So you’re heading up to Port Douglas for a well-earned break? Here are some active things to liven up your trip — some are free, but the rest are relatively low cost adventures and tours that will get you buzzing and create awesome memories. If you have any other suggestions, please let us know by commenting below.
Run along Four Mile Beach
With its tightly-packed sand and 6.5km (AKA 4-miles) of palm tree-lined coastline, pick a time when the tide is out and you’ll see everyone from walkers and runners to yogis, bootcampers and riders navigating one of Port Douglas’ biggest drawcards. There is plenty of space for everyone to do their thing and you can cool off afterwards with a dip in the ocean (just remember to swim in the stinger nets between October/November and April/May). We particularly enjoy this beach for running because the sand is so compact. We would suggest wearing runners, unless you usually run barefoot.
River Drift Snorkelling
Hosted by Back Country Bliss Adventures, this river snorkelling tour at the foot of Mossman Gorge is the only of its kind in Australia. This three-hour activity is particularly special because it traverses through some of the most beautiful, crystal clear rainforest river imaginable and you get to see everything from turtles and tropical fish to platypus, spotted eels, freshwater shrimp, rainforest birds and butterflies. There is also a ‘sled’ on hand, which is a purpose-built inflatable river board that you can hop on for a break, or the kids can use to build their confidence before they jump in. Back Country Bliss Adventures program coordinator Michaela Flood says that people with a moderate level of fitness are OK to join in during the dry season (the current isn’t that strong and you can swim upstream if you want to check-out some wildlife); but the wet season requires a much high level of fitness and swim skills.
Watch this clip from Getaway find out more:
Walk and swim at Mossman Gorge
Speaking of Mossman Gorge, you can also choose your own adventure on the land and explore as much or as little as you like. The journey starts at the Mossman Gorge Centre, where you park. From here you can either choose to get a bus to the gorge ($8.90 an adult when we went in September 2015), or walk the 2km. Once you are at the gorge car park, there’s a 540m walk to the Mossman River Lookout, or you can continue across the nifty suspension bridge and do the 2.4km rainforest circuit track. Wear closed in shoes if you can as there are tree roots to walk over, but this spectacular walk isn’t difficult and is suitable for people of all ages (we saw everyone from kids to seniors exploring).
If you’d prefer to do a guided walk and learn more about the heritage, ancient culture and traditions of the region, you can do a Ngadiku Dreamtime Walk, which are conducted by the local indigenous people. They take you into areas that can only be accessed if you are on this particular adventure to visit culturally-significant sites, traditional bark shelters and hear the narrative of the rainforest. The tour goes for about 1.5 hours and bookings are essential.
Fancy a dip? There are dedicated swimming spots in the Mossman River, but sometimes its prohibited if the conditions are dangerous (e.g. after heavy rain). Check with the Mossman Gorge Centre.
Join a local bunch ride
Bring your road bike up and take part in the weekly Saturday bunch ride that leaves from Origin Espresso on Warner Street, Port Douglas. A popular route is heading north up the Captain Cook Highway and turning right at Bonnie Doon Road. This then turns into Cooya Beach Road and takes you into Mossman via the back way. After you go through town (you can stop at the weekly markets if you’re keen), turn left onto Shannonvale Road. This was our favourite bit — it takes you through some scenic country, including riding through fresh water over the road, past the passionfruit plantation of Shannonvale Tropical Fruit Winery and up a couple of steady hills. Then you head back along the highway. Just be careful on the highway stints as there isn’t much of a shoulder in some sections — single file is an absolute must. The weekly ride starts at 6.30am on Saturdays, but just ring Port Douglas Bicycle Centre (they hire all sorts of bikes too) to double-check that this hasn’t changed since.
Mountain bike the Bump Track
A part of the famous RRR (Rural, Rainforest & Reef) mountain bike race, you can ride the Bump Track as one of the tours offered by Back Country Bliss Adventures. Described as an “undulating cross-country beautiful, scenic ride”, this track is graded intermediate and requires a moderate level of fitness to do either the half or full day option. There’s plenty of wildlife, including the occasional cassowary, to see on this track that’s ranked one of the best 10 rides in the country.
Bike hire is included (or bring your own and get a discounted rate). You can also do a night-time version with all lights supplied. Experienced mountain bikers can hire bikes and do the track outside of the tour, but this option is only available to those who are extremely capable on the trails and will be decided on a case-by-case basis. If you’re feeling super adventurous, you could try a Heli-Mountain Bike. This is a fly-up-ride-down experience and a great way to combine two adventures in the one day and get the heart racing.
Do yoga inside or out
Beach yoga runs on Four Mile Beach from June to October daily from 8am to 9am. It’s $10 and you can do it on your towel, looking out over the ocean. It’s just south of the beach chairs — look for the sign. Otherwise there are a couple of indoor yoga studios in town: Port Douglas Yoga and Deep Yoga Studio Port Douglas. Just check out their timetables to choose a style of yoga that suits and fits in with your holiday schedule.
Sea kayaking coastal adventures
There are a few options for exploring some of Queensland’s most unspoilt and uncrowded coastal environments via kayak. Back Country Bliss Adventures has a number of tours ranging from two hours and half day, to a full day out to Snapper Island (you are transported to the Daintree and then paddle to Snapper, which is one of only a few islands in the area accessible from the mainland by sea kayaks). Paddle Trek Kayak Adventures also does a Snapper Island tour, plus it has a kayak fishing option — get active and find yourself a delicious dinner (or Paddle Trek can sashimi them so you can eat your catch straight away — yum!).
Snorkelling or diving on the Great Barrier Reef
Port Douglas is a fantastic location for adventurous diving and snorkelling due to its close proximity to Low Isles and three high quality outer reef sites that can be visited in one day. There are so many tours to choose from, so we suggest getting on Trip Advisor and having a look depending on what you want to get out of it and your level of experience. Also the article ‘What reef trip for you?’ is helpful.
Sign-up for a major Port Douglas event
From the RRR (Rural, Rainforest & Reef) point-to-point mountain bike race in June, Crocodile Trophy (Cairns to Port Douglas mountain bike stage race October 17-25, 2015), Coral Coast Triathlon (June 5, 2016), and Great Barrier Reef Marathon Festival (November 1, 2015) there’s plenty of brilliant active events in Port Douglas that you can tie in a visit with.
Do you have any active adventures you like to do in Port Douglas? Let us know by commenting below or emailing [email protected].
SPECIAL OFFER FOR GOERS: If you end up booking a tour with Back Country Bliss Adventures, mention TheGo Townsville and get 10% off your booking. Woot!