A 74-island paradise of reefs, beaches and relaxation
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, Cedar Creek Falls with its spectacular cascades, and the isolated, wildlife-rich hamlet of Hydeaway Bay.
There's just so much to do here. Try diving or snorkelling the Great Barrier Reef or sailing all 74 Whitsunday Islands. Dip your toes into Whitehaven Beach’s famous silica sands or take the photo of a lifetime 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: Whitsunday Coast
Base yourself at Airlie Beach
Airlie Beach is your mainland base for holidaying throughout the Whitsundays. Accommodation styles are 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 gateway to the Whitsundays. Along with the turquoise waters, you can also enjoy Airlie's dining scene, walk the Bicentennial Boardwalks or hike Conway National Park.
Have a tropical feast in Bowen
A 40-minute drive north of Airlie lies Bowen, a sleepy seaside town boasting eight award-winning, palm-fringed beaches, that remains off the tourist radar. It's a magical spot for bushwalking or fishing, making for an ideal day trip or, better yet, an overnight stay. Beyond its sublime beaches, Bowen is renowned for its juicy mangoes and fresh local seafood. Horseshoe and Grays Bays are idyllic spots for a sunset dinner on the seaside.
Retreat to Hydeaway Bay and Dingo Beach
Discover the charming secrets of the Whitsunday Coast. Dingo Beach and Hydeaway Bay 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.
Stroll, shop or fish Prosperine
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.
Hike the rainforest
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.
Whitsunday Coast Airport opens in new window (Proserpine – PPP)
Distance to Airlie Beach 40 km
Taxi A taxi to Airlie Beach will take around 35 minutes and cost upwards of AUD $100.
Shuttle Whitsundays 2 Everywhere and Whitsunday Transit buses meet every flight and take around 40 minutes to reach Airlie Beach. One-way adult fares are around AUD $22; pre-booking required.
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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.Back to top
Whitsunday Transit opens in new window 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, do a Segway tour from Airlie’s main street.Back to top
How to do the Whitsunday Coast on a budget
Think a Whitsundays getaway is out of your budget? Think again. With so much natural beauty, it’s easy to have a top-notch trip without breaking the bank.
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.