*Disclaimer: Due to the ongoing effects of COVID-19, some of the activities listed may be closed or have changed hours. Follow the latest health advice and contact individual businesses for information about their operations.*
Airlie Beach might be one of Australia’s most popular honeymoon destinations, but this gorgeous corner of the globe also hosts a line-up of fun-tastic family activities.
Forget champagne and waterbeds – who has time for stuff like that when you’ve got kids to keep happy?
Luckily, we’ve compiled the best free and paid family activities in Airlie Beach so you don’t have to (you can thank us later). Get reading, and, once you’re finished, bookmark this page for when you start planning your itinerary.
Swim in Airlie Beach Lagoon
Airlie Beach Lagoon seems redundant – what’s the point of having a man-made lagoon next to some of the world’s greatest beaches?
But this sandy-bottomed swimming pool is actually one of the most popular spots in the town, and for good reason. Surrounded by grassy knolls and offering a safe swimming environment for kids of all ages, it’s the ultimate summer hangout for families – lounge in the shade of a palm tree while your little ones splash happily in the shallow water.
If you’re visiting between November and May, the Lagoon also provides protection against marine stingers, which are particularly common around Airlie Beach in the warmer months.
Relax on Boathaven Beach
Located on The Beacons peninsula, not far from Airlie Beach Lagoon, Boathaven Beach is great open-ocean alternative.
You and your family can relax on the alabaster sand and take a dip in the calm waters of the Coral Sea – gaze out towards the horizon, and, on a clear day, you’ll even be able to see the Whitsundays.
And, no, you don’t need to worry about stingers here either. Boathaven Beach features a sizeable swimming area squared off by stinger nets, so you can still enjoy a swim even during peak season.
Climb all over Airlie Beach Foreshore Playground
Sometimes the kids wake up with too much energy – the kind an hour or two at the beach won’t get rid of. If that sounds like something you’re used to dealing with on holidays, we’ve got you covered.
Airlie Beach Foreshore Playground isn’t your run-of-the-mill beachside playground. Like everything in North Queensland, it’s very much larger than life, standing a towering 10.5 metres high with slides steep enough to make an adult squeal.
Other, less adrenaline-inducing options include swings, climbing webs and enclosed rope bridges; we recommend kicking back with a coffee and watching your offspring exhaust themselves at one of the best public playgrounds you’ve ever seen.
Visit Conway National Park
Conway National Park is just a stone’s throw from Airlie Beach, but proximity isn’t the only reason this beautiful peninsula is so popular with families.
Rainforest, bushland, rivers, beaches, waterfalls and mountains coexist side-by-side in Conway, making it the ultimate destination for hiking. You and your family can explore the pristine coastal terrain via a number of different walking tracks that cater to different skill levels.
Swampy Bay Hike Loop, for example, circles Mount Rooper, and includes breathtaking views that gaze out across the Whitsundays. Coral Beach Track skirts the glassy waters of Coral Beach before culminating at The Beak Lookout, while the intimidating Whitsunday Great Walk runs 26.1 kilometres from Airlie Beach to the edge of the park.
Learn more about Conway’s walks here.
Browse Lions Airlie Beach Markets
What makes the tropics so downright … tropical? White beaches? Palm trees? Perfect aquamarine ocean?
The Lions Airlie Beach Markets ticks all those boxes, and then some. This colourful Saturday collective comes together on the Airlie Beach foreshore, allowing visitors to browse through handcrafts and fresh food literal metres from the edge of the Coral Sea.
The stalls are pitched beneath palm trees, and, with dozens of different store holders, there’s something here for everyone – even the kids. Grab breakfast and a drink, browse through handmade clothing or shop for souvenirs in this vibrant reflective of the local Whitsundays community.
Bowen might not be Airlie Beach’s closest attraction, but it’s well worth the hour drive; this small but popular township is home to a 10-metre tall mango, nicknamed, in the Aussie tradition of giant fruit, the Big Mango.
Although a seven-ton fiberglass sculpture is impressive, Bowen’s family-friendliness is best embodied in places like the scenic Horseshoe Bay, Bowen Water Park Playground and Bowen Historical Society and Museum. There’s certainly enough to keep the kids going across a day trip, especially if they’re fans of the outdoors.
Oh, and there’s mango sorbet. What else do you need?
Discover Bowen here.
