Coral Beach Walk, Airlie Beach
The Coral Beach Walk is a relatively short and unchallenging 3.9km bushwalk near Shute Harbour in Queensland that winds through the dense rainforest of the Conway National Park, with frequent glimpses of the spectacular Whitsunday Islands at various viewpoints along the way!
Once arriving at Coral Beach, a short walk along the beach will take you to the start of an additional walking track, known as the Beak, where you’ll get panoramic views of the Whitsunday Passage and the islands beyond!
Whether doing a tour or taking it on solo, the Coral Beach Walk is an absolute must when visiting Airlie Beach!
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How do I get to the Coral Beach Walk?
The Coral Beach Walk car park is located in Shute Harbour, which is just a 15 minute drive down Shute Harbour Road from the main street of Airlie Beach.
If you don’t have access to a car, then there are buses that run every hour between Airlie Beach and Shute Harbour from 6am until 6pm, or alternatively most taxi drivers in the town will know exactly where to go when asking for the Coral Beach Walk.
There’s also a local tour company called Nunkeri Cultural Adventures who offer a guided bushwalk tour; the whole way giving you fascinating insight into the geography of the local area, the Indigenous history of the area and also highly informative narration of the extremely diverse flora and fauna you will encounter on the way.
How challenging is the Coral Beach Walk?
The Coral Beach walk is a relatively easy walk as it’s fairly flat with not too much elevation. From the carpark to the beach, the trail dips and rises as you meander through the dense rainforest. The walk from the beach to the Beak summit is slightly steeper, but still accessible for even the least experienced of hikers.
The main challenges that you could face depend entirely on the time of year in which you choose to go. The hotter and wetter months (December - March) could be considered the most challenging due to excess heat and intense sunshine, in addition to the terrain becoming slippery due to the rain. You’ll find the drier and cooler months (May - October) to be the least challenging!
How should I prepare for the Coral Beach Walk?
Just like with any hike in North Queensland, regardless of the time of year, make sure to bring with you plenty of drinking water (as there is no access to any drinking water on the Coral Beach Walk) and sunscreen. It’s definitely worth bringing some snacks for the journey too, as Coral Beach itself is a lovely spot to chill out at for a couple of hours.
In terms of clothing, it’s worth wearing cool, comfortable and breathable clothing as you will likely get sweaty in the Queensland sun. Closed footwear is recommended as the track can be rough at certain points, though the Coral Beach Walk is easily traversable in thongs/sandals.
Can I swim at Coral Beach?
In short, no- you cannot swim at Coral Beach.
That’s not to say you can’t physically get into the water there, but it’s certainly highly unadvisable! From November through until April, the warmer sea temperatures mean that it's stinger season in North Queensland, and there is always a risk of being stung (although extremely unlikely). Due to the fairly remote location of Coral Beach, it’s most certainly not an ideal place to get caught out by an accidental interaction with an Irukandji.
In addition to jellyfish, there have also been estuarine saltwater crocodiles (the largest and most dangerous crocodile species in the world) sightings in the area, thanks in part due to its proximity to Conway Estuary and the Proserpine River (considered to have the highest population density of saltwater crocodile anywhere along the Australian East Coast)! Although it's extremely unlikely you will see one of these prehistoric predators up close at Coral Beach, it’s certainly not worth running the risk.
What wildlife might I expect to see on the Coral Beach Walk?
With the Coral Beach Walk being surrounded by lush rainforest canopies of the expansive Conway National Park, you’re almost guaranteed to see some wonderfully diverse wildlife during your hike.
On the ground, there’s a chance you’ll see lace monitor lizards, skinks, echidnas, wild pigs and even the chance to see the locally native Proserpine Wallaby! The Whitsunday region is also home to many types of snakes, including tree snakes, red belly blacks, Eastern Browns, many species of whipsnakes and pythons; all of which can be seen in the Conway National Park!
If you look up, you’ll likely see many different species of butterflies as well as many species of the birds that Australia is famous for- such as kookaburras, rainbow lorikeet, both sulphur-crested and red-tailed black cockatoos- as well as the white bellied sea eagle!
To see such an array of impressive (and potentially dangerous) wildlife in their natural habitats is amazing, and it can’t be stressed enough the necessity to only observe and admire any animal from a distance. It’s easy for the untrained eye to mis-identify particular species, and in doing so can unnecessarily put both yourself and the animal in harm's way.
Can't get enough of the trail? Check out our extensive guide to Whitsunday hikes here, with plenty of local tips and knowledge of the area.
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