The Whitsundays: a spectacular tropical paradise that attracts thousands of visitors from around the world every year. Whether you intend to marvel at the Great Barrier Reef or plan to explore each and every island on a private yacht charter, the base of nearly any Whitsunday adventure begins in seaside Airlie Beach. There are countless activities to be enjoyed and natural wonders to be discovered throughout the 74 Whitsunday Islands themselves, but before heading offshore, be sure to spend some time in beautiful and exciting Airlie Beach.
Our team at Queensland Yacht Charters has compiled a comprehensive guide to all that Airlie Beach, Queensland has to offer. With all the choices available, your biggest decision may be figuring out what to do first!
Free Things to Do in Airlie Beach
There’s excitement aplenty in Airlie Beach and the islands of the Whitsundays. But if you’re on a budget you might want to consider a few activities you can partake in free of charge.
1. Relax in the calm, clear waters of the Airlie Beach Lagoon, right in the town centre. Sunbathing, stinger-free swimming and more are to be enjoyed in this family-friendly spot.
2. There are some great walking trails in this region. A very short hike with the reward of stunning views (and a possible glimpse of Proserpine Rock Wallabies) is the Airlie Creek Track, right along the coast. Also be sure to check out the tracks in Conway National Park, in which you can traverse through a range of vegetation areas such as rainforest and mangroves.
3. Ready for a splash? There’s a totally free water park playground in Bowen along Santa Barbara Parade. This is a top, sunny spot to spend some time, particularly with kids.
4. One thing’s for sure: coastal Queensland is filled with amazing beaches. A short drive from Airlie Beach can bring you to Conway Beach (a great place for kite surfing), Wilson Beach (head here for fishing) and Dingo Beach (wonderful snorkelling).
5. Nearby Bowen also boasts several fabulous beaches. Queens Beach is an ideal spot to take a long walk in the evenings. You may even see nesting sea turtles in the sand. Horseshoe Bay is a picturesque protected bay with fantastic snorkelling opportunities. It’s important to note that the sea turtles here are protected and nesting turtles should not be disturbed.
6. There is nothing more romantic and glorious than a waterfall. Head approximately 30 minutes inland to Cedar Creek Falls and take a refreshing dip. There are also bush trails and plenty of wildlife, so don’t forget your camera.
7. For live music, fresh produce, and locally made crafts, stop by one of several farmers markets in the area. These can be found every week in Proserpine (1st and 3rd Sundays each month 6am-12pm), Bowen (Sundays 8am-12pm), and Airlie Beach (Saturdays 7am-1pm and whenever the ocean liners stop in).
8. History buffs will want to check out the Gunyarra WWII Army Camp Memorial just 8km south of Proserpine. This stone commemorates the location of the 1st Australian Field Experimental Station.
9. Cannonvale Beach, just a few km from Airlie, is a treasured spot for families. Light up the complimentary BBQs and cook up a feast while the kids play on the nearby playground.
10. The Whitsundays are THE place for sailing races. The sailing club hosts twilight races every Wednesday. Casual sailors and visitors are invited to join in.
Airlie Beach Area Tours
1. Do you like to catch the big fish? While there is plenty of excellent fishing around the Whitsundays, another fantastic option is Barramundi Fishing Charters. Located at Lake Proserpine dam, these tours are led by local fishing pros who expertly guide you to catch these hefty barra. Please note that there are certain open and closed seasons for barramundi fishing. Be sure to check with a guide before booking.
2. If heart-pumping adventure is what you’re after, satisfy your need for speed with a jet ski ride. A range of options with several tour providers including Whitsundays Jet Ski Tours can take you around Airlie Beach or further out into the islands. Jet ski hire is also available.
3. When you are keen to get up close and personal with animals, why not take off on a guided horseback trail ride? Beau Cheval Horse Riding School offers hour-long trail rides led by a knowledgeable guide, as well riding lessons for all abilities. Contact Beau Cheval via telephone on 1300 640 587.
4. If there’s one reptile Australia is most known for it is our crocodiles. You don’t want to encounter these creatures in the wild (particularly the salties). But many visitors to Airlie Beach know it is a true thrill to see them. Do so safely with Whitsunday Crocodile Safari. This adventure might just be one of the highlights of your holiday.
