Passing through Airlie Beach two years ago, my partner James and I knew it was a place we’d definitely be returning to. So on our trip back up the Queensland coast this year, it wasn’t even a question of whether we would be turning off the Bruce Highway to visit this turquoise coastal town again. Airlie Beach was a must for us! We knew we had some more gems to uncover here.
The first thing that stands out to newcomers in Airlie Beach is the colour of that water! It is turquoise blue as far as the eye can see. Almost with a milky tinge that glistens as the sun's rays reflect off the surface. It’s pretty spectacular. Besides the extraordinary colour of the water, we love that it is dotted with pristine yachts just begging you to take them out for a day on the water.
Airlie Beach has a sense of “busyness” to it. Nothing like the fast-paced nature of where we are from on Sydney’s Northern Beaches. The vibe is a “happening” resort town, with something always going on. It’s one of the main draw cards for us. Maybe as we sense a feeling of being a little homesick as we’ve been cruising through all of the quiet beachside towns, it reminds us a little of what we are used to.
The gateway to the Whitsundays
Perfectly located on Queensland’s Whitsunday Coast, Airlie Beach is one of the main gateways to the 74 spectacular islands located in the Great Barrier Reef. With numerous vendors operating trips out to the reef and islands, you will definitely find a tour or yacht to suit your budget, even if you are living a life on the road!
We took a day trip out to Whitehaven Beach, snorkelling the inner reef in a relaxed paradise. As we had already visited here previously, we skipped the lookout at Hill Inlet to experience Whitehaven Beach without the crowds. It was one of the best decisions we have made as we got to appreciate this gorgeous white sand beach with only a handful of people on it. A rare reality in a world-renowned destination like this.
While the main hub of Airlie Beach offers a strip of shops, cafes, bars and restaurants, there are so many other nice destinations to visit on the outskirts of the town that don’t cost a thing!
We found a beautiful little spot called Coral Beach in the Conway National Park. If you are wondering what to expect here, the name says it all. The beach is full of washed up coral. If you’re lucky, you may even find some cowrie shells nestled between the old coral. To get to this beach you’ll need to take a short bushwalk along the Coral Beach Walking Track which can be accessed from Whitsunday Drive. We loved this beach as it had a deserted feeling to it. You can also look out to the Molle Islands from here.
From Coral Beach, you will find another great walking track which takes you up to a lookout with views extending to other islands in the distance including Whitsunday, Dent and Hamilton Island. Once you get to the beach, head to the right and you will see the opening in the bushes to another trail.
One evening we went down to watch the sunset at the break wall in New Whisper Bay. By accident we found there were so many turtles swimming around near the boat ramp. As we ventured a little further around the break wall, we noticed you could also spot so many out in the ocean, coming up for air all around the anchored yachts. After this, we ended up spending every sunrise and sunset down here. Usually, a turtle will come up for air and retreat quite quickly. However, these turtles would pop up for air and have a little swim around, almost as if they were trying to get a better look at us. We also witnessed one of the biggest turtles we have ever seen here!
A favourite of mine was the Bicentennial Walkway. The walk goes all around the foreshore, past the marinas, offering beautiful sights off into the distance. It’s also a great way to uncover hidden little beaches! (Airlie Beach is full of them). We would usually start the walk at Coral Esplanade near Lions Park and walk all the way into the town of Airlie Beach. You can cool off at the Lagoon before making your way back. It is a long walk, and one best done in the early hours of the morning or late in the afternoon.
Cedar Creek Falls
If there’s been rain, make your way out to Cedar Creek Falls. Located on Saltwater Creek Road, the falls offer beautiful surrounds for those looking for a way to cool off in a natural setting other than the beach. We visited early to skip the crowds as it can get quite busy here. For the adventurous, there is also a walking trail to the top.
Searching on Google Maps for other hidden beaches, we found Funnel Bay in a suburb called Flametree. We could see a little stretch of sand, so we headed on over to check it out. There was not a soul in sight! The small beach is lined with palm trees and covered in shells. We had the whole beach to ourselves for the whole afternoon. As well as some tasty coconuts James knocked off the tree and opened.
Seabreeze Tourist Park
During this trip, we stayed at the Seabreeze Tourist Park. Driving through Cannonvale to Airlie Beach, you can’t miss the big Balinese style property to the right. It’s actually what caught our attention and why we decided to stay here.
There are so many aspects that make this one of our favourite parks.
The pool- The pool here is one of the best pools we’ve ever seen in a tourist park. It feels like a tropical resort getaway as the whole pool is surrounded by luscious greenery and tall palm trees. They offer just the right amount of shade too.
Fish and chip nights - Where we can, we lead a healthy life living on the road. However, it’s no secret that sometimes we just want some seriously good fish and chips. Wednesday night is your night here! With a fish and chip food truck parking out the front of the park.
Live music and roast dinners - Between June and September, the park hosts an awesome live music night complete with a roast dinner. The best part? It’s every Thursday! So if you’re staying here a while you have a really fun night to look forward to and make some new friends.
Perfectly sized accommodation - The cabins here are spacious. We felt right at home in a tidy, modern space. We also loved that you could sit outside your cabin and be surrounded by greenery, offering the right amount of privacy (and shade!) The cabins offer everything you need for a short stay, just bring your own fresh produce and you’ll be cooking up a delicious meal in no time!
Camping sites - If you’re looking for a powered or unpowered site, the park is also super spacious. You even get your own private bathroom complete with a shower, adding that “at home” feeling. A really nice touch when you are living on the road.
Close proximity to everything you need - Conveniently located next to Cannonvale Shops, everything you need is only a short walk away. On the hot days, we would usually get on our bikes and in under two minutes we were at the supermarket picking up some fresh fruit for lunch.
For us, Airlie Beach has been a standout. With so much to do, you can always find a reason to get active and enjoy the town. We’ll definitely be making another stop here on our third trip to Queensland next year!
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See more adventures from Kaede and James here.