Whenever someone asks me what places they must visit in Australia, Airlie Beach and the Whitsundays undoubtedly always make the list. And for good reason.
My first trip to the Whitsundays was about 15 years ago. I was roughly 10 years old and it was a family holiday. We stayed on Long Island and I think I told my parents to go without me when it was time to leave at the end of the week. Needless to say they didn’t, but I told my 10 year old self that it was going to be okay because I would one day come back to this small piece of paradise.
Fast forward to now and I finally fulfilled my promise. Jack had actually taken on work in Airlie Beach which meant I got to venture back up north to visit him. This meant I got to see him and spend time in one of the most incredible places on this earth. It was a win win.
These are the places you must visit in Airlie Beach and the Whitsundays:
Airlie Beach was a bustling and vibrant town full of backpackers, travellers, holiday goers and hippies. One thing that amazed me during my stay was how laid back the locals were. And by laid back, I mean swimming right off the beach. I thought they were crazy seeing as though North Queensland is croc country.
One local told me swimming was fine as long as you stayed inside the stinger nets (which would protect you from jellyfish but I don’t think they would match a croc) and another local told me swimming is totally fine because crocs don’t hang out it Airlie. It’s safe to say i’m still not entirely sold on the idea. So whilst I don’t recommend swimming off the beach, here are some of the things I do recommend: dinner at Hemingways Restaurant (you won’t regret it), breakfast at bohemian raw (or boho as the locals call it) because they make a wicked smashed avo on toast, a visit to Cedar Creek Falls (a waterfall only 20 minutes out of town) and people watching down the main drag (pull up at a pub and sit back for a while).
Dingo Beach and Hydeaway Bay
Where do I start? Well, Dingo Beach & Hydeaway Bay are exactly what you imagine North QLD to be like – slow paced, laid back, quiet and isolated. Picture clear blue water, golden sand and not a soul in sight. We explored this area for a whole day and found the most incredible little pockets of beach that we had to ourselves almost the entire time. This was hands down one of my favourite days I spent up there and I would go back in a heartbeat. Cape Gloucester Resort in Hydeaway Bay is basic but it has everything you need and best of all its right on the beach.
Hamo is the busiest out of all the islands in the Whitsundays. It has a range of accommodation, restaurants, shops, the beautiful Catseye Beach. There are lots of water activities and the option to hire a golf buggy to drive around the island. I highly recommend doing this – it makes getting around the island easy because there’s lots of hills, plus it’s really fun!). Don’t forget to head out on a tour of the Great Barrier Reef for some snorkelling while you’re there.
Whitehaven Beach is spectacular and a must see when you’re visiting the Whitsundays. In fact, no trip to the Whitsundays is complete without it. Spend the day laying around on the pure white silica sand, swimming in crystal clear blue water, playing cricket on the beach and hiking up to the Hill Inlet Lookout for a view you’ll never forget. You can even book a spot and spend the night camping on the island. When the tour boats leave you have the place all to yourself. Definitely something I plan on doing my next visit.
Airlie Beach and the Whitsundays Itinerary:
1 – 2 Airlie Beach
3 – 4 Dingo Beach & Hydeaway Bay
5 – 6 Hamilton Island
7 A full day trip to Whitehaven Beach
If you have extra time, hire your own catamaran for a few nights and sail around the islands at your own pace – no license required!
When to visit: May/Jun to Sep/Oct
*November to April is stinger season
This little part of the world absolutely blew my mind. Everyone needs to make the trip there at least once in their lifetime.
If you’re planning a trip to Airlie Beach or the Whitsundays, leave a comment below!