ensure a safe drive:
– Check that lights are in a good, working condition. This includes your reverse headlights, brake and indicator lights.
– Check that your tyres are in top condition with adequate tread and little chance of deflation or accident on Queensland’s roads.
– Make sure your windscreen wipers are working and have been topped up with vehicle screen wash.
– Ensure that you have towing contacts in the event of an accident.
– Check your car’s six essential fluids. These include your oil, water, car coolant and brake fluid levels, among others.
– Check your battery is in good order and ensure that you have enough driving fuel for the distance driven. It’s also always good to mark off service stations on a map to be safe.
– Pack your car with basic essentials: water, refreshments, first aid kit and an extra tire. Check the weather and plan your trip before you go.
– During the trip, avoid unlawful driving behaviours that might lead an accident, cause an injury and lower your demerit points. Be observant and cautious while driving.
– Take breaks here and there. During the breaks, you can explore the scenic surroundings.
Related Article: 10 Best Day Tours and Water Sports in Port Douglas