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48 Hours in Airlie Beach

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Talia Jones
Updated Fri 03 Mar 2023

A bad with Airlie Beach written on it sitting on the sand

If you’re planning on spending 48 hours in Airlie Beach, we definitely recommend you do it over a weekend. Although the town is basically alive 24/7, a weekend in Airlie Beach is where most of the fun is at. From sipping cocktails at the swim-up bar on Hamilton Island to exploring the famous Whitehaven Beach, there is plenty you can do to make the most of your time in Airlie Beach with only 48 hours to spare!

Although you can do a lot of these activities any day of the week, we have hand-picked our favourite weekend activities because we are firm believers that you’ll have the most fun in the Whitsundays over a weekend. So grab your partner, your friends, family or hey - even your grandma and book your weekend getaway to Airlie Beach right now

Airlie Beach Markets

People walking through market stalls

Every Saturday morning, the Lions Club host the Whitsunday Community Markets on the foreshore of Airlie Beach. Locals from across the region set up their own unique stalls that showcase what Airlie has to offer. From locally made art, fresh produce, souvenirs, crafts, handmade goodies, jewellery, clothing and more, there is something for everyone. The markets are open from 7am so wake up early, grab a coffee from one of the coffee vans and take a leisurely stroll through the stalls. You never know what goodies you might come across! 

Spend a day on Hamilton Island 

A blue pool surrounded by palm trees

Once you’ve had your market fix, head to Port of Airlie where you can board a ferry to the luxurious Hamilton Island. Did you know you don’t even need to be a hotel guest to visit the island? You can pop over for the day and take advantage of the 5-star facilities. Relax by the beach, hire a paddle board, snorkel around the reef, have poolside cocktails from the swim-up bar, visit the Wildlife Park, dine in the world-class restaurants and shop ‘til you drop! 

If you spent the morning at the markets, the best ferry to board is the 10:30am ferry. We can reassure you that 4-5 hours is plenty of time to explore Hamilton Island. Jump on the 3:40pm ferry which will take you back to Airlie which will allow for ample time to make the most of your evening! See the Ferry Timetables for more information on what other times the ferries run. 

Have a sunset drink at the Yacht Club

A girl sipping on a pink cocktail

Buzzing from your fun-filled day on Hamilton Island, start your Saturday evening right by sipping sunset cocktails on the deck of the Whitsunday Sailing Club. Soak in that golden hour glow and admire the final rays of sunshine before the sun sets behind the mountains and evening arrives. If you’re lucky enough, you might land on a Balearica Beach Club pop-up event weekend. The event is held out the back of the Sailing Club and is the perfect spot to go if you like low-key DJ beats, cocktails and socialising. They also offer little nibbles that can tide you over until dinner time. You can check out their website to see when the next event will be on and you can book tickets through the website too. 

Enjoy dinner at Mika's Latin Bar and Restaurant

A selection of Mexican foods including tacos and magaritas

Time to curb that hunger and head to dinner! Mika’s Latin BBQ Restaurant and Bar in the heart of Airlie Beach is the perfect place to dine. With ocean views and delicious food prepared fresh, you can’t go wrong. The staff are lovely and the atmosphere will make you feel as though you truly are somewhere in South America. We recommend the pork tacos, halloumi sticks, nachos with roast pumpkin and the wings of course! Plus in addition to the mouth-watering selection of food on the menu, the bartenders specialise in unique to-die-for cocktails. Go all out with a jug of Sangria or request one of their homemade mixers! 

Hit up Mama Africa’s Bar and Nightclub  

A group of friends hugging on a nightclub dance floor
Photo: Mama Africa

We know you’ve had a busy day but it’s not time for bed just yet. Muster up the energy and head to Mama Africa Bar and Nightclub for a boogie! With local DJ’s playing music from pop to hip-hop to deep house music, you can be sure to dance the night away! For free VIP tickets, visit our Sailing Whitsundays travel shop (located next to Mika’s) and enquire. Please note that the shop is only open 9am to 5pm daily. To avoid missing out, ensure you pop by first thing in the morning.  

Head out for a bush walk 

A blonde female in active wear walking through the

If you didn’t go too hard on the vodka redbull’s at Mama Africa’s last night, then start your Sunday bright and early with a bush walk! There is nothing better than getting outside first thing in the morning and feeling in touch with nature. If you’re feeling pumped, try out one of the more challenging hikes whether it be Mount Rooper (4.5km return) or Honeyeater (8km return) which wind you through the bush, up mountains. The views are absolutely worth the challenge - trust us! Alternatively if your head is a little sore, try and knock that hangover with a short walk along Airlie Creek (2km return). Visit the big tree (you’ll know what we’re talking about when you see it) and soak in the tropical flora and fauna. 

Explore the islands and visit famous Whitehaven Beach 

Two girls wearing snorkels and flippers sitting in the sand

After your walk (whichever one you decided on), spend a day exploring the Whitsunday Islands on board speedy catamaran, Bullet. Bullet is a day tour that will combine your sense of adventure with incredible sight-seeing. Visit the world-famous Whitehaven Beach and Hill Inlet Lookout. Be blown away by the picture-perfect views of the swirling silica sands and the turquoise waters.

After soaking in the scenery, head to a fringing coral reef and come face-to-face with the tropical marine life. Search for turtles, giant clams and even reef sharks! Bullet also carries stand-up paddle boards if you’re up for an exhilarating glide above the water. Lunch is included on board Bullet which is scrumptious and suitable to all diets (upon request). Bullet departs Airlie at 8:30am and returns at 4:30pm. For more information on Bullet, check out the product page

Check out Northerlies Beach Bar & Grill 

A couple holding up cocktails in front of the ocean

I bet you’re exhausted after your jam-packed weekend! But hang in there for this one. Northerlies is located 10km north of Airlie Beach and is a relaxed bar, restaurant and grill. The venue is located right on the beach and is surrounded by palm trees that will make you feel as though you’re on an island. What better way to wind down on a Sunday evening than to visit a resort-style beach bar that will truly top off your tropical weekend getaway.

Choose from the grill house, which has pizzas, wings, meats and more or the restaurant which has more of your typical Australian ‘pub’ style food. The best part is that Northerlies has their own courtesy bus which can take you to and from your accommodation - perfect if you want to try out their new cocktail menu. 

Home Time!

A woman looking up at a departure sign outside an airport

Monday morning is home time! Depending on what time you’re flying, driving, ferry-ing, boating or walking (hey - you might be super fit!), squeeze in a morning coffee. Try out Le Shack, Sidewalk, Cafe One3, or Wisdom Cafe for a fresh brew from the main street as you depart the beautiful town of Airlie Beach. What an unforgettable trip you’ve had, filled with adventures and memories of a lifetime! We’ll see you next time!

For more information or tips on how to spend 48 hours in Airlie Beach, contact our friendly team by calling +61 74914 2425 or jump on our live chat!

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