16 Best Things to do in Port Douglas with Kids

Tropical North Queensland is one of the most enchanting regions in Australia, and Port Douglas is one of our favourite coastal towns in Australia.

We just love it up Far North Queensland. It’s tropical living at its best and there are loads of things to do in Port Douglas with kids.

See the Palm trees at Rex Smeal Park - one of the best things to do in Port Douglas, Queensland, Australia
See the family of palm trees – classic things to do in Port Douglas

We prefer it as a base to explore the surrounding region over Cairns. We find Port Douglas a more charming town.

“Port” is hip, it’s happening, it’s chilled out but also a little upmarket and a great place to holiday as a family with a nice balance of relaxation and adventure.

Just a little way offshore you have the world’s biggest reef system – the Great Barrier Reef and then hugging the coastline is its very good friend, the oldest rainforest in the world – the 140 million-year-old Daintree Rainforest.

The Cairns to Port Douglas Drive

Just getting to Cairns from Port Douglas is an amazing Port Douglas attraction.

Port Douglas is just an hour’s drive north of Cairns, and after jumping off our flight we picked up our rental car to drive the newly named and spectacular Great Barrier Reef Drive with the Coral Sea on one side and the forest on the other.

Great Barrier Reef Drive to Port Douglas in Australia
Great Barrier Reef Drive to Port Douglas in Australia

The Great Barrier Reef Drive is a windy road but offers plenty of opportunities to pull over and admire the numerous beaches and stunning views.

First stop was Ellis Beach for breakfast.

The Ellis Beach Bar & Grill sits right across from the beach (5 mins North of Palm Cove) and offers a cool and casual vibe serving up good food and coffee – we recommend the Brekky Burger (bacon, egg, roast tomato, avocado, rocket & hollandaise).

Ellis Beach Bar & Grill - perfect stop for breakfast on the drive to Port Douglas
Ellis Beach Bar & Grill, Great Barrier Reef Drive
Ellis Beach Bar & Grill - perfect stop for breakfast on the drive to Port Douglas
Ellis Beach Bar & Grill – perfect stop for breakfast on the drive to Port Douglas from Cairns

With full tummies and our coffee fix done, a gentle stroll along picturesque Ellis Beach was in order.

Ellis Beach - a great place to stop on the drive between Cairns and Port Douglas, Australia

A little further along the Cairns to Port Douglas drive, we stopped off at a little cove filled with hand built rock towers – apparently they are called cairns!

Look out for them on the right-hand side and maybe your kids will enjoy building their own tower.

Rock towers on the Great Barrier Reef Drive to Port Douglas

Before no time we arrived in Port Douglas, QLD to spend a few days exploring the local area, to enjoy sunset views, palm trees and to eat great food.

That’s the only way to do it in Queensland.

Best Things to do in Port Douglas with kids

1. Visit the Great Barrier Reef and snorkel or dive

Port Douglas in Queensland makes for a great base to get out and go snorkelling or diving on the Great Barrier Reef.
Visiting the Great Barrier Reef with kids

Port Douglas is a great base for getting out and exploring the magic of the Great Barrier Reef, one of the world’s natural wonders.

Consisting of 900 islands and 2,900 individual reefs, it’s the world’s largest coral reef and the largest living structure on the planet.

If this is your first time visiting the Reef, consider going to the Outer Reef because that’s where the best snorkelling and diving can be had. You might only visit the Reef once, you will want to see it at it’s best!

We chose a tour with Quicksilver Cruises that took us to the renowned Agincourt Reef, a jewel-like ribbon reef on the very edge of the Great Barrier Reef.

To get to Agincourt Reef from the marina in Port Douglas takes about 80-minutes by high-speed catamaran.

This tour moors at a large pontoon which means you get off the catamaran and spend your time based on a spacious activity platform which we found most practical for us with young kids.

Agincourt Reef - one of the best places to snorkel on the Great Barrier Reef in Australia
Image by Quicksilver-cruises.com

The pontoon gives you room to move around without being confined to a boat, and from the pontoon you can choose to snorkel, dive, watch the fish feeding from the underwater viewing platform and underwater observatory, ride in the semi-submersible or even take a helicopter flight over the reef.

It was Savannah’s first time snorkelling, and what’s great about the pontoon is the easy access to the water from the submerged platform.

