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Port Douglas or Cairns?

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Port Douglas or Cairns?

Hi gang. Both I and my wife will be landing in Cairns on Saturday July 19th and we'll leave to NZ on Friday 25th.

I've read many different things regarding Cairns and Port Douglas and to be honest I'm still undecided what to do/where to stay.

We will have a car so moving around it's not a problem. We're in our mi 30s, very active and sport oriented. We love nature and photography as well.

With the obvious GBR trip, which as far I know has boats departing from both places, where shall we have our headquarters aka hotel for our 6 nights? Cairns or Port Douglas?

From what I read, Cairns is more a party place while PD is more relaxed. Is this accurate?

Any advice is much appreciated.

Thank you in advance :)

Ric and Nicole

pd for now
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1. Re: Port Douglas or Cairns?

Hi Ric and Nicole,

Yes, you are quite correct. Cairns is more party place and Port Douglas is more laid back. With a car you could possibly split your stay in two, a few nights in each. While in Cairns you can include the Botanical Gardens, The Tablelands, walks along the Esplanade, variety of restaurants and nightlife. In Port Douglas, you can include the Reef trip, the Rainforest Trip, Mossman Gorge visit, and a much more relaxed stay with everything within walking distance (if you stay close to town). You need to consider that you will be visiting in the 'high season' so both places will be very busy and also consider that Cairns has no beach, whilst Port Douglas has a patrolled beach. Whatever you choose, I'm sure you won't be dissapointed, this area is just super.

Sydney/Melbourne
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2. Re: Port Douglas or Cairns?

Cairns is a small city.

Port Douglas is a small, holiday oriented town. It has a much more relaxed feel.

Depends on what you are looking for. Personally, I wouldn't bother wasting a day moving out of one hotel and into another. Too many better ways to spend your time.

A third option is Palm Cove. It's on the northern outskirts of Cairns so you get the benefits of being near a big centre, but it has a beach and lots of hotels and restaurants.

My own preference is for PD - no particular reason - it's 'the vibe' I like. Puts me straight into holiday mood. I live in a city so I don't want to holiday in one as well. Either way, you'll have a great time so don't overthink it. Find a place that appeals and just book it for the 6 days.

Melbourne, Australia
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3. Re: Port Douglas or Cairns?

+1 for Port Douglas - much nicer place than Cairns. If you enjoy photography there are excellent options in PD and surrounds. I can highly recommend a sunrise shoot along the 4 mile beach in PD - I've taken excellent photos here, especially from the headland on the north side.

Brisbane, Australia
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4. Re: Port Douglas or Cairns?

Hi Ric & Nicole,

PD is my pick for sure! It is absolutely beautiful and a much better feel than Cairns. Mosman Gorge is a must-see plus the Kuranda railway. There are beach fires most Wednesday nights; quite a nightlife considering it is basically one street. The Courthouse pub was featured briefly in the movie Fool's Gold. I would recommend buying bottled water from the supermarket as it gets really hot and you can pay up to $3.50 for a 700ml bottle which is excessive!

Brisbane, Australia
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5. Re: Port Douglas or Cairns?

I lived in cairns for 3 years & visited PD as a holiday destination often. I would reccommend staying in PD over Cairns (or what a previous reviewer said & stay at Palm Cove, in between the two). It's closer to the daintree & more unique in my opinion. If you're interested in the GBR, I'd suggest taking one of the sail boat cruises from PD rather than the big catamarans - a much more personalised way to see the reef. Don't forget to visit Hartleys Crocodile Farm between Cairns & PD, very fun, especially on the boat tour! A few nice places to eat in Cairns are the Lily Pad Cafe (opposite to Gilligans backpackers) - great for breakfast or lunch & will keep you full! Water bar & grill rrstaurant at the pier complex will serve up a tasty steak! If you stay in PD, salsa is a beautiful place for dinner. Cairns is the gateway to the tablelands & kuranda, full of fresh produce & fun things to do. PD has its advantages too being so close to the daintree & mosdman gorge . Either town, there's plenty to see & do - enjoy!

6. Re: Port Douglas or Cairns?

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