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INDULGENT ADVENTURES - Travel, adventure and windswept dreams.

Dive, Snorkel & Kite at Port Douglas, The Great Barrier Reef, Queensland, Australia.


Snorkelling with a A very friendly Grouper at The Great Barrier Reef, Queensland Australia

Snorkelling with a a very friendly Grouper at The Great Barrier Reef, Queensland Australia.

Ok, firstly I admit I am an unabashed Port Douglas fan. For me Port Douglas is my favourite Aussie winter getaway. Far more often than not over the past 10 or so years, Port Douglas has been my winter revival. My little dose of midyear vitamin D. Winter in the southern states of Australia, particularly June, July and August, can be long. It rains, it’s cold and the sun isn’t hot when it shines. My thoughts turn to a perfect 27 degree day,  with long beaches, palm trees, crystal clear resort pools, fresh barrumundi and last but not least, the undersea paradise of The Great Barrier Reef.

Four Mile Beach, Port Douglas, Queensland, Australia.

Four Mile Beach, Port Douglas, Queensland, Australia.

To get to Port Douglas you need to fly into Cairns.  There are regular shuttle transfers to Port Douglas or you can readily hire a car.  Port Douglas is situated north of Cairns about an hour’s drive up the coast. I even love that part of the trip. The drive is a bit tricky but affords excellent coastal views at various points. Winter has been left behind and tropical paradise beckons.

Over the years we have stayed at many places in Port Douglas and there is a massive range of accommodation to choose from. Hostels and budget motels through to self catering apartments and luxury full service offerings. It really doesn’t matter too much where you stay location wise.  The Port Douglas town shuttle runs a regular service well into the evening.

Lagoon Pools, Sheraton Mirage, Port Douglas, Queensland, Australia.

Lagoon pools, The Sheraton Mirage, Port Douglas, Queensland, Australia.

Our long time favourite place to stay is The Sheraton Mirage, Port Douglas. People have all sorts of opinions of The Sheraton. I like it because I can not go past the many lagoon pools and landscaped gardens without a smile. I love the pools and the sense of tropical paradise. When I need to stretch the legs or to check the wind, I stroll from my beach lounge out to Four Mile beach. The rooms are large and older style. This year they are undergoing a much needed makeover. They have balconies with amazing views over the lagoons or gardens. The service has been up and down over the years, but that doesn’t bother me too much. The quality of food at the resort restaurants has been generally good, although we eat out in town mostly. Port Douglas is filled with very good restaurants. Just a note on the Sheraton – make sure you join the Sheraton’s loyalty program www.spg.com. The program is free and  you can earn free nights and other benefits.

How I spend my the windy days, Sheraton Mirage, Port Douglas, Queensland, Australia.

How I spend my the windy days. The Sheraton Mirage, Port Douglas, Queensland, Australia.

The first day we usually spend chilling at the resort. Swimming and soaking up the sun and finalising plans for the week. At Port Douglas we plan around the wind. When you are with a passionate kitesurfer, windy days are kite surfing days. Non windy days we go diving and snorkelling. So windy days are often my pool days! Its very hard to take, relaxing by the wind protected lagoons, swimming, reading, writing and did I mention the pool bar? very nice! Of course basing such planning on wind forecasts is a bit risky, so some sacrifices are made, as you do need to book the dive and snorkel trips to the Barrier Reef with a couple of days notice if possible. It would be remiss also not to try to spend a little down time shopping for a new cossie and some glamorous jewellery.

A quick way to get some snorkelling in at Lowe Isles, Port Douglas, Queensland, Australia

A quick way to get some snorkelling in at Lowe Isles, Port Douglas, Queensland, Australia.

It is good to know that we have tried all of the dive and snorkel companies going out to the Barrier Reef and found them all to be pretty good. So you don’t need to worry that you will pick a dud. The competition for your tourist dollar is fierce and this keeps the operators honest.

I was very lucky to finish my Padi diving certification by taking my dives in the Great Barrier Reef with Tech Dive Academy. Not only did I have an awesome private dive instructor, the dives were truly amazing. I am hooked and dive here as much as I can. Diving the Great Barrier Reef is an entry to a very special world. A world filled with wonders. It is alive and colourful. It gives me a feeling of wonder and rekindles my passion for learning.  Just how many fish can I name this time? I have even lost a lot of my shark phobia. (working on that one!)

