Vibrant Airlie Beach is the mainland hub of the Whitsunday Islands and the largest town on the Whitsunday Coast. Once a backpacker’s haven, the town has undergone a transformation and is now a popular holiday destination for families, couples and people of all ages, with a huge variety of things to do.

By day it offers all the attractions of a tropical resort town and by night, a range of dining and nightlife options for every taste and budget. Airlie is the perfect launching point for trips out to the Whitsunday Islands for sailing, snorkelling and to walk on that famous white sand.

Whitehaven Beach

Consistently ranked one of the top beaches in the world, Whitehaven shot to fame when Oprah Winfrey dug her toes in the sand on her trip down under. With some of the whitest sand in the world (98% pure silica) and water that crystal clear turquoise colour, it’s a must visit. At the northern end of the beach there’s a spectacular lookout over famous “Hill Inlet”, a stunning cove where the tide shifts the sand to create a fusion of swirling colours. To get there, consider Ocean Rafting which does full day adventure tours including snorkelling stops around the Whitsunday Islands. This is a non-negotiable on things to do in Airlie Beach.

Whitehaven Beach

Airlie Beach Lagoon

When you can’t swim in the beach due to stinger season (November to May) there’s an awesome man-made lagoon on the foreshore perfect for families – there’s lifeguards on duty. Popular with locals and tourists because of its white sandy beach, luscious green lawn, and clean swimming, this free attraction also offers picnic sites with tables and chairs and electric barbeques, all close to the action of main street Airlie Beach.

Airlie Beach Lagoon

Eat on the Strip

The main street running through the heart of Airlie Beach underwent a massive makeover and as you wander the “strip” you’ll have plenty of restaurants, cafes, and bars to choose from. One of my favourites is Fish D’vine, a fish café and rum bar famous for its local chilli mud crabs and mojitos. Away from the strip check out Fat Frog Beach Café in nearby Cannonvale for great coffee and the best eggs benedict in town, overlooking a small park and beach.

Day Cruise

You’re in The Whitsunday Islands so why not get out on the water and explore this region of 74 islands. Cruise Whitsundays offers an outstanding range of day cruises to make the most of your time in the Whitsundays. The range includes a Great Barrier Reef Adventure, a sailing adventure, Whitehaven Beach day cruise, Whitsunday Islands day cruise, plus island hopping to Daydream and Hamilton Islands. Cruise Whitsundays also provides the most extensive island resort transfer service.

Cruise Whitsundays

Cedar Creek Falls

Located between Airlie Beach and Proserpine about 20 minutes out of town just off the Conway Beach Road, Cedar Creek Falls is a peaceful and secluded waterfall offering a fantastic natural swimming hole to be enjoyed all year round, with the wet season being the best time to see the waterfall in all its glory. A lovely spot to chill out, I recommend taking a picnic and doing the short bush trail to the top of the waterfall to enjoy the beautiful views over the area.

Cedar Creek Falls

Bicentennial Walkway

You might want to walk off some of that delicious seafood and the Bicentennial Walk is a lovely coastal walk offering some wonderful views of the ocean. This is a great way to get from Airlie Beach to the Cannonvale area through numerous inlets and boat parks, with wooden walkways round the harbours keeping you away from the road and traffic. It takes about 90 minutes to make the loop from the Airlie Beach lagoon to Shute Harbour and back again.

Crocodile Safari

How about seeing the other side of the Whitsunday Islands on a crocodile safari? When you’re stepping on pure white sand or snorkelling with bat fish out on the reef, the last thing on your mind are mangroves and spotting a 4 metre croc. But the mangrove forests are essential for the health of the reef, and the Proserpine River is one of the healthiest rivers to support croc life on the Eastern seaboard. Steve from The Whitsunday Crocodile Safari takes you on an educational trip on the Proserpine spotting crocs, and also gives you an amazing BBQ bush lunch, including damper and billy tea! It doesn’t get much more Australian than this.

Crocodile Safari

 

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