Having a fantastic holiday often depends a lot on getting the right weather. But, as everyone knows, Mother Nature sometimes has other plans. Constant sunshine can never be guaranteed no matter what part of the world you’re visiting, and that includes Port Douglas.
When the weather doesn’t play fair, then it’s a case of searching for either indoor activities or something to do where it doesn’t matter too much if you get wet in the process. It can be a problem trying to keep children occupied in a hotel room in inclement weather as well, so it’s a good idea to do some forward planning and have a backup strategy so you’ll know in advance what to do in Port Douglas if it rains.
The natural wonders surrounding Port Douglas are what attracts the majority of visitors to the area. Though when it’s raining, hiking through the rainforest or cruising out to the Great Barrier Reef in a boat, aren’t quite so appealing. But surprisingly enough for a town centred on outdoor activities, there’s a lot to do in Port Douglas when it rains. If you do get caught in a downpour while you’re there, don’t despair, these ten things to do in Port Douglas when it rains will keep you suitably entertained until the storm blows over.
1. Whileaway Bookshop and Cafe
There’s nothing better on a rainy day than settling down to read a good book with a cup of tea, coffee or hot chocolate. If you didn’t pack any books in your suitcase, don’t worry, it’s a problem easily solved. Head down Macrossan Street and drop in at the Whileaway Bookshop and Cafe. The bookshop stocks all the latest bestsellers as well as a full range of novels from multiple genres to suit all tastes plus a selection of books for children. Find a book, then take a table. There’s a wide variety of beverages to choose from and scrumptious cakes, sandwiches and quiches to accompany them.
If the weather does take a sudden turn for the better and the sun comes out, but you’re too engrossed to put your book down, move outside onto the terrace, change your hot drink for a refreshing iced one and carry on turning pages. The Whileaway is a super place to spend a rainy morning or afternoon in Port Douglas. So good in fact; you’ll probably end up wishing it rains again another day.
2. Courthouse Museum
Visiting a museum might be low down on your list of things to do in Port Douglas when the sun is shining, but add a rainstorm to the equation, and it’s an activity which rises rapidly in the rankings. The Port Douglas Courthouse Museum on Wharf Street houses some fascinating artefacts pertinent to the history of the town and its residents.
Check out the exhibits on sugar cultivation, road construction and the World War 2 Battle of the Coral Sea. Explore the authentic nineteenth-century courtroom then watch a live re-enactment of the trial of Ellen Thomson, the only woman hanged in the state of Queensland. There is a nominal admission fee to the museum for adults and children are free.
3. Port Douglas Art Galleries
Investigating the art galleries is a great thing to do when it’s raining in Port Douglas. Forget about getting damp, put up your umbrella and take a stroll down Macrossan Street and then around the corner to Murphy Street. You’ll be surprised and delighted by the quality of artwork you discover on display in all three.
Australian & Oceanic Art Gallery
The Australian & Oceanic Art Gallery exhibit and sell contemporary and traditional Indigenous artwork in many formats. There are bark, rock and sand paintings, examples of symbology and iconography as well as urban art. The gallery also displays works from non-indigenous Australian artists who are dedicated to recreating the Queensland land and seascapes on canvas.
The Ngarru Gallery is a bright, modern studio which exhibits fine Indigenous art as well as lower-priced collectable pieces. They showcase some stunning sculptures, paintings and smaller items, including traditionally crafted didgeridoos, perfect for souvenirs or gifts.
Studio 49 Gallery
The Studio 49 Gallery is on Murphy Street displays paintings and photographs by local artists depicting themes related to Port Douglas and Queensland. They also have a stunning collection of artisan-crafted jewellery and unusual hand-painted plates.
4.Port Douglas Escape Room
If it’s raining in Port Douglas, guaranteed, you won’t be the only one looking for something to do. Even if you’re travelling alone, you may find the folks on the table next to you in the coffee shop or bar more than happy to team up and head over to the Port Douglas Escape Rooms on Macrossan Street.
The themes used in the escape rooms are suitable for between two to six people so you won’t need to recruit a crowd. All you need to do is put your heads together and solve the clues to escape the room within an hour. It’s hilarious fun, can be frustrating, but is a seriously rewarding achievement when you get it right.
