Airlie Beach - the gateway to the Whitsundays Islands! Located in Tropical North Queensland, Airlie Beach is situated around 12 hours north of Brisbane and 7 hours south of Cairns. The tiny bustling town of Airlie attracts visitors eager to explore the stunning Whitsundays all year round and with the Great Barrier Reef at its doorstep there are plenty of sights and activities to keep you busy. Here are 10 things to do in Airlie Beach...
1. Sail the Whitsunday Islands
Of course! 74 beautiful islands of paradise make up the Whitsunday Islands and the best way to explore this popular destination is by a sailing tour. There are many different sailing tours to choose from, from racing maxi yachts to Pirates of the Caribbean style schooners. Depending on how much time you have in Airlie Beach, you can choose from 1 day sailing trips to 5 night liveaboards! See our Guide to the Whitsundays here...
2. Visit Whitehaven Beach
Located on the largest of the Whitsunday Islands, Whitehaven Beach is the most popular draw card to Airlie Beach. Most of the sailing tours will include a visit to Whitehaven Beach but there are many other ways to experience the crystal clear waters and white silica sands of this infamous beach! Depending on your budget, there are Helicopter Tours, Scenic Flights and 1 Day Cruises that head out to the island.
3. Spend a day at Hamilton Island
This "luxurious" island of the Whitsundays can be quite expensive if you are wanting to spend a night here, however there are 1 day Hamilton Island packages that depart from Airlie Beach and allow you to soak up the glitz and glammer for a day. The packages include ferry transfers to and from Airlie Beach and full use of the resort's facilities - including the beach front swimming pool Cocktail bar!
4. Explore the Great Barrier Reef at Reefworld
As the Whitsundays are located within the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park, most sailing tours to the islands will include a snorkelling and / or scuba diving stop at one of the area's fringing reefs. However if you want to get serious, a visit to the Reefworld is a must! Reefworld is a platoon that sits upon Hardy Reef and can be reached by a boat transfer. The platoon has sun decks, a waterslide into the ocean, an underwater observatory, dive centre, snorkel hire, massage facilities and buffet lunch options.
5. Hit the Airlie Beach Lagoon & Boathaven Beach
The Lagoon in Airlie Beach sits upon the shores of the beach and is a great spot for a BBQ, a swim and a sun bake. The Lagoon is located in the centre of town and you won't miss it! A short walk from the town centre will also have you arrive at Boathaven Beach - a little touch of paradise that many visitors to Airlie can sometimes miss! The beach is located by the Port of Airlie and is protected by stinger nets during season.
6. Take a coastal walk to Cannonvale Beach
The walk will take your breathe away! As you depart from Airlie Beach follow the waterfront track through to Shingley Beach and Cannonvale Beach. The beach is usually rather secluded and the walk will take you around 30 minutes one way.
7. Cedar Creek Falls
A little local secret, Cedar Creek Falls is located around 20 minutes drive from Airlie Beach but is well worth a visit, especially during the humid wet season! You may be able to spot turtles swimming in the natural water hole at the foot of the waterfalls and the walking trail to the top of the falls will reward you with some epic views!
8. Whitsunday Jet Ski Tours
Imagine zooming through the Whitsunday Islands, fringing reefs and bays by Jet Ski! Doesn't get much better than that right? Whitsunday Jet Ski Tours offer a number of tour options available depending on what you want to see and how long you want to spend whizzing around paradise! Never been on a Jet Ski before? No worries! The tour caters for all levels of experience.
9. Skydive over the Whitsundays
Why not tick off two items on the Bucket List at once? Yes... imagine it, jumping out of a perfectly good plane at 14,000ft above the 74 islands that make up the World Heritage Listed Whitsundays. Skydive Airlie Beach will not only are you guaranteed an absolute rush, but also the chance to take in the views of the islands from above! And trust us... the views are out of this world!
10. Hit up the Markets
The beach front of Airlie Beach plays host to a weekly market that is well worth checking out! The Esplanade Markets are open every Saturday from 8:00am until midday, all year round. Expect live music, great souvenirs, arts, crafts, jewelry, clothing and more.
Ready to explore Airlie Beach and the Whitsunday Islands? Book your accommodation at Base Airlie Beach Resort now!
Travelling the east coast of Australia? Read our Complete Backpacker's Guide to Australia's East Coast here!