The stairs that lead down from the main deck to the snorkel platform allow you to sit down and put on your mask and fins, making it easy to slide into the water.

Snorkeling at the Great Barrier Reef in Australia is a must do when you stay at Port Douglas in Queensland
Snorkeling the Great Barrier Reef, Port Douglas

Plus, Quicksilver have snorkelling safety officers (lifeguards) who keep watch and assist you with your gear and offer tips to fully enjoy the experience.

We loved Agincourt Reef. We saw plenty of beautiful coral and fish and the kids felt safe snorkelling in the designated roped off section next to the pontoon.

Snorkeling at the Great Barrier Reef in Australia
Snorkeling at the Great Barrier Reef in Australia.
Great Barrier Reef, Australia
Snorkeling at the Great Barrier Reef in Australia.
Great Barrier Reef, Australia
Snorkeling at the Great Barrier Reef in Australia

Great Barrier Reef Tours from Port Douglas

2. Play at Four Mile Beach – Port Douglas Beach

Four Mile Beach in Port Douglas, Queensland, Australia
Four Mile Beach in Port Douglas, Queensland, Australia

Looking for that classic palm fringed tropical beach to relax on, or perhaps take a walk or run?

You’ll see locals and visitors alike enjoying beautiful Four Mile Beach in Port Douglas. There are several access points at the end of main street (Macrossan Street) or at various intervals at the other end – at Four Mile!

If you happen to visit in stinger season, near the surf club a stinger net is placed for those who enjoy a swim.

And if you’re an early riser, how about a sunrise walk or do what I did and go down for a sunrise photo – it was a little overcast whilst we were in Port Douglas but still a site worth crawling out of bed for!

See the sunrise at beautiful Four Mile Beach in Port Douglas, Queensland, Australia
Sunrise at beautiful Four Mile Beach in Port Douglas, Queensland,

This Port Douglas beach often makes many best beaches in Australia lists.

3. Experience Sunset and Sunrise at Rex Smeal Park

Watching the sunset at Rex Smeal Park is one of the best things to do in Port Douglas, Queensland, Australia
Sunset at Rex Smeal Park

Rex Smeal Park is the place to be for sunset in Port Douglas for the classic palm tree shot. It’s a popular place to be with the locals and tourists to watch the sun go down with a large grass area and a nearby playground for the kids.

Grab a picnic or just a glass of wine and get amongst the chilled vibe of others playing drums, throwing frisbees or kicking back in their chairs.

Whilst most popular at sunset, if you come down for some early morning light like Caz did you’ll almost have the place to yourself – and the lighting is beautiful.

Beautiful Port Douglas in Port Douglas, Queensland, Australia
Sunrise Rex Smeal Park, Port Douglas

Sunrise and sunset is definitely one of the top free things to do in Port Douglas with kids.

4. Appreciate the views at Flagstaff Hill Lookout

Four a sweeping view overlooking Four Mile Beach, head up to Flagstaff Hill Lookout. It’s an easy drive from the centre of town or you can walk up the hill.

Lovely view of Four Mile Beach in Port Douglas from Flagstaff Hill Lookout
Four Mile Beach, Port Douglas

Probably best viewed at sunrise, it was still a little overcast on the morning Caz took a drive there but definitely worth the time. Hopefully you can catch this Port Douglas Beach on a gorgeous sunny day.

Take a look at how beautiful Four Mile Beach looked when Craig and I visited a couple of years earlier.

Top free things to do in Port douglas with kids - Flagstaff Lookout
Four Mile Beach from Flagstaff Hill Lookout, Port Douglas

Another awesome and free things to do on a Port Douglas holiday.

5. Shop and eat on Macrossan Street

Colorful and vibrant Macrossan Street in Port Douglas, Queensland
Colorful and vibrant Macrossan Street in Port Douglas, Queensland

Cosmopolitan and vibrant Macrossan Street is the main street in Port Douglas and oozes that tropical holiday vibe and atmosphere.

Lined with cafes, bars, trendy shopping and palm trees, once the day gets going it’s a hive of activity and offers ample opportunities to grab breakfast lunch or dinner, or just a coffee and a cold drink, or perhaps a new designer outfit.

We enjoyed a bite to eat at several spots along Macrossan (keep reading).

