The Whitsundays are bursting with activities that allow you to explore its stunning coastline and lush rainforests. It’s a beautiful and low-key town that’s known for its lively nightlife and crystal-clear waters. But what are the best things to do in Airlie Beach?
You could try spending your days jet skiing through the shimmering blue sea, learning about our marine life on a snorkel tour, or simply basking in the sunshine at one of many pristine beaches. With so much to do and see, deciding what attractions should be on top of the list can be hard.
Therefore, in this blog post, we will show you just some of the activities in Airlie Beach. At least to give you an idea of how you’ll spend your days!
Amazing Things to do in Airlie Beach
There’s no doubt about it: Airlie Beach is worth it for some of the best snorkelling spots, luxurious Whitsunday islands, the Great Barrier Reef, and gorgeous beaches. Therefore, if you’re looking for a summer destination, this is one spot you can check out all year round.
Whether you’re an adventure seeker or simply looking for some relaxation, you’ll be spoilt for choice with the many activities to check out. So, let’s explore some of these below.
Sunset sailing in the Harbour
For those on a romantic getaway or families wanting to relax the night away on the water, you could try one of the sunset sailing cruises. It’s the ultimate relaxation experience for everyone, and if you bring along a loved one, it becomes even more special.
Imagine basking in the warm glow of the setting sun, feeling the calm waters gently rock your boat, and sipping on some delicious drinks and small plates. Sounds like a dream, right? Well, it doesn’t have to be if you book this affordable and romantic tour.
Visit Whitehaven Beach & Hill Inlet
You won’t regret adding a day trip to Whitehaven Beach and Hill Inlet to your itinerary in Airlie Beach. It’s not only one of the most popular things to do but also one of the most breathtaking experiences you’ll have. As soon as you step onto the shore, you’ll first notice the stunning blue water lapping against the pure white sand.
And the sand itself? It’s not just beautiful to look at but also has the potential to work wonders for your skin with its exfoliating properties. With that, Hill Inlet is just a short distance away and included on most Whitehaven tours. When you arrive at Hill Inlet, you’ll be greeted with phenomenal views of the swirling sands and waters that change colour before your eyes.
Swimming in the Lagoon
Everyone visiting the region will always have the Lagoon on their list of things to do in Airlie Beach. Whether you’re craving a leisurely dip or you’re ready to do some serious laps, this lifeguarded pool is a great way to fill the day or afternoon. But the fun doesn’t stop there, as there’s even a kid’s section, perfect for little ones to splash and play while parents soak up the sun and relax.
But why do you need a lagoon? Can you just swim in the ocean? Well, yes, you can! But when you bring in the crocodiles and stinger season factors, sometimes the Lagoon pool makes more sense. You’ll find plenty of tourists each day using the pool, and the best ever, that it’s free to use.
Snorkelling the Outer Reef
The Great Barrier Reef stretches along the Queensland coast and is UNESCO world heritage listed. Naturally, the reef is one of the best places to see marine wildlife in Queensland. Trips to the outer reef leave daily, and you get to enjoy over 1,400 species of fish and vibrant coral gardens. And the best part? It’s suitable for all experience levels, from beginners to experts.
As you explore the inner and outer reef, you’ll be awed by the sheer diversity of marine life, and you might even spot some giant clams and turtles too. But, if you really want to take your experience to the next level, make sure you check out the diving, Helicopter flights, semi-submarine, and underwater viewing chamber.
Day trip to Hamilton Island
Now, Hamilton Island is a holiday destination on its own, but it’s also a short day trip away from Airlie Beach. It’s situated right in the heart of the Whitsunday Islands, and in my opinion, it’s one of the best islands in Queensland to visit or stay on.
Why, you ask? Well, for starters, there’s a seemingly endless array of activities to keep you entertained, like paddle Boarding, snorkelling from the beach, lookout points, and hiking trails. And all this can be enjoyed by getting around on a Golf Buggy.
Scenic Flight over the Great Barrier Reef
One way to make your trip to Airlie Beach amazing is by booking a scenic Flight of the reef. You can choose between a helicopter or a fixed-winged plane based on your situation and budget. Flights will generally be close to 1 hour and fly over some of the best sites like Whitehaven Beach, The Great Barrier Reef, and Heart Reef.
From here, you can witness the bright blue waters, white sandy beaches, the swirling sand bars, and the unique coral formations. Truthfully, nothing compares to the amazement of seeing this in person, and it is definitely one of the bucket list items in Australia.
Waterfall Swimming at Cedar Creek
Want more free things to do in Airlie Beach? Then, you can’t go past Cedar Creek Falls. It’s a waterfall with a freshwater swimming hole that’s only a quick 20-minute drive from the town centre.
