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Smeagol Feb 16th, 2007 10:08 AM

Port Douglas v Palm Cove
we are going to Australia for christmas and after travelling up the east coast we plan to spend 6 nights in Port Douglas over Christmas. My question is should i be staying in Port Douglas or Palm Cove is their much of a difference? I have booked the Thala lodge but am a little concerned that it may be just a tad too quiet for us but the location looks stunning and we plan to do tours at least 3 days out of 6.

FYI i am in my early 30's but we wouldnt consider ourselves party animals, love nice food and an evening drink in good locations. If i stay at the Thala will Taxis be easy enough to get from PD back to the hotel?

wlzmatilida Feb 17th, 2007 07:05 AM

Hi Smeagol,

There is a difference between Port Douglas and Palm Cove -- Palm Cove is much smaller (and P.D. isn't large by any means) and quieter (although with all the construction going on currently, maybe I'm overstating the quiet part)!

You'll love Thala, but rather than depending on taxis, why don't you just pick up a car at the Cairns airport, enjoy the beautiful drive to Port Douglas, and then have the flexibility of going downtown whenever you wish.

Hope this is helpful!


Certified Aussie Specialist

surich Feb 17th, 2007 08:46 AM

We stayed for a week in PD last year and really enjoyed it. Our favourite restaurant is Gone Bananas which is easy going but with great food. They created a great three course meal out of the catch from my fishing trip on the reef. Enjoy!

Smeagol Feb 17th, 2007 09:18 AM

Many thanks for your replies.
I think i am going to stick with PD and yes get a car so we can use for the days we dont have day trips. Am assuming though it will be easy enough to get a cab back to the Thala should we want to have a drink or two!!! (i mean we are British and you know how we like a drink)
Probably a stupid question but would any tours be running christmas day or Boxing day? (was hoping to do a sceni reef flight christmas or boxing day morning!

wlzmatilida Feb 17th, 2007 06:38 PM


Glad you took my suggestion to travel via a rental car; I think you'll appreciate the flexibility it affords you.

Christmas/Boxing Day -- I doubt if any tours will be running, but perhaps you could have a fun, relaxing beach day? Go to the local Coles market for food supplies and have a picnic! Yes, I can envision you on the beach with your bottle of wine, salami, some cheese and bread, laughing at the thought of your friends and family huddled around a fire at home! :)

I'm sure you can get a cab (if you were staying "just" outside Port Douglas you could take the shuttle; have no idea what a cab costs, but it must be possible to get one back to Thala).

Cockails... yes, I've done "research" into this (the dedication I exhibit for my clients knows no bounds..I amaze myself!) :)

Check out The Courthouse - at the end of the main drag, you can't miss it; and the Iron Bar - nice pub, good, basic food (check out the appetizer sampler), and you have the Cane Toad Races ($5 for good fun); the Star of Siam for Thai food and you can bring your own wine.


Certified Aussie Specalist

Bokhara Feb 17th, 2007 07:55 PM

Hi Smeagol,
Of course you'll need a drink or two: dehydration is one of the real threats in this arid country of ours. You need to keep your fluid levels up! ;)

The Thala website
has a "click & dial free worldwide" facility, so you could call them & see what they're doing. I just called, but, being Sunday afternoon, the tour person isn't there. The receptionist said there usually are limited tours over the Christmas/Boxing Day break, so you probably will be able to do something. It's probably a good idea to book ahead - or at least contact the tour operators in advance to reserve the ones you want to do, given that they're running reduced tours.

Smeagol Feb 17th, 2007 11:09 PM

you are all so super helpful thank you.
I actually think Christmas will be a good time for us to relax as we will have been on the go since Dec 13th. So i will just see whats on offer and fit my trips in around the days i have (building in some all important rest time) The Thala have told me they willbe having a traditional lunch with all the trimings (so like home except i dont have a view of the ocean and a world heritage rainforest from my table - won't we be smug... he he)
THAI food is my absolute favorite so thanks for that suggestion.
I have emailed Diane at Thala as their website is so helpful and thought she may be able to give me some advice...

now one more thing anyone done the flames of the forest dinner? any good or just tourist tack?
thanks again

wlzmatilida Feb 18th, 2007 05:33 PM


You Smug Thing YOU, enjoying World Heritage views on Christmas day, we're all envious of you I'm sure - even those of us who live in California (as I do); still rather be where you're headed!

On the Flames of the Forest (and maybe Pat might chime in here if she's gotton any feedback)....I've heard, through some travel agent friends who were there last year for Corooboree (big convention held for agents) that it wasn't good. That's especially bad since usually tour operators are trying to put their best foot forward to impress Aussie Specialists to recommend their product.

I wanted to check it out for myself when I was in Port Douglas in December, but it was cancelled due to the road being closed. I have clients going April 12th, back in the US on April 16th, so I'll get some feedback from them and let you know. (hopefully I can remember! If not, feel free to jog my memory by emailing me).


Certified Aussie Specialist

pat_woolford Feb 18th, 2007 07:49 PM

Melodie, I've never been to Flames of Forest, sort of not my thing. Have heard mixed reports though. Someone said it was a "magical experience" and someone else found it too touristy. One thing's for sure, its pricey.

Smeagol, as you like Thai food, you're coming to the right place. With climate conditions in FNQ similar to much of SE Asia the ingredients are grown here and are top quality. Do try Nu Nu's at Palm Cove, and the Tamarind in Cairn's Sofitel Reef Casino resort is an upmarket Thai restaurant. December is also height of mango season, don't pay supermarket prices - you can find them at roadside stalls or the market in PD and Cairns.

alliegator Feb 19th, 2007 05:20 PM

We stayed in Palm Cove and regreted it. Ok area but not much to do. We said we would stay in Port Douglas if we ever go back. All the dive companies left out of PD too and that meant you didn't have to get up as early to go diving :)

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