So Many fish and they are all beautiful!. The Great Barrier Reef, Queensland, Australia.

So many fish and they are all beautiful!. The Great Barrier Reef, Queensland, Australia.

Snorkelling is different again but well worth it, as you see so much in the Barrier Reef. It is teeming with life. I will never forget the time this school of massive ugly huge fish (unknown identity!) appeared from nowhere, frightening me half to death! One of our favourite snorkelling trips was out to Tongue Reef with Synergy. Tongue Reef is spectacular…just be careful of those big ugly fish! Tongue Reef might be hard to get to now as Synergy is no longer operating. The next best option is with Quicksilver cruises out to the outer Agincourt Reef and the Ribbon Reefs. Then Lowe Isles. Lowe Isles off the coast from Port Douglas and has reasonable snorkelling – just not as brilliant as the outer Reef or Tongue Reef.  A lot of boats go out to Lowe Isles for day trips, and it offers a nice spot for lazing on a tropical Island and water activities. We generally use Reef Sprinter for a quick trip out to Lowe Isles for an hour or so snorkelling…a good option if time is pressing or you are waiting for the wind to come in!

Its all good! Snorkelling The Great Barrier Reef, Queensland, Australia.

‘It’s all good!’. Snorkelling, The Great Barrier Reef, Queensland, Australia.

Port Douglas offers a great Kitesurfing spot on Four Mile Beach in winter.

Kitesurfers Paradise, Four Mile Beach, Port Douglas, Queensland Australia.

Kitesurfers Paradise, Four Mile Beach, Port Douglas, Queensland Australia.

If you are a kitesurfer or want to learn, checkout www.Windswell.com.au for all the details. They also offer Stand Up Paddle Boarding.

Kitesurfing at Four Mile Beach, Port Douglas, Queensland, Australia.

Kitesurfing Four Mile Beach, Port Douglas, Queensland, Australia.

While we enjoy our waterspouts very much, Port Douglas is also in touching distance of the Daintree Rainforest.  We often go for a day trip up to Silky Oaks Lodge for lunch with a visit to Mossman Gorge. The Daintree rainforest is as special as the reef and you feel like you have stepped back in time walking beneath the rainforest canopy. We also like visit to The Wildlife Habitat in Port Douglas – an amazing way to get up close and personal with a wide variety of Australian wildlife.  It is a great place to see koalas, wallabies, crocodiles and amazing birds you are unlikely to see anywhere else, such as the colourful Southern Cassowary.

The Southern Cassowary, The Wildlife Habitat, Port Douglas, Queensland, Australia

The Southern Cassowary, The Wildlife Habitat, Port Douglas, Queensland, Australia.

After a hard day in the water our attention quickly turns to celebrating being in Port Douglas. We like to mix things up between cheap and cheerful and totally indulgent. We will likely spend 2 nights at the Tin Sheds on the Inlet. One night early in the trip and one later in the trip. The Tin Sheds offers the best spot to watch the sun go down over the harbour. The beers are cheap, the bistro food simple but good, but its the deck on the water and the views and the vibe that really make it. We will spend a night at one of the pubs or the Thai in the main street, and the rest of the evenings are dedicated to testing the culinary delights Port Douglas has on offer.

The view from The Tin Sheds, Port Douglas, Queensland, Australia.

The view from The Tin Sheds, Port Douglas, Queensland, Australia.

If you can, put these restaurants on your wish list  – Salsa Bar and Grill, Harrisons, Nautilus, Watergate and Zinc. If you only do one – pick Salsa if you love seafood, or Harrisons if you love chateaubriand or slow cooked shoulder of lamb and delicious full bodied reds…

Here is my Essential list of links for going to Port Douglas!

I hope you enjoy Port Douglas and the Great Barrier Reef as much as I do!

Sleep

The Sheraton Mirage Port Douglas

Eat

Salsa Bar & Grill

Harrisons

Nautilus

Watergate

Zinc

Silky Oaks Lodge

The Tin Shed

Play

Silverseries

Quicksilver

Calypso Reef Cruises

Poseidon Cruises

Reef Sprinter

Windswell

Wildlife Habitat

Tech Dive Academy

Wallaby, The Wildlife Habitat, Port Douglas, Australia.

Wallaby, The Wildlife Habitat, Port Douglas, Australia.


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