If you like the idea of holidaying in a place with expansive beaches, a world-renowned tourist site close by, and palm trees everywhere you look, you’d struggle to beat Port Douglas. But where are the best beaches in the area?
We’ve scoured every picturesque sandy spot between the Daintree National Park and the Great Barrier Reef to find the best places for sunbathing, swimming, relaxing, and whatever else you have in mind.
In the end, it came down to these five. And if you won’t take our word for it, you’ll have to book a trip and see for yourself!
The Great Barrier Reef
Best for Sightseeing
We know what you’re thinking: “Isn’t the Great Barrier Reef, well, a reef?” If you want to get technical with us, yes — but there are plenty of beaches in the surrounding area, which gets a tick from us.
If spending your holiday on the doorstep of one of the world’s most famous tourist attractions sounds like a dream come true, looking for accommodation in the Great Barrier Reef area is a no-brainer.
Besides, it’s so much more than an entry to tick off your bucket list. Who wouldn’t want a face-to-face encounter with dolphins, sea turtles, rays, and more?
When you’re not snorkelling or scuba diving through the expansive turquoise waters to see hundreds of species of marine and wildlife, you can relax at one of the many beaches to soak up some Vitamin D and watch the world go by.
Since it’s such a popular spot, there is no end to activities to keep yourself busy with.
Naturally, not everyone wants to spend their break surrounded by crowds of sightseers. For those who’d prefer somewhere a little quieter, we’d recommend looking somewhere less well-known, like Palm Cove.
But even if you decide not to stay here, you have to visit the Great Barrier Reef at least once as a day trip. It’s one of the seven wonders of the natural world, after all!
2. Four Mile Beach
Best for: Activities
If anywhere in Port Douglas has a reputation as The Place To Be, it’s Four Mile Beach.
This is easily the most popular and busy beach in the area, and it’s not hard to see why. The calm, sparkling waters are perfect for swimming, the beach is long and sandy, and the area is full of activities. Go sailing, eat in one of the many restaurants, or stroll along the sands.
There’s even a rocky mangrove reef close by, found at the beach’s upper end by the Mowbray River.
But despite the popularity of Four Mile Beach, the coastal area itself remains mostly unruined. You can walk the entire expanse of the beach without huge hotels or constructions getting in the way of the amazing view.
What more could you want?
As an aside, Four Mile Beach isn’t actually four miles long — its name comes from a local family with the surname Fourmile. But the beach does stretch out for around four kilometres, which is close enough by our standards. It certainly looks endless when you’re walking along with it!
3. Palm Cove
Best for Pristine beaches
Although Palm Cove isn’t quite as popular as Four Mile Beach, it’s certainly well-known by locals for its unspoiled sands. The community goes to great lengths to ensure the beach remains cared for and pristine, and they’ve certainly done a good job.
Since it’s around a 45-minute drive from the main Port Douglas town, Palm Cove is also safely out of the way, keeping it relatively quiet. But it’s certainly worth the drive!
The beach is trendy for weddings, which speaks volumes about what a serene location it is. There are also many luxurious hotels in the area, plus lovely restaurants nearby for a romantic dinner.
There are also all the fun activities that you could wish for, including bike rental, kayaks, and beachside barbeques up for grabs. Alternatively, why not treat yourself by heading to a local spa?
4. Dickson Inlet
Best for Spotting wildlife
Although swimming and snorkelling are great fun, not everyone wants to spend their holiday on the beach and in the waters.
If you’re more of a nature lover, you’ll probably prefer Dickson Inlet over this list’s other spots. It’s home to a protected harbour and marina and has plenty of wildlife.
This hidden gem might pass the radar of most tourists, but it makes a welcome change from busier areas and is the ideal place to walk around, take photos, and get back in touch with nature.
But anyone expecting a proper beach for the usual activities might be disappointed. Dickson Inlet is more of a bay, and it’s certainly not a good place to go swimming — the waters are full of crocodiles.
5. Wonga Beach
Best for: Getting away from it all
Four Mile Beach might contain four kilometres of pristine sands, but Wonga Beach contains ten kilometres — and since it’s much less-known, it’s not hard to find a deserted spot.
Neighbouring an expansive rainforest with mangroves and coconuts, relaxing at Wonga Beach is a surreal experience that will leave you wondering if you just dreamed and went to a tropical paradise.
The only downside? The waters may contain crocodiles at some points in the year (although not as many as at Dickson Inlet). Please don’t say we didn’t warn you!
Next stop: paradise
It seems like Port Douglas can do no wrong. But before you book your tickets, you should be aware of one small caveat. Between November and May, stingers are relatively prevalent in North Queensland — including the sometimes deadly Irukandji jellyfish.
There are ways to stay safe if you decide to visit during this period, but it’s certainly something to be aware of before you book your trip.
If you think Port Douglas could be the next destination on your travel bucket list, check out visitportdouglas.com.au to plan your trip. Choose from a full range of accommodation types, from affordable hostels to exclusive villas — whatever your budget, you’ll find a way to make it work.