Snorkel at Reefworld
The Great Barrier Reef is, inarguably, one of Australia’s most incredible attractions, and not just for adults. No, the Reef is for everyone, which is exactly why we’ve included it on this list.
One of the safest and most enjoyable ways to experience this Aussie wonder is with Reefworld, a pontoon located roughly 72 kilometres off the mainland which is accessible via boat from the Port of Airlie.
Reefworld is located above Hardy Reef – below the water, you’ll encounter all sorts of incredible marine life, including turtles, reef sharks (they’re harmless, don’t worry), giant gropers, starfish, unicorn fish and hundreds of different coral species.
If you and your family are ready to enter the magical world of the Great Barrier Reef, click here to find out more about Reefworld.
Visit Hamilton Island
The Whitsundays are Airlie Beach’s biggest drawcard, and they don’t get better than Hamilton Island.
Need a break from managing your rebellious offspring? Hand them off to your partner, and enjoy a day just for you – day spas, restaurants, golf and relaxing walks.
Alternatively, there’s plenty of family-friendly activities on offer as well. Keep things simple with a swim at stunning locales like Whitehaven Beach, amp it with a jet ski tour, or elevate yourself to the world’s most popular parent by taking them to the Clownfish Kids Club.
Hamilton Island has a little bit of everything – explore it all right here.
Go on Whitsunday Crocodile Safari
Nothing says ‘Far North Queensland’ like damper, a barbecued lunch, and four-metre reptiles weighing more than half a tonne.
Yes, you’ll get all that (and more) with Whitsunday Crocodile Safari, a uniquely Aussie experience that lets you interact with the country’s most fearsome predators in their natural habitats.
This all-day tour includes lunch, afternoon tea, a croc cruise on Proserpine River, an exploration of mangrove habitats, a tractor-drawn wagon train journey across the Goorganga Plains wetlands, and an all-round awesome time.
It doesn’t matter whether your kids are five or fifteen – this is one experience you can’t afford to miss if you’re staying in Airlie Beach.
Find out more here.
Try Whitsunday Stand-up Paddle & Kayak
What could be better than stand-up paddle boarding in one of the world’s most beautiful destinations?
We understand your hesitation: it looks like something that requires way too much balance! Luckily, Whitsunday Stand-up Paddle & Kayak have you covered with their SUP Lesson and Tour at Shingley Beach. They’ll teach you and your family useful things like:
- How to stand up (without falling off)
- How to paddle (without turning yourself in a circle)
- How to direct your board (so you don’t drift out to sea)
- How to carry your board safely (to avoid accidentally hitting your beloved children)
If you’re more of a traditionalist, they also offer affordable kayak hire – grab a paddle, get in, and explore the transparent waters of the Coral Sea at your own pace.
Learn more about Whitsunday Stand-up Paddle & Kayak here.
Quick Reference Table
|Address||Phone||Website||Cost per person||Time From Resort|
|Airlie Beach Lagoon||275 Shute Harbour Rd
Airlie Beach QLD 4802
|–||–||Free||5 minutes by car|
|Boathaven Beach||Port of Airlie, The Beacons, Airlie Beach QLD 4802||–||–||Free||4 minutes|
|Airlie Beach Foreshore Playground||11-27 Coconut Grove, Airlie Beach QLD 4802||–||–||Free||3 minutes|
|Lions Airlie Beach Markets||10-20 Airlie Esplanade, Airlie Beach QLD 4802||+61 409 273 047||–||Free||2 minutes|
|Conway National Park||Conway Rd, Cape Conway QLD 4800||13 74 68||Click here||Free||From 31 minutes|
|Bowen||Bown, QLD||–||Click here||Free||From 1 hour|
|Reefworld||Port of, 13 The Cove Rd, Airlie Beach QLD 4802||07 4846 7000||Click here||From $279||11 minutes on foot|
|Hamilton Island||Port of, 13 The Cove Rd, Airlie Beach QLD 4802||07 4846 7000||Click here||From $62||11 minutes on foot|
|Whitsunday Crocodile Safari||Glen Isla Rd, Glen Isla QLD 4800||07 4948 3310||Click here||From $50||33 minutes by car|
|Whitsunday Stand-up Paddle & Kayak||Shingley Beach, Shingley Dr, Cannonvale QLD 4802||+61 40 446 3188||Click here||From $30||5 minutes|
Feeling ready for your Airlie Beach adventure? Book your family holiday now.