If you're distracted by daydreams of swaying palms and pink sunsets, it's time you discovered (or rediscovered) Queensland's Port Douglas.
A short flight from Brisbane or an hour's drive from Cairns, this sun-kissed destination seems made for romantic getaways and short breaks. Inspired? Here's how to spend a weekend away in marvellous Port Douglas.
Related article: Port Douglas: Where rainforest meets reef
When it comes to natural beauty, Port Douglas packs a punch. Situated right on the Great Barrier Reef's doorstep, this beachy oasis is also blessed with untouched rainforest and majestic hinterland surrounds.
Adding to it all, excellent shopping and dining complete the beach escape idyll. From palm-fringed beaches to Insta-ready cocktail bars, Port Douglas offers everything couples need for a wonderful short break.
What to do
If you haven't yet noticed, you're in one of Australia's most amazing natural playgrounds – get out and see it all for yourselves!
First stop? Make a bee-line for the majestic Daintree Rainforest National Park. Covering a mind-boggling 12,000-square-kilometres, this spectacular site is estimated to be around 135-million years old and is home to countless species of wildlife. Discover it all on a special guided tour or wander hand-in-hand along the boardwalk, stopping at whichever secluded swimming hole takes your fancy. Or, get your heart pumping when you fly through the jade-green canopy on a heart-stopping zipline ride – unforgettable.
Looking for something that's a little more relaxing but still adventurous? Located in the Daintree National Park, the pristine Mossman Gorge is where you can go in-land snorkelling (no, that's not a typo). Join a local tour, don a snorkel-mask and drift along the Gorge's crystalline waters – keep an eye out for curious fish and the occasional turtle!
If you prefer to do your sight-seeing on dry land, hop aboard Port Douglas's historic Bally Hooley Rail. Taking you through the city's magnificent surrounds and stopping for a leisurely lunch-with-a-view, the old-world Bally Hooley steam train will make you feel like kids again.
Back in Port Douglas's heart, there's plenty to see and do. After taking in the postcard-perfect panorama from Trinity Bay Lookout (feature image), hit Macrossan Street for a little boutique-hopping. Be sure to also check out the fabulous Sunday markets at the aptly named Market Park if you're staying the weekend. And don't leave without completing a Port Douglas must-do – visiting Four Mile Beach. Arguably the main attraction in this tropical paradise, it seems to stretch as far as the eye can see (four miles or, as the name might suggest, or six kilometres). Walk along the beach's golden sands and take a refreshing dip in its azure waters for a beautifully laid-back escape.
Where to dine
Perfect for couples on a loved-up short break, Port Douglas matches its incredible setting with equally incredible cuisine. Unsurprisingly, seafood is a specialty here and you'll find a slew of fantastic restaurants serving super-fresh morsels like scallops, prawns, oysters and crab.
Kick off your romantic getaway with lunch or dinner at seafood hotspots like 2 Fish, Salsa's Bar & Grill and On the Inlet. Or, go all-out and book a table at the hatted Harrisons by Spencer Patrick at the Sheraton Grand Mirage Resort Port Douglas. The restaurant's acclaimed chef (who worked with culinary giant Marco Pierre White for a decade), offers an eyebrow-raising menu of unique and heavenly dishes. Spoil yourselves with the seven-course Chef's tasting menu if you're celebrating a special occasion!
A dining experience you really can't miss while in Port Douglas, Flames of the Forest (below) promises a magical evening. After enjoying a native Australian-inspired feast in the middle of the rainforest, you'll be treated to an Aboriginal cultural performance with storytelling, didgeridoo-playing and singing. Do. Not. Miss.
After a night of indulging, get your caffeine fix at one of Macrossan Street's beloved breakfast hang-outs. Cherished for its healthy (but totally scrumptious!) cuisine, Betty's Bohemian Beach Cafe offers dishes like cacao, vanilla and buckwheat pancakes with mixed berries, banana, cacao coconut cream and candied walnuts. Just down the road, local-favourite The Little Larder is where you can get some of Port Douglas's best coffee. You might have to join the line-up for a table but with dishes like Turmeric Crab Omelettes, Acai Coconut Bowls and Cured Salmon Bagels on the menu, it's well worth the wait. Other top breakfast spots include nearby Grant Street Kitchen and Origin Espresso.
Before you return to reality, be sure to fit in plenty of time for sundowners. For a blissfully chilled afternoon, claim one of Barbados's plush outdoor lounges for yourselves, order something off the tropical-inspired cocktail menu, graze on one of the generous share boards and take in the stunning water views. Another go-to for rum-laden tipples, Jimmy Rum's Mixing Lounge is great for a night-cap. Seeking somewhere to soak up the sunshine? Pull up a chair at the waterfront Hemingway's Brewery (below) and enjoy a thirst-quenching pint, crowd-pleasing fare, live music and breezy vibes. What's not to love?
Image credits: Unsplash, Tourism and Events Queensland, Andrew Watson and Krista Eppelstun
Dreaming of a romantic short break? Find plenty of beautiful Queensland accommodation here...