There is a wealth of world-class attractions, events and things to do and see in Port Douglas and surrounding areas. It’s a thriving local and tourism community with a unique depth of arts and culture, weekend markets, live music and entertainment, food and wine, sporting and lifestyle festivals. Check out the highlights and book your Great Barrier Reef holiday to coincide with them.
June – August: Whale Watching is popular as the winter humpback and dwarf minke whale annual migrations offer sensational viewing experiences and the chance to swim alongside them.
December – April: The Wet “Green” Season brings the waters and rainforests to life. It’s a magical time to visit the Daintree Rainforest and Great Barrier Reef as the sunny days and lush greenery create picture-postcard backdrops. Fewer crowds and amazing deals on tours and accommodation make it pretty special, too!
September – December: Famous for black marlin game fishing, the warm waters stretching from Cairns to Lizard Island are a delight for marine-life enthusiasts. From September through to late December, the giant female black marlin arrives to spawn along this stretch of the Great Barrier Reef.
November – December: Time for the annual amazing spectacle of coral spawning, critical to the health of the reef ecosystem.
There’s a carefree, fun mood generated at the local markets in Port Douglas region. It stems largely from the friendly attitude of stallholders, the fresh and locally grown produce they sell to tourists and locals, and the range of creative arts and crafts on offer. There are two weekly markets in Port Douglas and another on the highway further north in the sugar-growing heart of the region at Mossman.
The ‘must-see’ market is held every Sunday morning in Port Douglas on Rex Smeal Park at the end of Macrossan Street. Located on the waterfront in the Anzac Park precinct overlooking the Coral Sea, ocean breezes keep it cool, the palm trees offer shade and the carnival spirit is infectious as visitors and locals amble through the many stalls. Exotic fruit and veg, books, coffee, arts and crafts, jewellery and clothing can be purchased at reasonable prices. Bartering is possible and suits the good-natured style of the cheery stallholders. Most of the operators make their own products so they are proud and passionate about ensuring you are buying top quality.
The other Port Douglas market operates mid-week at Crystalbrook Superyacht Marina on Wharf Street. It’s open from 11 am to 5 pm and overlooks the enticing Dickson’s Inlet where a range of reef and other tours depart and where cruise ship passengers disembark. The stalls feature a range of purely local goods that suit the needs of all types of shoppers and live music keeps the holiday energy pumping.
Local organic produce, handcrafted items, homemade cakes and jams, essential oils, plants and veggies are offered at the Saturday morning Mossman Markets under the huge Raintrees in Foxton Avenue. Get there for opening at 7am and snag a breakfast snack before snooping through the latest goods on sale before the hordes arrive. It’s a relaxed country market with many stalls and is located next to historic St David’s Church. Visitors claim they produce is presented with ‘tender loving care’ by friendly people who love to talk to tourists.
14 – 17 February 2020
Australia’s newest LGBTIQ+ festival, Port Douglas Hot & Steamy, is the perfect lead in to the Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras. Balmy evenings and lush tropical greenery is the backdrop for reef and rainforest visits, food, dance and parties.
Devoted marathoners and visitors can pit themselves against the challenge of a number of running events staged in a beautiful natural environment during the Run for the Reef Finale in Port Douglas.
22-24 May 2020
Port Douglas Carnivale celebrates the very best of Tropical North Queensland from the bounty of the sea, abundant fresh produce and world-class wines, to talented local artists, musicians and performers. Held in one of the most beautiful parts of the world and attracting many thousands of local, interstate and foreign visitors, Port Douglas Carnivale was originally held to mark the start of the sugar cane harvesting season but is now considered the official opening of tourism season.
7 June, 2020
The headline event of the Cairns Adventure Festival is the IRONMAN Asia-Pacific Championship, a full-distance triathlon that features a 180km bike leg along the scenic coastal road from Cairns to Port Douglas.
6 – 9 August, 2020
Over four days in early August, Reef to Reef brings gruelling mountain biking to the home of one of the worlds most famed and fabled natural playgrounds. It involves around 200 km of riding trails and 4000m of climbing on the kind of trails and scenery you normally only read or dream about.
2nd Saturday of August
An annual event, held every second Saturday of August, sees cowboys and cowgirls compete in calf rides, Junior and Juvenile Steer events, Junior, Novice and Open bull and bronc events.
For over a decade, Jungle Ride charity bike ride between Port Douglas and Cape Tribulation has been raising funds for local charity KIND who support local children suffering from serious or chronic illnesses or injuries. Riders of all ages and levels, including kids, can sign up for 90K / 120K / 180K rides.
One of the World‘s oldest and most iconic mountain bike stage races takes place over 8 days with a variety trails over more than 600km. Riders travel through rainforest trails and bushland, finishing on Four Mile Beach in Port Douglas. Riders can camp on cattle stations, in historic villages and even in a coffee plantation, or opt for more conventional accommodation.
25 – 26 October 2019
The Port Shorts Film Festival showcases Australian films and artists to an eager crowd gathered under the stars in Rex Smeal Park.
Weekly; Register for a free sail with members from 4pm followed by dinner and drinks at the club.
Every night at 8pm at the Ironbar, sit back and watch or place a bet on a champion toad.
Regular live music at popular destinations including Ironbar, Court House Hotel, Central Hotel, Hemingway’s Brewery, and Paddy’s Irish Pub.