The relaxed coastal town of Cooktown is a popular excursion from Port Douglas.
Captain Cook beached his ship the Endeavour here, hence the name. These days daytrippers come here to visit the intriguing James Cook Historical Museum, to pay their respects to his statue overlooking Bicentennial Park, and order up a seafood platter at a local restaurant.
Cooktown has some impressive buildings for an outback coastal town, thanks to the 1870s to 1890s gold rush at the nearby Palmer goldfields. The town’s impressive botanic gardens date from this period.
Cooktown is one of the most northerly settlements on Australia’s far north coast, before the wilds of Cape York Peninsula take over. Port Douglas is 267 km (166 miles) south of Cooktown.
A tour to Cooktown from Port Douglas can combine the scenic coastal route, traveling through the Daintree to Cape Tribulation along the Bloomfield Track, and the inland Mulligan Highway for iconic outback landscapes.