Cruise Guide to Airlie Beach, Australia

If you’re looking to escape the city and go on a tropical getaway then don’t look past Airlie Beach. The popular cruise holiday destination is part of Australia’s Whitsunday region where you may find some of the country’s most pristine beaches. Airlie Beach is conveniently situated near other major domestic holiday destinations Cairns and Port Douglas. Much of your trip to Airlie Beach will be about soaking in as much sun as possible. Here you can go swimming, snorkelling, take sailing lessons and also discover the surrounding islands. No matter what you choose to see or do at Airlie Beach, one things is certain. You’ll want to come back again as soon as possible.

Facts about Airlie Beach:

Originally named just ‘Airlie’ after a parish in Scotland, the name of this popular holiday destination changed to Airlie Beach in 1987. This is a popular cruise holiday and backpacker destination, and is also known as a sailing “Mecca”. Also, Busking wasn’t made legal here until 2010. As the waters surrounding Airlie Beach are inhabited by box jelly fish and marine stingers from November until May, the local council built a medium-sized swimming lagoon. September and October are considered peak season here, though Airlie Beach is warm all year round with temperatures ranging between 23 and 30 degrees.

Cruises stopping at Airlie Beach

Most major cruise liners stop at Airlie Beach, including P&O, Cunard and Princess Cruises. Brisbane is a common departure point that includes Airlie Beach as part of its cruise itinerary. You can cruise directly to Airlie Beach or include other tropical destinations such as Cairns and Port Douglas as part of your itinerary. If you would like to add some international destinations to your cruise holiday then that is possible as well. Cruises that take you past Airlie Beach also visit destinations such as Shanghai and Halong Bay. If you’re cruising from Sydney or Melbourne then you can include Airlie Beach as part of your cruise holiday as well.

Things to see & do around Airlie Beach

Airlie Beach is the central hub of the Whitsundays region, meaning there’s plenty to see and do here. Below, we’ve jotted down some of our favourite must see and do attractions and activities.

Whitehaven Beach

One of the most popular and recognisable parts of the Whitsundays is Whitehaven Beach. This 7km stretch of pristine white sand is situated in the heart of the Great Barrier Reef and has been voted as Queensland’s cleanest beach. Also, Trip Advisor named it’s the world’s best beach in 2013. Getting here by boat is easy and is a great place from which you can discover Hamilton Island. One thing you won’t be able to get enough of while you’re at Whitehaven Beach is the turquoise water. There are also barbeque facilities located at the beach, meaning you can easily spend an entire day here.

Discover local swimming spots

No trip to Airlie Beach and the Whitsundays is complete without discovering the local swimming spots located throughout the islands. One of those is Cedar Creek Falls, a natural rock amphitheatre surrounded by lush greenery. Here water cascades down a moss-covered wall into a large basin, providing a calming sound for swimmers. There are other swimming spots that are also well-worth visiting. Among those are Boathaven Beach and Cannonvale Beach. The former is a relatively new beach with pristine soft white sand while the latter is a great family-friendly swimming spot with a stinger net in place during the summer months.

Explore Hamilton Island

A must-see part of the Whitsundays, Hamilton Island should definitely be part of your cruise holiday itinerary when you visit Airlie Beach. It is an untouched gem covered in greenery and surrounded by coral reef. Hamilton Island gives you a rare chance to get up close and person with native wildlife, including kangaroos, koalas and kookaburras. There’s something for everyone here. You can play golf along one of Australia’s premier courses. Boat tours around the island and scenic flights over the island offer a great way to go sightseeing. You can also hike to the island’s summit, Passage Peak, from which you may take in views of the surrounding islands and turquoise water.

Sail the Whitsundays

The port in Airlie Beach is one of the busiest in all of Australia, meaning you have plenty of opportunity to sail and discover the Whitsundays. There are numerous sailing trips departing from the port on a daily basis. If you head down to the Whitsundays Sailing Club on a Wednesday around 2pm though, you might have the opportunity to learn to sail yourself. Twilight yacht races are held between 3pm and 7pm and novices are always encouraged to participate. Overall, you should definitely discover the Whitsundays by sailing around the islands during your cruise holiday.

Shop at Airlie Beach Markets

If you’re looking to add some Australian beach brands to your wardrobe then head to Airlie Beach Markets. Considered an Australian icon, the markets are home clothes, arts and crafts and souvenirs made by locals as well as internationally recognisable Australian brands such as Billabong and Rip Curl. This is the perfect place to find tropical holiday gifts to take home to your loved ones. While you’re here you can also grab a bite for breakfast or lunch. The Airlie Beach Markets are open every Saturday and are held along the Esplanade.

Wine and dine at the local bars and restaurants

Speaking of grabbing a bite, you should definitely wind things back and explore the bars and restaurants of Airlie Beach during your cruise holiday. If you’re after one of the best restaurants in the area then head to The Clipper Bar Restaurant. The upmarket restaurant affords you stunning views over the Coral Sea as well as the Whitsundays Islands. If you’re a fan of rum though, head to the Fish and D’vine and Rum Bar, offering over 500 different rums from all around the world. Finally, if you’re simply after a drink then head to Denman Cellars Beer Café, offering more than 800 choices of beer or cider.


Author: Sophie Anderson

Post Date: 9th February 2020


Categories: Ports

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