Port Douglas and Dunk Island

Apr 11th, 2004, 09:48 AM
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Port Douglas and Dunk Island

We have 6 nights to spend in the GBR area. We are trying to decide if we should spend all 6 nights at Port Douglas or 4 nights in Port Douglas and 2 nights at Dunk Island. Is Dunk Island worth the expense? We would stay in a beachfront room with our 11 and 15 year old. Should we also consider Palm Cove? Also does anyone have any suggestions on where to stay in Port Douglas? Hotels or nice apartments? Thanks for your help!
memories04 is offline  
Apr 12th, 2004, 10:06 PM
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Personally with only six nights, I'd base myself at Palm Cove and hire a car. You can easily visit Port Douglas, Cairns, Atherton Tableland, Cape Tribulation etc from there - all within about 90 minutes. Rather than going to Dunk Island, you could do a day trip to Mission Beach (on mainland opposite Dunk Island) and visit Paronella Park on the way back.
marg is offline  
Apr 13th, 2004, 08:54 AM
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Thank you for your reply. I am now looking into places to stay in Palm Cove. The Outrigger looks nice. Do you have any recommendations for a hotel? How far is it from Palm Cove to Port Douglas? I have never driven on the left side of the road and I am a little nervous about it. Is there public transportation between the two? Is it expensive or is a taxi better? Thanks again for your help!
memories04 is offline  
Apr 16th, 2004, 12:20 AM
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I would also stay in one place but would probably choose Port Douglas, which is about an hour by car north of Cairns. Palm Cove is roughly in the middle of the two. Cairns is a small city with no beach but lots of shops and restaurants. Palm Cove is a village, right on a lovely beach with only a few place to eat. Port Douglas is a small town, lots of nice places to stay, lovely beach with lots of choice of restaurants, a supermarket, shops etc. Most of the Great Barrier Reef trips leave from Port Douglas but the tour buses will pick you up from wherever you stay. A good website is


I think there is a public bus from Cairns to Palm Cove but taxis are easy to get. The road is one lane each way for most of the drive between Cairns and PD, with the sea on one side. It's not a hard drive but you must concentrate on the road, not the scenery. There have been serious accidents and it's easy to see why, as sometimes trucks hurtle along and if you are distracted by the lovely view....
Hope this doesn't put you off, just take your time if you are driving and pull over to the left to let people past who are in a hurry. Sometimes your accommodation place will organise to collect you at the airport, it's worth asking.
Hibiscus Gardens gets good reviews, key this into the search area on this forum for lots of info.
KayF is offline  
Apr 16th, 2004, 08:23 PM
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I know there is a bus service between Palm Cove and Cairns but can't help with the Palm Cove/PD section. A lot of the hotels will arrange pickup from Cairns airport.
Re driving, Kay is right about concentrating on the road between Palm Cove and Port Douglas, however between Palm Cove and Cairns, the road is four lane with divider strip so much easier to drive. Traffic isn't heavy and locals are well used to overseas tourists.
marg is offline  
Apr 17th, 2004, 01:11 PM
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i want to add that as a right side driver petrified about left side driving i was able to pick it up instantly as will you...as soon as you sideswipe that first parked car, you'll figure out how to adjust for the change in orientation (ha-ha!).

seriously, the roads have lines down them and you will not even know you are on the left, it will be very natural.
once off the "highway" (really more like the busiest street in your suburban town than an eight lane monstrosity) you will find it much like driving in a small suburb. very few cars. no pressure. no reason to muck it up.

i prefered the summer town feel of palm cove, but a family of four has more needs and probably the kids will like the shops and dining options of the larger places.
if you are after a residential feel, i would suggest palm cove.
it's an easy drive to cairns from palm cove if you get bored at night, but it is a much larger trek from port douglas. you would likely stay put there, if that's your base.

if you are thinking of visiting the daintree, pd is a good location.
also, in terms of how you divide your time: if you are after a beach holiday, then i would select a beach holiday destination. if you are after touring, i would see some of the places other posters have mentioned.
the tablelands are stunning and an overnight trip to daintree is well worth it for a whole different feeling of geography/nature. if that sort of thing does not interest you, i would select one beach resort area and just stick with it, relax and enjoy it, rather than split the time. have fun. jealous !
kerikeri is offline  
Apr 17th, 2004, 09:09 PM
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Thank you so much for everyone's help! I have a few more questions. When one drives from Palm Cove to Port Douglas are there street lights or is it pitch black? Also does anyone know anything about the Outrigger Beach Club in Palm Cove? How does it compare to the Clarion which used to be the Marriott in Palm Cove? Thanks in advance!
memories04 is offline  
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