5. Many say the finest views of the Whitsundays are from the air. One of the most unique things to do in Airlie Beach is to take a scenic helicopter flight. Check out Heli Taxi for the ultimate experience in the sky. Located directly in front of the Queensland Yacht Charters you can arrive to your charter in style, flying in with Heli Taxi. This will be an adventure you won’t forget.
6. From the rainforest to the Airlie Beach foreshore, local segway tours are an incredibly fun and relaxed way to see the sights. Segway tours are a highly recommended activity, particularly for families and groups. Friendly and affordable tours are offered by Whitsunday Segway Tours and Fun Rentals Whitsundays.
7. If riding in a regular helicopter isn’t enough for you, Tiger Moth Adventures presents a spectacular opportunity to view the Whitsundays from the open air cockpit of the DH-82A Tiger Moth. This is a must for aviation enthusiasts. Scenic flights are available, as are aerobatics adventures for those seeking a real adrenaline rush!
Activities in Airlie Beach
1. If you’re going to skydive even once in your life, do it in the Whitsundays. Skydive Airlie Beach will toss you out of a plane at up to 14,000 feet, so long as you’re over the age of 12 and weigh under 95kg. You’ll be treated to incomparable views as you free fall towards the islands. This is the ultimate in adventure travel, and you can even go home with a souvenir video of your jump.
2. Do you love golf? Visit the Proserpine Golf Club for 18 holes set in stunning bushland. This course is only 25km from Airlie Beach and all golfers are welcome.
3. An exciting new addition to Airlie Beach is the Airlie Aqua Park, located at Boathaven Beach. An inflatable water park set close to shore allows guests of all ages to jump, swim, slide, and climb on a giant obstacle course.
4. The Whitsunday Islands aren’t only about the water. Wings’ 4WD Adventures let you get wild and rugged as you ride mini 4WD vehicles through bushland, marshland, and even into mud pits. Getting dirty is a guarantee!
5. Live music, movies, and more are to be found at the Proserpine Entertainment Centre. After your days on the sea and sand, take a rest in their comfortable facility. Proserpine Cinema is the closest place to watch films in Airlie Beach. You can also catch a movie if you’re up north in Bowen at Bowen Cinemas.
6. If you’re a history buff, the Proserpine Historical Museum is an excellent stop on your Airlie Beach tour. Here, you’ll learn about the history of cattle and sugarcane in the area, or you may catch a travelling exhibition.
Food and Drink in Airlie Beach
1. Learn how coffee is made at one of Australia’s biggest coffee plantations, Whitsunday Gold Coffee Farm. After your tour, enjoy a hot, steaming cup of the best local roasted beans. It will likely be your best cup of coffee in Airlie Beach, if not Australia.
2. Fish D’vine: Fish Cafe and Rum Bar is a local fixture you can’t afford to pass by. Their inventive food menu includes fresh seafood items like salmon, oysters, barramundi, and more, while the rum bar is stocked with 450+ types of rum for you to sample.
3. With a stunning waterfront location, Denman Cellars Beer Cafe is a top spot for casual dining and drinks. A great selection of tapas and beers will have you coming back for more.
4. SideWalk Café claims to have the best coffee on the beach. Stop by to find out if it’s true! From terrific service to a lovely view, SideWalk takes pride in what they do. Popular with locals, the cafe also offers cocktails, food, and free WiFi.
5. Reef Gateway Hotel has a variety of options for guests of all ages. There’s a fenced-in kids play area, as well as a tasty bistro, bar, and gaming area.
6. Looking for something a bit fancy? Tides Restaurant & Bar at Peppers Airlie Beach offers fresh and inventive Australian/Asian inspired dishes. For the true experience, inquire about the several course degustation dinner.
7. Since 1963, Jockheims Pies has been a delicious fixture in Bowen. Stop by for a yummy treat and see a few spots where the movie Australia was filmed. Rumor has it that during filming, Jockheims was a favourite haunt of star Hugh Jackman himself!
It’s clear: in Airlie Beach and the Whitsundays, adventure awaits. Contact Queensland Yacht Charters today for further information on booking your dream holiday in this indescribable region.