Whitehaven beach during a sunny, clear day in Australia
Doing a half or full-day trip to the Whitsunday Islands is the thing to do in Airlie Beach. For best Great Barrier Reef experience, do a tour to Hardy Reef's pontoon. There are also half-day trips available to both South Molle Island and award-winning Whitehaven Beach.
View of Shute Harbour from a rainforest in Australia
Airlie Beach is not only an ocean gateway. Conway National Park — and its regional parks — are located minutes from Airlie Beach. The area is known for its lush rain forest, seasonal waterfalls, scenic lookouts and walking and biking trails. Locals recommend the easy Coastal Fringe Circuit, a 1.2-kilometer (0.7-mile) track.
Located in the town center, the Airlie Beach Lagoon is a free, self-chlorinated swimming pool. The Lagoon is surrounded by grassed areas, barbecue facilities and swaying palm trees for sunbathing or reading in the shade. There's also a children's pool and sandy beach area attached to the Lagoon.
The Esplanade is Airlie Beach's go-to spot for dining. Head here for traditional fish and chips as well as higher-end seafood-focused fare — try tempura-battered local tiger prawns or wild-caught Barramundi with new potatoes. You can also find internationally inspired takes on the ocean's bounty, like Malaysian-style laksa, a noodle soup with curry broth, piled high with prawns, squid and scallops.
The Airlie Beach Saturday Markets happens on the foreshore every Saturday. Drop by and browse the local art, craft and clothing stalls for a unique souvenir. PAYA Boutique also stocks a wide range of hand-selected fashion and lifestyle products, including women's fashion, accessories, jewelry, home wares and gifts.
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