Go Back  Fodor's Travel Talk Forums > Destinations > Australia & the Pacific
Reload this Page >

It's been asked ad infinitum, but here goes: Cairns or Port Douglas?

It's been asked ad infinitum, but here goes: Cairns or Port Douglas?

Old Oct 3rd, 2009, 04:13 PM
  #1  
Amy
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 6,822
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
It's been asked ad infinitum, but here goes: Cairns or Port Douglas?

I'll give you my specifics to help you help me make up my mind. We've only got about 18 days all told, and are coming from the east coast of the US, so about three days are travel time. Our projected travel dates would be early to mid July.

It looks as if it will be four of us spending five nights or so in Sydney, two in Alice Springs bookending a three night camping trip to Uluru/Kings' Canyon, followed by going to either Port Douglas (which was my first inclination) or Cairns for three nights or so, then hoping to spend a couple of nights at Daintree Wild.

We're more snorkeler/submersible types rather than divers; a couple of us like hiking, a couple of us not so much. I liked the less-touristy vibe that I seemed to get about Port Douglas, but for our short time I'm thinking things in Cairns might be more accessible (plus we might be able to stay at Lilybank.)

Thanks for any help you can give; I'm just wishing that I were going a lot sooner! (Not that I could afford it sooner, but you know what I mean.)
Amy is offline  
Old Oct 3rd, 2009, 05:25 PM
  #2  
 
Join Date: Jun 2005
Posts: 4,039
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
I've been to PD 5 times and for me it comes down to one word: beach. Cairns doesn't have one; PD has the aptly-named Four Mile Beach.
But, wait, there's more: Lots of choices for snorkeling tours out of PD, including the perennial favorite, Wavelength. Nice short hikes at Mossman Gorge, only 15 minutes from PD. Good selection of restaurants and you can walk everyplace in town.
longhorn55 is offline  
Old Oct 3rd, 2009, 07:43 PM
  #3  
 
Join Date: Mar 2007
Posts: 911
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
I have heard good things about Daintree Wild but don't know from where they think they are importing the Golden-shouldered Parrot mentioned on their web site. It wont be wild that's all.

If you stay in Cairns you could take the inland route to Daintree, visiting the beautiful crater lakes and seeing the wildlife on the Tablelands. An early morning or late evening cruise on the Daintree river would be worth your while even if you are not into wildlife but the scenery and ambiance is worth it.
Saltuarius is offline  
Old Oct 3rd, 2009, 11:17 PM
  #4  
 
Join Date: Dec 2005
Posts: 479
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Cairns is a city and port Douglas, a fishing village turned tourist destination. That said, Cairns is not a very large city, but PD definitely has a better beach!
Suelynne is offline  
Old Oct 4th, 2009, 12:15 AM
  #5  
 
Join Date: Jul 2003
Posts: 3,680
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
I'd follow Saltaurius's suggestion in including the Tablelands, spend at least one night there then drive to Daintree Wild. The owners, Gill or Donna, will arrange a Daintree River trip for you from there. www.bnbnq.com.au will give you a choice of accommodation options with very little "touristy vibe" for Tablelands, Daintree and Cape Tribulation.

You could, of course, continue north from Daintree Wild and take say, Rum Runner, out of Cape Tribulation beach for your reef trip.

So there's really no need to make a choice out of just Cairns city and Port Douglas when there's so much more to offer in the area; its just a pity you don't have more time to include the rainforests and coastline such as Mission Beach, south of Cairns, as well.
pat_woolford is offline  
Old Oct 4th, 2009, 12:46 AM
  #6  
 
Join Date: Jul 2009
Posts: 71
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Some parts of downtown Cairns are touristy and Port Douglas is touristy. If you stay in a bed and breakfast somewhere you will get more a feeling of the real Cairns and /or wherever and then if you love it or hate it will be for the real place and not a tourist storage facility.
Kriol is offline  
Old Oct 4th, 2009, 12:52 AM
  #7  
 
Join Date: Jul 2003
Posts: 3,680
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
That's true, Suelynne, no beach in Cairns city anyway, its a harbour; Cairns consists of about 40 suburbs which includes its northern beaches such as Trinity, Kewarra, Clifton, Palm Cove. Plenty of tourist resorts, apartments, etc - many are beachfront, most of PD's aren't.
pat_woolford is offline  
Old Oct 4th, 2009, 05:28 AM
  #8  
Amy
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 6,822
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Thanks, all, for the insight. Beach isn't the biggest priority, actually; more important would be the most practical use of our very limited time in seeing the GBR and the other sights (and sites) of the area. We won't be driving at all on this trip (huge country, little time); we'll be flying into Cairns. Daintree Wild does pickups from Cairns, Palm Cove, and Port Douglas, and includes a day tour into the rainforest.

