Gateway to the Whitsunday Islands, the relaxed and friendly town of Airlie Beach sits on a peninsula facing the calm waters of Pioneer Bay.
As the ideal mainland base for fun and adventure in the Whitsundays, Airlie Beach is the perfect launch pad for water-borne activities as well as land-based exploration of the lush, green rainforest of the Whitsunday Coast.
Take in the views on the coastal boardwalk from Airlie to Cannonvale beaches, cool off with a swim in the vast Airlie Lagoon, set in landscaped parkland overlooking the bay, enjoy a tropical smoothie along the Esplanade and explore friendly village streets.
Browse for local arts and crafts under the palm trees at Airlie’s Saturday market, dine at a gourmet silver service resort or at an al-fresco café along the waterfront. Later party hard in one of Airlie's bars or nightclubs.
Airlie Beach also offers a good choice of nearby attractions, including Conway National Park and the Proserpine River wetlands.
The Proserpine River wetlands are home to the dangerous saltwater crocodile that are probably best seen from the comfort of a tourist boat that cruise through the winding labyrinth of this breathtaking and unique ecosystem.
Or enjoy a different Whitsunday experience in the coastal rainforest of the Conway Range. Cycle, run or walk along the Conway Circuit on a 28km (17mi) adventure through the Conway National Park.
Hike to the top of Mount Rooper for stunning views across the Whitsunday Passage, then descend from the lookout through coastal rainforest to a hidden beach below.
Previously known as the Whitsunday Great Walk, this challenging 28km (17mi) point-to-point multi-purpose trail can be explored by mountain bike or on foot.
The circuit follows an old logging road through the Whitsunday hinterland – from Forestry Road to Airlie Beach – in Conway National Park.
All trails on the Conway Circuit are shared-use, with the exception of the Kingfisher circuit which is accessible to walkers only. Bike riders must always give way to people on foot on the trails.
Conway National Park covers 22,500ha of lowland rainforest covered with hoop pine cut with rocky escarpments and lush green gullies. The park sits on a peninsula to the east of Airlie Beach overlooking the Whitsundays.
Here, you can walk or cycle through tropical rainforest, along creeks, past giant hoop pines and beside rugged, steep, rocky cliffs, with scenic views of the of the Whitsunday Passage and beyond.
Allow four to five hours on a mountain bike – for fit and experienced riders – or three days and two nights to walk the trail; it's possible for a very fit person to complete the hike in eight hours. There are also several shorter side trails that can be completed in less time.
You can start or finish the Conway Circuit at either Forestry Road off Brandy Creek Road or at Kara Crescent in Airlie Beach.
Alternatively, three shorter walks branch-off the main track at Forestry Road, including the 2km (1.2mi) Kingfisher circuit for walkers only, the 7km (4.3mi) Wompoo Walk and the 8.2km (5mi) Honeyeater Lookout track – both the latter are shared trails.
Two camping areas – Repulse Creek and Bloodwood – are located along the circuit, providing toilets, rainwater tanks and storage trunks to keep food away from wildlife.
Walking the circuit
Day 1 – From Forestry Road car park to Repulse Creek campsite is 8.3km (5.1mi): The trail leads to Wompoo way junction, then continues on past Impulse Creek to Repulse Creek campsite. Along the way look out for hardy, brown tulip oaks and tough, woody vines.
Alternatively, you can set out on the Kingfisher circuit. The latter is not suitable for bikes and will add at least 45 minutes to the day's walk. It rejoins the Conway Circuit after several sets of steep stairs.
Day 2 – Repulse Creek camp to Bloodwood camp 11.5km (7.1mi): The second day takes you through dry forest and across two creeks. The circuit becomes steep and more difficult as you follow a ridge to the summit of Mount Hayward, with cool sea breezes and scenic views from the top.
The trail continues along the ridge to Bloodwood camp where you can enjoy views beyond Jubilee Pocket to the Whitsunday Islands.
Day 3 – Bloodwood camp to Airlie Beach 8.5km (5.2mi): Follow the coastal ridge towards Airlie Beach through low vegetation tangled with vines.
After a steep, challenging climb through low vine thicket the track descends through forest to an intersection before continuing on past grasstrees, cycads and gum trees to Airlie Beach.
Don't miss the Honeyeater Lookout turn-off for great views, which will add about one hour 30 minutes to your walk.
