Airlie Beach is the favourite hideaway of backpackers, travellers, families and sailors heading north to Cairns and the Great Barrier Reef or simply looking for peace, quiet, sand and waves. A natural wonderland, Airlie Beach has a number of wildlife walks and shows on offer, with a stunning 4,300 square mile freshwater lagoon built for the height of Summer when the Irukandji jellyfish are patrolling the tropical waters off north Queensland.
In a rental car, some of the smaller secluded bays and beaches in the Airlie Beach area can be found with some searching, or alternatively you can drive around to some of the popular horse-riding, sky-diving and water activities on offer in town and on the outskirts. If driving to the Great Barrier Reef is on your agenda, Airlie Beach also has some excellent diving courses running in its pristine waters.
Once the tropical sun goes down, be ready for the laid back, cocktail-sipping atmosphere generated by the numerous bars and live music in the town centre to keep you dancing and laughing all night.
Somewhat of a hidden gateway from which to travel around the Whitsundays, launching off from Airlie beach on a road trip north is one of the most popular ways to travel this stunning section of the Australian east coast. Two hours driving brings you to Mackay, the burgeoning economic township, which is warmer and quieter than the Gold Coast, though not for long with the area seeing a boom in tourism and industry since 2000. Head further north again through Townsville, and then Cairns is then only a few hours drive away. Likewise, a day's worth of driving south will bring you to Brisbane.