A 74-island paradise of reefs, beaches and aquamarine waters
Cosmopolitan and inviting, the Whitsunday peninsula stretches from the central town of Airlie Beach along the stunning coastline and into the picturesque hinterland. Jewels in the Whitsunday mainland crown include Bowen with its eight beaches (and Big Mango), Cedar Creek Falls with its spectacular cascades set in a natural rock amphitheatre and the isolated, wildlife-rich hamlet of Hydeaway Bay.
There’s so much to do here – popular activities include diving or snorkelling the Great Barrier Reef, sailing the 74 Whitsunday islands, dipping your toes into Whitehaven Beach’s silica sands and flying over Heart Reef. Try hiking, jet skiing, kayaking, ocean rafting and parasailing. And don’t miss the chance to take a trip along the Ngaro Sea Trail, a one-of-a-kind combination of seaways and scenic walks taking in Whitsunday and Hook islands.
Things to do
Airlie Beach is your mainland base for holidaying throughout the Whitsundays, with accommodation styles as varied as the languages you’ll hear on the streets of this international destination. You’ll find everything from hostels to hillside luxury apartments and villas. Thanks to its proximity to the islands, Airlie Beach is the heart of the Whitsundays with an array of dining and nightlife options to match.
A 40-minute drive north of Airlie lies Bowen, a sleepy seaside town boasting seven beautiful beaches that remains off the tourist radar. It’s a wonderful place for a day trip or overnight stay. Beyond its sublime beaches, Bowen is renowned for its juicy mangoes and fresh local seafood. Horseshoe and Rose Bays are idyllic spots for a sunset dinner on the seaside.
Hideaway Bay and Dingo Beach
Discover the charming secrets of the Whitsunday Coast. Dingo Beach and Hydeaway Bay (pictured) are tiny townships with stunning shorelines. Stay at the beachfront resorts to make the most of the seclusion and serenity. Conway Beach is a favourite with caravanners, thanks in part to its wide bay at low tide that’s perfect for kite-flying, cycling and walking. Windsurfing and kitesurfing are also popular.
Proserpine and Collinsville
Proserpine and Collinsville are charming towns, slightly inland from Airlie Beach, with much to discover. No visit to Proserpine is complete without a walk around the eclectic shops with their Art Deco facades or fishing on Lake Proserpine in search of the iconic barramundi. Resorts and caravan parks in the area offer secluded and peaceful getaways, away from the tourist buzz of Airlie Beach.
The Whitsundays not only boasts beautiful shorelines, it also lays claim to some remarkable subtropical rainforests. Many of the islands are home to hiking trails where visitors can admire the grand old pines, get close to the wildlife and enjoy breathtaking views. Cedar Creek Falls is the ideal spot for a picnic on the mainland. The natural water hole and waterfall are picture-perfect in the wet season and following showers at other times of the year.
Distance to Airlie Beach 40 km
Taxi A taxi to Airlie Beach will take around 35 minutes and cost around AUD $80.
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When to go
September, a month of sunny weather and low humidity when the temperature ranges from 19°C to 26°C, is the best time to visit the Whitsundays. It's also the best time to avoid 'stinger season' (October–May). Summer temperatures – between December and February – can hit a high of 30°C, sometimes accompanied by brief showers.
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Whitsunday Transit provides a local bus service around the area. If you're staying in Airlie Beach, you'll find that most tourist activities include a return shuttle service to your accommodation. If you plan to drive, hire a car at Mackay, Whitsunday Coast Airport or Airlie Beach. For something different, hire a Mini Moke or do a Sedgeway tour from Airlie’s main street.Back to top
Inside Airlie Beach's $23 million makeover
Airlie Beach is known as the gateway to Queensland's Whitsundays, but don’t pass through without stopping any more.