With the Great Barrier Reef and Whitsunday Islands in easy reach, as well as a host of activities waiting for you on Airlie Beach itself, you can never run out of things to do in Airlie Beach, Queensland. Thanks to the fact that Airlie Beach is just a stone’s throw away from the Great Barrier Reef, it goes without saying that scuba diving opportunities on the Whitsundays are amongst the world’s best. A picturesque boat ride around the Whitsundays takes you 39 nautical miles out from Airlie Beach to an amazing dive experience right alongside the Great Barrier Reef.
Within the world heritage listed Great Barrier Reef, Whitsundays are 74 sun-drenched tropical islands, complete with pearly beaches and popular resorts. You will see all of the Whitsunday highlights, including the stunning Heart Reef, which is visible only by sky-dive. There are thousands of atolls and islands in this region, but one of the most unique places to visit is the Heart Reef.
The beautiful Whitsundays are home to countless tiny islands, atolls, creeks, beaches, and coral reefs, and the best way to experience the region is by joining a sailing tour. Part of the beautiful Whitsundays, Hamilton Island is one of the only places you can stay overnight in the archipelago itself, rather than by boat. The gorgeous Dingo beach looks totally stunning, and it has a stinger net, so you can swim around happily, making the most of this pristine beach in the Whitsundays.
Dingo beach has stunning coral reefs to snorkel around, as well as stunning views over the ocean and surrounding islands. Cannonvale beach has stinger nets too, so even in summer months, you will be able to have a little seaside fun. Boathaven beach is the ultimate beach lover’s paradise, ideal for that Instagram photo, and thanks to a summer months stinger net, you can enjoy the waters year-round.
There are also incredible day trips out to surrounding islands and to the local beaches, including Whitehaven’s iconic Beach, Boathaven Beach. Several tour companies provide multiple tours including day trips from Airlie Beach out to the Whitsunday Islands, which are some of the more iconic attractions in Airlie Beach. Our day trip to Whitsundays is on a Jet Boat, so essentially you are spending more time at Airlie Beach and getting in some snorkelling time than if you were on a sailboat.
If you are planning on spending some money touring places such as Whitehaven Beach, Heart Reef, and on an overnight sailing charter, you might look for a few complimentary activities you can do beyond the tours such as joining an Airlie Beach golf club. Whether you are looking for souvenirs, a quick snack, something refreshing to drink, or simply a chance to get acquainted with the locals, taking a morning walk around the Whitsundays Markets or the Airlie Beach Markets (within walking distance of each other) is well worth it. If you are only planning on passing by, maybe time to put a couple extra days on your schedule so that you can enjoy all that this bustling little beachside city has to offer.
The bicentennial walkway is the perfect way to experience a slice of the land, whilst taking in the gorgeous views over the water that Airlie Beach is known for. Starting from Whitsundays Yachting Club, the Bicentennial Walkway winds its way up the central business district and along Airlie beachfront, then passes the Coral Sea Marina Resort, Shingley beach, the VMR, and eventually ends on Cannonvale beach. Shute Harbour is a lot closer to The Whitsundays, meaning you can only take one hour sail to the Resort or secluded beach, instead of 2-3 hours out of Airlie Beach.
If you are looking to get away from Airlie Beach, there are some places to stay in Shute Harbour, otherwise, Shute Harbour is a fantastic half-day or full-day break. The best way to reach Hamilton Island is via ferries from Airlie Beach Marina, taking around an hour for $62 each way, which is quite expensive, and if you are on a budget, the hot tip is to go to Shute Harbour and catch the local ferries over to Hamilton Island to avoid the costs. Do not worry though, the Whitsunday Islands have a lot of beaches that you won’t need to get there via air travel.
On a Whitsunday Scenic Flight, you will be treated to aerial views of Hamilton Island, the iconic Hill Inlet, and, of course, Airlie Beach. Before saying goodbye to Airlie Beach, be sure to take a picture with one of the iconic signs at Airlie Beach looking out across the Coral Sea. You will have all of your friends envying you for your time spent in the Whitsundays, which is at the centre of the Great Barrier Reef. If you are looking for a bit of an adventure off the beaten path make sure to check out Hydeaway Beach (it certainly lives up to the name).
Hydeaway Beach is the perfect place to pack up the blankets, pack up your coolers, and go enjoy a day at the beach, regardless of the weather. Kayaking and paddleboarding rentals are available at the beach, too, and there are parasail tour companies.