How to Spend 1 Day in Airlie Beach
Although Airlie Beach is best known as the departure point for sailing trips around the Whitsunday Islands, the small town has its own distinctive charm. Even with only a day in Airlie Beach, you can still get a taste of island life and enjoy views of the Great Barrier Reef. Here’s the best way to spend the day.
Morning: Get in the Water
Even with limited time in the area, you can get a taste of the Whitsundays by driving your own jet ski to South Molle Island. Tours typically depart in the early morning from the Port of Airlie Marina, a short walk from the town center, and include time to explore the island’s National Park or relax on the beach before getting back onto your jet ski and riding back to the Port of Airlie. You’ll be back in time to enjoy lunch and a stroll around the town before embarking on your next adventure. Between July and September, a whale-watching cruise is a must for wildlife lovers.
Afternoon: See the Reef from Above and Below
Seaplane and helicopter tours are a great way to see Whitehaven Beach on a time budget—they also offer the chance to admire the iconic Great Barrier Reef from above. Short helicopter tours fly you directly to Whitehaven, where you typically spend around an hour before returning, while most half-day seaplane tours land by Hardy Lagoon and include a glass-bottom boat ride with stops for swimming and snorkeling. Seaplane tours typically conclude with some free time to relax on the white sands of Whitehaven Beach before flying back to Airlie Beach.
Night: Tuk-Tuk Between Restaurants
Round off your day in Airlie Beach on a sightseeing tour with a twist. There are a variety of private tuk-tuk tours on offer; sunset tours take you around town at the most scenic time of day, when the town is lit by the glow of the setting sun, while food-themed tours take you to several restaurants around town to sample the best dishes at each. Tuk-tuk drivers are full of local knowledge so be sure to get some tips on where to toast your Airlie Beach trip with a drink or two.