We were recently asked by an old friend from Perth if there was anything to do in Airlie Beach if they came to the area on holiday. They said that they knew the Whitsunday island resorts had plenty of things to do, yet have never heard that Airlie itself was somewhere a family could have fun.

I had to be careful in answering that question, because if I scoffed too hard at their suggestion there was nothing to do In Airlie Beach, I could offend them. Yet how do you tell someone that there is actually more to do in Airlie Beach than on one of those awesome tropical islands without sounding biased.

To be very honest, many of the cruises to the Great Barrier Reef or other popular Whitsundays attractions like Whitehaven Beach, commence from Airlie Beach, picking up from the resort islands along the way. There are certainly more restaurants in Airlie Beach, bars, a larger choice of accommodation options plus a few adventure activities to keep the most daring traveler excited. Plus we have the largest swimming lagoon in Australia right by the sea.

You can save a lot of money by choosing to spend time at Airlie Beach instead of one of the island resorts. Simply by being able to shop at one of the large supermarket chains, a family can save many, many dollars on the food bill. There are a large variety of cruises, both day and overnight, right from Abel Point Marina and Airlie Beach is small enough to walk wherever you need to go.

As you know, every picture tells a story, so I will show you a few of the activities and tours you can enjoy right from Airlie Beach. All activities come with free pick up and return from your chosen accommodation. The full list is just too large for one blog post, over the next month we will add some more exciting activities to make you consider making Airlie Beach your base to explore the beautiful Whitsundays.

Overnight Cruises

One of the options for saving money while seeing the Whitsunday Islands and Great Barrier Reef, is to take a cruise where you live on board for several nights. This type of cruise comes with everything supplied including accommodation and food, so the only extra expense is drinks. Most of these are sailing yachts or tall ship adventures and most are roughly around $300.00 to $400.00 all inclusive. Typical cruises are Tongarra, Atlantic Clipper, Boomerang, Anaconda III and Solway Lass just to name a few. They are not luxury cruises, just a great affordable way to spend time in the Whitsundays.

Sky Diving

Airlie Beach Sky Dive will pick you up and take you to Whitsunday Airport Shute Harbour. Give you training and then take to the skies for an awesome jump with the best views of the Whitsundays you could ask for. Not for the faint hearted, yet one of the greatest experiences of a life time. You can’t do this staying on an island, you must come to the mainland for this activity.

Great Barrier Reef

You can fly over the Great Barrier Reef with Air Whitsunday in a seaplane, GSL Aviation on a scenic flight or take a helicopter with Heli Reef Whitsunday.

Probably the best option is to spend a day at Reef World with Cruise Whitsundays. Here you can snorkel or scuba dive right on the outer Great Barrier Reef. Lunch and snorkeling equipment is provided and you have the option (extra expense) to scuba dive or take a helicopter flight to Heart reef.

Whitehaven Beach

This is the place that most visitors to the Whitsundays want to see and the location we take our friends and family. It doesn’t matter if you stay in Airlie Beach or one of the islands resorts, you need to take some type of cruise or flight to get to Whitehaven Beach. Most cruises to Whitehaven Beach start from Abel Point Marina, so if your not staying on Hamilton Island, you will need to take one of these cruises.

Our preferred cruise is the Full Day Cruise with Cruise Whitsundays. During this cruise you get the experience of snorkeling on a fringing reef, walking up to Hill Inlet Lookout and spending a few hours on Whitehaven Beach. There are many other cruises which also do a similar itinerary such as Ocean Rafting and Whitehaven Express

There are other tours and sailing cruises that just visit Whitehaven Beach. We really stress that a tour that includes Hill Inlet Lookout in it’s itinerary is the one to take.

That’s enough for this post. We will add more suggestions in the near future. Just consider Airlie Beach as a base to explore the Whitsundays. The island resort are great, no one will argue about that, yet Airlie Beach is also a great option with lots of choice and money saving opportunities.