Airlie Beach is not the biggest of towns and you will be hard pressed to get lost since everything you might need is situated along the one long main street. Eating establishments, shops, tour information and hostels are conveniently lined up. Straying from the street just means reaching hotel complexes or the laguna and beach. So what is there to do?
Hang out by the beach
Airlie Beach has not the widest and best beachfront since much of it is bouldered in or a yacht harbour and only a few small strips are accessible sandy beach. But that does not mean that it’s not possible to just lie down on the warm sand and let the sun bake you. Think twice, however, before you head out to the waters and have a dip since stingers can lurk her. Always check the stinger report and season.
Chill by the Laguna
To still give you that holiday feeling of staying at a beach town and enjoy fun in the water, Airlie Beach has created a huge laguna area for both big and little swimmers that is beautifully lined by soft sand and with palm trees and a pretty bridge crossing over. Life guards are on duty here and the ice cream shop is just around the corner. It is located pretty much in the middle of the town, behind the tourist information.
Head off to Sea
While you should not go in the ocean you can get onto it. How about hiring some paddle boarding gear and explore the shore or get on a cruiser that takes you all the way out to the Great Barrier Reef and the heavenly Whitsunday Islands? Come on, that is what you should have come here to see in the first place.
Yes, eating seafood might be obligatory (unless you are allergic or heavily disinclined to try) and many restaurants will cater to your fresh from the sea cuisine. For all others, steak and ethnic cuisines are also found on the strip overlooking the ocean, sometimes even with live music. For a quick chocolate and ice creamy treat, I highly recommend stopping by both The Chocolate Cafe and The Gelato Bar right next to the laguna.
Have a Forest Walk
Just a 20 minute bus ride away you can find peace and quiet underneath the canopies of swampy trees and huge ferns in the Conway National Park. There are several walks for exploring the native flora and fauna, depending on your interests and the temperatures. I tried the one with a moderate climb up Mt Rooper with a beautiful view of the surrounding lake area and enjoyed it tremendously.
Enjoy the sunset
You are on the East Coast, so a sunrise would be a better option. Nonetheless, the sunset from the harbour area to the east onto the bay opposite all the eateries was quite pretty as well and the sun did just set right over the hills so that the sea took on an amazing colour spectrum of gold to deep reds.