Bring back the magic in your life – Visit Port Douglas and the Daintree

Port Douglas and Daintree Rainforest

Snugged in between two World heritage areas, the Port Douglas and Daintree region is picturesque and magical. If you want to find your mojo back or just need some time to disconnect with the rest of this crazy world, this is the ideal destination. Time seems to just slow down and the rainforest takes all your worries away. If you don’t believe me or want to know more, just watch this video.

Daintree Rainforest
Dubuji boardwalk – Cape Tribulation

Port Douglas is the ideal base to start exploring the area. There is a variety of accommodation and surely something will suit your needs. From the luxury hotel room to the self-contained unit, there is something for everyone.

What draw tourists and locals to the region is generally the easy access to the Great Barrier Reef and a number of cruises will get you there.  As I just recently obtained my open diver certificate, I was of course not to miss this opportunity. I went with Poseidon who does take snorkelers as well. The boat visited three different sites on the outer reef which were all healthy and stunning. A truly amazing day.

Diving at Agincourt reef
Diving at Agincourt reef

Visiting three different sites can be a bit intense so if you are after a more casual day out there are plenty of options available.

We went there during the Christmas holidays which happens to be just the beginning of the rainy season. This means that intermittent showers were on the menu. To be honest, I love the wet season. For one, most people associate rain with cold. Not here.  On the contrary.  There is nothing more refreshing than a good outdoor shower.  Secondly, the rainforest is at its prime during the wet season. I find that the colours of the rainforest are most vibrant right after the rain (Instagrammers, take note).

The Great Barrier Reef is just an out of this world experience and is rightly much talked about but it is not the only World heritage area that you can visit in the region. The Daintree Rainforest is the oldest living rainforest on earth. Yes, older than the Amazon.  And it shows.  At first, the rainforest is a bit intimidating, it appears like a big mess of green but once you get more acquainted, a whole new world just opens.

One way to get to know the rainforest is to see it through the eyes of the Kuku Yalanji  people who have been inhabiting the forest since the dawn of times.  Mossman Gorge Centre is a good start to enquire about guided walks and to get introduced to the forest.

Mossman Gorge
Mossman Gorge

If you feel up for the adventure, crossing the Daintree river will reward you with incredible sights and I assure you, you will come back transformed from this escapade.

We drove up from Port Douglas, across the Daintree River with the ferry and up to Cape Tribulation. ⁠

It is a bit difficult to explain what happens after the ferry crossing. It is a bit like entering a magical world where the rainforest takes over and all your troubles go away. Entering the Daintree forest is like going back to the Jurassic era when dinosaurs were roaming. Just out of this time zone. ⁠

When you crossed the ferry, take the time to stop at the Alexandra lookout to soak it all in. It is just a little bit after the ferry crossing and will reward you with views of Low Isle and its lighthouse framed by king ferns.

Alexandra Lookout
Alexandra Lookout

An other way to get acquainted with the rainforest is through a better understanding of the biodiversity that it represents. To get a bird’s eye view, Daintree Rainforest Aerial Walkway is just what you need. Stop by and learn about the trees and its strange inhabitants like the cassowary.

There are a number of walks that you can do along the road to Cape Tribulation. One that is not to be missed is the Dubuji boardwalk. This walks will bring you through a forest of fan palms. It is an extremely rare and iconic forest. To be honest, it just holds a special place in my hearth. This is where the magic happens. There is just nowhere else in the world like it. Breath it all in and thank the forest for the cleanest air you will ever breath.

 

Hope you get the chance to visit!  Until next time, keep exploring and take care of our beautiful planet!

 

Julie

A day to remember: Whitehaven Beach and Hill Inlet

Whitehaven and Hill Inlet

One of the bucket list things to do in the Whitsundays, Queensland, Australia – is to visit Whitehaven Beach and Hill Inlet.  Rated one of the top beaches to visit in the world and top things to do in the Whitsundays, let’s go see if it can hold on to its reputation!

The pure white sand and the ethereal blue of the sky and sea blend in a swirl of contrasts at Hill Inlet. Say no more, let’s go and explore!

A few facts about Whitehaven before we take you there….

With 98% silica content, the sand is incredibly white and makes a swishy sound when you walk on it.  I have never been on a beach that has such a distinctive sound! Even if you go there when it is scorching hot, the sand will not burn your feet if you walk on it.  Amazing! The only thing you have to be mindful of is the sand going into electronic equipment like phones and camera…. Apparently, it can make a lot of damages.