Seeing the water cascading down the towering cliffs is a pretty impressive sight. But it is even better in the summertime or after some rainfall. Plus, if you’re looking for a way to beat the sweltering heat, this is the perfect spot to take a dip and cool off during the hot and humid summertime.
Lunch at the Coffee Plantation
Brace yourself coffee lovers, and visit the outskirts of Proserpine to the Whitsunday Coffee Plantation. This hidden gem offers the perfect spot for a delicious lunch in the café, a chance to sample their tasty blends, and even an opportunity to walk through their wildlife house.
Now, here’s the interesting part: exotic and Aussie birds will be there to accompany you with their sweet tweets and melodies. And if you happen to visit in July or August, you could also take a guided tour to learn about the coffee plantation process. Does that sound like the perfect day out?
Take a break from the hustle and bustle of daily life with a refreshing walk along the Bicentennial Walk. This beautiful pathway boasts brilliant coastal views as you pass the marina and journey into the heart of the city.
By taking a stroll along this walk, not only will you be able to appreciate the Airlie Beach scenes, but you’ll also be able to squeeze in some much-needed exercise.
One of the greatest things about this trail is that it’s well-maintained and easy to navigate, catering to leisurely strollers, brisk walkers, or runners. There’s nothing quite like taking in the crisp sea air, feeling the warm sun on your face and reaping the benefits of a healthy dose of exercise.
I’m sure there are a few hiking lovers out there, and the Honeyeater Lookout Trail is there for those who want a challenge. Not only that, but it’s one of the best overall views of the town and a must to add to your list of things to do in Airlie Beach.
This steep 2-hour one-way ascent may require some huffing and puffing, but once you reach the top, the view is absolutely incredible. It’s located in the Conway National Park bushland, with vibrant wildlife, and a panoramic view of Airlie Beach that will leave you feeling awed.
Ice-cream at the Bowen Mango
Did you know that Bowen is “Mango heaven” and only a short distance from Airlie Beach? While you can visit to get a selfie or picture of another “Big Thing” in Australia (The Big Mango), it also sells frozen Mango slices and ice cream grown in the region.
The Tourist Information Centre is located on the major A1 Bruce Highway and won’t take much time to stop in. It’s also where you’ll find out about nearby tourist hotspots and information, along with being able to purchase some souvenirs or other local products.
Walk the Coral Beach Trail
Don’t feel up to the Honeyeater trail, then you could always consider walking the Coral Beach trail for a more leisurely adventure. Located near Shute Harbour, this trail offers breathtaking views of a beautiful beach made entirely of coral.
Plus, if you’re feeling up for a bit of a challenge, keep walking to The Beak lookout point for an even more spectacular view of the Whitsunday Islands. With easy accessibility for most fitness levels, the Coral Beach trail is a must-do activity for anyone exploring the Whitsunday region.
Day Dream Island
Day Dream Island is a hidden gem and one of the closest Islands in the Whitsunday from Airlie Beach. Interestingly, it was initially called West Molle until the 1930s, when the tourist resort was established and re-named.
One of the top attractions on the island is its living coral lagoon, which has over 1.5 million litres of water and hundreds of fascinating underwater creatures. It’s an excellent learning opportunity for kids, and it’s no wonder why this Lagoon and Island is so popular as a day trip from Airlie.
If you’re someone who loves supporting local businesses and discovering unique products, then the main street in Airlie is an ideal place to start. Even though it’s only a few blocks in size, it’s packed with hidden gems. This includes from one-of-a-kind jewellery pieces to locally produced honey, you’ll find something that catches your attention.
And let’s not forget about the delicious eateries dotted throughout the district. Oh, and did I mention the famous surf brands and fashionable swimwear? So, whether you’re grabbing a bite to eat or picking up ingredients for dinner, you’ll find everything you need here, and then some!
Where is Airlie Beach
Airlie Beach is located in Central Queensland around 8 hours south of Cairns and 13 hours north of Brisbane. The closest airport is Proserpine, which is your gateway to the famous Whitsunday Islands.
Surprisingly, while there are only 4,000 permanent residents in Airlie, it will receive 500 thousand tourists yearly. Considering the size, this is an extensive amount, but it’s built for the tourism industry and has always lived up to the supply and demand needed.
Conclusion – Amazing Things to do in Airlie Beach
Overall, there’s no doubt that all the things to do in Airlie Beach will undoubtedly keep you entertained while visiting the Whitsunday region. Whether you’re looking for a relaxed getaway exploring nature or a vibrant atmosphere with multiple nightlife options, Airlie Beach has something for all types of travellers.
So what are you waiting for? Don’t let this opportunity slip away, and book your trip today!
About the Author
Chris Fry is the writer and photographer behind Aquarius Traveller, where she shares her journeys and provides valuable information and inspiration for your destination travels. She lives in Australia and has travelled to 36 countries and in-depth across Australia.
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