The Tropical North: Queensland
After lots of city vibes in Sydney and Melbourne, our trip through Australia led us up North to Queensland. They call it the place where the rainforest meets the reef. And it is true. As we were approaching the airport in Cairns, it seemed as if the lush dark green of the tropical forest transitioned right into turquoise waters of the ocean with the Great Barrier Reef off the coast of tropical North Queensland. One of my favorite window-seat sights so far.
In comparison to the prior two destinations, where our list of things we wanted to see and do were endless, we didn’t have too many things planned for Queensland. We wanted to sleep in, spend time at the beach and, of course, visit the reef.
After landing in Cairns, we had lunch in town and then headed North to Port Douglas. The hour-long drive is easy and the sights beautiful along the coastal area. We spent a total of 4 nights in Port Douglas, which was perfect. However, do keep in mind that sightseeing destinations like Cape Tribulation or The Great Barrier Reed generally require an entire day. While there are plenty of things to do in Queensland (skyrails, zip lines through the rainforest, snorkeling the reef, visiting Cape Tribulation, and of course the Whitsundays…), we decided to spend most of our time relaxing in Port Douglas + a day trip out to the reef.
Where to stay in Port Douglas?
We stayed at the Sheraton Grand Mirage Resort. Rooms start at approx. 200 AUD, the pool area is beautiful and very large, the rooms spacious (although we were not impressed by the housekeeping) and the bordering Four Mile Beach perfect for morning walks.
Snorkel the Great Barrier Reef!
One of my personal highlights of our trip was an entire day spent out the water, snorkeling the Great Barrier Reef at 3 different spots. We booked our tour with Poseidon Cruises (which a colleague recommended to my brother) and I have to say we were pleasantly surprised. The crew was super fun, knew so much about the reef and were great guides. The food we were served for lunch was delicious and they even had a lot of healthy options (quinoa, roasted pumpkin, fresh shrimp, lots of fruit,…). And of course the experience itself of snorkeling the reef was once in a lifetime! I have gone on snorkeling trips in the Maldives and Maui, both of which have been equally impressive, but the feeling of driving 1.5 hours out on the ocean and find waves crashing on the reef is definitely something special!
Where to eat in Port Douglas?
While I did an insane amount of foodie-research for all other destinations, I didn’t really look into Port Douglas much but we ended up finding a few really great places that I can highly recommend if you are ever in the area and feeling hungry!
- Siam by the Sea: incredible Thai food. Great for dinner.
- Seabean Tapas: lots of small plates to share, amazing tapas. Perfect for dinner with the family.
- Betty’s Bohemian Beach Café: the name is game. Super boho, lots of vegan options, healthy bowls & smoothies. Only open until 2:30 pm.
- The Mexican: authentic Mexican food, very friendly service. Lunch or dinner.
- 2 Fish: delicious fresh fish. Slightly more pricey, good for dinner.