Airlie Beach is the gateway to the Whitsunday Islands and the Great Barrier Reef. But, before you rush off, take time to enjoy the resorts and apartments sprinkled among the trees or next to the perfectly blue ocean. Charter a boat from the local marina to explore the nearby islands – or simply lie back and play a game of “How much do you reckon that boat’s worth?!” You might hire a jet ski for a guided adventure tour, take a BYO sunset cruise with your mates, or walk the hinterland trails. It’s all here, and you can book the perfect place to stay from the list below with Culture Trip.
You’ll feel on top of the world as you catch the breeze on your balcony while overlooking the ocean. These one-, two- and three-bedroom condo-style modern apartments have spacious living rooms and full kitchens. Dine al fresco on your balcony or, if you want someone else to cook, head downstairs to Tides restaurant and indulge in the local crab, bugs and scallops. If the lure of the view upstairs proves irresistible (and before too long it will), have your dinner delivered to your room. Later, take a dip in the resort pool and idle awhile in the spa with generous loungers lining the timber deck.
High on a lushly forested ridge, this huge holiday house in Airlie Beach will suit large groups or a family wanting a roomy getaway. Four bedrooms and three bathrooms are set over two levels, with two huge balconies and fine ocean views over the treetops. You’ll love the look of this property: stylish exposed timber flooring and ceilings, ornate pendant lighting and stone kitchen tops. It’s a short walk down to Airlie Beach Lagoon, where you can swim at the beach and relax on the loungers in the tropical sun.
We know the priority here – you’ll want to jump straight into the impressive rooftop horizon pool, with its timber-lined hot-tub hut. But allow plenty of wallow time, too, for your in-room spa bath. Whichever you choose, these one- to three-bedroom, fully self-contained luxury apartments are some of the best in Airlie Beach. Don’t just look longingly from your balcony over towards the islands dotted on the horizon – grab a hop-on-and-off daily ferry pass and explore nearby Daydream Island and Hamilton Island resorts. They’re great for a day trip or two – snorkelling, swimming and exploring the local reefs.
It’ll be all too easy to drift away, island-gazing – after all, Hayman and Hook Islands are seemingly within arm’s reach from these beautiful one- to three-bedroom apartments. Just above Airlie Beach and its bustling esplanade, the units have beautiful curving balconies that are open to the cool tiled living room, decked with comfy sea-blue-coloured couches. Next stop: the resort’s horizon pool and circular spa, for a leisurely splash. Top tip: upgrade to a penthouse apartment, and your home will be accessible by private lift. Take plenty of time to absorb the magnificent 180-degree views, getting super-comfy on the day bed while you recline and relax.
Staying here is so convenient – you’re just a short walk from the cafes and bars of Airlie Beach as well as the foreshore swimming lagoon. Budget-priced double cabins are dotted around the grounds – or you might prefer one of the double or twin rooms with shared bathrooms. How to spend the days? Hang out with other travellers in the large, shared kitchen and nearby BBQ area, or get active on the volleyball court. There’s an extensive tour desk for booking cruises to the Great Barrier Reef, flights over the islands or snorkelling and dive adventures. You won’t be bored for a moment.
This colonial-style building brings the past firmly into the present with a huge welcoming deck, large shade-throwing umbrellas and a fantastic in-house restaurant, the Palms. All rooms are air conditioned, and one-bedroom apartments have a small kitchenette – great if you’re on a budget. The slate-lined swimming lagoon at the centre of it all is the must-visit-spot for cooling off. Then you’ll be refreshed and ready to jump on a private sunset charter, where you might see dolphins or even a dugong (Google them – they’re cute). Or hire a jet ski and take a 90-minute adrenaline-pumping tour of the local islands.
At this attractive retreat, you’ll fall in love with the stunning 180-degree views of the Coral Sea and islands. And then you’ll fall for the spectacular infinity-edge waterfall swimming pools, where one cascades into another below. There’s plenty to like about these 30 luxury apartments – not least the setting, among tropical gardens above Airlie Beach, just a stroll from great cafes and bars. Another big tick goes to the huge individual balconies included with all properties, furnished with comfy loungers and serene sea-themed artworks.
Is it a hotel or a pub? The great news is that it’s both, so you can have your beer and drink it. At the Airlie Beach Hotel, it’s the done thing to grab an icy drink and party with the band at the Pub, which is open to the esplanade while overlooking parkland and the stunning beach. When you’re done, retreat to one of the 60 rooms and suites. Take your pick between a modern-designed motel-style room, or an ocean-view suite with lounge and self-contained kitchen. Either way, you’ll have full use of the resort pool – your cue to make a splash.
For more amazing places to stay in Australia, check out our pick of the best hotels to book in the Whitsunday Islands, bookable on Culture Trip.
