Situated just an hour north of Cairns, Port Douglas is Australia’s answer to tropical destinations like Bali and Thailand; with a sultry climate and natural beauties close by such as the Great Barrier Reef and the Daintree rainforest.
While this wasn’t my first trip to Port Douglas, my last visit at the age of sixteen revolved more around the hotel pool and frying myself on four mile beach – which I certainly recommend for a short time (minus the oil), so on my return it was amazing to experience the array of activity and exploring to be had.
Unsurprisingly, my most exciting experiences were related to food! In no particular order; my top 5 Port Douglas Foodie highlights:
1) Coconuts from the market: Held every Sunday since 1998, the Port Douglas markets are not to be missed. Housed in Anzac Park, it’s amazing to see the enormous number of stalls squeezed into a seemingly small area, ranging from local food, jewellery and an overwhelming number of tarot readers. Without a doubt my favourite stall sold coconuts; first punching a hole in one end and allowing the customer to drink the water, then once finished, the coconut is cut open, the flesh is roughed out using a drill-like instrument, and then filled with a banana and honey – all for $6! So delicious, and amazing to enjoy local produce like this.
2) Juice and icy poles from the market: Evidently I enjoyed the market so much I couldn’t stop at including just one highlight! The first stall I stopped at for the day boasted litre upon litre of freshly squeezed juice – everything from watermelon and orange, to apple and grapefruit. At $2 for a large serve this was hard to pass by, however as I spotted their selection of pure fruit icy poles, I knew I’d be spending a little more. The icy treat I chose was made entirely from fruit, frozen with passionfruit into an iceblock, which tasted as gorgeous as it looked.
3) Produce and Yoghurt from Blood Orange: More than just a grocery store, Warner Street’s Blood Orange (right behind the main street – Macrossan Street), sells “Fresh tropical fruit and vegetables, home made condiments and sauces.” Unmissable, for both its standout orange colour and amazing produce, Blood Orange sells everything you could possibly need. Reasonably priced and fresh local fruit and veg, pasta and rice, sauces, cheese and dips, local seafood, as well as treats (some more amazing fruit icypoles!) are abundant, and available in perfect portion controlled sizes for holiday makers keen to cook at home. My goldmine for the trip though was The Queensland Yoghurt Company yoghurt, which I am prepared to say is the best yoghurt I have ever tasted. I re-purchased this during my stay, and have been fervently researching whether this is available in Melbourne as it is so amazing. Creamy and smooth, not too sweet and available with many varieties of fruit; including the tropical inspired dragon fruit, and my favourite – mango, $3.50 for 250g seems entirely reasonable to me!
4) Mocka’s Pies: Award winning Mocka’s has become something of an institution in PD, and although pies aren’t usually my ‘thing,’ I was pretty impressed by their wide range, all baked on site daily. Ranging from the more traditional – steak and kidney, steak and mushroom, chicken and veg – to a little more creative – crocodile laksa, Sri Lankan curry and kangaroo, the only downside to Mocka’s is the difficult choice of which pie to have for lunch.
5) Seafood galore: Port Douglas is crammed with restaurants, many serving some of the best seafood available in the country. On the buzzing beach end of Macrossan Street is Finz and Zinc; worth the hefty prices for the amazing food (Zinc also has an impressive floor to ceiling fish tank in the bathrooms worth checking out!). 2Fish; located in Wharf Street, is really all about the seafood, with a ‘daily market catch’ and ‘sunset special’ offering two courses for $28. Situated right on the Marina, Lure Restaurant and Bar is worth a visit, both for the delicious food and the idyllic location. Catering to all your needs; from breakfast and lunch, to drinks, tapas and dinner, Lure boasts a creative and ever-changing menu, and even hosts wedding receptions! For something more low-key, there’s no shortage of pubs in Port Douglas, and with the fabulous local barramundi so widely available, I found myself indulging in fish and chips at both The Tin Shed and The Central Hotel – ‘The oldest pub in Port.’
The only one thing I felt was missing from the streets of PD was Fro-yo! Perhaps this trend is yet to reach far north Queensland, however I was more than happy to substitute this with the many different ice creams and sorbets available instead.