Cycling the circuit
The easiest way to complete the Conway circuit is to begin at Forestry Road car park; ride the circuit to Airlie Beach then follow Shute Harbour, Brandy Creek and Forestry roads back to the start point.
Only fit and experienced riders should attempt to ride the full length of the circuit, which begins easy, before changing to intermediate and then difficult on the last 17.2km (10.6mi).
From Little Repulse Creek the circuit is classified difficult. Riding difficulty increases significantly with many long steep sections, narrow and rough trail surfaces and technically difficult, creek crossings.
Average riders should begin at Forestry Road car park and consider returning to their start point after reaching Repulse Creek camp or Little Repulse Creek.
The circuit is closed annually from 1 February to 31 March and also subject to seasonal and other closures.
Other shared walking and cycling trails in the Airlie region, include…
Kingfisher Circuit – This short and picture-perfect 2km (1.2mi) return walk takes you through the ancient rainforests of the Whitsundays, past giant strangler fig trees, palm trees and tulip oaks decorated with basket ferns.
Along the way, listen out for the squeak of grey fantail birds. The walk starts at Forestry Road car park and returns to the car park via the shared-use Conway Circuit.
You need to be moderately fit as there are several steep sections and lots of stairs. Allow 45 minutes to one hour to complete the walk.
At the end of the trail, you can either turn right to the car park or turn left to continue on the Wompoo Walk.
Mt. Rooper Circuit & Swamp Bay Trail – This 7.2km (4.4mi) return trail climbs through the forests of Conway National Park, with panoramic views overlooking Daydream Island, North Molle Islands and the Whitsunday Passage.
Informational signs along the way tell the story of indigenous use of the local plants that are native to the area.
Wompoo Way – This 7km (4.3mi) return trail follows the Conway Circuit for 2.3km (1.4mi) to the Wompoo Way turn-off. From here the trail follows an old logging road through the tall, lush rainforest before finishing at a peaceful creek lined with Alexandra palms.
This trail is well-known for its sighting and sounds of the Wompoo fruit-dove, which frequents the trail, along with many other animals, insects, and plants.
The Wompoo Way walk is part of the Conway Circuit and shares its trails with mountain bikers. The trail has a few steep sections and will take about four hours to complete on foot and around 45 minutes by mountain bike.
Be prepared for some uphill sections. The walk begins and ends at the Forestry Road car park.
This trail is closed annually from 1 February to 31 March and subject to seasonal closures.
Honeyeater Walk – This 8.2km (5mi) return walk from Airlie Beach leads to a ridge with panoramic views overlooking Cannonvale and the Whitsunday islands.
The trail starts from the Kara Crescent track entrance in Airlie Beach, and follows the Conway Circuit trail for 2.3km (1.4mi) to the Honeyeater Lookout turn-off. From here the trail continues to the lookout.
A high level of fitness is required. The walk takes around three hours or about one hour 30 minutes by mountain bike.
There are no facilities so make sure to bring water as this trial can be challenging.
Airlie Creek – This 1.7km (1mi) return track to Airlie Creek leads to a natural rock pool and waterfalls that come to life especially in the wet season.
Along the way check out the natural vegetation including some magnificent subtropical plants, endangered rock wallabies and a fig tree about halfway along the path.
Access to Airlie Creek is from Waterson Way and takes around one hour to complete.
Cedar Creek Falls – Located 19km (11.8mi) from Proserpine on Conway Beach Road – around halfway between Airlie Beach and Proserpine – the picturesque Cedar Creek Falls are spectacular in the wet season and offer a year-round natural swimming pool at the base of the falls.
Relax in the natural rock amphitheatre surrounded by stunning native flora including strangler figs, red and white cedars and wild orchids.
An easy to follow trails leads from the car park to the falls. A small trail continues to track along the creek for a longer walk.
The natural waterfall tumbles into a large freshwater rock pool. The waterfall runs all year round but is best enjoyed during the wet season.
Take a bush walk up and around the falls and admire the majestic Alexandra palms that line the creek as it winds its way to the ocean.
Coral Beach and the Beak – This 3.7km (2.3mi) bushwalk leads through dense rainforest to Coral Beach, which sits on the Whitsunday Coast near Shute Harbour.
Along the way, lookout for butterflies and various species of birds. From Coral Beach, you can walk eastbound along the beach to the walking track that leads to the Beak, which offers excellent views of the Whitsunday Passage and the islands.
Located on Shute Harbour road, the bushwalk begins and ends at the Coral Beach car park.