5. Port Douglas Spa
When it’s raining in Port Douglas, one of the nicest things to do is spoil yourself with a special pampering session. The town has several spas and wellness centres offering therapeutic, rejuvenating and detoxifying treatments which are all soothing enough to put a smile on anyone’s face on a rainy day.
The Vie Spa is located in the Pullman Port Douglas Sea Temple Resort and offers a full array of treatments including a complete day of luxury with lunch. It’s an experience which will leave you feeling like new no matter what the weather has decided to do. Follow a fifty-minute essential aroma facial or hot stone massage with a detox salad in the restaurant. For a shorter treatment, try the Vie Spa eighty minute body scrub though if you’ve been busy working on your tan, exfoliating will put paid to all your efforts.
Natural Therapeutics Centre
The Natural Therapeutics Centre on Macrossan Street turns rain into therapy in their Vichy Room where you stand under shower heads to have stimulating sprays of water massage your body. If you prefer to stay dry, try a deep tissue massage, a hot stone treatment in a relaxing ambience or spoil your feet with a pink clay foot mask.
Port Douglas Day Spa
If you don’t want to move too far from where the action is happening then go to the Port Douglas Day Spa in Paddy’s Irish Pub and Grill on Macrossan Street. If the rain is in for the day and doesn’t look like letting up, you can follow your spa session with a few pints of Guinness in the pub. The Day Spa offers a multitude of treatments ranging from an express facial to Chinese cupping or a full body wrap with a head massage included.
6. Coffee Works
Spend an indulgent afternoon in the Coffee Works on Port Douglas’s Macrossan Street. The Coffee Works is a boutique roastery and chocolaterie who not only make great coffee and chocolate but their own brand of coffee and chocolate liqueurs too.
Browse the store and drink in the rich fragrance of freshly ground coffee mixed with the sweet aroma of chocolate. Don’t miss getting some chocolate crocodiles or grab a bag and choose your own pick n mix combination from multiple flavours in broken slab, button or egg form. The Coffee Works has a large covered terrace where you can drink a coffee and eat chocolate to your heart’s content. Though if it’s raining hard expect a bit of noise as the roof is made from corrugated iron.
7. Port Douglas Gym 247
If it’s been raining in Port Douglas for a couple of days and you’ve started to feel lethargic because you’ve overindulged on too much good stuff, consider heading to the gym for a workout. The Port Douglas Gym 247 is exactly that. Open twenty-four hours of the day, seven days a week. You’ll find the gym in the basement of the Port Village Shopping Centre on Warner Street.
The air-conditioned gymnasium is fully equipped, has spin bikes, treadmills and boxing bags. For your first visit, you’ll need to go during the staffed hours from nine in the morning to five in the afternoon when, if you’re planning on going for more than one session, you’ll be issued with an electronic entry card. If you need extra advice or motivation, there are personal trainers on site who are only too happy to assist you with your exercise routines and make you sweat.
8. Pokie Room Pub Crawl
Diversion on a rainy day in Port Douglas comes in many forms, but one of the most popular is combining a pub crawl with playing the pokies. If you’ve never heard of pokies, they’re slot machines and are classed as a top pastime in Australia and believe it; Port Douglas has plenty of them.
It doesn’t really matter which bar you start in as all the top bars in Port Douglas have pokie rooms. Whether you make the Iron Bar or the Central Hotel, your first port of call, time your stay to coincide with happy hour and you’ll be onto a winner all round. If you don’t want to play the slots, but prefer to catch up with some sporting action on the television, then check out Paddy’s Irish Bar and Grill where there are large screen TV’s.
9. Port Village Shopping Centre
Avoid the rain by driving or catching an Uber from your hotel in Port Douglas to the Port Village Shopping Centre. Park your vehicle in the underground car park, ride up in the lift and you’ll be shopping before you know it without even getting wet.
The Port Village Shopping Centre has several fashion retail outlets including Jay Jays who sell funky t-shirts or Just Jeans which is dedicated to denim wear. There are cafeterias, restaurants, juice bars and if the weather is humid, frozen yoghurt shops to refresh you. No, the retail therapy won’t last for hours, but the Port Village Shopping Centre has enough stores and amenities to keep you occupied for at least a couple of hours.
