Known as the gateway to the Whitsundays, Airlie Beach makes a great base to explore the Great Barrier Reef and its tropical islands
Airlie Beach has something for everyone: take a Whitsundays day trip to Australia’s most beautiful beach, snorkel the Great Barrier Reef and dine at family-friendly restaurants with pools and playgrounds.
As one of Queensland’s best holiday destinations, a trip to The Whitsundays guarantees plenty of fun in the sun. If you’re planning a trip to this stunning region, Airlie Beach is our pick for the perfect family getaway.
In this destination guide, we’ve rounded up the very best Airlie Beach has to offer. From the best family accommodation to six must-do activities for kids, here’s everything you need to know for a flawless trip.
Things to Do in Airlie Beach for Families
If you’re planning a trip to Airlie Beach, there’s no shortage of fun family activities! Here are six of the best things to do with kids:
- Visit Australia’s most beautiful beach: Be sure to take a day trip to Whitehaven Beach, which regularly ranks on lists of the world’s best beaches, on Whitsunday Island — the largest of the 74 islands in the group.
- Hike Hill Inlet Lookout: If you’ve got older kids, embark on the 1.3-kilometre return hike to Hill Inlet Lookout to take in the views of the swirling sands at the northern end of the beach.
- Swim in Airlie Beach Lagoon: Back on the mainland, the man-made Airlie Beach Lagoon provides a stinger-free place to swim year round. Surrounded by grass with an adjoining playground, it has a sandy beach ideal for younger kids and barbecue facilities.
- Try Kayaking or Paddleboarding: You can also hire kayaks and stand-up paddleboards, or book a turtle spotting tour around the bay.
- Take a Segway Tour: Families with children 12 years and older can also do a segway tour along the Whitsunday Bicentennial Boardwalk, passing attractions such as Coral Sea Marina en route to Cannonvale Beach. Alternatively, ride through the rainforest at Conway National Park.
- See Cedar Creek Falls: Around a 30-minute drive away, the spectacular Cedar Creek Falls is a refreshing place to take a dip.
Where to Stay in Airlie Beach
Just five minutes’ drive out of town, it also offers an adventure playground, mini-golf course, pedal karts, a tennis court, an outdoor cinema and a kids’ club with activities such as arts and crafts and scavenger hunts. There’s also a poolside massage pavilion, as well as a spa and beauty centre just next door offering a range of treatments.
One of the park’s standout features is the Reilly Room – an autism sensory room for kids on the spectrum that comes complete with a large, free-standing hammock, weighted blankets and cushions, a sensory toy box and kinetic sand.
Accommodation options include powered campsites for tents and caravans (with or without ensuites), cabins, one and two-bedroom villas, cottages, and modern three-bedroom condos that sleep up to eight people.
Experience one of Australia’s most family-friendly holiday parks with a stay at BIG Adventure Whitsunday Resort.
Family-Friendly Restaurants in Airlie Beach
After a day of fun in the sun, Airlie Beach provides plenty of places to fill hungry bellies. Discover four of the best Airlie Beach restaurants for families below:
- Fat Frog Beach Café: The funky Fat Frog Beach Café is a locals’ favourite, with views over Cannonvale Beach, great coffee and a menu featuring burgers, fish tacos and fish and chips.
- Anchor Bar: Also overlooking the water, Anchor Bar has a pool where kids can splash around while they wait for their food to arrive. It offers everything from small plates ideal for sharing to a “Can’t Decide Platter” with pork ribs, hot wings, calamari, arancini and steamed mussels. There’s also a separate “Little People” menu including burgers, calamari and chicken strips.
- Jubilee Tavern: As any parent with small children will tell you, a playground can make a huge difference to your dining experience, so Jubilee Tavern is sure to be a winner. As well as pub classics like chicken schnitzel and bangers and mash, it serves mango chicken skewers, nasi goreng and a vegan-friendly korma curry.
- Whitsunday Gold Coffee: Whitsunday Gold Coffee near Proserpine also has a large indoor play area with teacup rides, a padded flying fox and three slides. It costs $9.95 per child. And you can check out one of Australia’s largest coffee plantations while you’re there.