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Wild On The Whitsundays - A Romantic Getaway To Airlie Beach

Ben Hall

Think for a minute about what would constitute the perfect tropical island getaway; warm weather, impossibly azure, calm waters, blinding white sand beaches, colourful marine life and corals, and hammocks overlooking the water. Throw in cocktail bars, unreal sunsets, sailing, and all manner of water sports and you have the Whitsunday Islands in a nutshell, a 74-island group in North Queensland which has been widely described as one of the most beautiful places on earth. In fact, Condé Nast asked voters to rank the 30 best islands in the world outside the US in its 2018 Readers' Choice Awards, and the Whitsunday Islands beat Bora Bora, Moorea and Tahiti in French Polynesia to be ranked the best island in Australia. For sheer romance it’s pretty hard to beat, and from the moment you enter the main hub of Airlie Beach on the mainland, you know this is somewhere a bit special.

Airlie Beach’s Evolution

From the main palm-fringed beach, sailing boats bob on the calm harbour and just beyond lies what most of the fuss is all about - the Whitsunday Islands themselves. But Airlie Beach itself has evolved from a one-street backpacker hangout to a true international destination with a great lineup of restaurants and accommodation, making it a great base from which to explore the region. The real beauty lies out in the impossibly blue water offshore, however, and with all the tours and activities that are available, the main problem choosing what to do while you’re there. And it’s important to remember to kick back and relax as well - this is a tropical paradise after all. 

Best Kodak Moment

The Whitsunday coastline is stunning from the water, but when it’s viewed from the air prepare for pure sensory overload. A helicopter tour of the islands is a must-do and offers an unforgettable experience. Strap yourself in and hang onto your camera for the ride of your life, and get ready for some of the most awesome “photo ops” you’ll ever have. GSL Aviation offers a range of tours including helicopter jaunting, starting from $199 (

A Place To Call Home

There are a number of top quality resorts on the mainland and in Airlie Beach, including Peppers Airlie Beach and Mirage Whitsundays, but a favourite of ours is Coral Sea Resort for a lineup of reasons. One is the location; it sits on ocean front and is just a short stroll via the seaside boardwalk to Airlie Beach village. For total indulgence ideal on a romantic getaway, book a Coral Sea Spa Suite complete with a private spa and hammock on your balcony, and from where you can watch the sailing boats glide into the harbour ( 

Best Sunset Vantage Point

If you’re not staying out at one of the islands, then head for the Whitsundays Sailing Club at Airlie Point for sunset and a cold drink. Its expansive all-weather balcony offers a panoramic view of the beach, bay and beyond, and it faces due west so when the sun goes down behind the surrounding hills you’ll have a perfect view of one of Airlie’s famous, dramatic sunsets. 

Picnic On Whitehaven Beach

Pack a picnic hamper and either fly or cruise out to the impossibly beautiful Whitehaven beach for a day enjoying its blinding white sand and turquoise water. This is the beach that gets well used in holiday brochures and advertisements for the Whitsunday and Queensland, and you’ll see why the second you set foot on the sand. Ferries run daily to Whitehaven, or you can travel by helicopter or seaplane for a touch of style. 

Daytime Adventures 

No trip to the Whitsunday Coast would be complete without a cruise of the islands and a spot of snorkelling on the Great Barrier Reef. Reef Free Tours has a range of options with departures from Airlie Beach, including a 1 day cruise of Hardy Reef with snorkelling, diving and more, a 1 day ocean rafting tour which features Whitehaven Beach, and if you are really feeling adventurous, a 1 night outer Barrier reef sleep experience ( 

Don’t Forget Romantic Dining

There’s much more on offer than just backpacker fare and fish ’n’ chips these days in Airlie Beach. The Clipper Restaurant at the Coral Sea Resort comes highly recommended, and it’s located poolside with unobstructed ocean views and a gourmet menu of Mod-Oz cuisine. If you’ve headed to the Whitsunday Sailing Club for sunset, the bistro offers lunch and dinner, and if fish and seafood is more to your liking, try Fish D’Vine & The Rum Bar, which sources most of its produce locally, and is stocked with over 500 rums from around the world.

And For Your Caffeine Fix

There are a number of choices but a favourite of ours is the Fat Frog Beach Cafe which also serves all-day brekkie and lunch with a view. Located opposite Cannonvale Beach, it’s a quirky and dog-friendly cafe which is popular with locals and tourists. Besides serving Campos coffee in many styles, the food is healthy and  homemade, with treats for four-legged fur babies.


A romantic Whitsunday Escape - sail away together 00:38 Ever dreamt of getting away with your partner on a romantic holiday, for just the two of you? Hire yourself a bareboat from Whitsunday Escape and you can do just that! The boat comes fully equipped with everything you need, so all you have to do is sail off into the Whitsunday sunset. While some of our boats can take as many as 12 passengers, others are perfectly manageable by a couple alone. Think outside the square for your next romantic holiday, and do what Janelle and Joel did for their honeymoon in January 2014 - hire a 'skipper yourself' bareboat and go sailing in the Whitsundays!

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  1. Posted by on 23rd Sep 2019 Verified Customer

    Wonderful Whitsundays 5 Star Review

    One of my favourite holiday destinations......and I'll share one of my secrets with your readers! Head from Airlie Beach to Conway Beach and there's a hidden waterhole called Cedar Creek Falls, which is especially pumping during the wet season, and has turtles. It's located on Conway Road off the Proserpine-Shute-Harbour Road and it's signposted. Just don't tell anyone else LOL

  2. Posted by on 2nd Apr 2019 Verified Customer

    Love Airlie 4 Star Review

    Came here first as a backpacker now we have family holidays there once in a while. I would only mark it down as it's expensive compared to going overseas to places like Thailand or Vietnam, but it's safe with lots to do and good food.

  3. Posted by on 2nd Apr 2019 Verified Customer

    Best Holiday Destination In Oz 5 Star Review

    That's a steep call I know but we have been there about 5 times and love it every time. The snorkelling, swimming, great resorts, great seafood, whats not to love about the Whitsundays!

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