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Is Airlie Beach Walkable?

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Gabby Boucher
Updated Fri 08 Dec 2023

The town center of Airlie Beach is walkable! If you plan to explore outside of downtown, day tours, taxis, buses, and car or campervan hire is the best way to get around. Many travellers visiting Airlie Beach are unsure if they need to hire a car for their stay, and it really depends on what you plan to do. 

If you'll be spending most of your time on the water, you don't need a car. Downtown Airlie Beach can easily be explored on foot, and most boat tours offer pick-ups from hotels in town. But if you're staying for a while and you want to venture to further towns and attractions outside of Airlie Beach, a car may be handy. Or you can book tours and public transport!

We're going to cover how to explore Airlie Beach on foot and also how to the attractions further from town. 

girl overlooking the water and town of Airlie Beach


Is Airlie Beach Walkable? A Guide To Getting Around Airlie Beach

Airlie Beach is a very walkable town in Tropical North Queensland. You can explore most of the town center on foot, and you can even walk to the marinas where most boat tours to the Whitsundays depart from. That being said, Airlie Beach does have a lot of steep hills, and we understand that some travellers aren't a fan of walking everywhere. 

Here are some tips for getting around Airlie Beach and the surrounding area. Whether you want to hire a car, take public transport, book tours, or traverse all of Airlie Beach on foot, this guide should help you plan your stay in Airlie Beach

footpath sign near a waterfront walkway


Exploring downtown Airlie Beach on foot

Can you get around Airlie Beach without a car? Absolutely! If you just plan to hang around the town center of Airlie Beach, you don't need a car. There is one main street that contains most of the bars, restaurants, shops, travel centres, and facilities. Whether you're bar-hopping at night, grabbing a quick bite, or doing some retail therapy, you can get to most of Airlie's attractions on foot in the town center. 

downtown Airlie Beach with cars and pedestrians


Public Transport in Airlie Beach

Though Airlie Beach is a very walkable town, there may be instances when you need to catch a ride. Maybe you're tired after a night out or you've had a long day out on the water and you just want to kick your feet up at the hotel. Or maybe you feel like going on a day trip on the mainland, either to an epic hiking trail or to a nearby rural town. There is lots to do around Airlie Beach, and sometimes walking can only get you so far. Here are the best forms of public transport and tours to get around Airlie Beach and the surrounding area

couple at the top of a hiking trail overlooking whitsunday islands

Taxis

Taxis are readily available in downtown Airlie Beach. These are ideal for when you just want a quick ride, either after a night of dancing and drinking in town or after a day of exploring and fun. There is a taxi rank in the center of Airlie Beach where you can usually find an official taxi. Because taxis are a pricier form of transport, they are better for the small area of Airlie Beach rather than going on day trips. The town has some steep hills as well, so if you're staying somewhere up high such as Searene Apartments, a taxi is a quick and easy way to get home when you're tired. 

Taxis waiting by the curb in Airlie Beach

Bus

Public bus is another easy way to get around downtown Airlie Beach. Whitsunday Transit offers cheap bus rides between Proserpine and Shute Harbour. Buses are cheaper than taxis, but you do have to travel on the bus timetable versus getting an immediate ride in a taxi. It just depends on what your preferences are! Airlie Hopper is an amazing regional bus that runs a loop around the highlights of the area. You can hop on and hop off anytime throughout the day. This is a great way to get to nearby attractions like Cedar Creek Falls, Whitsunday Gold Coffee, and Conway National Park. 

girl sitting on a tree next to a lush rainforest waterfall

Day Tours

If you want to explore cool towns and natural landmarks outside Airlie Beach, there are lots of affordable day tours run by locals. These tours allow you to venture further out of town on the mainland and have a unique, hassle-free day in a local town, national park, of waterfall. Here are some of the top day tours that make it super easy to see more of the mainland around Airlie Beach:

couple posing in front of a beautiful beach in Bowen


Car or campervan rental in Airlie Beach

Another way to get around Airlie Beach is by renting a car or campervan. Because Airlie Beach is a walkable town, you don't need a car for exploring downtown Airlie itself. But having a car does allow you to have more freedom and go on day trips without taking public transport or a tour. You can rent a car in Airlie Beach if you're interested in having your own vehicle for your time in the Whitsundays. 

A campervan is another excellent way to get around Australia. If you decide to rent a campervan, you can slow-travel along the coast while sleeping in your van and saving money on accommodation! This is also a great way to spend more time in the rural towns of Australia and get to know the area including its lovely people and hidden gems. If you're combining Airlie Beach into a huge trip along the East Coast, consider doing the whole thing by campervan! You'll have freedom and flexibility like no other, plus you'll get to have unforgettable adventures on the road. 

girls posing next to a spaceships campervan


Getting to Coral Sea Marina or Port of Airlie

As you may know, most people visit Airlie Beach because it has easy access to the islands and reefs of the Whitsundays. So you may be wondering how to get to your boat tour's departure point without a car. Most tours in the Whitsundays depart from either Coral Sea Marina or Port of Airlie, and most tours offer complimentary shuttles from your accommodation to the marina. If you're unsure whether your tour offers transport, double-check with our staff or re-read the tour page on our website!

If your tour doesn't offer transport, you can also get to these departure points in other ways. Coral Sea Marina is a 15-minute walk from downtown Airlie Beach, so it's pretty easy to just walk there. It's a 20-minute walk from downtown to Port of Airlie. For both marinas, you can also catch a taxi or take the public bus. Ask our local travel experts for bus timetables or more info.

couple posing at hill inlet lookout in the whitsundays


Getting from the Whitsunday Coast Airport to Airlie Beach

A pre-booked airport shuttle is the easiest, most affordable, and fastest way to get to Airlie Beach when you fly in. Whitsunday Coast Airport, also known as Proserpine Airport, is about 30 minutes inland from the coastal town of Airlie Beach, so you'll need some form of transport to get into town. Heart of Reef Shuttles is a reputable local company that offers affordable transfers from the airport into downtown Airlie. They also offer private transfers which are perfect for groups or those who want a bit more privacy and luxury on their journey to Airlie Beach!

girl jumping in front of airlie beach sign in the whitsundays


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