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Car hire from Cairns to Port Douglas

Wisconsin
Level Contributor
20 posts
2 reviews
Car hire from Cairns to Port Douglas

I have read some conflicting thoughts on whether to use a shuttle or car hire arriving in Cairns and staying in Port Douglas for four days. Is the drive easy and roads good? Is having a car useful in Port Douglas for three full days plus the transfer back and forth from Cairns? Would really appreciate clarification.

11 replies to this topic
Sydney
Destination Expert
for Croatia
Level Contributor
17,803 posts
170 reviews
1. Re: Car hire from Cairns to Port Douglas

Hiring a car at Cairns airport and keeping git the whole time is what I would do. However, and this is where the conflicting advise might be coming from, if you are getting off a very long haul flight, it would not be wise to drive from the airport to PD.

Otherwise, the drive is not particularly difficult and is very scenic. The road is mostly along the waterfront.

Brisbane, Australia
Destination Expert
for Brisbane, Queensland
Level Contributor
11,897 posts
54 reviews
2. Re: Car hire from Cairns to Port Douglas

I really like to have a car in PD as it makes it so much more flexible to do your own exploring.

As above, if you are going to be jet lagged, then take a shuttle up to PD and hire a car in PD for the next day. You may even be able t return it to Cairns - just check if there is a one way fee.

Cheers

Melbourne, Australia
Level Contributor
1,891 posts
119 reviews
3. Re: Car hire from Cairns to Port Douglas

It is a very scenic drive but in some parts it is narrow and winding. Some nasty accidents on some of those corners. I wouldn't recommend getting off a long haul flight and straight into a car. Maybe spend a night in Cairns if you're coming straight from the US, or get the shuttle and hire a car in PD. The hotel I stayed in last year had a car available for hire (Port Douglas Motel) but I think others did too.

ON, Canada
Level Contributor
14,755 posts
45 reviews
4. Re: Car hire from Cairns to Port Douglas

JSM ... Good advice above, and more info from you will help with feedback.

How comfortable are you with driving on the left? The roads are good but I wouldn't say the drive is easy as it requires a lot of focus (there are quite a few two-lane roundabouts as you head out of Cairns, and then the winding, somewhat hilly road along the coast)

What time do you arrive at CNS at (and approx. date)? Better to drive it in daylight than after dark.

Where are you arriving from - will you have adjusted to the time change?

What are your plans in PD ... are you self-touring or taking tours or a combination?

Are you staying at accommodations in PD that are convenient to the beach (if that's a priority) and to downtown - if not, does the accommodation provide shuttle service?

Wisconsin
Level Contributor
20 posts
2 reviews
5. Re: Car hire from Cairns to Port Douglas

Those are good questions. I have some answers. We will have been in Sydney and Blue Mt from August 9 to 15 and will get some experience driving during that time. Looking to get a flight to Cairns from Sydney arriving late afternoon. What time is sunset during that time of year? Planning to stay in PD until the 19. Still looking at accommodations and that might depend on whether we have a car. Planning to take in GBR and Daintree. Generally taking in what the area has to offer so open to suggestions. Would there be a suitable location for accommodations where a car would not be necessary.? Also, are tours the preferred way to experience Daintree? Thanks so much for everyone’s feedback.

Canberra, Australia
Level Contributor
9,755 posts
2 reviews
6. Re: Car hire from Cairns to Port Douglas

Sun set will be just after 6.00 PM

Good Luck

Brisbane, Australia
Destination Expert
for Brisbane, Queensland
Level Contributor
11,897 posts
54 reviews
7. Re: Car hire from Cairns to Port Douglas

You can do a tour of the Daintree but self drive is also very easy. If you don’t want a car then stay close to Macrossan St.

You might want to do a day self driving the Atherton Tablelands too.

Cheers

ON, Canada
Level Contributor
14,755 posts
45 reviews
8. Re: Car hire from Cairns to Port Douglas

With a late afternoon arrival, I'd suggest opting for a shuttle to PD. You probably won't be driving in Sydney, and while you'll get some experience in the BM's - it might not leave you feeling confident enough to do the drive to PD if you aren't able to get out of Cairns until close to sunset time.

Having a car in PD is worthwhile - in addition to Daintree, suggest visiting Mossman Gorge and Cape Tribulation. We divided those up over two days (Daintree & Cape Tribulation one day), Mossman Gorge on another morning. We really enjoyed Wavelength for the GBR snorkel trip.

Wisconsin
Level Contributor
20 posts
2 reviews
9. Re: Car hire from Cairns to Port Douglas

Thanks for all the information. It is very helpful.

Gold Coast...
Level Contributor
1 post
40 reviews
10. Re: Car hire from Cairns to Port Douglas

I personally would definitely get a car for the greater flexibility and independence.

Driving on the "right" side of the road....... meaning the left of course :-)) ...... or the opposite of whatever a person is used to, is most definitely different and calls for INCREASED FOCUS, however millions of people all over the world do it on occasions. "Think - Focus - Think some more".......and you should be fine.

All the best!

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