Cairns vs. Port Douglas

Old Feb 28th, 2013, 03:40 PM
  #1  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Aug 2003
Posts: 44
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Cairns vs. Port Douglas

We'll be flying in to Cairns in January & want to stay in the area for 5 nights, 4 days (get in late one night). We will want to see the Great Barrier Reef, go to the rainforest (Daintree?) & any other suggestions. Would Cairns or Port Douglas be a better place to stay? We will not have a car. Any hotel suggestions?
donnap is offline  
Old Feb 28th, 2013, 04:24 PM
  #2  
tt7
 
Join Date: Dec 2010
Posts: 391
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Stay in Palm Cove or Port Douglas. Only stay in Cairns if you like pubs, clubs, McDonalds, backpackers and partying.

Palm Cove is about 25 minutes north of Cairns, Port Douglas about an hour. They are the two main beach resorts in the Cairns area (and Cairns itself has no real beach). Wherever you stay can arrange transport from/to the airport, so a car is not needed (though always useful, of course).

Some reef trips depart from Port Douglas, though most depart from Cairns. Again, wherever you stay can arrange reef trips for you, including transportation (so the only "advantage" of staying in Cairns versus Palm Cove is you "save" the 25 minute bus trip into Cairns to go out to the reef). We've always stayed in Palm Cove (except once, when we had some Hilton points to use and stayed in Cairns .... never again).

Both Palm Cove and Port Douglas have a variety of accommodation, from the more budget end to reasonably high end.

There are a number of threads here dealing with Cairns vs. Palm Cove vs. Port Douglas etc. so you may want to read through some of those.

Most people probably go to Kuranda. Though a bit touristy, it makes for a nice day out - take the train up and the cable car back.
http://www.kuranda.org

The video on this site (scroll down) will give you some idea of Palm Cove -
http://www.palmcoveaustralia.com

You can find a variety of Palm Cove accommodation here -
http://www.palmcove.net/index.php

You can find information on Port Douglas here -
http://www.visitportdouglasdaintree.com.au
tt7 is offline  
Old Mar 1st, 2013, 10:39 AM
  #3  
 
Join Date: Oct 2009
Posts: 438
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
My preference would be for Cairns. It's an easy place to walk around, and most of the trips to the reef leave from here, as do many of the tours for around the tropical north Queensland area if I remember rightly. I don't remember it being a place of partying, but then I am not a party person!
dottyp is offline  
Old Mar 13th, 2013, 04:49 AM
  #4  
 
Join Date: Mar 2013
Posts: 30
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
There are many hotels at Great Barrier Reef, you can compare the rates of each one by visiting expedia.com.au.
If you are looking for car hire than visit http://www.sixstarlimousines.com.au/

Hope the resource provide you will be helpful.
victorbritts is offline  
Old Apr 17th, 2013, 05:37 AM
  #5  
 
Join Date: Apr 2013
Posts: 1
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
I would stay in Cairns rather than Palm Cove for reasons of convenience and proximity to where everything is, and I'd choose Cairns over Port Douglas because you'll have more choice of reef tours in Cairns than in Port Douglas.

For information on choosing a reef tour, this webpage covers most of the options:

http://www.cairnsaustraliatravelguid...eef-tours.html

The Daintree is well worth a visit. We did zip-lining up there (also called Jungle Surfing), great fun once you get over the initial fear.

As for hotels, the 'Jack & Newell Cairns Luxury Apartments' near the Esplanade gets pretty good reviews.
ms4879 is offline  
Old Apr 18th, 2013, 09:43 AM
  #6  
 
Join Date: Jun 2004
Posts: 3,106
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
I stayed at the fabulous (but pricey) Thala Beach Lodge just outside Port Douglas. From Pt. Douglas, there is access to all the reef tours and other tours you could want. Be sure to choose a reef tour that includes a semi-submersible submarine. That was INCREDIBLE!!!!!
Songdoc is offline  
Old Apr 18th, 2013, 01:25 PM
  #7  
 
Join Date: Feb 2005
Posts: 4,219
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Songdoc: I read your reviews of Thala Lodge and it looks amazing. (You know I trust your judgment from Kauai reports). How is the transportation arranged if you don't have a car and don't get the dinner inclusion at the lodge? What did you do?
rncheryl is offline  
Old Apr 18th, 2013, 11:18 PM
  #8  
 
Join Date: Jun 2004
Posts: 3,106
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
rncheryl: It really was amazing. My package included breakfast that was incredible--but not the dinner. The views from that restaurant were unbelievable.

