Airlie Beach is a small area that is packed full with bars, clubs, restaurants and tour offices, with accommodation options ranging from campsites to five star hotels.
A common concern when visiting Airlie Beach are the stingers, which can be a problem between October and April. Ocean swimming is restricted at that time, but the Airlie Beach Lagoon makes up for it. It’s stinger-free year-round, holds 4.5 million litres of salt water, is patrolled every day from 7am to 9pm and is surrounded by landscaped gardens, barbecue facilities and picnic tables.
6km (4 miles) east of Airlie Beach is Conway National Park, a beautiful coastal park looking across the Whitsunday Passage. It is home to Proserpine rock-wallabies, the Australian brush-turkey and orange-footed scrubfowl. From the lookout at Mount Rooper, there are views of Hamilton, Dent, Long and Henning islands.
The islands are the main attraction of course and visitors will have the happy problem of deciding which type of boat to charter to the Whitsundays. Shute Harbour, 10km (six miles) east of Airlie Beach, is the departure point for many of the vessels.
The climate is subtropical with warm temperatures year-round. The summer months (December to February) have temperatures of 25-35 C (75-95 F) with rain and high levels of humidity. During this time there is a possibility of hurricanes. The winter months (June to August) have temperatures of around 20 C (65 F), and there is little rainfall.
The Queensland school holidays are peak season times in Airlie Beach. The Blessing of the Fleet is also a peak season time. It takes place 50 days after Easter each year (May or June depending on when Easter falls). Airlie Beach Food and Wine Festival is in August, along with the Airlie Beach Race Week and Whitsunday Fantasea Reef Festival, and the Airlie Beach Triathlon in September. These events are very popular, making it a peak season time to go to Airlie Beach.
In general, when the schools are in session, it’s considered low season in Airlie Beach. Pick and choose your times carefully to get low-season rates. In December, January and February, the weather is hot and humid and cyclones are a possibility.
Whitsunday Transit offers a shuttle service from the airport. There are also taxis and rental cars available as long as you have booked in advance.
For a flight to Hamilton Island, you will be flying into Hamilton Island. Hamilton Island (HTI) is just 1.0 km from the centre of the city.