6. Soak up the serenity at Port Douglas Marina

When in Port Douglas, Queensland, go visit the marina for waterfront dining and shopping
Port Douglas Marina

The iconic Marina in Port Douglas is Queensland’s northernmost marina and one of Australia’s premier nautical destinations.

Positioned on Dickson Inlet and flanked by the mountain ranges of the Atherton Tablelands and Daintree Rainforest, it’s definitely one of the most scenic marinas we have visited in Australia.

The Marina is undertaking a major redevelopment and where you’ll find al fresco waterfront dining with spectacular views over the Coral Sea, numerous entertainment and shopping options, and a place to enjoy a craft brew, coffee or wine right on the water and watch the Port Douglas life sail on by.

7. Go Ancient at Mossman Gorge, Daintree Rainforest

Mossman Gorge, Queensland, Australia
One of the best things to do in Port Douglas with kids is a drive to Mossman Gorge

Just a 20-minute drive from Port Douglas brings you to Mossman Gorge at the southern most end of the Daintree Rainforest.

If you don’t have time to visit the Daintree Rainforest north of the Daintree River, and we recommend at least a full day, beautiful Mossman Gorge is a great alternative.

It’s ancient, pristine and full of high vibrational energy. Mossman Gorge is free to enter but you do have to purchase a pass to catch the shuttle bus into the main walking area. Or you can walk the 2km yourself.

A boardwalk takes you to the Mossman River and a beautiful swimming area. The river can be dangerous after heavy rain, which is why it was recommended we not swim when we visited.

The Mossman River water is said to be the second most purest in the world. (Fraser Island in Southern Queensland also claims a title to pure water)

Popular Mossman Gorge Tours

8. Smile at the Hartley’s Crocodile Adventures

Get up close with saltwater crocodiles at Hartley's Crocodile Adventures in Port Douglas, Queensland, Australia
Hartley’s Crocodile Adventures

Our kids love wildlife experiences and 25 minutes south of Port Douglas is Hartley’s Crocodile Adventures.

Hartley’s is a place to not only get up close with big crocs (and a great place to get educated about them) but where you can view and learn about other Australian animals.

They have over 2,100 metres of timber boardwalks and pathways that lead you on a journey of discovery through woodlands and rainforest where you can see an array of wildlife.

We jumped on Hartley’s Mammal Magic tour where one of the Mammal Keepers took us on a behind the scenes interactive tour that allowed us to feed and hold some of our most gorgeous and adorable Australian mammals.

How cute are these young alligators we got to feed?!

See the cute baby alligators at Hartley's Crocodile Adventures in Port Douglas, Queensland, Australia
Hartley’s Crocodile Adventures, Port Douglas

For more cuteness overload, Kalyra got personal with a squirrel glider and little refus betong, not to mention everyone’s favourite, the koalas.

Get up close with wildlife at Hartley's Crocodile Adventures in Port Douglas, Queensland, Australia
Port Douglas attraction for kids
Get up close with wildlife at Hartley's Crocodile Adventures in Port Douglas, Queensland, Australia
Fun things to do in Port Douglas with kids

Oh, and the not so cute 15kg Burmese python

Yes, you can hold a Burmese python at Hartley's Crocodile Adventures in Port Douglas, Queensland, Australia
Hold a Burmese python at Hartley’s Crocodile Adventures in Port Douglas, Queensland, Australia

Definitely one of the most fun things to do in Port Douglas with kids. You can fit this in on your drive from Cairns to Port Douglas or from Port Douglas to Cairns!

Watch our video of the top 10 things to do in Port Douglas & Daintree:

Places to eat in Port Douglas with kids

Port Douglas is well known for its excellent restaurants, cafes, and bars. Below are places we enjoyed a bite to eat at or a drink and are just a sample of what’s on offer in Port.

9. The Little Larder

When in Port Douglas have breakfast at The Little Larder cafe at 40 Macrossan Street. They’re well known for their yummy breakfasts and we can now confirm that.

We grabbed a table on the footpath to enjoy the pleasant temperature and to watch the world go by on Macrossan Street whilst the kids enjoyed their waffles and we tucked into our Spanish beans and eggs with trout. And the coffee was oh so GOOD. 

