February 5th, 2024
6 minute read
Looking for free things to do in Airlie Beach? We've got you covered! Airlie Beach is the charming coastal town known as the "Gateway to the Whitsundays". Travellers visit Airlie Beach to go on epic sailing trips, take scenic flights over the Great Barrier Reef, visit Hamilton Island, or see Hill Inlet Lookout and Whitehaven Beach. It's one of the top places to visit while touring Australia's East Coast!
Though these tours are the highlights of Airlie Beach, there are plenty of fun, free things to do here as well! Plus, budget travellers may be looking to save money after indulging in some of these fantastic tours. So if you've got some downtime before or after your exciting Whitsunday adventures, try these free activities in Airlie Beach!
From beach-hopping, to hiking in the wilderness, to exploring rural towns, here are 10 free things to do in Airlie Beach! Many of these activities are accessible right from downtown and you don't need a car. But if you do have a car or campervan rental, you can explore even further around Airlie Beach. Either way, it's super easy to explore the vibrant tourist town of Airlie Beach on a budget. There are plenty of backpacker hostels, cheap eats, and tour deals for those looking to save money in the Whitsundays as well!
The Airlie Beach Lagoon is the beating heart of downtown Airlie. This massive public swimming pool provides people of all ages with the opportunity to escape the Queensland heat. With well-maintained facilities and views over the ocean, you can swim, sunbathe, have a picnic, hang with friends, or relax solo. There are public toilets, picnic tables, BBQ facilities, grassy areas, and sandy areas to enjoy.
Whether you want to find a panoramic lookout, get a workout, or immerse yourself in nature, hiking is one of the best free things to do in Airlie Beach. Surrounded by the lush, dense forests of Conway National Park, you can find leisurely walks and challenging treks within a short distance of downtown Airlie.
The Honeyeater Lookout Trail is a local favourite that you can walk to from the town centre. This steep forest trail is 7.5km round-trip and offers gorgeous views from the top. Those looking for a more tranquil experience can walk the 850-metre Airlie Creek Track, also within walking distance of downtown. If you have a car, the 5.1km Mount Rooper Circuit or the 3.7km Coral Beach Walk near Shute Harbour are also great options!
A great way to cool down on a hot summer day in Airlie Beach is visiting Cedar Creek Falls. This pristine little waterfall is tucked away in the forest and makes an excellent day trip from town. Though you do need a car to get here, it's free to access the falls. Swim in the natural swimming pool, have a picnic, relax in the shade, and soak in the serenity of nature!
Though Airlie Beach is quite small, the main street of the town centre is packed with shops, cafes, and attractions. Strolling through the town and window-shopping is a great way to pass the time without spending any money! You can find art galleries, boutique clothing shops, and classic souvenir shops. If you do feel like spending a bit of money, treat yourself to a meal at one of Airlie's best restaurants!
Airlie Beach is surrounded by some excellent beaches where you can swim, sunbathe, and listen to the calm sounds of the ocean. Boathaven Beach is the easiest local beach to access. You can walk here from downtown, and there is even a stinger net so you can swim in the ocean during the stinger season (November - May). Cannonvale Beach is another option nearby that you can walk or bike to.
If you do have a car and want to venture further across the mainland, Dingo Beach, Coral Beach, and Hydeaway Bay are other local favourites. Wherever you decide to go for your beach day, pack plenty of sunscreen, a hat, and sunglasses as the sun is strong up in Australia's Tropical North! Also, pack plenty of water and snacks because some of these beaches are quite remote and don't have many facilities nearby.
The Airlie Beach Markets are a vital part of the local culture! Every Saturday from 7 a.m. to 1 p.m., the Airlie Beach Foreshore fills with local vendors as they sell their unique goods. From handmade clothes, jewellery, candles, and other handicrafts, to books, snacks, smoothies, and more, you'll never run out of things to look at or people to chat with. There is often live music as well!
Another one of the best free things to do in Airlie Beach is meander along the Bicentennial Walkway. Stretching for about 4kms along the waterfront, the Bicentennial Walkway is the perfect path for sightseeing, running, walking, cycling, or catching up with friends. Admire the turquoise sea and colourful flowers as you stroll along the wooden boardwalk. You'll also pass some excellent cafes at the Coral Sea Marina if you need to grab a smoothie or a wrap to refuel!
Australia is full of bucket list items! In Airlie Beach, a bucket list must-do is taking a photo at the "Welcome To Airlie Beach" sign. You'll see this massive sign as you enter the town, and it's worth walking up to it for a photo. Though this might not be the most impressive Instagram location in Australia, it's still a beloved part of Airlie Beach. And, it's free!
Bowen is one of the many charming rural towns in Queensland! Located about an hour north of Airlie Beach, Bowen is a fantastic place for a day trip. This quaint town has rustic, historic architecture, magnificent beaches, impressive lookouts, and adorable places to eat. It's also home to the Big Mango, which makes for another unique photo spot!
No matter where you travel in Australia, watching the sunrise or sunset over the ocean is always a good idea. With its warm, tropical climate and mountainous terrain, Airlie Beach is a beautiful spot to watch the sunrise or sunset! If you have a car and feel like getting up early, you can even drive down to Cape Hillsborough to watch kangaroos frolic on the beach at sunrise!