With the help of this forum, we had a fabulous 4 days in Port Douglas.
I am very glad we did not stay in Cairns, though we did fly in and out there. Port is very beautiful, laid back, and closer to the reef and the rain forest.
We were a large family group of 9 people, ages 1 to 73. We varied the itinerary based on age and interest, so I will speak mostly about the 31 to 62 age range.
We stayed at the Mandalay, which I highly recommend. The group without children rented a 2 bedroom condo, not on the beach. It was great! Very roomy, well-equipped and comfortable. We loved all the extras: free bikes to ride on the beautiful beach across a small street, tennis and a terrific salt-water shaded pool.The group with the little ones picked beach front (which it is not, the beach is not visible and is across the street). The unit was larger and the pool was steps away. It was perfect!
Arrival day was mostly flying, driving, getting groceries and walking on that fabulous 4 mile beach. The Coles is very close and very well stocked. We had a wonderful dinner at Harrisons and a nice time doing some stops for a dance and a drink at a few of the many bars and clubs along Macrossan street. Easy walk back to the condo.
Next day we went to the Great Barrier Reef on the Quicksilver. This worked very well for our group. As an experienced snorkeler, I found the reef beyond amazing!! The marina is less than 5 minutes away and everything was really perfect.
Next day, we did the Aboriginal tour of the Daintree at Mossman Gorge, the Kuku-Yalanji Dreamtime tour. It is about 2 hours, very interesting and enjoyed by all. Then a short walk across the suspension bridge and a swim in the river. Very refreshing! We had a fabulous lunch at the Daintree Eco-Lodge. The food was outstanding, the site lovely and the hike to the waterfall a lovely added bonus. We then did the boat tour of the Daintree River with Bruce Belcher which I highly recommend. He found 2 salt water crocociles and several beautiful birds. The commentary was informative and he made sure everyone on the small boat saw the animals before moving on.They even provided us with a great map of the area to help us find activities for the next day.
We wanted more of this amazing Rain forest, so the next day we headed up to the Danitree Forest Trails as recommended on Trip Adviser. It is closed, so we went to the Discovery center instead. A bit too much emphasis on information for us after yesterday, but worth it if you really want to understand the eco-system. We continued to the Jindalba trails just down the road from the Discovery Center. There are 2 trails here. We did them both. The first is a 700m boardwalk, quite tame and lovely. The second is a 3km trial described on the sign as "rough, steep and slippery". We did this too and it was lots of fun. It is well marked and you really have the forest to yourself.
We also rode our bikes on 4 mile beach and went to for swim. The nets work well and we had no problem with stingesr.
We mostly had take away for dinner. I recommend Bocci Italian and the roast chicken from Coles.
This is a wonderful part of an amazing country!