Port Douglas Photo Diary

As the plane starts its decent and we head into the clouds, I wonder what the world will look like below them. After day dreaming about the Great Barrier Reef for such a long time, it’s surreal to be on my way there. My first glimpse of Tropical North Queensland is bright turquoise and green, and I understand after just a few moments why it’s a wonder of the world.¬†I’ve arrived in paradise.

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All underwater photos courtesy of Wavelength Reef Cruises.

For a written, day-by-day itinerary click here.

To see my review of our stay at the Sheraton Mirage click here.

Need help packing for a trip to the GBR? See what I brought and recommend here.

Check out my Port Douglas vlog to see highlights of the hotel, helicopter flight, and more!

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What to Wear When Visiting the Great Barrier Reef

Here’s what I packed for 4 days/3 nights in Port Douglas, which is quite warm pretty much all year round:

3 bathing suits…our hotel had about FIVE ACRES of pool, so I knew I’d be spending a lot of time in a bikini. You can definitely get away with only packing one, though! The brands pictured are SeaFolly, Triangl, and Urban Outfitters.

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One cute, summery dress for dinners out…this dress is by Mumu.

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I only wore 3 of these shirts. I wore the black, striped one from Old Navy with a denim skirt for wandering around town. I wore the flowy, white one from Free People with denim shorts when we went on the scenic helicopter flight. I wore the white graphic tank from Urban Outfitters with my high-waisted SeaFolly shorts on our final day when we walked on the beach for one last time and flew back to Brisbane. Last but not least I wore the black, low back cover up dress from Roxy over my bathing suit when we went snorkeling on the GBR.

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Here are the bottoms mentioned above: from SeaFolly, Zara, and H&M. I could have gotten away with packing way less since they are all denim and look similar. But I wasn’t backpacking, so I didn’t have to worry about packing light ūüėČ

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For shoes I had my leather Steve Madden sandals and black Reef flip flops, both of which go with basically anything. The Steve Madden ones made me feel a little more dressed up. I only wore my Birkenstocks once on the first day, so I definitely would have been fine not bringing them. We didn’t end up doing any long walks or hiking, so if you have something like that planned, bring better walking shoes. (I own two completely different pairs of Tevas that would have worked.)

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Don’t forget to accessorize and pack your favorite sunglasses, you’ll definitely need them! Another thing you can’t go without is sunscreen–and lot’s of it.

If you want to see what I got up to in Port Douglas, check out my vlog here!

To read our day-by-day itinerary click here.

You can see my review of the fabulous Sheraton Mirage Port Douglas here if you’re trying to decide where to stay ūüėČ

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Staying at the Sheraton Mirage in Port Douglas

When planning our trip to the Great Barrier Reef, Ollie and I knew it was going to be the only true vacation of our year. We wanted to treat ourselves and stay somewhere nice. Well, nice is definitely an understatement for the Sheraton Mirage in Port Douglas, which far surpassed our expectations and offered all the relaxation and beauty we had hoped for. I highly recommend visiting in low season if possible. We went at the end of November when the hotel was only at 30% capacity. We basically had the whole of this stunning property to ourselves, and that felt pretty damn special. The hotel just finished renovations 2 months prior to our stay, so everything was updated and new. It was done very well, and we were all impressed. We stayed in a garden view room, which was so lovely, and our friends stayed in a lagoon room and had access to the pool straight from their balcony.

My favorite things about the hotel were the pools, swim up bar, and beach access. My husband’s favorite things were the breakfast buffet, comfy beds, and the “never-ending pool that wraps around the hotel.” He’s not exaggerating- there is almost 5 acres of pool at your disposal. We made it a goal to swim in all of them and ended up spending about 6 hours doing a pool crawl that day-I’m not complaining!¬†To have a well-rounded review, I need to mention a couple cons of the stay. The bathroom did not have a door, only a¬†window shutter (which looked nice, but didn’t offer much privacy). And the last “con” I can think of (which could have been easily avoided if I read this blog beforehand hehe) is that the hotel is about a 5 minute drive from Macrossan Street. If you plan on spending time there, you can take a convenient shuttle into town for $5 per person per way. This adds up fast if you go back a forth even a few times. Some of the shuttles offer a 3 day unlimited pass for $25. If I knew about that on day one I could have saved myself a lot of money.

Being the travel lover that I am, I could never understand why some people choose to spend their only vacation each year going back to the same place over and over again. After my stay at the Sheraton Mirage in Port Douglas, I now understand. I think I’ve found the place I could return to time and time again. It was just SO NICE, and there’s so much to do in the area. I can’t recommend a trip to Port Douglas enough. And if you decide to go, you know where to stay!

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Check out my Port Douglas vlog to see live footage of the hotel and what we got up to when we were out and about.

For a day-by-day itinerary of our visit click here.

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3 Days in Port Douglas: A Sample Itinerary

Oh, Tropical North Queensland, you have my heart. Here’s my advice for how to spend 3 days in beautiful Port Douglas, based on what we got up to during our visit.

Day 1: Arrive at Cairns Airport and take the 1 hour, very scenic shuttle to your accommodation in PD. Explore and taste your way through Macrossan Street, the main street in Port Douglas. Step back in time and experience a true Aussie pub.

We stayed at the Sheraton Mirage. I recommend booking your shuttle in advance. I used this website and was very happy with the service. Our favorite spots on Macrossan Street were Ironbar and Court House Hotel. We also liked the happy hours at Paddy’s Irish Pub and Rustle & Hum Backpacker’s. A few of the pubs are inside historic Queenslander buildings–some built in the 1800s. I definitely felt like I was in Australia!

Day 2: Rise and shine–it’s time to snorkel¬†the Great Barrier Reef! Then treat yourself to craft beers on the pier at Hemingway’s Brewery.

We did a full day tour with Wavelength Reef Cruises that went from about 7:30 am-4:30 pm. When visiting one of The Natural Wonders of the World, you want enough time to take as much of it in as possible. I couldn’t have been happier with our day. There were several marine biologists on board to answer questions and share interesting facts (like how blue coral is stressed and not healthy-it should be khaki, brown, burgundy, or dark green). The lunch was delicious. We got an hour to snorkel at three different sites, seeing various reef and fish at each. Wavelength knew where to go and took us to spots no other boats went to, so we had it all to ourselves. Another thing I loved was they had a staff member taking photos throughout the day that could be purchased at the end, so I didn’t feel the need to dish out $300 to buy a GoPro before the trip–and I still got the underwater photos I wanted.

Day 3: After experiencing the GBR from the water, you have to see it from the sky! Then, end your holiday on a relaxing note and spend time at Four Mile Beach or in the pool.

We decided to cross something off our bucket lists and go on a scenic helicopter flight over the reef and the rainforest. GBR Helicopters took us out for an amazing hour over Mossman Gorge, the Daintree River, and the reef (even over the infamous reef where Steve Irwin was killed). It was such a special and unique way to spend the morning-we saw turtles and sharks and sting rays and dugongs galore. After touching down, we opted for lunch on Macrossan Street before returning to our hotel. We then proceeded to spend SIX HOURS in the pool, oh happy days. The Sheraton has about 5 acres of pool, including one with a swim up bar, so we stayed entertained and relaxed the whole time.

In my opinion, Port Douglas perfectly mixes slow-paced and adventurous holiday options. There¬†was so much more we could have done, such as visit Mossman Gorge by foot and drive up to Cape Tribulation. Looks like we’ll have to go back ūüôā

To see this all in action check out my Port Douglas vlog!

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