One of the first things you should decide when exploring tropical North Queensland is where you want to stay.
You can use the cities of Cairns, Port Douglas or Palm Cove as a base to get to know the area and from there go moving to do the excursions or spend the night in different places, while making your route by car through Cairns and its surroundings.
We, for convenience, have always chosen a place (the first time we visited the area in Cairns and the second time we stayed in Port Douglas), there we have settled for three or four days and from Cairns or Port Douglas we have moved to explore the area.
Where is it better to stay? Well, as they say, for tastes, the colors.
If you must bear in mind that Cairns is a more touristy city, and therefore with more hotels and more excursions that depart from there, it is also cheaper.
On the other hand, Port Douglas is a quieter little town and for example, Airbnb houses are prettier.