So, here is how our day went. We departed from Hamilton Island – but it would be as easy to go from Airlie Beach, just a bit longer. The boat we took departs from Airlie Beach, pick some passengers on Hamilton Island and then heads up to Whitehaven Beach. There are a few companies that will bring you there for a day trip but we went with Cruise Whitsundays and it was quite a stable and quick ride. About 30 -40 minutes later we were ferried ashore to Whitehaven Beach where canopies were set up. Make sure you bring your reef-safe sunscreen as the sun is quite intense! Some people stayed on the beach of a leisurely stroll or swim, others like us took a small boat to go to Tongue Bay, where we headed up for a bushwalk to an observatory where we could admire the Hill Inlet swirls.  Seriously, be prepared to be dazzled! Thank you, mother nature, for this beautiful display. Seriously worth it in every way.

We headed back down to the other side of the hill where we were picked up and ferried back to Whitehaven beach right on time for lunch. Now, we could have just relaxed on beach for the rest of the afternoon, but instead, we decided to go for a bushwalk.  We did a short circuit, bout 1 hour, to take advantage of the various vantage points and we were not deceived!

Whitehaven beach is located on the largest of the 74 islands of the Whitsundays appropriately called Whitsunday island which is a national park. That means that there are no developments and the viewpoints are quite exceptional.

After relaxing a bit on the beach, it was already time to go back but, oh! what a day.

A majestic place where time stops and the beauty of nature will make you forget all your troubles. Just go there and have a look for yourself, there is just nothing else like it!

Want to see more? Have a look at our Youtube video here.

Five (5) amazing tropical beaches in Australia you should consider for your next trip

5 Tropical beaches in Australia

 

I think every Australian has a favorite beach…… From bringing back childhood memories to best surfing wave EVER in living memory, we all have a special one…… or two. And must admit that we definitely are the lucky country when we talk about beaches. From spectacular cliffs, roaring swells, white as milk sand, turquoise waters, the Australian beaches can be declined in many forms.

What is a “tropical” beach?

I have been lucky to visit and live near an incredible number of beaches in Australia and though I share a bit of my knowledge with you. I believe that there are some definite jewels out there that deserve your consideration when planning a trip in your own backyard. Whether you like a bit of luxury and action or deserted stretches of sand, there is something for everyone.
There is quite a lot of variety, but what makes an amazing tropical beach?
Well, in my mind, when I think about tropical beach, I think :
• Blue water hues declined in rich shades of turquoise to deep blue;
• White as milk to golden shades of sands;
• Some unique character;
• and green, lots of green….. with palm trees and tropical vegetation (dare I say, not sub-tropical – sorry Noosa, love you though….).

Palm Trees in Palm Cove
Palm Trees in Palm Cove

I think most beaches in Australia would qualify hands down for the first two or three criteria but the last one…. Greenery and topical vegetation….. that is a bit of a hard find in a country best known for its recurring droughts.
To be honest, there are some amazing beaches with sand as white as snow and water as transparent as a glass but bare in vegetation….. I remember travelling in northern Western Australia, driving and driving in the red dessert and then boom! Suddenly, white dunes and the most amazing transparent water plus a stunning reef a few meters from the beach .

But near no vegetation. … green was not part of the local colour palette …. So although, one the most unique beach I ever been to…. I have not included it in this list….
Back to the main point….. amazing TROPICAL beaches, according to me (no affiliate links and photos from yours truly) !

 

 

1. Cape Tribulation (near Port Douglas, Queensland)

For more info click here

Cape Tribulation
Cape Tribulation

Green, green, and green. If you like lush jungles then you are in for a treat. The Daintree forest is the oldest remaining tropical forest in the world (yes older than the Amazon). It will satisfy your need for tropical green. Don’t miss the spectacular native fan palm which is uniquely Australian.

Fan Palm, Cape Tribulation
Fan Palm, Cape Tribulation

 

In fact, the Daintree forest is a World Heritage site and is home to incomparable flora and fauna – just like it’s neighbour, the Great Barrier or Reef.  The mountain backdrop from the beach is stunning, the water is inviting and the sand is golden. Bonus,  if you like kilometres of deserted beach, with not a soul in sight, then this location will make you as happy as Larry.

If you wish to visit, there is nothing like a sleep over in the jungle if you can. Otherwise, I recommend that you base yourself in Port Douglas (then you can also visit 4 Miles Beach and rent a car or hop on one of the local tours available).  It is a long day driving and you will have to take the ferry across the Daintree River but, oh so worth it. I have to admit, when talking about best tropical Australian beach, I think this is it…

 

 

2. Palm Cove (near Cairns, Queensland)

For more info click here

Palm Cove, Queensland
Palm Cove, Queensland

Yes! Palm Cove has palm trees. Ok, I have to say, palm trees, as we picture them, are not native to the area (well ,I will not get into a botanical debate here) but still….. We like the look.   What I like about Palm Cove is that the numerous hotels, restaurants and shops are low key and the foreshore and buildings are well integrated. It creates quite a cosy and laid back atmosphere where you can sit in a terrace, sip a cocktail and overlook one of the finest beach in Australia. Also, Palm Cove  has self-proclaimed  itself spa capital of Australia, so you can enjoy a massage to the sound of the ocean….. Not bad, if you want to enjoy some luxury.

