Airlie Beach: Best Visitors Guide 2024 (UPDATED)

Gateway to the Great Barrier Reef and the Whitsunday Islands


Airlie Beach Visitor Guide


Table of Contents

As my post about visiting Airlie Beach in the Mackay region of Queensland is fairly extensive I have added a table of contents to help you get to the info you want faster. Just click on the specific link to navigate to the specific paragraph you want to read.

1. Introduction
2. About Airlie Beach
3. Airlie Beach Lagoon
4. Things To Do at Airlie Beach
5. Whitsundays and Great Barrier Reef Tours
6. Best time to visit Airlie Beach
7. How to get to Airlie Beach
8. Where To Stay at Airlie Beach?
9. Where To Eat at Airlie Beach?
10. FAQs

Having read this article, I hope it inspires you to visit this lovely part of the Sunshine State.

(My post about Airlie Beach may contain affiliate links, which means I may receive a small commission at no additional cost to you).

Read Time: 7 Minutes



Nestled in the heart of the Whitsundays region, the vibrant coastal town of Airlie Beach has long been a popular beach holiday destination in Queensland.

The gateway to the Whitsunday Islands and the Great Barrier Reef, Airlie Beach is a fabulous base from which to explore these awesome places.

Backed by the rainforest-clad hills of the Conway National Park, Airlie Beach boasts a stunning palm-fringed beach, a great vibe and wonderful views of the Coral Sea that will consume you all day.

Throw in some fabulous year-round tropical Airlie Beach Weather, plenty of family-friendly activities and some great places to eat and you have all the ingredients for a wonderful holiday.


Known as ‘The Heart of the Reef’, Airlie is nestled between Mackay to the north and Bowen in the south


About Airlie Beach

Airlie Beach is a perfect spot for tourists to visit in Queensland.

Believed to have been named after the parish of Airlie, in Scotland, Airlie Beach is a gorgeous beach town, on the coast of the Whitsunday Passage region in Queensland.

It lies 1112 km north of Brisbane, and 618 km south of Cairns.

Known as ‘The Heart of the Reef’, Airlie is nestled between Mackay to the north and Bowen in the south. It has a permanent population of just over 1,000 people.

As well as being a tourist destination in its own right, Airlie is a popular overnight stop for people heading to and from Brisbane, Cape Hillsborough and Tropical North Queensland.


Palm Trees at Airlie Beach Whitsunday Region in Queensland


Airlie Beach Lagoon

One of Airlie’s main drawcards is its magnificent lagoon.

Situated right in the centre of town it has become the major focal point for the area.

Officially opened by the Premier of Queensland on 8 January 2001, the lagoon is surrounded by grassy knolls. Which makes it perfect for a spot of sunbathing and many other beach activities. Or just to find a quiet spot in the shade to read a book.

A very family-friendly area, the sandy beach situated at one end of the lagoon provides a safe stinger free environment for people to splash about in.

Surrounded by landscaped gardens for added visual beauty, there is also a children’s pool for the kids to enjoy too.


Things to do at Airlie Beach

  • Swim in the lagoon
  • Walk along the boardwalk
  • Hike or mountain bike in rainforests
  • Skydive
  • Kayaking
  • Canoeing
  • Paddleboarding
  • Whitsunday Islands Cruises
  • Boating and Sailing
  • Adventure Tours
  • Visit the Airlie Beach Markets
  • Golf

    Things To Do at Airlie Beach

    As well as the lagoon, Airlie Beach has a wonderful boardwalk to stroll upon and a selection of cool shops and boutiques.

    If you fancy a hike or mountain bike the lush rainforests of nearby Conway National Park are not too far away.

    Alternatively, you can experience Australia’s most beautiful drop zone with Skydive Airlie Beach or book Whitehaven Beach Tours or a range of adventure tours in the surrounding area.

    A short drive away is Shute Harbour, a great place to visit for spectacular views and Whitsunday Islands National Park cruises, canoeing, paddleboarding and kayaking. While the Honeyeater Lookout offers the most amazing view of Airlie and the surrounding azure waters.

    If you are in Airlie on a Saturday, why not check out the Whitsunday Markets too? You will find locally made crafts and jewellery made onsite.

    Golf lovers may also want to head over to The Whitsundays Country Golf Club, a championship, 18-hole course showcasing one of the best views in the state.


    Overall there are 74 Whitsunday Islands that can be explored either by day trip, overnight cruise or private charter.


    Whitsundays and Great Barrier Reef Tours

    Many people visit Airlie on the Whitsunday Coast as it provides convenient access to the Great Barrier Reef.

    Overall there are 74 Whitsunday Islands that can be explored either by day trip, overnight cruise or private charter. (Only 7 of these are developed).

    Several tour companies in and around Airlie offer a range of Great Barrier Reef experiences.

    These include, amongst other things, staying overnight on a boat, doing a certified dive, or reef snorkelling in several different locations in the Outer Great Barrier Reef.

    If you have some spare time, take the opportunity to see some beautiful marine creatures in their natural Great Barrier Reef home.

    Alternatively, why not visit Whitehaven Beach which was recently voted the number 1 beach in the world by TripAdvisor?

    For something a bit more high adrenaline, why not go on a helicopter ride?


