Airlie Beach, Australia is the perfect location to begin an adventure to the Whitsunday Islands, but is also an excellent spot for a few tropical vacation days. Sitting on a peninsula, this scenic cosmopolitan Queensland town has a tropical holiday feel with palm trees and cool breezes.
Airlie Beach boasts the Airlie Beach Lagoon, an enormous man made fresh water lagoon open year round, overlooking the Coral Sea. The picturesque lagoon includes a deepwater pool and beach area, children's wading pool and picnic spots. However, the best part is that the lagoon is jellyfish free or "stinger" free as the locals call them, prevalent from November to May on the beaches.
What to Do
In past years Airlie Beach has been a haven for backpackers. Now there are a variety of accommodations in town ranging from deluxe resorts to hostels for backpackers. The town is about a quarter mile long, with Shute Harbour Road running through town.
- The Esplanade, or "Eat Street," has plenty of restaurants, from gourmet to local fresh seafood takeouts, where you can sit out in the open breezes looking out to the Whitsunday Passage while dining and listening to music.
- There is an open market on Saturday morning offering fresh produce and hand made goods for sale.
- A trip to Airlie Beach is not complete without taking a trip to one of the Whitsunday Islands. Airlie Beach's Abel Point Marina has been recently updated and can now host 500 vessels. Ferries to the islands also leave from Shute Harbour, a few miles from town.
- Day trips are available to some islands including the popular Hamilton Island and Whitehaven Beach. Whitehaven is a spectacular island with 98% pure silica sand, which gives it a magnificent white color.
- Overnight trips are widely available on numerous sailing vessels, from luxury to basic. Advance reservations for overnight trips are recommended, or the tourist office in town can make a reservation for you upon arrival.
- Take a day trip to Hardy Reef where the platform reef provides sheltered snorkeling, diving, and swimming year round.
- Whitsunday Islands Hopper Pass is available for unlimited ferry service from Abel Point Marina to Daydream Island and Long Island Resort for about $75 AUD. Take a rainforest walk on Daydream Island, or take part in a variety of water sports on Long Island.
- Cedar Creek Falls, right out of Airlie Beach is a beautiful waterfall that pools below, perfect for swimming.
- Rent a kayak for sea kayaking either as part of a tour or on your own.
- Stroll along the Bicentennial Boardwalk from Airlie Beach Lagoon to Abel Point Marina, then on to Cannonvale Beach.
Traveling to Airlie Beach can seem like a challenge. However, there are flights on Virgin Blue or Jetstar from Brisbane that fly into Whitsunday Coast Airport, formerly Proserpine Airport. Connecting flights can be coordinated with international flights.
- Taxis or the Whitsunday Transit shuttle are available for transportation from the airport into Airlie Beach. The cost for either is approximately $15 AUD one way.
- Train service aboard Queensland Rail, either with the 'Sunlander' or the 'Queenslander' from Brisbane and Cairns, stops in Proserpine.
- Driving time on the Bruce Highway from Brisbane is approximately 13.5 hours and from Cairns, 8.5 hours.
- Motor coach service is available from Brisbane or Cairns.
Temperate weather from 75°F in winter to 87°F in summer makes Airlie Beach a year round travel destination. Winter lasts from June through August, and summer months are December through February. Rainy months are December through February.