Yummy breakfast at The Little Larder Cafe in Port Douglas, Queensland, Australia
Yummy breakfast at The Little Larder Cafe in Port Douglas,

10. Fish Restaurant

We love our seafood and so does 2 Fish Restaurant, located in the Coconut Grove Complex on Macrossan Street.

They’re an award winning seafood restaurant and where you can enjoy a mouth-watering array of succulent seafood prepared fresh each day accompanied by the best Australian and international wines. You can dine on the terrace or in air-conditioned comfort.

Our recommendations; natural oysters, queen olives stuffed with anchovies (gluten free), pan seared sea scallops, crispy skinned barramundi and the BBQ Moreton Bay Bugs.

Delicious - BBQ Moreton Bay Bugs at 2Fish Restaurant, Port Douglas, Queensland, Australia
Delicious – BBQ Moreton Bay Bugs at 2Fish Restaurant, Port Douglas

11. The Beach Shack

About 10 minutes drive south of Port Douglas is the Beach Shack – a groovy and tropical dining experience and a locals favourite.

With sand on the floor and a chill out bar, it’s laid back, casual and kid friendly. You have a choice between a restaurant menu or a more relaxed pizza bar menu.

Eat at the Beach Shack in Port Douglas, Queensland
Beach Shack in Port Douglas, Queensland

We loved this place to eat in Port Douglas!

12. Hemingways Brewery

Hemingways Brewery in Port Douglas, Queensland, Australia
Hemingways – one of the newest things to do in Port Douglas

We’re always up for a craft brew and the newly opened Hemingways Brewery is a top spot to sample a local brew right on the water at the marina.

A microbrewery, bar and restaurant, it’s sure to become a locals favourite, and why not, with live acoustic music playing and a stunning location I know we didn’t want to leave.

Hemingways Brewery in Port Douglas, Queensland, Australia
Hemingways Brewery in Port Douglas, Queensland, Australia

On our next Port Douglas holiday we will linger longer.

13. Betty’s Bohemian Beach Café

For a colourful and vibrant setting head to Betty’s Bohemian Beach Café on Macrossan Street and choose from a range of healthy, vegetarian and gluten-free options, plus good coffee and smoothies.

Betty's Bohemian Cafe in Port Douglas, Queensland
Betty’s Bohemian Cafe in Port Douglas, Queensland

This is the kind of place a tropical Queensland holiday needs!

14. Courthouse Hotel

Courthouse Hotel in Port Douglas, Queensland, Australia
Courthouse Hotel – one of the best things to do in Portland to enjoy views

After a big day out on the reef snorkelling, we were looking for a cold beer, a glass of chardonnay and a view and the Courthouse Hotel didn’t disappoint.

It’s the oldest pub in Port Douglas and we loved the character and vibe, and family friendliness! We went upstairs to the balcony which offers nice views out over the park and when it’s not overcast we were told it’s a top spot for sunset.

15. Surf Club Bar & Bistro

Surf Club Bar & Bistro in Port Douglas, Queensland, Australia
Surf Club Bar & Bistro in Port Douglas, Queensland, Australia

Every time we visit Port Douglas with kids, we find ourselves at the Surf Club Bar & Bistro.

Another local’s favourite for lunch, dinner, coffee, or a cold drink and we like the casual setting and location right across the road from Four Mile Beach.

They serve up tasty food at reasonable prices and there’s a kids playground – win,win!

16. Flames of the Forest

Flames of the Forest - unique dining experience in Port Douglas, Queensland
Flames of the Forest – unique dining experience in Port Douglas, Queensland

One of the most unique things to do in Port Douglas is dinner at the Flames of the Forest – Australia’s only rainforest dining experience.

You can choose from two unique dining experiences amongst the rainforest – the Aboriginal Cultural Experience or the Rainforest Dining Experience whilst enjoying an award winning menu and inspirational entertainment.

We haven’t personally dined here yet, but we have visited the property for a pre-dinner drink and the setting and atmosphere is amazing and can only imagine what the full experience would be like.

Flames of the Forest - unique dining experience in Port Douglas, Queensland
Flames of the Forest – unique dining experience in Port Douglas, Queensland

Watch our video for a visual feast of the best restaurants in Port Douglas:

Accommodation in Port Douglas for Families

Coconut Grove Apartments

Coconut Grove Apartments - One of the best places to stay in Port Douglas, Queensland, Australia
Coconut Grove Apartments – One of the best places to stay in Port Douglas with kids

Our first two nights we stayed at the stylish and modern Coconut Grove Port Douglas which is perfectly located in the heart of town on Macrossan Street and an easy 140-metre walk to Four Mile Beach.

