Things To Do in Cairns + Port Douglas With Teenagers

Jet ski trip Port Douglas
Photos the teenagers took when jet skiing- lucky ducks

River Tubing Down The Mulgrave River

We went with Foaming Fury, see their website here.

‘Welcome to my office,’ said Mikey, our main guide for the morning.

You know in life there are guides and guides and some are keen and fresh and enthusiastic, and others a bit jaded.

Well, Mikey was just terrific, full of beans, funny, dead keen and great with the kids. He kept up very amused as well as safe and sound. There was jumping off bridges, racing up and down rapids and lots of gentle bobbing along.

The trip cost $79 for the adult, me and $59 for each twin. We also had to pay $5 to hire the crocs we wore on our feet as we didn’t have our own. This included transport fromt he hotel, guides, tubes and a snack and drink on the way home.

Wear swimmers and shorts and t-shirts than can get wet.

Take towels and dry clothes to change into afterwards.

Whitewater Rafting

Sydney kids food travel
Kids and I at at lookout overlooking the Daintree Forest in Far North Queensland

Where to stay

We wanted to be right in the heart of Cairns so we stayed very happily at the Novotel Cairns Oasis Resort, see our full review and photos here.

Other places that look good include:

The Shangri La right on the Marina looks gorgeous- mentioned by my friend Deb on Dive Planit  here.

The Cairns Coconut Holiday Resort is a Big4 resort with great kids facilities and a wide variety of accom.

In Port Douglas, we stayed at some very new (expensivo) apartments on Macrossan Street, great location, called Coconut Grove.

I liked the sound of the Peppers Beach Club in Port Douglas as described by Mrs Woog here.

What to pack

I’m glad you asked that… click below on a post I wrote with a packing list. There’s a printable list there for you too.

Family Holiday Packing List For Cairns And Other Hot Spots

Queensland and Cairns official tourism websites

Cairns Tourism

Tourism Port Douglas

Do we need to book activities ahead?

We booked the yacht trip ahead as it involved accommodation and we knew it would get booked out. You really don’t need to book other trips and tours ahead, although you may be wise to if you want to get onto a tour on a specific day.

Flying into Cairns

Cairns Airport is pretty small, you tend to exit the aircraft onto the tarmac…and be hit by a wave of tropical heat.

The airport is 6km from the city so it’s a quick trip. We used a taxi to get into the city, then arranged to drop our rental car off there. You can also book airport shuttles, try or phone (07) 4099 1191.  Many hotels arrange pickups from the airport.


We chose to stay right in the centre of Cairns so that we could walk to all the central locations. The tours we did when staying at the Novotel picked us up at the door.

We then hired a car (big enough for five of us, five big bags and a guitar – expensive!) and drove to Port Douglas. This was handy for stopping off on the way and for  driving around Port Douglas and beyond. Next time I will aim to have a car for a few days in Cairns and explore further afield.

If you’re thinking of a holiday to Cairns or Port Douglas start with..

 Family Packing List for Cairns, Port Douglas and Other Hot Places

And here are detailed posts on what we enjoyed

Coral Reef Dreaming – Overnight Yacht Trip to the Great Barrier Reef

 River Tubing On The Mulgrave River With The Kids

 Why We Are Loving The Novotel Cairns Oasis Resort

Muddy’s Playground On The Esplanade In Cairns

Now then… what have I forgotten?


When to visit Cairns and Port Douglas

Ah well, that depends on what you are looking for. In Australia, we often think the best time to go is the winter school holidays time, around June – September as the weather is so much better in north Queensland than it is in the southern states.  Also, the stinger season, when you need to swim on netted parts of the coastal beaches, is from around November to May. Now that doesn’t affect your time on the Great Barrier Reef though as they aren’t found there.

I like the hotter months as I love snorkelling and diving with no wetsuit which you can really only do when it’s very hot, over the Aussie summer. School holidays in summer will always be busy, best bargains to be found in February/March.

We went this time in late September and early October, we did need wetsuits on the reef. The daytime top temperatures were 25 – 30 degrees C which was very pleasant, and a lovely change to Sydney’s weather.

October – December is described as the best time to visit the GBR as the wind tends to be low then which means for smoother seas and less seasickness. Works for me.

The wettest time of year in December – March, but it often rains at night and there’s still heaps of good stuff to do even when it’s wet.

What I say is… go when you can, when it suits you, when you can get away, when the price is right… there’s no best time.

Weather Charts for Cairns + Port Douglas

Lovely – very tropical!  Here’s the annual summary from the Bureau of Meteorology.

Cairns annual weather

Keep your eye on the weather before you go at Cairns Weather.

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