The only way to get from Cairns to Port Douglas is by road ( unless you want to take a helicopter or charter a boat ). Travellers staying in Port Douglas, the picture perfect town, will arrive into Cairns by air, road or rail before making their way 65 kms north along the Captain Cook Highway. The Captain Cook Highway is a single lane winding road with two overtaking lanes between Palm Cove and Port Douglas. Drivers should take care, especially in the wet season when it can be quite dangerous.
Port Douglas has neither a railway station nor an airport but don’t worry it isn’t far and below I’ll cover the quickest, cheapest, most luxurious, budget and comfortable ways to get between Cairns and Port Douglas.
Cairns to Port Douglas, Queensland, Australia
There are numerous private transfer companies that run services between both Cairns and Cairns airport to Port Douglas. Prices vary and you can expect to pay $150 for a transfer per vehicle. More if you want a luxury car or limousine which isn’t uncommon for Port Douglas visitors.
Private transfers need to be pre-arranged and your driver will meet you at the airport terminals or in Cairns city.
SR Transport and Coaches offer private transfers from Cairns and Cairns Airport to Port Douglas.
Oasis also offer private transfers from Cairns to Port Douglas and the Northern Beaches including Palm Cove.
Port Douglas Private Transfers as their name suggests is another company that will offer transfers from Cairns and Cairns Airport to Port Douglas.
The most expensive way to get between Cairns and Port Douglas, flagging down a axi, isn’t one I’d recommend.
For the cost and comfort you’re much better off with a private pre-arranged transfer.
The plus side is that you can flag down a taxi or walk out of the airport and be on your way instantly. If you don’t know what time you land or need to leave then this is a good option.
Expect to pay upwards of $200 with airport taxis having a premium added to the basic fare.
Unfortunately the public buses from Cairns only run as far North as Palm Cove which isn’t particularly helpful in getting to Port Douglas.
They do cover all of Cairns Metropolitan areas from Palm Cove to Gordon Vale but that’s all they do.
A shuttle bus is one of the best ways of getting to Port Douglas if there are three people or less in your party. The shuttle buses are the cheapest way of getting from Cairns to Port Douglas and there is a frequent service.
Children are normally free up to 3 and then child rate to 12 years but check as each operator can be slightly different.
Several companies run shuttle services with some having a fixed timetable, others offer services on request.
SR Transport and Coaches offers mini bus transport between Cairns Airport and Port Douglas. This is on request and is best booked at least a day ahead of your travel.
BTS Port Douglas buses offers a set service between anywhere in Cairns and Port Douglas. BTS also services Hartley’s Creek Crocodile farm and runs tours to the Daintree Rainforest. With a set schedule this is probably the easiest bus to catch if you’re not sure exactly when you’ll be travelling. During busy holiday periods the popular times such as early morning and afternoon will fill up fast.
Uber in Cairns or Port Douglas
Uber still isn’t very big in either Cairns or Port Douglas compared to other places. While you can probably get an Uber in either, catching one between the two won’t be an easy feat especially if you’re just arrived at the airport and expect a quick transfer.
The cost is significantly less than a taxi if you can arrange one. Expect to pay between $130-$160 depending on the time and day of the week.
Alternatively try a car hire comparison site like Holiday Autos .
If you don’t want to hire a car straight off the plane or from Cairns don’t worry as Port Douglas has 5 different car hire companies at last count, both international and local companies, that can assist if you need a car later on. We have a full post on car hire in Port Douglas here.
Thrifty, Avis, Budget, Paradise Wheels Car Rentals, Port Douglas Car Hire and Comet Car Hire are all located in central Port Douglas within easy walk of the main hotel and accommodation areas. Some of the further out hotels may require a pick up and drop off service.
Prices vary depending on the hire company and also the time of year. Low season February will see prices plummet while in July you’ll need to book ahead to reserve a car as there is limited stock and cars can sell out quickly.
Shop around to get the best deal and, as always, read the fine print in regards to insurance. Australia has some of the highest excess levels in the world with some companies charging up to $5000
Hotels and Hostels in Port Douglas with Airport or City Transfer Services
Check with your Port Douglas Hotel to see if they offer airport or Cairns pick up. Port Douglas’s favourite backpackers’ hostel and camp site, Dougies ( book here) has a pick up service from Cairns, 3 days a week, Monday, Wednesday and Saturday mornings. But you do need to book and have a reservation at Dougie’s. They can pick up anywhere in Cairns including the huge central Cairns hostels, Gilligan’s , Central YHA and Mad Monkey.