LONG WEEKEND PERFECTION – PORT DOUGLAS

A beach weekend is always a good idea. But if you combine that with the Great Barrier Reef and the Daintree Rainforest, it moves out of good idea territory and into get your togs and book it to the airport right now territory.

Port Douglas. A truly incredible town, so stunning and so fun and the only place on earth where two World Heritage Sites actually meet.

So when the question pops up – should we long weekend in Port Douglas? The answer is an easy one (You Already Know feat. Port Douglas, bethandarcher.com).

First up, it’s super easy to get to. Carins is just a two hour flight from Brisbane (three hours from Sydney) and just like that, you’ll feel the tropical north the second you get off the plane.

The drive to Port Douglas takes about an hour and is super picturesque.   You’ll also love the fact that it’s super straightforward – just follow the main road leading from Cairns up the Coast for an hour and you’re there.

Make a quick detour to Palm Cove (about 20 minutes into the drive) for amazing brunch spots and views like this.

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We love the Chill Café, on the corner of Veivers Road and Williams Esplanade.

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It’s a great place to refuel and stretch your legs after the flight.

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As you head toward Port Douglas, you’ll drive through lush rainforests and pass beach after beach, just like this.

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There are plenty of safe spots to stop and take it in.

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Think the Great Ocean Road, but the tropical, scattered with coconuts, Queensland version.

Keep heading north and pretty soon, you’ll be in Port Douglas.  After passing all of those beaches, the first thing we wanted to do, was get down to Four Mile Beach.

The Beach 

Now, we’re South East Queensland girls, meaning we spend most of our beach days at Kirra on the Gold Coast or Wategos at Byron.

In fact, if I’m not at Harvey’s on a Sunday morning, then I’m probably at Kirra.

But if it’s a tropical beach you’re after, Four Mile Beach is it.  It’s Palm Tree perfection, don’t trip on that coconut, you know – I wouldn’t mind a coconut margarita right now, all the way.

Let’s check out this beautiful stretch of sand.

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How about that pano?!? As usual, photo's by Beth.

 

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The turquoise water, the deep green of the trees, the mountains almost everywhere you look.  I can’t think of many things more relaxing than a long walk down Four Mile Beach on a sunny Queensland day.

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But.  Full disclosure.  We’re talking Far North Queensland here.   That means crocs, people.   Maybe.  Possibly.   Amazing, super important to our eco-systems yet quite probably deadly, prehistoric, Salt Water Crocs.    There had been croc sightings on Four Mile Beach in the days prior to our visit, hence the signs.

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If there was ever a sign to pay attention to, I’d say this is the one.

The locals seem pretty chill about it.  I think it’s more, they know when and where to swim and they don’t take any unnecessary chances.

Surf Life Saving Queensland’s lifesavers keep a watchful eye out and patrol an area at the northern end of the beach.  If you do want to take a dip, this is the spot.

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If not, well you’ve just found a contender for dreamiest beach for a beach walk ever.

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Beth and I and our lovely friend Miss A all elected to say no to the croc risk and stay out of the insanely inviting looking water at Four Mile last week.   It was a tough decision, made slightly easier by what was waiting for us on the other side of these beautiful palms.  But what could it be?

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Oh, just two hectares of seemingly endless salt water pools at the Sheraton Mirage Port Douglas.

Salt water, no crocs invited, excellent plan – WE’RE IN (I’m going to need that coconut margarita now please).

Sheraton Mirage Port Douglas Resort

The Sheraton Mirage.  Built in the 80’s and super iconic, this beautiful property has just under gone major – and very successful – renovations.

First up – it’s pink.  And can we just thank God for a moment that they didn’t change the colour during the renos.  Having grown up in a pink house, design wise, there’s nothing  Beth and I love more.  Granted, this is a hotel, but you get our drift.   It’s a beautiful colour and it works perfectly in such a summery, tropical location.

So, let’s check in and then check out the rooms.

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The use of pink continues in the lobby, where you’ll find this excellent little cafe.

We stayed in a Mirage Resort Room – really big and very modern, with a lovely beachy vibe.   If you want to splash a little more $$ you can always opt for a Lagoon Edge Room,  each of which comes with a swim out balcony, which let’s face it – would be very fun.