Choose from an array of accommodation that ranges from stylish resorts and hotels on the water's edge to apartments on the hillside overlooking the panorama of beach, bay and islands, including the following…
Peppers Airlie Beach
Location: Airlie Beach,
Prices: from AUD576 per room
Description: Overlooking the Whitsunday Passage, Peppers Airlie Beach offers 5-star luxury apartments with wide verandas and panoramic ocean views. Each apartment features a separate lounge/dining area and kitchen. The apartments have an LCD TV with cable channels and an iPod docking station. The well-equipped kitchens include an oven, freezer, microwave and dishwasher. The luxurious bathrooms feature both spa baths and showers. Airlie Beach Peppers’ restaurant and bar serves food made with local produce. It features a variety of cocktails each evening. Facilities include a day spa, gymnasium, swimming pool and spa pool. Airlie Beach, just 700 metres from the hotel, features a selection of shops, cafés, clubs and pubs. A boardwalk links the Airlie Beach lagoon to nearby Cannonvale and Shingley Beach.
Facilities incl.: restaurant, bar, outdoor pool, full-service spa, health club and room service.
Peninsula Airlie Beach
Location: Airlie Beach
Prices: from AUD369 per room
Description: Peninsula Airlie Beach offers a choice of apartments and penthouses, located directly on the waterfront. All apartments have a private balcony with views of the marina and the Whitsunday Islands. Each apartment includes a spacious lounge area with sofa, coffee table, LCD TV, DVD player and stereo system. The fully equipped kitchen features an electric stove, refrigerator and a dishwasher. The restaurants and nightlife of Airlie Beach are just a 20-minute walk away. It is only 3 minutes’ drive to the famous Airlie Beach Lagoon. The tour desk can organise trips to Whitehaven Beach and the Whitsundays. Facilities at Peninsula Apartments Airlie Beach include free internet access and an outdoor swimming pool with sun loungers.
Pinnacles Resort & Spa
Location: Airlie Beach,
Prices: from AUD324 per room
Description: Pinnacles Resort offers 5-star luxury apartments with Coral Sea views, just 300 m from Airlie Beach town centre. The Port of Airlie is just 900 metres away. All apartments at Pinnacles Resort Whitsundays include an internal spa bath or hot tub, a balcony and stunning views of the Coral Sea. The 1-bedroom apartments have a kitchenette whilst the 2 and 3-bedroom apartments have a fully equipped kitchen. Guests can relax in the 20 metre infinity pool or in infrared sauna, and can work out at the fully equipped fitness centre. Pinnacles Resort is located in the heart of Airlie Beach, the gateway to the Whitsunday Islands. Whitsunday Coast Airport or Proserpine Airport is a 45-minute drive from the resort.
Facilities incl.: outdoor pool, full-service spa, sauna and health club.
For the best weather visit Airlie Beach in October, or anytime from May to November during the winter dry season. The wet 'green' season last from December to April and is generally hot, wet and humid.
Airlie Beach enjoys a tropical climate with hot summers, warm winters and a pleasant spring and autumn.
For more climate info: Airlie Beach Weather Guide…
Airlie Beach overlooks Pioneer Bay in the Whitsunday Region of Queensland, and is located around 1100km (683mi) north of Brisbane and 620km (385mi) south of Cairns.
The most convenient route to Airlie Beach is by air to Proserpine Airport (PPP), also known as Whitsunday Coast Airport, followed by bus or taxi to Airlie Beach.
The airport is located about 38km (24mi) south of Airlie Beach, around 40 minutes by shuttle bus and less by taxi. Whitsunday Transit operates a regular bus service from the airport.
There are no direct international flights to Proserpine Airport (PPP).
From international destinations this may require first flying into Brisbane Airport (BNE) – or Melbourne or Sydney – followed by a connecting flight to Proserpine Airport.
Alternatively, you can fly to Hamilton Island Airport (HTI), also known as Great Barrier Reef Airport, then hop on the ferry to Port of Airlie, which takes 1 hour 10 minutes, hourly.
By train, the nearby town of Proserpine, about 26km (16mi) from Airlie Beach, is on the main railway line between Brisbane and Cairns, with a frequent service provided by the Spirit of Queensland.
By bus, Greyhound and Premier coaches stop at Airlie Beach on their journey between Brisbane and Cairns.
For more info: Getting to Airlie Beach…
Latest update: Airlie Beach: 15 September, 2022