Great Barrier Reef: Places to Explore


Port Douglas

Known simply as "Port" to locals, Port Douglas offers almost as broad a range of outdoor adventures as Cairns, but in a more compact, laid-back setting. In this burgeoning tourist town there's a palpable buzz, despite tropical haze and humidity. Travelers from all over the world base themselves here when making excursions to the north's wild rain forests and Great Barrier Reef. Varied lodgings, restaurants, and bars center on and around Port's main strip, Macrossan Street.

Like much of North Queensland, Port Douglas was settled after gold was discovered nearby. When local ore deposits dwindled in the 1880s it became a port for sugar milled in nearby Mossman until the 1950s. The town's many old "Queenslander" buildings give it the feel of a humble seaside settlement, despite its modern resorts and overbuilt landscape. The rain forests and beaches enveloping the town are, for the most part, World Heritage sites—so while Port's growing in popularity, the landscapes that draw people here should remain undeveloped.

Elsewhere in North of Cairns