Airlie beach is one of my favorite getaways within Australia! I love traveling to this quaint and quiet town to de-stress from city life about once a year. The last time I travelled there was for my birthday and I stayed for 6 days and loved every minute of it. I thought It would be fun to create an itinerary so that you know where to go, what to see and what’s worth your time!
So, I have written this 2-day Airlie Beach itinerary to give you some guidance! Because this town and its surroundings are worth checking out!
ABOUT AIRLIE BEACH
Airlie Beach is a touristy town located in Queensland, Australia. Its main tourist attraction is its proximity to the Whitsundays as well as the Great Barrier Reef. The town itself has lots of amazing restaurants, clothing shops, and souvenir shops. Because you are unable to swim in the ocean (due to the presence of jellyfish) it offers a large free swimming pool with plenty of shade. The town itself is not popping, but it is perfect if you want to go on a quiet and de-stressing getaway.
BEST TIME TO VISIT + AIRLIE BEACH WEATHER
For this itinerary, I assume that you haven’t been to Airlie Beach before and want to explore its surroundings, first of all, the best time of the year to visit Airlie does come down to personal preference, as September to October is peak season – skies are clear, the winds are light and the sun is shining. November – December is generally the quiet season before the rush of holiday goers + the weather is delicious and hot and January to March is the rainy season, so if you are wanting to do the trip on a budget then this would be the best time to go, as prices drop due to the weather change.
DAY 1 | WHITHSUNDAYS CRUISE + WHITEHAVEN BEACH + CHILL AT THE LAGOON
DAY 1: 7.15 AM – HOP ON CRUISE
There are a couple of half-day tours that you can take to explore the Whitsunday and Whitehaven beach. I have opted to go with Cruise Whitsundays, As I trust this company and know whey have great boats and service.
It departs from Port of Airlie at 7.15 am and drops you back off at 1.45 pm.
You will get to see some of Australia’s most unique and incredible scenery! Crystal blue waters, wildlife (eg. dolphins etc) and Whitehaven beach!
DAY 1 | 1.45 PM – HEAD TO FAT FROG BEACH CAFE FOR A LATE LUNCH
This amazing, funky cafe is set on Cannovale beach and offers everything from friendly service to seafood tacos, delicious salads, and an all-day breakfast option. I ordered the french toast which came pretty close to what I imagine heaven tastes like, bonus: the views are amazing!
DAY 1 | 15.00 PM – CHILL AT THE LAGOON
Easy to find, free entry, fun in the sun and protection from stingers while swimming? Yes, yes and yes! well that’s the Airlie Beach Lagoon! Situated in the center of Airlie beach, this lagoon has become quite the focal point for Airlie as it is so big and the view offers quite the treat as well. I spent a few hours here in the afternoon cooling off and loved every bloody minute.
DAY 1 | 18.00 PM – HAVE DINNER AT COOKS!
Cooks bar and Grill – one word SENSATIONAL!
The atmosphere is incredible but the food oh holly molly! You can’t really visit Airlie Beach and not come here for a meal, I ordered the salmon and prawn pappardelle (without prawns because eeek) which of course contained all locally sourced seafood and vegetables and was so dang tasty, I shocked myself at how fast I ate it haha!
DAY 2 | GREAT BARRIER REEF
You can not leave Airlie Beach without a visit to the Great Barrier Reef! The reef of the coast is incredible!
It is about a 2-hour trip from Airlie to the reef and takes you along the Whitsundays. As you can imagine, the trip goes by very quickly and before you know it you dock at the platoon for a fun day of snorkeling with the fish.
I went on a cruise with Cruise Whitsundays, which is a large company, so it has its own platoon at Hardy Reef.
Hardy Reef is home to some spectacular fish life with Trevally, Coral Trout, Snapper and a host of smaller marine life. As well as and a two-meter-long Giant Queensland Groper that usually congregates for a free feed. If you are lucky you are able to spot a turtle or two at this reef as well!
Honestly, the snorkeling at Hardy Reef is incredible! As soon as you jump f the platoon there is a massive drop below you. Kick twice with your flippers and you reach the reef. From there incredibly beautiful corals, reef sharks and barracudas and so much more can be spotted.
On the platoon itself they have a sundeck, stinger suits, and snorkeling sets, so no need to bring any of that. This cruise also offers a glass boat, which will take you along the reef.
You leave early in the morning and come back late in the evening, so your day is gone after this. But it is an incredible day trip and definitely worth it!
Check out my full guide on my day trip to the Great Barrier reef from Airlie Beach for an incomprehensive guide.
MORE THAN 2 DAYS?
If you have more than 2 days in Airlie Beach, you might want to add any of these cruises and destinations into this itinerary to make it longer. Airlie’s surroundings are quite incredible and can be added as well:
- Hamilton Island: take a boat over to Hamilton Island and spend the day exploring this pretty amazing island. Most of the car-free island is covered in stunning bushland, and the coast is surrounded by colorful coral reefs. You can opt to take one of many tours that offers up-close sightings of koalas, kangaroos, wallabies, and kookaburras. Or opted to go for a hike, walking trails lead up to Passage Peak in the east, with views of the surrounding islands.
- Whitehaven Beach: It is a pristine, award-winning beach on Whitsunday Islands, the largest of the 74 islands in the Whitsundays. Whitehaven’s sand is made up of 99% silica sands and are the purest in the world
- Walk to Coral Beach: Walkthrough beautiful coastal forest to a secluded coral beach on a half-day bush walk. Relax on the beach, or continue to a viewpoint for incredible panoramas of the Whitsunday Islands. Stop at Shute Harbor Lookout for spectacular views of the area.
- Conway National Park: Explore Australia’s stunning ancient tropical rainforest! This park is a coastal park with rainforest-clad hills, secluded beaches and panoramic outlooks over the scenic Whitsunday area! You can either venture over yourself or go on a guided tour.
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