    View of the Coral Sea at Airlie Beach Whitsundays Queensland


    Best time to visit Airlie Beach

    Airlie is blessed with a subtropical climate. Which means it enjoys fine weather all year round.

    During the Summer (between December and February) it is both the wet season and the jellyfish season, so bear that in mind if you are looking for a swim.

    Summer temperatures can reach up to 32°C with high humidity. So it can be very hot then. In winter, the average daily temperature is around 23°C.

    So it might be an idea to plan your visit to Airlie between June and October as this is a terrific time for Whitsunday Island Hopping.


    Best Airlie Beach Accommodation

  • Airlie Beach Hotel
  • Coral Sea Resort
  • Colonial Palms Motor Inn
  • Magnum’s
  • Mirage Whitsundays
  • Mantra Club Croc Airlie Beach
  • Club Wyndham Airlie Beach
  • Pinnacles
  • Mirage Whitsundays
  • Peninsula

    How to get to Airlie Beach

    Airlie is an easy destination to get to and can be reached in many, different ways.


    By Air

    Both Virgin Australia and Jetstar operate flights in and out of nearby Proserpine Airport.

    These include daily direct flights to Airlie from Brisbane, as well as connecting flights from many other destinations. Tiger Air also offers direct flights from Sydney.

    The Proserpine Airport is located about a 25-minute drive from Airlie Beach. Once you land, there are plenty of options for hiring a car. You can also take the Whitsunday Transit bus or catch a taxi.


    By Road

    You can reach Airlie via the Bruce Highway (Highway 1) which runs up from Brisbane or down from Mackay.

    The turn-off is on the northern outskirts of Proserpine and is about a 30-minute drive to Esplanade at Airlie Beach.


    By Coach

    Airlie is a popular stop-off point for most of the leading interstate coach companies.

    Greyhound Australia and Whitsunday Transit are two such companies that regularly operate bus services to and from here.


    By Boat

    Ferries to the nearby Whitsunday Islands operate several times a day from Port of Airlie.


    By Train

    Queensland Rail operates a regular passenger service (Sunlander), between Brisbane and Cairns, that stops off in Proserpine which is about 26km from Airlie.


    From hotels, motels and resorts to pretty much every kind of camping, caravanning, backpacking or holiday park-style accommodation there is an option in Airlie Beach for any need the overnight visitor might have.


    Where To Stay at Airlie Beach?

    When it comes to Airlie Beach Accommodation, there is plenty to choose from.

    From hotels, motels and resorts to pretty much every kind of camping, caravanning, backpacking or holiday park-style accommodation there is an option in Airlie Beach for any need the overnight visitor might have.

    If you are planning a visit to Airlie, you should find plenty of deals available.

    I have listed some of the most notable options below. You can book accommodation for your holiday at any of them here.

  • Airlie Beach Hotel
  • Coral Sea Marina Resort
  • Colonial Palms Motor Inn
  • Airlie Beach Magnums
  • Mirage Whitsundays
  • Mantra Club Croc Airlie Beach

    All of these Airlie Beach Resorts have received a huge number of favourable reviews across most hotel booking sites.


    Beach at Airlie Beach Queensland Australia


    Where To Eat at Airlie Beach?

    Airlie has a wide range of dining options to suit all budgets and tastes.

    One of the most popular feeds can be had at ‘The Pub’ in the Airlie Hotel. Located on the Esplanade, overlooking the newly landscaped parklands and beach, this establishment features a bar and bistro with alfresco dining and live entertainment.

    An alternate option is the award-winning Fish D’Vine & the Rum Bar. Not only do they serve the area’s freshest seafood produce, they also stock over 500 rums, sourced from around the world.

    Another great seafood meal can be had at the Seafood Indulgence, which offers signature feasts for two or more people.

    For something a little more highbrow try The Clipper Restaurant and Bar at Coral Sea Resort. Set against the backdrop of a marvellous ocean view they offer a delicious five-course tasting menu at dinner.

    After eating at any of these venues, you’ll set yourself up for an excellent evening of Airlie Beach nightlife.



    Can you swim at Airlie Beach?

    Yes, you can swim at the beaches in Airlie. You can do this at Canonvale Beach about 3 km west of town or the Boathaven Beach which you'll find at the Marina. At the moment neither of these Coral Sea coast beaches are patrolled by lifeguards, however they do have stinger nets for your protection.


    What is Airlie Beach known for?

    Airlie is renowned for being the gateway to the Whitsunday Islands. It is also a renowned sailing destination, with lots of companies offering tours and private charters.


    How many days do you need in Airlie Beach?

    If you are planning a visit to Airlie I would recommend staying for a minimum of 4 days. This will give you plenty of time to explore the town, spend some time on the beach and also schedule in a day trip or two to Daydream Island, Hamilton Island or Hayman Island.


    Do you need a car around Airlie Beach?

    Cars are handy but not essential to navigate your way around Airlie. Much of the town is within walking distance and there are plenty of taxis and buses around to help you get to where you want to go. That said, if you want to visit further afield then having access to a car is a good idea.


    What airport do you fly to for Airlie Beach?

    The nearest airport to Airlie is Proserpine Airport which is around 26 km southwest of Airlie.


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