Our writer Natalie Bannister took some time out to travel north to beautiful Port Douglas, and returned boasting about sunny days, tropical nights, stunning scenery, sunset sailing and some serious relaxation. Try not to be jealous… and start planning your next trip here.
"Taking a three day short break from my chilly base in Brisbane and flying north to tropical Port Douglas turned out to be the best cure for the the winter doldrums that had been slowly but surely setting in. With temperatures plummeting to below 12 degrees at home, and a forecast of sunshine and good times on the itinerary up north, happy days were ahead of us. And, as I had not been to Port Douglas in far too many years, I was looking forward to seeing how this peaceful coastal town had changed.
Thankfully, it's not changed much at all … it's still that same relaxed vibe, that same community of rascal seafarers, fun loving backpackers, relaxed holiday makers and eccentric long timers, with the odd celebrity encounter (if you can recognise them at all … they're in sandals and shorts sipping a cold beer at the pub, just like everyone else!).
Port Douglas is already known as a mecca for worshippers of all things water and nature related, with a doorway to the Great Barrier Reef and the Daintree Rainforest and Mossman Gorge all within easy distance of your resort lobby. There's also a plethora of really fantastic restaurants and some cool relaxed nightlife on offer throughout town, ranging from world class modern Australian cuisine to that quintessential North Queensland experience of an old fashioned pub, complete with cane toad races and live music! So it's days of adventure and exploration on land and sea, finished with evenings of fun.
We were booked in to stay at the new Ramada Resort, which has recently undergone a massive 7.8 million dollar refurbishment by the Wyndham Hotel group, transforming what was once 194 hotel rooms into 86 larger and more luxurious hotel rooms, including spacious and modern one and two bedroom apartments. From our arrival, there was an instant sense of stress slipping away. It's a measure of a resort when you could easily lose the whole day relaxing by the pool, indulging in a massage or just doing as little as possible … and the Ramada Resort Port Douglas really has embraced the concept of a relaxed tropical escape (complete with resident cockatoo, Bozo. She loves a scratch on her perch in the hotel lobby!).
Our suite was perfect, with a comfortably furnished bedroom and bathroom, and our own spacious lounge room and kitchenette where we could chill with a glass of wine and take a rest in between all of our planned explorations outside. And as the grounds of the resort have been completely overhauled, you really feel like you're in amongst the rainforest here with lush melaleuca gardens, the call of bird song all around, and a series of timber walkways leading guests to hidden nooks. There's even free flowing waterways and ponds where you can feed the resident Barramundi, so even without ever leaving the resort, you really know you're in Tropical North Queensland.
The beautiful swimming pool threatens to keep you in the water way past your cocktail hour, as the water has been heated to a perfect 25 degrees … that may sound silly being that you're in the tropics, but it's actually incredibly refreshing and inviting - not too cold, not too hot … perfect. Couples were lazing by the water's edge on their sun lounges, or sipping a drink at the pool bar. And with the open air, and aptly named, Tree Bar and Grill right there for you to easily slip into for lunch or dinner, surrounded by ancient fig tree trunks wrapped in vines, it's a really laid back environment and all totally conducive to checking in and chilling out.
We took the opportunity to try out the signature treatments at the onsite treehouse-style Port Douglas Day Spa, starting with a divine hour long massage and finishing with a Vichy Shower, with seven shower heads aligned over you while lying on a massage table to create the most sublime body treatment, complete with an all over scrub. Heavenly. I lost myself for a few hours there, and floated out of the spa in a blissful haze. Straight out to a totally indulgent four-course dinner on the town … this lifestyle is definitely something I could get used to!
Now that I'm back in the city (and back in the office!), back to reality, Port Douglas seems worlds away. But that's why I've been berating myself ever since touch down from Cairns Airport. We have paradise right there on our doorstep, just a few hours flight away, and yet it's taken me ten years to get myself back up there to experience it. Crazy! I'm already planning my next trip back to Port Douglas again … and I know where I'll be staying when I make my return. A room at the Ramada Resort and a friendly cockatoo named Bozo is awaiting me. The rest of the world can wait a little while."
Head on over to the Tourism Port Douglas & Daintree website to start planning your own holiday. It really is a piece of paradise!