GASTRONOMY, TRAVEL

My Picks for Port Douglas!

November 10, 2012

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I sure love a spring wedding, but to make the celebration much more sweeter, I sure love a Spring wedding in Port Douglas! Last month, I attended my friends wedding and was so happy to be flying up to tropical North Queensland to be there for them.

If you have never heard of Port Douglas, its located approximately 50 minutes away from Cairns, Australia’s most northern major cities on the east coast. With regular flights out from Sydney, it’s an easy 2 and half hour flight. You can hire a car to get to Port Douglas or choose to jump on the shuttle, which is approx 35 into town.

It is a gorgeous place, built around one main street. However, the area of Port Douglas is surrounded by a range of accommodation, from luxury hotels right down to backpacking options. Offering adorable boutiques, bountiful numbers of restaurants and a number of pubs and bars, the atmosphere is lively and busy, but not at all overpowering. Port Douglas despite being a holiday hub, still has the Queenslander ‘laidback’ vibe. With beaches, a full-blown marina and plentiful tours and day trips operating, there is so much to do and see.

I have been to Port Douglas a number of times, all for different reasons. Family holidays, a quiet escape and now for a wedding! It’s one of those Aussie holiday destinations that is really moldable, and whatever you’re after, whether its family adventure, a couples retreat, party time with your friends or just time to be alone, there are so many accommodation options to suit your needs.

What I thought would be awesome for all my friends and followers, was to compile my top 5 for Port Douglas. I’ll share with you, my favourite accommodation, restaurant, boutique, café and day trip. So, you might look at it as Sophie’s picks for Port Douglas!

Accommodation: Mantra Aqueous
I wanted to find accommodation that was near town, had a little character and overall great value. I came across the Mantra Aqueous and was hit – the location was fantastic. Situated right at the top of Macrosson St (the main strip in Port Douglas), everything was in walking distance. The actual hotel was modern, bright, airy and had that ‘holiday’ vibe. It was clean, comfortable and offered everything you needed, considering it was relatively cheap. The staff are friendly and knowledgable and really go above and beyond to make your stay as comfortable as possible. The actual hotel is quite small, but the entire block is surrounded by 4 gorgeous pools, decking and BBQ areas. The room was decked out in a modern decor and was on the smaller side, but since we were on a budget, it was to be expected. The best surprise, was that we had a spa on our balcony! Every room offered this, which I thought was lovely – a small touch of luxury. If you’re booking last minute, or perhaps are on a budget, I would recommend the Mantra Aqueous. No frills, no fuss but you definitely feel like you’re on holiday!    

www.mantraaqeous.com.au

 

Restaurant: Harrisons
Harrisons is a fabulous, award winning, restaurant and bar that offers a fine-dining and lunch and dinner menu. It is slightly on the expensive side, but completely worth it if you’re planning to treat yourself whilst in Port Douglas. Whilst I was there, I was lucky enough to have both lunch and dinner. When I decided on Harrisons for lunch, the vibe was relaxed. With tropical plants and verandahs surrounding the restaurant, a lovely breeze blowing and chilled out music playing, it was the perfect way to unwind and enjoy a long lunch. The menu was all about small dishes, share plates and tapas, which I love more than anything.
Now, Harrisons at night, does change slightly. When I went for dinner, I noticed that all the tropical plants were suddenly light up with fairy lights, the tables were donned with candles and the whole atmosphere although still very relaxed, exuberated romance. Alongside this, the menu changed too. Slightly more sophisticated, the menu offered ‘main dishes’ that you would have on your own, which seemed to be a little more heartier and filling. The presentation was beautiful and the meals were delicious.

Not only is Harrisons food choice to die for, but they offer an extensive wine list and make fantastic cocktails. So, if you’re after a few drinks on a Sunday afternoon (Oh yeah – they have live music on Sundays!), a boozy lunch with your friends or perhaps a romantic meal for two, Harrisons cover every option and every avenue. Definitely a winner in my eyes!

http://www.harrisonsrestaurant.com.au/


Boutique: Moonshine
As I mentioned before, I’ve been coming to Port Douglas for a number of years and one of the best parts of Port Douglas, are the amazing shops and boutiques (so prepare yourself for plenty of shopping!). One my most favourite boutiques is a lovely little store called ‘Moonshine’. Owned by a gorgeous lady named Anna, Moonshine has been around for 11 years and has always had a place in my heart. Everytime I go to Port Douglas, I always, always, always make a visit to Moonshine. The store specialises in unique, hand-crafted and one off pieces of jewellery, clothing, accessories, bags and homewares. With pieces made by local designers and also pieces from all corners of the globe, you’re going to find yourself something unique, quirky and very special.

http://www.moonshinebay.com.au/


Café: While Away Bookshop Café
I came across While Away and fell in love with the concept of my two loves joining together – books and coffee. For me, it’s so important, whilst I am on holiday to find somewhere that does really great coffee, so as soon as touched down it was on my mind to source a great little café. Always busy, While Away does exactly what it says – sells books and makes coffee. The snacks are limited to cakes and sandwiches, but I don’t think the fans of While Away are there for food. The coffee was DELICIOUS! Whilst you’re waiting, you can browse for a book, or perhaps start one! Definitely a quirky place for you to enjoy your morning coffee! Ask for the soy lattes – wow, they’re good!

https://www.facebook.com/whileawaybooks


Day Trip: Great Barrier Reef Trip on the Aquarius
It is imperative, almost compulsory if you’re heading to Tropical North Queensland to go out on the Barrier Reef. It is a once in a lifetime experience, memorable and very special. However, it can be a little overwhelming deciding on how you want to spend your day out on the reef. There are so many tour groups, boat types, group types and all sorts to decide on. So I say to keep it nice and simple – If you have the money, it is worth it spending a little more to make your day smooth ‘sailing’ (ha ha!). I thoroughly recommend the Aquarius. A luxury 62ft vessel, that carries a max of 23 people. With plenty of snorkelling time, you’ll be given the space and the freedom to enjoy being out in the reef without the crowds. Not only this, you also go on an interpretative island walk, full of history, geography and interesting facts about the reef itself and the Low Isles. A delicious seafood lunch is offered, fresh fruit, tea and coffee and you’re consistently pampered experiencing the Great Barrier Reef. I can honestly say, it was one of the best things I’ve ever done.

http://www.portdouglascruises.com/


So there you have it! Sophie’s Picks for Port Douglas! I have chosen these picks for a number of different reasons, but they all offer something special and unique and most importantly all of them are worth the money.

Port Douglas is truly a magical place and I thoroughly recommend going there for a quick break or even a full blown family holiday. Offering a bit of  fun, a bit of relaxation, partying and romance, its a destination that suits any occasion.

Consider Port Douglas next time you want to go on holiday and live a little.

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2 Comments

  • Reply Katy Potaty November 16, 2012 at 1:36 pm

    Oh Soph! What a great Fab Five! My husband took me to PD last July and proposed whilst we were sunbaking on Four Mile Beach! We were staying at the time at Mantra Portsea – highly recommend!
    When the time came to choose a wedding venue, it was too easy! We knew a PD destination wedding would be perfect for us AND our guests.
    For the pre-wedding week, I stayed at Aqueous with my BM, and I think we might have even stayed in the same room as you! You’re right, it was bright and breezy, a perfect home away from home.
    And our wedding reception was at Harrison’s! You’re right again with this one too, it was just magical, enjoying welcoming cocktails with our guests in the courtyard as the sun set and the fairy light lit up the dusk. Perfection!

  • Reply Sarah H November 21, 2012 at 3:01 pm

    Fantastic Soph. Wasn’t it a fabulous trip!

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