The optimal provision of thermal comfort and energy efficiency for residential housing in the hot and humid tropics presents challenges and opportunities for housing and subdivision designs. Climatic challenges come in the form of high ambient temperature and humidity, especially during the wet season and transition periods. On the other hand, climatic advantages come in the form of breezes coupled with relatively dry air during the dry season, enabling thermal comfort attainment through natural ventilation that employs prevailing breezes. This paper discusses existing design practices for housing and subdivisions in the hot and humid tropics with particular reference to the city of Darwin in Australia’s Northern Territory. This includes several research issues and gaps that have been identified and need to be addressed. The paper also critically assesses how air speed, air temperature and humidity – three of the thermal comfort parameters – play a key role in housing and subdivision design consideration in the hot and humid tropics. In doing so, the paper sheds light on the inadequacy of the current residential energy rating methodology as a tool for assessing tropical housing performance and proposes a new direction for future research to ameliorate these issues for the tropics.