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11 Fabulous Reasons to Visit Airlie Beach, Australia

Autumn in Airlie Beach
Autumn in Airlie Beach | © Hayley Simpson
Picture of Hayley Simpson
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Updated: 14 June 2018
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It may be a fair distance from Queensland hotspots like Cairns and Brisbane, but Airlie Beach is well worth a visit. It’s not only located on the Great Barrier Reef, but it’s also home to the world-famous Whitsunday Islands. If you need even more reasons to visit Airlie Beach, then keep reading.

Wonderful weather

Airlie Beach has a subtropical climate, which means it benefits from fine weather year-round. Summer is both the wet season and jellyfish season, when temperatures can reach up to 32°C. But Airlie Beach actually gets less rainfall and humidity than its neighbouring Whitsunday Islands. In winter, the average daily temperature is a perfect 23°C, so plan your visit between June and October.

Autumn in Airlie Beach
© Hayley Simpson

Home to Whitehaven Beach

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Kayaking at Whitehaven Beach, Whitsundays Islands, QLD | Courtesy of Tourism Whitsundays © Phill Gordon
Kayaking at Whitehaven Beach | © Phill Gordon / Tourism Whitsundays

Whitehaven Beach deserves to be one of the most famous beaches in the world. It’s located on Whitsunday Island, which is the largest of the Whitsunday Islands. It’s only accessible via boat, helicopter or plane from Airlie Beach (depending on your budget). This beach’s pure silica sand stretches for seven gorgeous kilometres (4.3 miles), and in combination with the Coral Sea’s azure waters, it’s easy to see why it’s an award winner.

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Accessibility & Audience:

Family Friendly

Atmosphere:

White Sand, Scenic, Touristy

The best island hopping

Airlie Beach is the gateway to the 74 Whitsunday Islands. Only seven of the islands are developed: Hamilton, Hayman, South Molle, Daydream, Long and Lindeman Islands. The rest are just waiting to be explored by adventurous travellers. Stay a while at a luxury resort or discover the Whitsundays on a day trip from Airlie Beach.

The scenic Whitsunday Islands
© Matt Glastonbury / Tourism Whitsundays

The Great Barrier Reef

Need we say more? The main reason people visit Airlie Beach is because of its access to the Great Barrier Reef. There are several tour companies in Airlie Beach offering an assortment of Great Barrier Reef experiences. You can stay overnight on a boat, do a certified dive, or snorkel in several different locations in the Outer Great Barrier Reef. Don’t miss the opportunity to see the beautiful creatures that call the Great Barrier Reef home.

A colourful giant clam found on the Great Barrier Reef

Total tourist town

Airlie Beach is made for tourism. It only has a permanent population of just over 1,000 people. But you wouldn’t realise this when you see the large amount of restaurants, bars, accommodation options, tour companies and shops lining the main streets. There are plenty of things to do in Airlie Beach to keep you busy. Spend the day by the Airlie Beach Lagoon and the evening listening to live music in one of the town’s laid-back restaurants.

Airlie Beach Lagoon
© Hayley Simpson

Fabulous food and drink choices

One of the best restaurants in Airlie Beach is the award-winning Fish D’Vine & the Rum Bar. They serve the area’s freshest seafood produce, and stocks over 500 rums from around the world. If you can handle it, check out the Seafood Indulgence, which is a feast for two or more people. Another award-winning dining option in Airlie Beach is The Clipper Restaurant and Bar at Coral Sea Resort. It has amazing ocean views and a five-course tasting menu at dinner.

Learn a new skill

Come to Airlie Beach and leave with a new skill. Whitsunday Dive Adventures has a purpose-built dive training centre, where you can become a PADI-certified diver. PADI is the world’s largest and most recognised dive organisation. On the other hand, learn to sail with the aptly named Learn to Sail Whitsundays, which have beginner to commercial development programs.

Sunset sail in Airlie Beach

Between Brisbane and Cairns

Another reason to visit Airlie Beach is because it’s situated between Brisbane and Cairns. It’s located 12 hours north of Brisbane, and seven hours south of Cairns (yes, Queensland is massive). If you’re doing a Queensland road trip, aim to stop at Airlie Beach to break up your long journey. As we’ve mentioned, you won’t be bored in this beach town.

The main shopping street in Airlie Beach
© Hayley Simpson

More than just beautiful beaches

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Island views from Conway National Park
Island views from Conway National Park | © Kurt Sharpe / Flickr

Airlie Beach does have a lot to offer visitors, including Conway National Park. It’s home to secluded beaches, mangroves, open forest and tropical rainforest. Conway National Park is known for its walking trails. Check out the Mount Rooper Track for breathtaking views. The short, but nonetheless sweet, Coastal Fringe Circuit is great for families. For adventurers, there’s also the 28-kilometre (17-mile) Conway Circuit.

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Accessibility & Audience:

Family Friendly

Atmosphere:

Outdoors, Scenic

An adrenaline-pumping paradise

If you love adrenaline-pumping activities, Airlie Beach has you covered. There’s the opportunity to go on scenic flights or helicopter rides over the Great Barrier Reef and to different Whitsunday Islands. You could even go on an aerobatic mission in a Soviet warbird, if that’s more your style. Alternatively, experience Australia’s most beautiful drop zone with Skydive Airlie Beach, or go on an exhilarating jet boat ride with Island Jet Boating. Which thrill will you choose?

Flying over the Great Barrier Reef
© Tourism Whitsundays

Laid-back Queensland lifestyle

Finally, Airlie Beach is the kind of town Queensland is known for. Where you can walk down the street in your thongs (flip flops) and swimwear, and no one would do a second take. Where getting ‘dressed up’ for dinner means putting on a singlet and shorts, and going for a walk along the beach beforehand. If you want to truly relax in a laid-back beach town in Australia, head to Airlie Beach.

Beautiful Airlie Beach
© Hayley Simpson
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