Australia 2014: Port Douglas – Part 2

Snorkeling the Great Barrier Reef.

With nothing adventurous on our agenda for day two, we slept in, took a long stroll on Four Mile Beach, and soaked up some sun until noon. Showered and changed, we made the two-minute walk into the heart of Port Douglas to eat and shop. After a leisurely lunch at the Lure Restaurant & Bar on the marina, we spent the afternoon touring the shops—starting at the marina and working our way back toward our hotel on Garrick Street.

The Peninsula Hotel has a beautiful wading pool with an inviting waterfall feature, and since jet lag was slowly setting in, we decided to relax poolside for the rest of the day. Early evening, we agreed to forgo our 8:00 p.m. reservations at the Nautilus Restaurant for a lighter meal and to retire early, as we had a busy day planned—snorkeling the Great Barrier Reef.

Included in our hotel reservation was a complimentary dinner. Our server seated us on the outdoor patio where we could hear the surf crash onto the shoreline. Sipping  wine, we enjoyed the balmy evening, waiting for our meals to arrive. All I’ll say about the food is that we would have been wiser to have kept our reservations at the Nautilus, even if we’d fallen asleep during our dinners. To the sound of ocean waves, we closed day two in Port Douglas. Photos: Pool at the Peninsula Hotel with waterfall feature.

Day three dawned sunny and warm. We could have taken a shuttle to the marina, but since we were up early we walked, stopping along the way at the Whileaway Bookshop & Café for coffee. At The Reef Marina we boarded our boat for the full-day cruise to the Great Barrier Reef. We opted to snorkel rather than dive. When the boat anchored, we joined a guided tour with a professional instructor who showed us the best areas along the reef to spot marine life. Zipping through the crystal clear turquoise water, we spotted stingrays, sea turtles, and a lone nurse shark among the schools of brightly colored tropical fish. And later in the day, when we anchored in three other locations along the reef, we saw eels as well as some of the most beautiful iridescent fish and fluorescent coral. Mesmerizing. Despite the water being a bit rough, and chilly, we had a great time viewing the stunning underwater scenery.

Late in the afternoon, we arrived back at the marina and hopped on the shuttle to our hotel, eager to shower and dress for dinner. While the buffet lunch on the boat was good, we had worked up a real appetite from all the snorkeling.

At our restaurant, Zinc, our server led us to a corner table, private and away from a larger group dining nearby. We shared an appetizer of rosemary-scented scallops with diablo sauce. For our mains, we ordered the specials of the day—a pan-seared barramundi fish with a lemongrass- and ginger-scented potato salad, Asian slaw with pineapple and chili, and a lime and coriander beurre blanc. The other special was a pork tenderloin topped with sage and onion with an apple-scented potato purée, spinach amandine, caramelized apple, and seeded mustard. For dessert, we shared a chocolate tart with banana salsa, chocolate gelato, and almond biscotti with a Black Forest crème anglaise. As we sipped a good port day three in Port Douglas slipped away.


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