Destinations Unlocked:Let our travel expert Stefano help you find your perfect Culture trip
Looking for an expert's perspective?Uncover my top 3 recommended places from each continent on the map.
1. GuatemalaAn express adventure for those with limited time off. Prepare yourself incredible experiences. You will hike a volcano, visit mayan temples and witness a ceremony and take in beautiful colonial Antigua.
2. BelizeA quick trip not too far away for those seeking a relaxing mini break. You will have plenty of free time to relax but also some awesome activities to experience the rainforest and the caribbean sea.
3. MexicoAn exciting mini trip exploring the lesser known colonial towns of central Mexico. This is hte perfect trip for someone with limited time off and still wants to turn on explorer mode and do something different.
1. EcuadorA remarkable 8 days adventure through the Andes and the Amazon rainforest. The best choice for adventure seekers wishing to visit the 2 most iconic areas of South America, in only 1 week and no flights.
2. PeruAn alternative itinerary to classic Peru, from Cusco to Arequipa. This itinerary is great combination of highlights Cusco and Machu Picchu with the lesser known Arequipa and Colca Canyon.
1. ItalyThe ultimate Italian experience from the vibrant streets of Naples to the breathtaking sceneries of the Amalfi Coast followed by Matera and down to Puglia with its golden beaches, intense flavours and fascinating destinations.
2. ScotlandEmbark on this great adventure starting from London all the way to Scotland with a true Scottish experience made of breathtaking sceneries, whisky tasting and ..lots of fun! Ideal for train lovers and explorers.
3. PortugalA wonderful train journey around Portugal, from the romantic city of Porto to the Douro Valley, to the beautiful Aveiro all the way to Lisbon and Sintra. The perfect trip to train, culinary and culture lovers.
1. South KoreaDiscover incredible temples, mountains and modern cities on this 10 day adventure. This trip is perfect for those seeking immersion in the cuisine, culture and natural wonders of South Korea.
2. ThailandFrom Bankgok to Angkor Wat to Ho Chi Minh City and everything in between - adventure through the heart of South-East Asia. Taste the delights, see history brought to life and unwind on a Mekong River cruise.
3. Sri LankaA fantastic adventure that showcases Sri Lanka's fantastic landscapes, wildlife and flavours. With 3 epic rail journeys, 3 UNESCO heritage sites and time to relax, this trip has loads to offer at a great price
1. MoroccoAn epic journey across Morocco: from Casablanca to Marrakech, through the blue city of Chefchaouen to the wonders of the desert and deep to the High Atlas Mountains - this trip has it all! Ideal for true explorers!
2. EgyptFrom Cairo to Aswan, this trip brings the land of the pharaohs to life. You'll visit the Pyramids, Valley of the Kings and Luxor Temple and cruise down the Nile in style. This is the perfect way to explore Egypt.
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meet our Local Insider
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WHAT DO YOU LOVE ABOUT YOUR JOB?
It's the personal contact, the personal experiences. I love meeting people from all over the world... I really like getting to know everyone and feeling like I'm traveling with a group of friends.
WHAT DESTINATION IS ON YOUR TRAVEL BUCKET-LIST?
I have so many places on my list, but I would really lobe to go to Africa. I consider myself an “adventure girl” and Africa feels like the ULTIMATE adventure!
Every CULTURE TRIP Small-group adventure is led by a Local Insider just like Hanna.
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Connect with like-minded people on our premium trips curated by local insiders and with care for the world
Since you are here, we would like to share our vision for the future of travel - and the direction Culture Trip is moving in.
Culture Trip launched in 2011 with a simple yet passionate mission: to inspire people to go beyond their boundaries and experience what makes a place, its people and its culture special and meaningful — and this is still in our DNA today. We are proud that, for more than a decade, millions like you have trusted our award-winning recommendations by people who deeply understand what makes certain places and communities so special.
Increasingly we believe the world needs more meaningful, real-life connections between curious travellers keen to explore the world in a more responsible way. That is why we have intensively curated a collection of premium small-group trips as an invitation to meet and connect with new, like-minded people for once-in-a-lifetime experiences in three categories: Culture Trips, Rail Trips and Private Trips. Our Trips are suitable for both solo travelers, couples and friends who want to explore the world together.
Culture Trips are deeply immersive 5 to 16 days itineraries, that combine authentic local experiences, exciting activities and 4-5* accommodation to look forward to at the end of each day. Our Rail Trips are our most planet-friendly itineraries that invite you to take the scenic route, relax whilst getting under the skin of a destination. Our Private Trips are fully tailored itineraries, curated by our Travel Experts specifically for you, your friends or your family.
We know that many of you worry about the environmental impact of travel and are looking for ways of expanding horizons in ways that do minimal harm - and may even bring benefits. We are committed to go as far as possible in curating our trips with care for the planet. That is why all of our trips are flightless in destination, fully carbon offset - and we have ambitious plans to be net zero in the very near future.