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Port Douglas - 7 Nights in January - is that too long?

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Chicago, Illinois
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Port Douglas - 7 Nights in January - is that too long?

I am planning a trip to Australia and NZ for my honeymoon. Our travel agent based on times and not wanting to have so many layovers between locations has proposed 6 nights in Queenstown, NZ than 7 nights in Port Douglas, and lastly 5 nights in Sydney.

Do you think 7 nights in middle of January in Port Douglas is too long? We will want a few days to relax on the beach/hotel pool and do nothing but planning on 1 day to Outer Reef Cruise, 1 day Daintree Rainfores. Any other suggestions on what to do see?

We were not planning on having a car either, is that an issue?

Any suggestions on hotels that have a good location and good pool/accommodations?

Right now we are looking at the Sea Temple Port Douglas as our first choice but also looking at Shantara or Thala Beach Lodge.

Any suggestions/advice would be greatly appreciated.

Cheers!

South Pole
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1. Re: Port Douglas - 7 Nights in January - is that too long?

I think a week in PD is just about right.

but no car, imo, is a mistake. better to 'do' the sights under your own steam rather than to a tour's agenda.

and the village is spread out. nice to be independent of scheduled transport. and to get to/from cairns airport.

January will be hot and humid and the 'wet' could be starting to influence the weather. hopefully there will be no travel plan disrupting events. it's a risk u take at that time of year.

also it is stinger season. swimming will be restricted to the pool and the netted area of the beach. the reef tours will supply stinger suits.

plenty of other attractions to see around cairns and south (and west). another reason to have a car.

Cairns, Australia
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2. Re: Port Douglas - 7 Nights in January - is that too long?

lien, you must have had some really bad experiences with tours at some point as I see you often commenting on how people are better off in rental cars then on tours....

Having worked in the local tourism industry for 15 years I constantly see self drive visitors driving around lost, rushing from place to place and missing important things like croc cruises simply because they are unfamiliar with the area.

Yesterday I was parked on the edge of the road (in a tour bus) looking at two Cassowary mating and three rental cars passed me shaking their heads and glaring at me. Anyone familiar with the area would have at least slowed enough to try and work out why a bus was parked with 15 people standing up in the bus looking into the forrest. Sadly they missed something very few people EVER get to see because they were traveling under their own steam.....

I actually find in most cases self drive visitors spend less time on the walking tracks and visiting the important sites then the bus groups do and somehow still manage to find themselves driving from one river cruise base to the next at 4:30pm wondering why all the boats have finished for the day

The "tour's agenda" is normally very rehearsed and refined so as the guest on the bus get the most out of the limited time there is between sunrise and sunset.

For someone like yourself that has visited this area many times and may be somewhat familiar with the area a rental car is perfect.

Personally, I genuinely believe first time travellers are better off on a tour as long as they don't book one of the tours that over populate the itinerary (simple logic, the tour that has more stops has less time at each stop).

South Pole
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3. Re: Port Douglas - 7 Nights in January - is that too long?

stopped taking tours in 1976, tony.

all self touring takes is a little research. and that is even easier now with access to the internet.

no need to get spoon fed by some guide on an agenda....but agree some people do need this.

but they are not the ones I would choose to travel with.

I always assume a higher level of nouse from our questioners.

Cairns, Australia
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4. Re: Port Douglas - 7 Nights in January - is that too long?

Sorry Adam,

My post above does little to answer your questions

Regarding the rental car, it simply comes down to what you can afford. Rental cars in Oz are not the same as the US. The price you see on internet sites usually does not include insurance. Daily insurance on these vehicles is usually around $30AU, if you do not pay the extra $$ the company will freeze as much as $2,500AU on your credit card and these funds will often not be cleared until a few day after you return the car.

It is obviously nice to have the freedom of having your own transport if you can afford/justify the expense of a car sitting outside your hotel. PD does have a shuttle company that runs past all the hotels every half hour. It is a private company and IMO over priced. So if you can afford the car and justify the expense it is a nice option.

