Airlie Beach is the gateway to the Whitsundays. Cradled between swathes of untouched rainforest and the aquamarine waters of the Whitsundays Coast, this tiny town holds the keys to some of Queensland’s most stunning scenery. Even for veterans of holidaying in the tropics, this incredible destination is hard to pass up. Sun-bleached beaches shaded by towering palms gaze out at the tranquil waters of the Coral Sea. It’s here that the Whitsundays lie – they’re the region’s biggest drawcard, 74 island oases glittering among the beauty of the Great Barrier Reef.
From Hamilton Island’s golf courses and walking tracks to the remote exclusivity of Hayman Island, the Whitsundays have everything. Visitors can embrace the purity of mostly-untouched places like Long Island, or explore tourist hotspots like Whitehaven Beach – with its perfect palette of aquamarine ocean and alabaster sand, this incredible location has entranced photographers and travellers for decades. Alternatively, hire a catamaran or yacht and sail around dozens of completely uninhabited islands on a solo adventure.
The other magical aspect of Airlie Beach is its proximity to the Great Barrier Reef. It’s the world’s largest coral system, stretching for over 2,300 kilometres, and boasts a vast array of marine life. Visitors can snorkel and scuba-dive on daytrips out among the breathtaking coral formations – turtles, octopi, starfish, shoals of tropical fish and reef sharks all co-exist in a psychedelic collision of vibrant life. The Great Barrier Reef is a global icon, and should be a part of every vacationer’s Airlie Beach holiday.
The ocean might be Airlie Beach’s most famous attraction, but the hinterland of the Whitsundays Coast is equally magical. A rich history of agricultural phenomena, First Nations culture and mineral mining awaits discovery in towns like Bowen, Collinsville and Proserpine. Alternatively, immersion in the tranquillity of Conway National Park is a perfect counterbalance to the sun and sand. The park’s numerous walking trails weave through waterfalls, ancient rainforest and panoramic lookouts, and certainly shouldn’t be overlooked.