Tablelands as a day trip is more easily done from Cairns, I assume; that would be a plus. I realize that I could easily spend all of the two weeks in the area, but, alas, there really is no way to stretch time. (We're already kinda stretching our allotted time to the limit to make the 18 days; that's why it's early July, as we get July 4th as a day off anyway.)
Amy is offline  
Old Oct 4th, 2009, 03:48 PM
  #9  
 
Join Date: Jul 2003
Posts: 3,680
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Hi Amy, you're correct in saying that a Tableland trip is more easily done from Cairns; as you won't be driving, have a look at www.northernexperience.com.au - this is a great day trip with a local owner/guide who'll pick up at Cairns and its northern beaches accommodation.
pat_woolford is offline  
Old Oct 5th, 2009, 05:37 PM
  #10  
 
Join Date: Jan 2007
Posts: 105
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Does timing make a difference - we are going to be in Cairns around Christmas time. PD and Palm Cove sound very pretty, but since we cannot swim on the beach, does Cairns make more sense?
minsin is offline  
Old Oct 5th, 2009, 06:13 PM
  #11  
 
Join Date: Mar 2007
Posts: 911
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Most places will have a pool or you could base yourself at Lake Eacham and swim there to your hearts content. The only trouble with the last suggestion is that it is 70 minutes from your boat to the reef.
Saltuarius is offline  
Old Oct 5th, 2009, 07:04 PM
  #12  
 
Join Date: Jan 2007
Posts: 105
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Well, apart from beach, we also want to visit the reef, Tablelands and Kuranda. We are there for 5 days and want to base ourselves in the most convenient spot. Sounds as if Cairns might be the better spot?

Does anyone have suggestions about where to stay - willing to pay AUD 300/night?
minsin is offline  
Old Oct 5th, 2009, 07:30 PM
  #13  
 
Join Date: Jul 2009
Posts: 71
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Palm Cove or Trinity Beach maybe a nice compromise. Bellevue at Trinity gets good reviews and has views that you do not generally get at Port Douglas or Palm Cove. So no ocean swimming but still ocean breeze and views.

Cairns has bars, nightclub and casino if you like nightlife best off there.

You can go to bed and breakfast but think you would need a car probably. Reef, Kuranda and Tablelands tours will pick up from most locations.
Kriol is offline  
Old Oct 5th, 2009, 09:49 PM
  #14  
 
Join Date: Mar 2007
Posts: 911
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Sorry Amy, forgot you would not be driving. If you had a driver though you could save yourself some money.
Saltuarius is offline  
Old Oct 6th, 2009, 06:41 PM
  #15  
SnR
 
Join Date: Aug 2008
Posts: 187
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
What a dilemma! Five days you say? You could stay at Lilybank for Tableland day, Kuranda, and reef day (Pat has recommended Reef Magic, it was too windy the day we were booked to go) and Port Douglas for Daintree evening boat trip (google Dan Irby) and closeness for pickup for your Wild Daintree booking. It is an hour's drive from PD to Cairns on windy, slow road so take that into account. Or many people have reported on Palm Cove which is in=between. Have fun!
Sally in Seattle
SnR is offline  
Old Oct 9th, 2009, 11:28 PM
  #16  
 
Join Date: Apr 2009
Posts: 142
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
I recommend Seachange at Trinity Beach as a nice compromise. Its's a suburb of Cairns and a short drive away. Great apartments to rent, beautiful beach, several nice restaurants and a beautiful pool area at the apartment itself.

You can find my review on tripadvisor along with several photos.

http://www.seachange-beachfront-apartments.com/
emerald125 is offline  
Old Oct 10th, 2009, 05:56 PM
  #17  
 
Join Date: Jan 2007
Posts: 105
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Thank you for your recommendations. Am planning to stay on Trinity and do the tours from there. Thanks again.
minsin is offline  
Related Topics
Thread
Original Poster
Forum
Replies
Last Post
Ruben
Australia & the Pacific
9
Jul 28th, 2013 08:25 PM
verbaslt
Australia & the Pacific
4
Jul 24th, 2008 02:05 AM
amsimon
Australia & the Pacific
5
Mar 25th, 2008 01:17 PM
dknudsen
Australia & the Pacific
5
Jun 1st, 2003 09:59 AM
bruce
Australia & the Pacific
5
Nov 11th, 2002 10:04 AM

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Trackbacks are Off
Pingbacks are Off
Refbacks are On


Thread Tools
Search this Thread

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