We had a car, and I think you would need one unless you ate all your meals at the hotel and took guided tours. It's pretty isolated. After touring all day we'd stop for dinner either in Pt. Douglas or wherever we happened to be when we got hungry. We never ate dinner at the hotel. Too expensive for me!

FYI, I'm in Kauai and will be going from here to Australia (and New Zealand). But this time no further north than the Brisbane area and the Sunshine Coast.
Songdoc is offline  
Old Jul 28th, 2013, 07:16 PM
  #9  
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 5,525
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Bookmarking for my trip next month!
dutyfree is offline  
Old Jul 30th, 2013, 02:55 PM
  #10  
 
Join Date: Mar 2003
Posts: 127
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
We stayed in Port Douglas last year and loved it. We took the Poseidon out to the reef and they were excellent. We did drive into Cairns and were glad we weren't staying there but that was just our sense. Maybe had we stayed there it would have been great.
john2003 is offline  
Old Jul 30th, 2013, 07:12 PM
  #11  
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 5,525
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
What area should we be looking to stay in if we just want to do snorkeling trips and to Daintree? Grateful thanks-
dutyfree is offline  
Old Jul 31st, 2013, 02:34 PM
  #12  
 
Join Date: Apr 2005
Posts: 4,466
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Duty free, we stayed in port Douglass and did daintree with Tony's tropical tours ( brilliant) and snorkelling with wavelength ( again fab) I really liked port Douglas.
Smeagol is offline  
Old Jul 31st, 2013, 03:15 PM
  #13  
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 5,525
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Thanks for the tips. I am home today desperately trying to figure out how many days we should allow for being up in the Port Douglas area.
Where do you recommend to stay in PD and is there any restaurants that you liked?
I am going to Australia for 18 days with my adult daughter who happens to be an oceanographer. We plan on two different trips to the Great Barrier Reef and the Daintree tour. If there is something else that everyone loved-please let me know as I am soooooo overwhelmed planning this trip. We will also be doing Melbourne and Sydney before going home to the states.Thanks!
dutyfree is offline  
Old Jul 31st, 2013, 04:26 PM
  #14  
 
Join Date: Mar 2003
Posts: 127
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
We stayed at Le Cher Du Monde in PD. It worked well for us as it is very central.
john2003 is offline  
Old Jul 31st, 2013, 05:23 PM
  #15  
 
Join Date: Jun 2004
Posts: 3,106
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
I really enjoyed a long leisurely drive from PD with a stop at Mossman's Gorge, all the way up to Cape Tribulation. It's not that Cape Trib was so special (although it's very nice), it's that we enjoyed the stops along the way--especially Alexandria Lookout and some of the boardwalks. I'd allot at least a day or two in addition to the Daintree and GBR days. It's such a beautiful area. We also enjoyed the wildlife park in PD.

From Melbourne be sure to tour the Great Ocean Road with stops at the Gibson steps, the Twelve Apostles, and the other nearby rock formations. Exquisite. And if you love wildlife, be sure to drive out to the Otway Lighthouse for unbelievable views of koalas in the wild. We LOVED Phillip Island with the Penguin Parade--and also the Grampians. These are all tours you can do from Melbourne.

You'll have a great time regardless of what you see--and you're not going to see it all, so relax and enjoy the things you see.
Songdoc is offline  
Old Jul 31st, 2013, 10:51 PM
  #16  
 
Join Date: Apr 2005
Posts: 4,466
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Lots of great restaurants. Salsa is the first one that springs to mind. I'll have a look and see what the other places were called that we went to.
Smeagol is offline  
Old Jan 8th, 2014, 04:49 PM
  #17  
 
Join Date: Jan 2014
Posts: 4
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
I signed up on here to ask the same kind of question as we're (planning to be) travelling to Port Douglas in March, did a search and saw this thread... wanted to know how your trip ended up going Donnap (if you've taken it yet) and where you ended up staying? We don't mind spending a bit more but don't want to go all-out even though some of the accom up there looks VERY tempting (but I know we'd probably regret it in the long run