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Now to the resort grounds.  After a day exploring the southern Daintree Rainforest and the stunning Mossman Gorge and legitimately one of the BEST DAYS EVER snorkelling in Opal Reef (debrief by Beth coming in the next few days) – we were definitely looking forward to a relaxing day lounging by the pools and drinking cocktails.

We were not disappointed.

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All I’m saying is…if the beach nearby could maybe, possibly, be home to the occasional crocodile – this is some consolation.  If you’re looking for a place to relax, to swim, to get some sun, to read that book you can’t get to and to trial your new togs before summer hits – this place is it.  We had a wonderful time.

That said, Trip Adviser reviews are mixed.  Some people feel there’s a lack of customer service at the resort and that the food isn’t all that great.

I’d say the service is a bit hot and cold.  The property is so big, everyone is so spread out, so it does kind of feel like you have to look for staff members when you need something, rather then them just being available.   Now, if you booked a villa (usually over a thousand dollars a night) then I agree, you would expect more.  But, especially if you’re staying in a Mirage Resort Room (currently very reasonably priced), I’d say it’s not a big deal.

And food wise?  Definitely head into town – Port Douglas is filled with so many delicious options, speaking of which…

Best Eats in Port Douglas

  • BEST COFFEE: has to go to Origin Espresso with a special mention that they do an incredible Long Black over ice which I am told was DELISH but what do I know, I was a thousand degrees and opted for the ice-cream (very little to any shock there).

 

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You know when you're in a Melbourne coffee shop and it's just so clearly a Melbourne coffee shop, filled with just so obviously Melbourne baristas, taking their coffee so very seriously that you know this coffee shop you're in could never be found in Sydney or Brisbane and to be honest, sometimes I am in a Melbourne coffee shop and I'm just wishing I was at Merlo in the Valley, getting the best flat white in the universe, like so much. Well, Origin Espresso is so clearly a North Queensland coffee shop, and I LOVE THEM FOR IT.

The colour, the tropical flowers, the lack of deconstructed lattes, a barista in WHITE, this coffee shop is definitely not in Melbourne

  • BEST FISH & CHIPS:  Because you’re at the beach and there’s no better way to top off a beach day.   If you’re feeling it, head to Lanternfish Fish & Chip Shop, for fresh and local seafood, great salads and yes, very crispy chips.

 

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  • OH YOU FANCY HUH?:  Because sometimes you need to put on your best silk kaftan and head off to a fancy dinner in the tropics.  It’s a fact of life, along with the fact that Reese Witherspoon movies will always, always annoy me.   Don’t worry, I totally get it.  If this urge should strike you (and it definitely should) head to the Watergate Restaurant & Lounge Bar, where the food and cocktails are excellent and the vibe is AMAZING.   Tropical plants, dimmed lighting and fire lanterns everywhere sounds like a description of the survivor set, but it actually really works.  There’s also a signed photo of Lloyd from Entourage hanging on the wall, which makes me very happy.

 

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  • BEST IN SHOW: The number one pick is of course, the most iconic restaurant in Port Douglas (and in an unlikely nod to the US election, it’s also a Bill Clinton fav), Salsa Bar & Grill.   When we said we were heading to Port Douglas almost everyone we came across said the same thing… you should go to Salsa.  Go to Salsa.  Have you booked to go to Salsa?!  Well, they were all right.  The menu reads amazingly well and everything we ordered was seriously delicious.  I’m not a huge meat eater, but I ordered the beef cheek rendang and it melted in my mouth.   We can’t wait to go back.

 

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You know the moment the waiter asks you – would you like dessert?  At Salsa, the answer is a definitive yes.  YES, YOU WOULD REALLY LIKE DESSERT.

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The truly decadent tasting plate

TRIP NOTES

  • All of our above reccos can be found in town, within easy walking distance of one another and the beach.   Origin Espresso is at 3/21-23 Warner Street.   Lanternfish Fish & Chip Shop can be found at 1/22 Macrossan Street, with Watergate close by at 5/31 Macrossan Street.  You’ll find Salsa Bar & Grill at 26 Wharf Street.

 

  • We wanted to recommend a brunch spot and went to the lovely Betty’s Bohemian Beach Cafe for breakfast one day, which was nice – but we didn’t have a chance to try out The Little Larder, which is meant to be a wonderful.  Next time we’re in Port Douglas, we’ll be heading there.

 

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