Drive from Cairns airport to Port Douglas

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#1
Pittsburgh. PA
487 Posts
Joined Sep 2009
after our cruise we are flying to CNS. Is it an easy drive from CNS to PORT DOUGLAS? Our reservation is driving on the other side of the road. Is this a city or country sort of drive?
Thanks-Gail
#2
Gold Coast
10,217 Posts
Joined Sep 2007
Originally posted by gwcruzer
after our cruise we are flying to CNS. Is it an easy drive from CNS to PORT DOUGLAS? Our reservation is driving on the other side of the road. Is this a city or country sort of drive?
Thanks-Gail
What a treat you are going to have. This is a beautiful coastal drive on a good single lane bitumen road. If you have time, make sure you stop at lookouts and turn off, to your right, at a number of the beautiful Cairns Northern beaches and Palm Cove, en route.
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#3
Arlington, Virginia
2,639 Posts
Joined Sep 2010
The road from Cairns to PD is a 2-lane highway in good condition. You should not encounter much traffic after you get out of Cairns. If you are a confident driver, you will have no problem with this drive. But here are a couple things you need to be aware of:

1. There are about 10-12 roundabouts on the road in/near Cairns. Roundabouts can be intimidating to some American drivers as they are not common in US cities. You might want to read online the rules of the road for roundabouts so that you know who has the right of way and how to best drive through them.

2. The road to PD is very scenic, but it is also curvy in places. The driver of your car must forego watching the scenery and, instead, keep both eyes on the road.
#5
Gold Coast
10,217 Posts
Joined Sep 2007
Originally posted by gwcruzer
Thank you for your quick responses. We are still debating whether to rent a car or not.
There are so many beautiful beaches between Cairns and Port Douglas, I'd recommend that you hire a car. It is a short distance, so you could take your time.

Once in Port Douglas, you could drive north to Daintree rainforest.

If you decide not to drive on the wrong side of the road, you can take public transport as well as tours.

I have driven, as well as taken public transport, as far as Cooktown, such a beautiful region to visit.
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#6
Sydney
120 Posts
Joined Jan 2012
It is only about a one hour drive from the airport (which is on the northern side of Cairns) up to Port Douglas.
If you decide to drive yourselves, be aware that the road is quite winding, with some tight corners.
The is radar speed monitoring at Ellis Beach where the speed limit drops down, so be careful there.
Also, there are long sections of winding road with only a single lane in each direction. Be sure to pull into the "slow vehicle turn outs" as necessary to let vehicles behind you pass. I have seen slow vehicles refuse to pull over with twenty cars stuck behind them - not good.
If you don't want to drive, Sunpalm and Exemplar do frequent transfers by mini bus all day long. They will drop you at your door.
You could then hire a car in Port or do day tours as needed.
#8
Sydney, Australia
7,668 Posts
Joined Jan 2014
Personally, I recommend getting a shuttle to Port Douglas then you can enjoy the gorgeous scenery along the way. You really don't need a car in Port Douglas itself, it's very easy to get around, and if you want to go further afield such as to the Daintree then I'd suggest doing a tour.

We used to holiday at Port Douglas regularly (before we discovered cruising) and only drove there once - the long way round via Cooktown.
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#9
I come from a land down under
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Joined Jul 2014
Pretty easy drive, but I'd rather someone else drive so I could enjoy the view, if it was my first time.

Beautiful trip.
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#10
Vancouver, BC
17,929 Posts
Joined Feb 2002
On our 3 week Australia trip last year this was the only place we rented a car and it was perfect for getting used to driving on the other side of the road. Getting out of the airport was very easy and quite rural. The drive to Port Douglas was pretty easy. The ring roads aren't super busy, you shouldn't have an issue. We loved Port Douglas, we'd vacation there every year if it were closer.
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#11
Maumelle, Arkansas
30 Posts
Joined Jan 2014
It's a beautiful drive! Google Kuranda and check it out. It's in the way, we stopped there for several hours. We drive up to Kurunda, but I'd suggest parking below and taking the sky rail instead, the roads are steep and twisty, but beautiful, and the driver should get to enjoy them.
Port Douglas is a beautiful place. Enjoy!
I had been nervous about the driving as well, but that area isn't so bad. I also drove on Tasmania, where there was a lot more traffic, so I was able to relax more and enjoy the drive in the Port Douglas area.
I hope that you have a smart phone. If so, make sure that it is unlocked and buy a SIM card from Telstra. Get a decent amount of data. It is essential for getting around. Google maps did a fantastic job with the traffic circles and got me where I wanted to go.


Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
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#12
Cairns, QLD Australia
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Joined Feb 2009
I would suggest taking a shuttle from the airport to your hotel in Port Douglas. I live in the northern beaches of Cairns and there are quite a few accidents involving overseas guests and I have never seen anywhere else in Australia signs that say "In Australia we drive on the left hand side of the road" in strategic places along the coast road up to Port Douglas. It is because visitors forget and that road is very unforgiving. It is windy with lots of blind corners, it only takes someone to look at the view for a split second to creep across the white line and have an accident.

When you get to Port Douglas hire a car or do tours from your hotel. There are lots of tours available to visitors, enjoy your trip, instead of having one of you always driving and missing out.
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