If you’re heading north to take in the beautiful coastal township that is Airlie Beach, there are a few things you want to make sure you don’t miss. To get the full Airlie Beach experience, make sure you add these seven Airlie Beach favourites to your bucket list.
1. Cool off by the Airlie Beach Lagoon
In the heart of town you’ll find the Airlie Beach Lagoon. Combining both natural and man-made features, the set of three stinger-free lifeguard patrolled pools including a toddler pool, children’s pool and larger pool set up for lap swimming are surrounded by grassy knolls which provide the perfect relaxation spot on a warm day.
Completely free to use, you could take a picnic along to enjoy at one of the picnic tables or grab a bite to eat by taking a short stroll to Shute Harbour Rd.
2. Check out the Airlie Beach Markets
Head to the Airlie Beach Esplanade on a Saturday between 7 am and 1 pm and you’ll stumble across the Lions Airlie Beach Community Markets.
With stall-holders selling everything from clothing, jewellery, arts and crafts to food, coffee and fresh fruit and vegetables, it’s a great place to go for a wander to soak in the relaxed local vibe.
Visit the Whitsunday Markets Facebook page for more information.
3. Do the Bicentennial Walk
If you’re a fan of a beautiful coastal view, doing the Bicentennial Walk is a must. This four-kilometre waterfront walk connects the Airlie Beach Lagoon to Cannonvale Beach and serves up some very impressive coastal scenery.
It’s a relatively easy walk along boardwalks and well-maintained track that takes about 45 minutes to walk at a leisurely pace and the cool sea breeze should offer some reprieve from the heat on a hot day.
You’ll be able to enjoy the outlooks to sparkling open water and the Abell Point Marina, and if you’d like, you can also break up the walk by stopping for a drink or bite to eat at a cafe along the way.
4. Go on a Reef Cruise
You can’t say you’ve really experienced Airlie Beach and the Whitsunday Islands until you’ve become acquainted with the thing the region is most known for—the Great Barrier Reef.
Whether you’re keen to snorkel or dive, or you’d prefer to stay dry and take in the scenery from above the water, a reef cruise is the best way to get up close to the magnificent sea life and coral species the reef is famed for.
Reef cruise operators like Cruise Whitsundays can collect you from the Port of Airlie and travel by catamaran to the Hardy Reef pontoon, where you’ll be able to spend the day exploring the reef. If you want something that is truly memorable, you can even opt for their overnight ‘ReefSleep’ cruise, where you’ll be able to enjoy the sunset, cocktails and star gazing, before retiring to your swag under the stars on the top deck of the pontoon. Unforgettable!
Visit the Cruise Whitsundays website for more information and bookings.
5. Scenic reef flight
Once you’ve explored the reef at sea-level, the next step is to take it in from above—and the best way to do it is with a scenic reef flight.
A scenic flight gives you a totally different perspective of the reef. Getting an aerial view of the many islands dotted throughout the Whitsundays and the spectacular reef formations is an experience that will stick with you for a lifetime. Whether you choose to go by helicopter, plane or seaplane, it’ll be money well spent!
Websites like Experience Oz can show you a range of scenic reef flight packages departing daily from Airlie Beach. Visit the Experience Oz website for more information and bookings.
6. Visit Whitehaven Beach
A visit to Whitehaven Beach is also a must if you’re going to be staying in Airlie Beach. Possibly the most famous beach in the region, its seven-kilometre stretch of soft white silica sand set beside pristine turquoise waters is the type of thing dream beach holidays are made of. A perfect place to go for a dip, the silica sand doesn’t retain heat so it’s comfortable to walk on even during hot weather.
To get there, you can go with a tour operator like Whitehaven Express, who can collect you from Airlie Beach before heading to Whitehaven Beach, also throwing in a few other perks like lunch, a ride in their glass bottom boat and a stop at Hill Inlet Lookout where you’ll be able to take in the spectacular views of Hill Inlet and Whitehaven Beach.
Visit the Whitehaven Express website for more information and bookings.
7. Head to the Hinterland
While most people think Airlie Beach is only worthwhile visiting if you want to use it as a launch pad to explore the Whitsunday Islands, there is another side to the beach-side town that many people don’t know about—the lush hinterland of Conway National Park.
With the entrance situated between Airlie Beach and Shute Harbour, this beautiful lowland tropical rainforest is characterised by its coastal ridges, damp gullies, rocky cliffs, tranquil bays and breathtaking outlooks to the Whitsunday Islands and is a must if you enjoy bushwalking, hiking or mountain biking.
Visit the Queensland Parks and Forests website for more information.