With three days in Airlie Beach, you have plenty of time to soak up the small town atmosphere, get out onto the Great Barrier Reef and at least one of the Whitsunday Islands, and venture into the nearby bush or rainforest. Here are a few ways to experience the very best of Queensland’s Airlie Beach in 72 memorable hours.
Day 1: See the Town’s Sights
Kick off your three-day Airlie Beach adventure with a stroll around the small town center, specifically the esplanade along the shore, lined with cafés, restaurants, and boutiques. If you are in town on a Saturday, you’ll find the Airlie Beach Markets there and can browse handmade items like jewelry and clothing alongside fresh produce. Nearby, Airlie Beach has a large man-made lagoon where you can spend the day lounging and swimming. Alternatively, book a private tuk-tuk for a guided tour around the town’s top spots, or choose an extended food-themed tuk-tuk tour that combines sightseeing with dining at some of the town’s best restaurants.
If you are visiting Airlie Beach between July and September, try not to miss the chance to spot migrating humpback whales. Whale-watching cruises depart in mornings and afternoons.
Day 2: Explore the Great Barrier Reef
Airlie Beach is best-known as the jumping off point for visits to the Great Barrier Reef, so make this your day to explore the world’s largest coral reef. In a single full-day tour from Port Airlie, you can visit two islands. Board a high-speed, air-conditioned catamaran for swimming and snorkeling at Whitehaven Beach, considered one of the most beautiful beaches in the Whitsunday Islands, and then continue to the glitzy resort island of Hamilton, where you can browse the boutiques and enjoy the restaurants, or hike walking trails. These tours typically include the added bonus of a visit to Wild Life Hamilton Island, a wildlife park home to Australian animals, including koalas.
If you are traveling with a group, you can charter a private yacht to take your party out onto the reef and to Whitehaven Beach. Chartered yachts typically hold up to eight people.
Day 3: Go Deeper into Nature
Strap on some walking shoes and embark on a rainforest adventure. Guided tours can take you just outside of Airlie Beach to Conway National Park, home to multiple hiking trails, ancient rainforest, and wildlife such as paradise kingfishers and Proserpine rock wallaby. After a hike, tours typically continue to Cedar Creek Falls where you have can swim in the waterfall and have lunch while watching turtles.
Another option for nature-lovers is a full-day crocodile and wetlands safari. Some tours will take you croc-spotting on a Proserpine River cruise as well as on a tractor-pulled wagon tour, and then offer a taste of bush life with traditional “billy tea” and “damper” bread followed by an Aussie-style barbecue feast.
Back in town, head back to the esplanade to round out your visit to Airlie Beach with dinner and drinks at one of the many restaurants that line the strip.