The seaside town of Port Douglas has a reputation for luxury. Yet locals know that within the Wet Tropics stunning rainforests, pristine beaches and crystal-clear rivers, there are plenty of affordable adventures to be had.
With school holidays so frequently upon us, we’ve created a list of cost-friendly activities that will have the kids (and your wallet) jumping for joy!
1. Bally Hooley Train
Embarking from the Marina in Port Douglas, this authentic locomotive is designed to charm the entire family.
The grand old train provides a two hour return ride of beauty and excitement. Kids will be thrilled by the open windows that frame a magical rainforest. And grown-ups can’t help being captivated as you delve through tropical mangroves, with the Daintree Mountains on the horizon.
Arriving at St Crispin’s Station, the family can grab a delicious lunch or ice cream at Choo-Choo’s café on the lake. During the season of Port Douglas Carnivale, the train boasts a moving pantomime, complete with pirates and villains in an interactive show.
The Bally Hooley runs all day Sunday, and costs just $8 per child for unlimited rides on the day of purchase!
2. Snorkel in an Enchanted Forest
When holidaying in Far North Queensland, most have visions of viewing Nemo and coral on the Great Barrier Reef. Yet for something wholly unique and unforgettable, Back Country Bliss Adventures offers the chance to see not just fish, but turtles, dragons, birds and butterflies, all in a majestic 100 million year old rainforest!
On Australia’s only River Drift Snorkelling adventure, your family will be fitted with wetsuits and masks to float down gently cascading waters, (Flotation vests are available for small children). The jungle here is so pristine; you’ll find a natural zoo of wildlife above and below the crystal-clear river!
Guests only need moderate swimming ability, and Back Country Bliss provide complimentary return transfers from your accommodation, for this three hour magnificence!
3. Seasonal Sandcastles
Planning your holiday around the thrilling May/June season ensures the excitement of Port Douglas Carnivale. Not only is there free entertainment in the form of a colourful street parade, but you’ll be here in time for Family Day at the Beach too!
Dedicated to kids and affordability, you’ll find the tropical shores of 4 Mile alive with kite flying, face painting, treasures hunts, and the annual Sand Sculpting Competition. A Kids Zone runs from 10 a.m. till 2 p.m. on the last Saturday in May, and is a free event!
4. Pedal power
Two wheels are perfect for exploring Port Douglas’s hidden gems. With Four Mile beach providing the perfect nature ride, without going far from town.
Discover one of the many parks, playgrounds and most importantly a coffee stop! A bike is the perfect form of transport to enjoy the outdoors.
For the bigger kids, they hire out Mt bikes and will happily provide maps to some of North QLD’s best “hidden” trails.
The friendly team at Port Douglas bike shop & hire, have a a bike to suit everyone. Stop in at their Warner st shop for a chat. They also provide bikes for hire from the following hotels:
- Sheraton Mirage Resort
- Sea Temple Resort
- Niramaya Resort
- Oaks Resort
- Oaks Lagoons
- Mantra Portsea Resort
- Mandalay Luxury Apartments
- Reef Resort
5. The Real Jurassic Park
Show the kids a 180 million year old landscape where the dinosaurs truly used to roam!
Mossman Gorge, nestled at the base of the ranges; 20 minutes north of Port Douglas, is an emerald wonderland of towering rainforest. Learn about traditional plant uses and Kuku Yalanji culture, on a Dreamtime walk: the kids will love the ochre face painting!
The whole family will love swimming in the cascading creeks and crystal-clear lagoons. The visitor centre operates a shuttle from Port Douglas daily. Aalternatively, simply self-drive to Mossman and explore the region on your own 🙂
6. Hand Feed Kangaroo’s
The remarkable Wildlife Habitat in Port Douglas is famed for its animal interactive encounters, with so many weird and wonderful species to meet!
Through elevated boardwalks and leafy paths, you and the family will discover unlimited adventure in the Woodland, Wetland, Rainforest, and Savannah habitats. Some of the wildlife is so rare, they’re not found anywhere else on the planet! One of the activities that will really thrill the kids is hand feeding kangaroos and wallabies. You can have a family snap taken cuddling a koala for a little extra.
But the low entry fee ($38 for Adults & $19 for kids or Family 4 $95) includes reptile, bird & koala presentations, as well as turtle, cassowary and crocodile feeding shows! And best of all, this price includes entry for the next four days too!
7. Family of Pirates!
No license is required to sail your own Pirates of the Caribbean adventure! Simply take the family to the Crystalbrook Superyacht Marina and hire yourself a pontoon vessel!
These safe, stable and unsinkable boats are amazing for children, with room to move around and endless wildlife watching. At only $49 per hour for the whole family, you can explore the stunning waterways and estuaries of the Wet Tropics!
Port Douglas Boat Hire also provide fishing rods and hand lines for a small cost, in case you’re keen on catching lunch. And if not, bring your own picnic and watch the world drift by, with a sun-protective canopy over your family. Ahoy, fun!
8. Beach Combing
One of the most incredible features of our region, is being located next to the Great Barrier Reef. If you’re searching for a free activity that links into the reef, then a walk along the famous Four Mile beach in Port Doulgas is a great option.
With an almost endless variety of shells, crabs, mudskippers, coral and sponges. This is a fantastic option to have fun exploring, while also learning about Nemo’s underwater home.
Pebbly beach; located 10 minutes south of Port Douglas, is an equally impressive, but completely different beach environent to explore as well.
9. Aqua Action
With a mini-version of wet & wild, the promise of a visit to the Big 4 Caravan Park at Craiglie will have the kids behaving for the rest of the year!
You can either self-drive or grab a local shuttle 10 minutes out of town. In this kid’s action park, you’ll find water slides, aquatic playground, an obstacle course and even a toddlers wading pool. Adults can relax nearby while lounging around the resort style lagoon.
Why not bring some sausages and use the offered BBQ facilities for an Aussie lunch? There’s also an on-site kiosk for snack and ice-creams. You don’t have to be a staying guest at the Big 4 to take advantage of this treat!
Day passes are $15 per person ($10 per for BIG4 members), and have a Family price (4 people) for $50. Infants 2 years and under are free.
10. Sunsets and Sail boats
Sail the high seas off Port Douglas for a sunset to remember!
The Shaolin cruise will explore the Port Douglas waterfront, and out to the coral sea for unbeatable views as the sun sets. Your captain will entertain you with informative commentary along the way, with delicious Yum Cha canapae’s included with your ticket.
Departing daily at 5pm, it’s reccomended for children 4 years and over, due to the style of boat.
Why not dress up as pirates to finish off an amazing day in paradise!