Chic, relaxed and full of charm, Port Douglas is Far North Queensland’s gateway to the Australia’s oldest tropical rainforest. The nature here may be wild, but there’s a realm of accessible activities for everyone to enjoy. Filled to the brim with a plethora of restaurants, bars and activities for every kind of traveller, it’s the perfect place to disconnect, relax and pull up a chair in the sunshine.
Luring visitors from far and wide for its stretched-out sandy shorelines and quintessential tropical paradise vistas, Port Douglas boasts something soulful. Home to one of the best reef access points in the far north, the town itself oozes oomph and stripped-back simple pleasure, dazzling every traveller who visits. From beaches to wildlife, there’s a myriad of accessible activities to add to your itinerary.
Four Mile Beach
As one of the major draw cards for the Port Douglas region, Four Mile Beach boasts golden sweeping views as far as the eye can see. The four-kilometre stretch of paradise is beloved for its swaying palm trees, cool breeze and crystal clear water. Whether you’re into swimming, sunbaking, snoozing under the palm trees or watching the sunset, Four Mile Beach is an incredible escape for folk with all kinds of mobility levels.
The northern end of the beach is the most accessible entry point – so for those who use wheelchairs, Four Mile Beach is a wonder to explore. The sand is firm, making it a far easier beach to wander than most in the area. Catering beautifully to accessibility, the Lifeguard Hut at Four Mile Beach is also home to a unique beach wheelchair called the Freewheeler which can be hired free of charge by signing an indemnity form at the Port Douglas Surf Life Saving Club.
Accessibility level: completely accessible for all mobility levels, including wheelchair users.
Explore the reef
Time to make a splash? Hop on board a Quicksilver Cruises boat and get ready for the adventure of a lifetime. Featuring reef platforms with spacious ramps, wheelchair-friendly bathrooms and even ramp facilities to the floating platforms in the Outer Barrier Reef.
If you’re not impressed yet, the custom hydraulic lift that allows wheelchair users to swim in the fishbowl below might change your mind. As the only one of its kind on the Great Barrier Reef, this is an incredible opportunity for those who really want to get amongst it. Lowering guests with different mobility levels, folk from all walks of life will get the chance to swim with creatures of the deep blue. The water powered lift simply enables access to the water where passengers can swim directly off the lift’s chair into the weightless environment of the reef.
The primary vessel, lovingly known as Quicksilver VIII, is the best boat to nab for those with varying mobility requirements, as their back-up vessels don’t have wheelchair accessibility. In knowing this, it’s always important to call the office to confirm your needs 24 hours before departing to the reef.
Accessibility level: completely accessible for all mobility levels aboard Quicksilver VIII
Meander at the markets
For those seeking a truly tropical experience, head over to the Port Douglas Sunday markets. Held at ANZAC Park right on the golden coastline, the markets burst with colour and flair and are home to a wide range of eclectic stalls. From locally produced fruit and vegetables, to arts, crafts, jewellery, delicious homemade food stands and coffee, the market boasts a carnival-like atmosphere, making it a lovely place to spend your lazy Sunday morning.
While the market is totally wheelchair accessible, it’s important to note that some of the grounds on Anzac Park can be a little rugged depending on the weather.
Accessibility level: mostly accessible for all travellers, however the weather may cause the ground to become rugged which could limit accessibility at times for wheelchair users
Take in the view at Flagstaff Hill
Looking for a postcard perfect view of Port Douglas in all its beauty? Then head to the northern end of ANZAC Park after you’ve perused the markets to your heart’s content. While the entire Flagstaff Hill trek is not accessible for those with limited mobility or wheelchair users, the first section boasts a wonderful view of Little Cove, creating a nook that’s held beneath giant fig trees. The space here is wide and flat, offering uninterrupted 180 degree views of the mesmerising Coral Sea.
For those keen on the Flagstaff Hill viewing platform which offers sweeping views of the wonders below, you can alternatively enter via Murphy Street. At the top end of the street, find where the road forks and look for the clearly marked driveway on the left. The driveway will deliver you to the beloved Flagstaff Hill viewing platform which is completely wheelchair accessible – however please note that the driveway is on a steep incline.
Accessibility level: the first section of the Flagstaff Hill coastal walk is completely accessible for folk with all types of mobility levels, however the subsequent walk is generally inaccessible as it includes a lot of stairs. Entrance to the Flagstaff Hill viewing platform is accessible for all, but the steep incline should be evaluated at your own risk
Bliss out at Macrossan House
Just a few minutes from the beach and the charming hustle of Port Douglas town, Macrossan House is one of the primary pillars of luxury in Port Douglas. Boasting a completely accessible stay, their apartments are home to an accessible bedroom, bathroom and kitchenette.
You’ll love the lengths the staff here go to create a comfortably accessible stay – from feng shui-ing your room to make room for your access needs, to helping out with any kind of request, Macrossan House is home to humble hospitality.
For those keen to rest their head here, the accessible apartments can be accessed via the ground level with no steps or sills to navigate.
Accessibility level: Macrossan House is completely accessible for travellers with varying levels of mobility, including wheelchair users.
Get wild at Hartley’s Crocodile Adventures
Ready to explore the tropics at its best? Then head to Hartley’s Crocodile Adventures. With most of the park completely accessible for wheelchair users, the team has gone above and beyond to cater for folk with all kinds of disabilities. Visually impaired visitors can enjoy a specially-created tour that shows them the best of the native wildlife, and guide dogs and companions or carers are welcomed.
The park is connected with over two kilometres of timber boardwalks, most of which is completely accessible for those with varying mobility. For the areas that aren’t accessible, it’s clearly marked. It’s also important to note there are two accessible bathrooms within the park.
Home to a wide range of exciting natural displays, the park boasts wildlife shows including the lagoon cruise, which will get you up close and personal to the feisty crocodiles. The cruise features a ramp for wheelchair users.
Accessibility level: Hartley’s Crocodile Adventures is generally widely accessible for most travellers. Wheelchair users can enjoy almost all of the park including the river cruise
Feast on the local fare
Known for its unique and delicious cuisine, Port Douglas is home to a wide range of worthwhile restaurants, cafes and bars. The town itself is generally accessible, meaning folk with all kinds of mobility levels will be able to enjoy the quiet hum of this charming coastal town.
Special mentions go to The Tin Shed, which boasts both an incredible view over the Port Douglas inlet as well as parking, ramp access and a lift for travellers with varying mobility levels. Salsa Bar & Grill also features an accessible bathroom and ramp access, but it’s always best to call ahead to be sure the functionality will match your needs.
Accessibility: the town itself is perfect for people with varying levels of mobility, including wheelchair users
Accessed that podcast
Presented by Queensland.com, this podcast delves into the world of accessible travel. Julie Jones, founder of Travel Without Limits, Australia’s inaugural accessibility-focused travel magazine, recounts her family’s travel journey in Tropical North Queensland in this episode, addressing the distinct challenges of having a child with cerebral palsy, Braeden.
The podcast features a multitude of episodes covering diverse topics and locations.