If you wish to go there, there are plenty of hotels and restaurants to choose from but it can be a bit expensive. If you need more accommodation choice, Cairns is not too far and you can rent a  car and make it a day trip.

If you have time, you can rent a car and drive to Port Douglas. The picturesque winding road is an attraction by itself and you will find many look outs to stop at as well as beaches to discover on the way.

3. Mindil Beach (Darwin, Northern Territory)

For more info click here

Mindil Beach Markets, Darwin
Mindil Beach Markets, Darwin

Also known for the Mindil Markets, which are the biggest food, arts and craft outdoor markets in the area. Join the locals, raid the food stalls and have a pick nick on the beach where you can admire the stunning sunset over the ocean horizon….. Just magical. During the day, when there is less people, you can enjoy the beach and the palm tree lined dunes.

Mindil Markets occur only during the dry season. There are plenty of hotels in Darwin and surrounds.

 

 

 

4. Catseye Beach (Hamilton Island, Queensland)

For more info click here

Catseye beach is the main beach on Hamilton Island. A family friendly, water sports lover, palm tree lined beach.

You can rent: paddle boards, kayaks, wind surf, little catamarans, snorkeling equipment for your joyful family entertainment or romantic getaway.  If you are not keen on the ocean or have small children then there are swimming pools a few meters away with deck bars. From the beach, you can admire Whitsunday Island and the turquoise ocean. Turtles and Manta Rays are a frequent sight.

The view from the hotels rooms and apartments opposite the beach is phenomenal and honestly unbeatable.

Hamilton island is accessible by plane from major Australian cities or by ferry from Airlie Beach.

5. Mission Beach (Between Townsville and Cairns, Queensland)

For more info click here

cassowary in Mission Beach
cassowary in Mission Beach

Last but not least. A tranquil little coastal town where you can admire one of the strangest big birds on earth: The cassowary. It is a bizarre vulnerable species of fruit eating  “emu “ or “ostrich”  – like -stature, and it roams free in the area.  Quite unique in the world.

 

 

Mission Beach
Mission Beach

 

The beach is an endless stretch of golden sand. If you like to walk and walk…. Just enjoy….. Peaceful and inimitable. Have a rest and enjoy the tropical greenery outlook from the beach. You will not be disappointed. Feel relaxed in a split second. Just walk and swim….

Best to drive there from Cairns or Townsville. Ideal to reconnect with nature.

 

 

 

When to go

As for most tropical areas, the climate is divided between the wet and dry season.  Best time to visit is during the dry season which is April to October if you want to maximise your chances of pleasant weather and avoid stingers. There are still plenty of nice days during the wet season but you need to know that drenching rains are more frequent on the radar and that swimming is restricted to stinger nets and pools (a stinger suit is necessary otherwise).

Admittedly, during the wet, the weather report will tell you that there is a possibility of showers on most days…. A lot of times, it means a light and pleasantly refreshing shower in the evening but other times it will mean five days in a row of intense non-stop rain and involves flooding of major roads. Don’t be fooled.  Check the amount of rain predicted to differentiate the two. I may suggest that if you go during the wet season, it is even more important to check the cancellation and re-scheduling policies of your airline and insurance company. Take an appropriate insurance if you need to and check the weather before you go.  Cyclones do happen, and trust me you don’t want to be there when a big one hit.  Avoid being disappointed and re-schedule instead. It sucks, but it’s a reminder that mother nature still has the upper hand……

On this note, I have been living in the tropics for many years and love it. Even the wet season….. You can still get stunning days.

Hope that you will consider my recommendations for your next trip and that you will share my love for Australian tropical beaches….

And if you end up deciding to go on a tropical trip, be prepared by downloading my PACKING CHECKLIST….. It is an interactive Excel spreadsheet that will allow you to plan your trip in the sun….

Here at Tropical Suitcase,  we love tropical living and we invite you to join us , explore the world and plunge into your suitcase…… what is in it? You could be in for a surprise! Start by checking out our WEBSITE  or visit us on FACEBOOK.

Go on find your favorite beach. Explore it and make sure you only leave steps in the sands and smiles on people’s face.

Cheers

Julie