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Top Things To Do in Airlie Beach, Australia

Airlie Beach Lagoon
Airlie Beach Lagoon | © Hayley Simpson
Airlie Beach is a small tropical town that acts as a gateway to both the 74 wonderful Whitsunday Islands and the Great Barrier Reef. A visit to Airlie Beach can include many adventurous activities, such as diving, learning to sail, jet boating and hiking through rainforest. Here are the best things to do.

Have an unforgettable reef experience with Cruise Whitsundays

Cruise Whitsundays is an advanced eco certified tour operator in Airlie Beach. Join them for a day trip to their Heart Pontoon on Hardy Reef in the Great Barrier Reef. Spend the day relaxing on the sun deck, swimming in the snorkelling zones, fish spotting in the underwater observatory or doing a certified dive. To take the experience to the next level, you can sleepover on the Heart Pontoon in a Swag Under the Stars, as part of their Reefsleep experience.

Snorkel the Great Barrier Reef © EQRoy / Shutterstock

Relax at Airlie Beach Lagoon

Swimming Pool
Airlie Beach Lagoon
Airlie Beach Lagoon | © Hayley Simpson

The Airlie Beach Lagoon is a free, self-chlorinating lagoon with three different pools. There’s a shaded toddler wading pool, a children’s pool with a maximum depth of 1.5 metres (5 ft), and a larger pool with separated swimming lanes. There are picnic tables with views across the Coral Sea at the lagoon, plenty of grassed space for relaxing, as well as lifeguards patrolling the pools every day. However, if you do want to swim in the ocean in Airlie Beach, check out Boathaven Beach.

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Go on a scenic flight

See Whitehaven Beach, Hill Inlet and the world famous Heart Reef from the air on a one-hour scenic flight from Airlie Beach. Another option is to go on a two-hour private helicopter ride to Whitehaven Beach. You’ll have one-and-a-half hours to frolic on the white sand before Whitsunday Island spotting from the air on the way back to Airlie Beach. For the thrillseekers, there’s also the opportunity to go on an adventurous acrobatic flight in a Soviet warbird.

The infamous Heart Reef © Alicia3690 / Pixabay

Hit the water

There are so many water-based activities to enjoy in Airlie Beach. This includes renting a kayak or doing a sea kayak tour with Salty Dog Sea Kayaking. Then there’s the option to scuba dive on the Great Barrier Reef with one of Airlie Beach’s many dive companies. Jet ski hire is another alternative, as is a one-hour exhilarating offshore jet boat ride with Island Jet Boating. Finally, learn to sail, rent a sail boat or simply go on a sailing experience while in Airlie Beach too. There are overnight options available as well.

Sunset sailing in Airlie Beach © Petra Bensted / Flickr

Explore Conway National Park

Natural Feature, Park

Conway National Park is home to secluded beaches, lowland tropical rainforest, mangroves and open forest. There are several walking trails within Conway National Park. The Mount Rooper track has spectacular views of the Whitsunday Passage and islands. The Coastal Fringe Circuit is an easy 1.2-kilometre (0.7-mile) walk. Then there’s the Conway Circuit, which is a difficult 28-kilometre (17-mile) trek through the national park that can be completed in eight hours.

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Dine out

Airlie Beach is a tourist hotspot, which means it’s home to many restaurants and bars. The Clipper Restaurant Bar and Lounge at Coral Sea Resort has outstanding views, and is regarded as one of the town’s best restaurants. Fish D’Vine & the Rum Bar is an award-winning restaurant, where you can sample both the region’s freshest seafood produce, as well as over 500 rums from around the world. Meanwhile Denmans Beer Cafe is a restaurant and bottle shop that stocks over 300 beers and ciders, which are available for dine in and take away.

Hit the shops

There’s a mixture of chain stores and independent boutiques in Airlie Beach. Stock up on Australia’s best surf brands at City Beach, or see what’s in stock at Go Girl and Reef Goddess Boutique. Every Saturday morning, there’s also the Airlie Beach Markets on the waterfront. Here you’ll find handmade jewellery, unique tropical souvenirs (including products made from local shells) and clothing.

The main shopping street in Airlie Beach © Hayley Simpson

Whitehaven Beach

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Whitehaven Beach in the Whitsunday Islands
Whitehaven Beach in the Whitsunday Islands | © Martin Valigursky / Alamy Stock Photo

The world famous and award-winning Whitehaven Beach is located on Whitsunday Island, which is the largest of the 74 islands that constitute the Whitsundays. The beach’s while silica sand is among the world’s purest and stretches for seven kilometres (4.3 miles). Combined with the Coral Sea’s turquoise waters, it’s no wonder people from around the world travel to see Whitehaven Beach. There are several tour companies offering day tours from Airlie Beach to Whitehaven Beach as well.

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Do a day trip to Hamilton Island

Hamilton Island is a classy place, with many five-star resorts, a golf course and award-winning restaurants. Fortunately, you don’t have to break the bank and stay the night on Hamilton Island. Cruise Whitsundays offers daily ferry transfers from Airlie Beach to Hamilton Island. Alternatively, do an organised day trip. A lot of companies combine Whitehaven Beach and Hamilton Island into one tour as well, which is even better.

Hamilton Island © Tony Hisgett / Flickr

Skydive the Whitsundays

For adrenalin junkies visiting Airlie Beach, speak to the skydiving experts at Skydive Airlie Beach for the most memorable experience in town. With Skydive Airlie Beach, you will definitely experience Australia’s most beautiful drop zone. From 15,000 ft you will also undeniably see the best views available of the crystal clear waters of the Great Barrier Reef and Whitsundays.

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These recommendations were updated on June 9, 2018 to keep your travel plans fresh.