In Australia, the more north you go, the hotter and more humid it gets. Getting off the plane in Carins, we were immediately hit by a wave of thick hot air that just stuck to your skin and soaked your shirt. Our destination was a sleepy beach town near Cairns with a local population of less than 5,000 people. Port Douglas has long been considered one the best towns in Australia, with it’s proximity to the Daintree rainforest and the Great Barrier Reef. When we were there in December, it was during the off-season and the town was empty, so it was a perfect place to relax and rejuvenate.
We were amazed, and frankly a little scared to learn about the abundance of wild life in this unspoiled tropical paradise. It’s only in Australia where you see tens of thousands of fox bats hanging in a grove of trees, a huge crocodile chilling out by the river bank, or see a python sunning itself on the pavement. Then there is the ocean with the stinging jelly fish and myriad of other deadly animals waiting to strike. In fact, “Crocodile Hunter” Steve Irwin was killed by a stingray out on Batt Reef just off the coast of Port Douglas.
Our home for the next few days was at the Sheraton Mirage Port Douglas, a sprawling 5 acre resort with it’s very own salt water lagoon. With our Platinum status, we were upgraded to the captain suite, a ridiculously big 1,600 square foot apartment overlooking the water. Walking through the doors, and yes there were two doors, we were immediately met with two floor-to-ceiling obelisks – which begs the question, why are there obelisks in a hotel room? There was a dinning room, living room, sitting area, bedroom, multiple bathrooms and a full kitchen. It was quite easy to get lost in the labyrinth of rooms which was about 3x the size of our apartment in New York. Everything was opulent, bordering on gaudy – from the marble floors to the gold fixtures. Even though it’s not in line with our taste – because we are not Liberace, it was still a very comfortable stay.
Right outside our resort behind the swaying palms is the famous Four Mile Beach. The pristine golden sand beach stretched on as far as the eye can see all the way to the mountains in the distance. The beautiful beach was mostly empty, perfect for a quiet walk by the water. There was no one swimming because the water was quite dangerous during the stinger season. At the far end of the beach, there is a designated area with a stinger net in place, creating a protective barrier from the jelly fish. The only sign of life are the small crabs scurrying around making their sand balls. There are millions of perfect round balls, created every day and washed out by the tide every night.
We enjoyed our stay in Port Douglas immensely and even found a great restaurant, Star of Siam, that serves authentic Thai food. The wild ruggedness of nature combined with the slow-pace lifestyle is what draws people back to this place year after year.
Flight: Quantas Link – $58 per person
Hotel: Sheraton – 10,000 points per night
Car: Avis – $120 for 3 days