I agree with lien, 7 nights is perfect. There is not much to do in PD but if you are looking to just chill and enjoy some alone time with your new wife you will be in the right place.

January is the monsoon season so expect hot and steamy or hot and wet (or both) with a chance of cyclones

In regards to accom, I would suggest if you are not going to rent a car to look for something slightly more central then Sea Temple

Daintree, Australia
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for Daintree
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5. Re: Port Douglas - 7 Nights in January - is that too long?

Another vote for having your own car, especially if you are thinking of Thala Beach where you really would need one as it's about a 15-20-minute drive from Port Douglas. It's a beautiful place but apart from the beach there is nothing within walking-distance - shops, restaurants etc.

Organised tours are a great option if your time is limited but for longer stays I'd definitely recommend a car.

A good option for exploring the rainforest north of the Daintree River, up to Cape Tribulation, is to buy the Daintree Self-Drive Audio Guide which is available for about $12.95 from most tour desks and gives you great information as you're driving along - also discounts on various attractions.

Brisbane, Australia
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6. Re: Port Douglas - 7 Nights in January - is that too long?

There will always be the type of person who tries to convince others that tours are no good and how proud they are they do not take tours.

In most cases these are the type of people who are happy to walk around and be are quite satisfied with not knowing what they are looking at, they are happy to be ignorant.

They can go home and tell their friends they went to the Daintree (tick off the box) and took some pretty photos but have no idea what was going on or have not learnt anything. I guess ignorance is bliss.

I like tours, I enjoy learning, I enjoying knowing what I am looking at and asking questions.

So, don't brush off tours you might just see something and learn something that you would not have if you just walked around.

I would just hire a car for 24 hours and drive to the Tablelands etc but return it when you don't need it, then hire it again for another 24 hours to go somewhere else. 24 hr hire car only costs about $50, so just hire it when you need it No point in making the hire car company rich by not using the car everyday and leaving it in the garage.

Chicago, Illinois
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7. Re: Port Douglas - 7 Nights in January - is that too long?

Thanks everyone for the info.

How easy is it if we just want to rent a car for a 24 hr period if we wanted to go that route once or twice?

Which hotels are near some nightlife and restaurants? We are looking for a little nicer of a place that has a good pool/beach as we will probably spend 1 or 2 days just lounging at the hotel?

Thanks

Maui
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8. Re: Port Douglas - 7 Nights in January - is that too long?

You might want to rent a car and take a day trip to check out the Atherton Tableland. You drive down to Cains and then up into the highlands. They have waterfalls, lakes and what sounds like really beautiful hills.

I wasn't planning on renting a car either for our upcoming trip, but decided to rent one in PD for our 2 day trips. Very easy to rent one. Just make a reservation, you can always cancel. We arrive on Sat. and I've booked a car for Monday. I figure if that is the day I want to take my snorkel tour, I will know the weather by Sunday and can cancel the car. I didn't prepay for it.

As others have said, stay in town, that way you can walk to places.

Cairns, Australia
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9. Re: Port Douglas - 7 Nights in January - is that too long?

PD has a local rental company called "Jam Jar Rentals", I just ran a quick google search and couldn't find a web page so they may no longer exist but their cars were nice fresh little cars and being local to PD there would be no re-location fees.

You mentioned the Shantara in your OP, it is very new and quite central. It looks nice from outside but I have never been inside.

Hopefully a PD local will jump in to help out on this....

Destination Expert
for Adelaide, South Australia, Kangaroo Island
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10. Re: Port Douglas - 7 Nights in January - is that too long?

I always rent a car and therefore I am not restricted by pre-booked tours. I can do what I want when I want and, let's face it, the area around PD - Cairns - Cape Trib is pretty easy to navigate.

I would book a car for the week BUT that's not to say that a tour is not a good idea.. depending where you stay you would use the car for transport to wherever the tour departs from in any case (unless it's a private tour) The convenience of having your own transport in FNQ far outweighs the disadvantage of price. These days it's quite reasonable. Unless you are staying IN the main street or adjacent streets, a car is a must IMHO ...there's always a reason to jump in the car when we're up there !