Getting here and around – Whitsundays
Other than choosing which overnight sailing trip to go on, your travel arrangements are also a crucial part of your holiday to the Whitsundays.
Planning the logistics to Airlie Beach is not difficult but it is important to do some research to determine which airport is best to flight into/from and making sure you arrive well before your boat trip departure.
Alternatively, if you can spare some time travelling to the area, there are regular coaches and tilt-trains servicing the Whitsundays, or you can drive your own transport. Because it is some considerable distance from any major city, these options will take a number of days’ travel.
This is the quickest and most convenient way to travel to the Whitsundays with most flights taking just a few short hours. There are several airlines to choose from, depending on where you are departing from and they fly into both the Whitsunday Coast (Proserpine) Airport or Hamilton Island Airport. The nearest airport to Airlie Beach is the Whitsunday Coast Airport which is just a short drive away, while those who fly into Hamilton Island will require a ferry transfer to get to the Airlie Beach mainland. The airlines into these airports are Virgin Australia, Jetstar and Tiger Air.
Air services also fly to Mackay Airport, which is approximately 150 kilometres from Airlie Beach and will require a shuttle bus, which takes around 2 hours.
All vehicles are able to travel to Airlie Beach via the Bruce Highway which is the main highway connecting Cairns through to Brisbane. There is ample signage available along the highway or simply use Google Maps to get further directions. Please allow plenty of time before boarding your boat trip if you decide to drive to the Whitsundays as it is some considerable distance between Brisbane and Cairns.
Brisbane to Airlie Beach : 1146km, 13 - 15 hours
Cairns to Airlie Beach : 640km, 7 hours
Queensland Rail’s Spirit of Queensland and tilt trains run through Proserpine regularly and can often be a cheap travel option. Depending on the origin, the train may be an overnight service or longer. This can be booked through Queensland Rail directly.
Coaches remain a popular way to travel and with hop on/off passes, they are very affordable for those who are sticking to a budget. Coaches are also offer a great scenic drive through Queensland, where passengers can see the towns, sights and landscapes which you don’t want to miss. Coaches arrive in Airlie Beach and Proserpine regularly and there are a number of different companies tho choose from including Greyhound Australia, Premier Transport Group and Oz Experience.
While in Airlie Beach
The local bus company called Whitsunday Transit is an affordable way to get around locally. There are numerous bus stops scattered throughout the main street and surroundings and buses also service the Whitsunday Coast Airport, Proserpine and meet the local ferry service.
There is one company which runs regular ferry services from the islands to Airlie Beach. Cruise Whitsundays transfers must be booked directly and run to meet all Hamilton Island flights and day trips. Ferries depart from the Port of Airlie Maritime Terminal and visit Hamilton Island and Daydream Island.
There are many car hire options in Airlie Beach plus scooters, bicycles and four-wheel drive vehicles. The best option is to pick and choose for the best rate while in town.
Taxis are a convenient, personalised and a quick way to get around Airlie Beach. Though most things are in walking distance, some things such as the airport are not. Also, some people prefer to catch a ride rather than walk in the tropical heat! Taxis are available 24 hours a day and there is a taxi rank located in the centre of the main street.