We love staying in apartments as a family as they offer more space and a homely feel, and are a pleasure to return to after a big day exploring.

And at Coconut Grove you could be excused for never wanting to leave – consisting of 33 glamorous holiday apartments that come complete with their own outdoor entertaining terrace, huge living area, and an onsite pool, you have everything you need to be fully self-contained.

But the very best of Port is merely a stroll away and if you’re looking to be centrally located in luxury, these apartments would be hard to beat – especially if you opt for a rooftop or level one apartment that incorporates its very own swimming pool, spa and outdoor entertaining facilities.

Coconut Grove Apartments - One of the best places to stay in Port Douglas, Queensland, Australia
Coconut Grove Apartments
Coconut Grove Apartments - One of the best places to stay in Port Douglas, Queensland, Australia
Love that tropical view

QT Port Douglas – amazing family resort

QT Resort - One of the best places to stay in Port Douglas, Queensland, Australia
QT Resort pool

On our last night, we stayed at the uber funky QT Port Douglas in a 2-bedroom villa with a pool view.

We love the QT properties, having stayed at the one on the Gold Coast several times and they’re just so vibrant, hip and a fun place to stay.

At their Port Douglas property, you have an open-spaced setting with a contemporary yet quirky tropical feel. The pool and swim up bar is a hit – we couldn’t get the kids out of the pool – which was fine as we had cocktails to keep us company, and we tag teamed for some extra indulgence and kid free time at the QT spa.

QT Resort - One of the best places to stay in Port Douglas, Queensland, Australia
QT Resort, Port Douglas rooms

Our room came with kitchen facilities, lounge room with balcony and daily service, and again was perfect for us as a family.

And if you’ve never dined at their onsite Bazaar Restaurant, it’s a buffet with a difference or what they cal an ‘interactive marketplace’ – their dessert bar alone will put a smile on your face!

Things to do in Port Douglas, QLD in video

Check out all the amazing things to do in Port Douglas with kids, including a road trip through the Daintree Forest to Cape Tribulation. Be sure to subscribe to our YouTube channel.

More Tropical North Queensland Travel Tips

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Do you have any tips on things to do in Port Douglas? Share in the comments.

10 thoughts on “16 Best Things to do in Port Douglas with Kids”

  1. Wow, those food pics are to die for! If I’ll plan to go to Port Douglas some day, I’ll definitely go back to your article, it’s a great resource! Nice work!

    1. Hi Anna. We enjoyed eating our way around Port. Besides all the other things to do in Port Douglas the cafe and restaurant scene was a standout. Hope you visit soon!

  2. Those pictures are a trip down memory lane!! I wish I was still honeymooning! We spent two weeks in Port Douglass and it’s amazing. It didn’t get old, and there was tons of new stuff to discover and do.

    The Flames of the Forest is COMPLETELY worth the price. If you can swing it then you shouldn’t miss it.

    I would add that the scuba diving is WAY nicer out of Port Douglas than Cairns. Really I think EVERYTHING is nicer in Port Douglas.

  3. Amazing site, thank you for all the tips!! Traveling to Australia from US for 1st time in 2 weeks. Sadly didn’t realize this was “stinger season”. Do you know if beaches in Whitsunday Islands and Cairns area can be swam in without the full stinger suits? Or is western Australia better in this aspect during January? I love the ocean and can’t imagine having to swim with a full suit on 🙁

    1. I’m not too sure Marta but I doubt it. If you take one of the snorkelling trips then I’m pretty certain they’ll make you wear one. It’s not worth the risk really as the jellyfish are hard to see at times and if it’s a box jellyfish and they sting, you’ll pretty much die. You won’t have the same worry in Western Australia, except if you are the top of the State around the Broome area. But I wouldn’t recommend visiting there in January – it’s stifling hot.

      However, around Ningaloo Reef and Exmouth, it will be hot, but no stingers.

  4. We are planning a trip to Port Douglas next February as it is the only time we can go, being the rainy season, is it likely to rain every day all day? Or is it usually just a bit of rain each day and done dry time for outdoor activities?

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