Sea Temple up there looks badass, does anyone know if this site is legit? (domain sounds dodgy): http://www.5starportdouglas.com/

also came across this detailed guide on Cairns vs Port Douglas that is pretty informative: http://www.experienceoz.com.au/cairns-vs-port-douglas

if you've got any info to share would be much appreciated, cheers
Geezertd is offline  
Old Jan 8th, 2014, 08:01 PM
  #18  
tt7
 
Join Date: Dec 2010
Posts: 391
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
I have no knowledge of the "5Star" website you reference. How do their rates compare with the rates quoted direct by the hotel? -
http://www.pullmanhotels.com/gb/hote...pa/index.shtml

That said, I would be somewhat leery of the 5Star website. The words "Luxury Privately Owned and Managed 5 Star rated Apartments Within the Sea Temple Resort and Spa Port Douglas" are a red flag. I assume that there is some portion of the resort where the units are privately owned - and that's what you're getting. Often, all the units in some of these places are privately-owned (which is how they were financed in the first place) and the owners lease them back to a managing corporation. That arrangement can vary from (a) all the units are leased back and it operates just like a hotel and you wouldn't know the difference (b) some of the units are leased back but some of the owners live in their units and (c) there are privately-owned (and lived-in or privately leased) units built within the larger resort. I don't know which this is but the words on the 5star website make it sound like (c). Nothing wrong with that, per se. However, all the things they temptingly offer free (like round-trip airport transfers, spa vouchers, dining vouchers etc.) would make me question the overall deal (why all this "free" stuff?). Also, if they are privately-owned and leased units, then talking to the hotel if anything goes wrong may not do you much good - they may just say "nothing to do with us - not our unit". If they are privately-owned and leased (or even if they are leased back to a managing corporation - the (b) variation above), then the furnishings will often be provided by the owner, not the "hotel". Under the (b) model, the managing corporation will probably try to impose on each owner a minimum furnishing "standard" but if it's the (c) model, it may well be up to each individual owner as to how their unit is equipped. (46 cm flat-screen TV versus an old 25 cm CRT etc.). Caveat emptor. I certainly don't want to malign 5Star - but I would check what they are offering versus what the hotel offers direct. [That said, I'm not sure the hotel's website is much better. If you go to the "Rooms and Suites" tab, the picture that loads is a "Two Bedroom Plunge Pool Apartment". The photo says "strictly non binding" - they aren't kidding! - the view out of that window isn't remotely anywhere near Port Douglas .....
http://www.pullmanhotels.com/gb/hote...spa/room.shtml

In addition to Port Douglas, I would also put in a plug for Palm Cove. It's closer to Cairns and smaller, with a more intimate, village feel. It has several (relatively) high-end resorts, including a Sea Temple - check the links earlier in this thread.
tt7 is offline  
Old Jan 8th, 2014, 08:07 PM
  #19  
tt7
 
Join Date: Dec 2010
Posts: 391
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Looking at their website some more, all the "free" offers appear to be if you stay 5 nights or more. It also says "These Apartments are privately managed & are superbly decorated." The photos certainly look good .... who knows, they may be a good deal.
tt7 is offline  
Old Jan 9th, 2014, 07:24 PM
  #20  
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 5,525
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
I would highly recommend staying in Port Douglas over Palm Cove and Cairns. It is a darling town that has lots of great restaurants,shops and things to do including the 4 mile beach right by it. It is a great base for daytrips to Daintree Rainforest and the Mossman Gorge.

Cairns was like Key West (USA) with backpackers and hippies to me. Palm Cove was pretty but very small with not alot to do while being rather expensive.Our stay in Port Douglas lasted a week and we never ran out of things to do.

I would highly recommend taking the WAVELENGTH snorkel trip that only takes 30 people out for snorkeling and concentrates on the ecology of the ocean as opposed to Quicksilver who takes over 300 people from the tour buses out to a "platform".
dutyfree is offline  

Thread Tools
Search this Thread

Contact Us - Manage Preferences - Archive - Advertising - Cookie Policy - Privacy Statement - Do Not Sell or Share My Personal Information -