10. Visit Cairns
When the rain doesn’t look like letting up in Port Douglas, and you’ve run out of things to do, then plan a visit to the city of Cairns for a morning, afternoon, or even a combined day and evening of diversion. If you have a self-drive hire vehicle, perfect, but if not, book a seat on the Port Douglas shuttle bus and let someone else do the driving. In the daytime, there are some great places to shop, the regional art gallery to browse, several fascinating museums or the Cairns Aquarium to see. At night, take in a show at the performing arts centre, a movie at one of the cinemas or have a flutter in the casino.
Cairns Central Shopping Centre
Find everything under one roof at the Cairns Central Shopping Centre on McLeod Street. The vast, multi-storey centre is the largest in the city. Inside you’ll find top name retail outlets like Myer, City Chic and Edge Clothing alongside electronics stores, footwear shops, designer jewellers and much, much more. There are restaurants serving everything from burgers to Asian cuisine and everyone’s favourite fried chicken plus many brand name cafeterias. The Cairns Central Shopping Centre is so big; you could easily spend a full day there without once setting foot outside.
Cairns Art Gallery
The Cairns Art Gallery is an impressive, twentieth century, columned building located on the city’s Abbott Street. The gallery hosts temporary exhibitions on frequent rotation as well as their permanent collections dedicated to the heritage and culture of Queensland. Expect to see all formats of art from textiles, to sculptures, photographs and paintings. There are works on display by local, Indigenous and world-famous painters. The gallery has an on-site cafeteria and art-related souvenir shop.
The Cairns Museum on the corner of Lake and Shields Street is dedicated to conserving and relating the history of the people of Far North Queensland. There are photographic exhibitions, artefacts and other related material distributed throughout four separate galleries. Inside, you’ll discover the facts and stories about the workers of the sugar industry, the areas rebellious Indigenous inhabitants and how the city transformed from being industrially oriented to become a significant tourist destination.
When the rain in Port Douglas prevents you journeying out to the Great Barrier Reef, you can still get a look at the underwater world of the reef in the Cairns Aquarium. The aquarium only houses marine life, reptiles and mammals found in Tropical North Queensland in replications of their typical habitat.
Explore the ultra-modern building on Florence Street, and you’ll find exhibitions which follow a drop of rain through its life cycle. Inside you’ll pass through the habitats of rivers, the rainforest, creeks, mangroves and the reef, walk under swimming sharks in a glass tunnel, and be mesmerised by the movement of the fish in the ten-metre high tank. The Cairns Aquarium also offers visitors the chance to interact with fish, feed rays, learn about turtle rehabilitation, marine conservation and see what goes on behind the scenes.
Port Douglas doesn’t have a cinema, so make the most of your trip to Cairns and see a film while you’re there. You’ll find the Events Cinema in the Cairns Central Shopping Centre on McLeod Street. Grab a bucket of popcorn or some sliders three ways – pulled pork, cheeseburger and southern-style chicken – with onion rings and fries on the side, then settle down in front of the big screen to watch one of the latest releases. Does a rainy afternoon get any better than that?
Cairns Performing Arts Centre
For a special night out, catch a show at the Cairns Performing Arts Centre on Florence Street. The centre is the top venue in the city for theatre, music, opera and comedy performances. The centre houses a nine-hundred and fifty seat theatre with orchestra pit and a four-hundred seat studio used for cabaret, stand-up performances and more intimate shows.
Outside the centre is the Munro Martin Parklands with a stage for outdoor performances, gardens and a plaza for communal gatherings. The centre presents acts to suit all taste including classical music, individual artists, ballet, contemporary dance and theatrical circus. The Cairns performing Arts Centre is well worth a visit even when it isn’t raining in Port Douglas.
Reef Hotel Casino
Port Douglas doesn’t have a casino, so head over to Cairns and flutter away your rainy day blues with a night at the tables of the Reef Hotel Casino. Play poker, roulette or blackjack, try your luck on the pokies or the spins of the money wheel. If you’re not a gambler, the casino is still a great place for a night out. There are several superb restaurants and bars on-site and live entertainment most evenings. The casino stays open until five in the morning, so make it an all-nighter and hopefully by the time you get back to Port Douglas, the rain clouds will be nothing more than a distant memory.