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Non Touristy Things To Do In Airlie Beach

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Gabby Boucher
Updated Mon 27 Feb 2023

Commonly referred to as the "Gateway to the Whitsundays Islands", Airlie Beach is one of Australia’s most beloved tourist destinations. This charming little town is the perfect place to book tours to the Whitsunday Islands and the Great Barrier Reef. Travelers flock to Airlie Beach to jump on a Whitsunday sailing tour, visit the iconic Whitehaven Beach, snorkel in the Great Barrier Reef, or take a day trip to Hamilton Island

These famous tours in the Whitsundays are definitely worth the trip to Airlie Beach. But what if you’re looking for something a little more off-the-beaten path? Maybe you’ve finished all your Whitsunday tours and have some free time to explore the Airlie Beach area. Maybe you need a break from the crowds and the popular touristy spots. If you’re looking for some non touristy things to do in Airlie Beach, this is the article for you!

Whitehaven Beach

Non Touristy Things To Do In Airlie Beach

There are lots of non touristy things to do in Airlie Beach that most travelers don’t know about! Most people come to Airlie Beach to do the popular touristy things, and you should definitely make time for those! But once your schedule has cleared up, here are some non touristy things to do in Airlie Beach. From hitting the hiking trails to visiting secluded beaches, there are so many fun activities in this corner of Queensland where you’ll rarely encounter another tourist!

Hiking in the Whitsundays

Enjoy Cannonvale

Located just west of Airlie Beach, the town of Cannonvale represents the more local side of the area. You’ll drive through Cannonvale on your way to Airlie from Proserpine Airport, but few tourists actually hang out here. However, this bustling local town has lots of amazing restaurants and shops to check out. Cannonvale Beach is also one of the few beaches around Airlie that has a stinger net, so you can swim in the ocean safely year-round!

Cannonvale Beach

Get Up For Sunrise

Airlie Beach has a super fun nightlife, so most tourists are out partying at night and sleeping in on their free days. And the tourists that do wake up early are usually getting ready to depart for a tour to the Whitsundays! So if you want to enjoy Airlie Beach without the crowds, wake up early!

There are lots of great places to watch the sunrise in Airlie Beach. Head to the main beach or watch the sun come up from anywhere on the Bicentennial Walkway near the town center. Or go on a short excursion down to Shute Harbor, or simply drive up one of the many hills in town. Wherever you choose to go, sunrise is a peaceful and beautiful time of day in Airlie. 

Sunrise over the water

See The Kangaroos At Cape Hillsborough

Another one of the best non touristy things to do in Airlie Beach is take a trip down to Cape Hillsborough. Located about 1.5 hours south of town, Cape Hillsborough National Park is known for its pristine beaches, dense forests, and wildlife! Eastern grey kangaroos frequent the beaches here, and you have a great chance of spotting these adorable creatures hopping around during your visit. Try to visit at sunrise when the kangaroos are most active!

Kangaroos at Sunrise

Hike To The Honeyeater Lookout

Anyone looking for a good workout or some quality time with nature will love the Honeyeater Lookout! This scenic hilltop lookout is within walking distance from downtown Airlie Beach, so all you need to bring is good walking shoes, lots of water, and a camera! The hike takes about 2 hours round trip. It’s steep but rewarding! The top of the hike overlooks all of Airlie Beach, and even though it’s a gorgeous view, it never gets too crowded. 

Honeyeater Lookout

Visit Bowen

About an hour north of Airlie Beach lies Bowen, a charming coastal town full of tropical beaches and quaint local businesses. Bowen sees far fewer tourists than Airlie. You may see the occasional road trippers on their way north towards Cairns, but other than that, Bowen has an authentic local atmosphere

While exploring Bowen, make sure you go for a dip in Horseshoe Bay. This calm beach with granite boulders, soft sand, and turquoise water is one of the most gorgeous spots in the area. Grab some fish and chips at a local eatery and take a photo with the iconic landmark, the Big Mango. If you don’t have a car, you can book a guided tour with a local and explore Bowen in a small group!

Bowen Big Mango

Grab A Brew At Whitsunday Gold Coffee

Coffee lovers have to include this spot on their Airlie Beach bucket list! If you drive inland from Airlie Beach for about 20 minutes, you’ll reach one of Australia’s largest coffee plantations. Whitsunday Gold Coffee is a local favorite, and the few tourists who have visited here rave about the quality of the coffee. Tour the plantation, order your favorite coffee, and admire the rural farmland near Proserpine

Whitsunday Gold Coffee

Venture To Hideaway Bay

Just 45 minutes away from Airlie Beach lies Hideaway Bay. This stunning spot is like a local secret, as not many tourists venture out to this secluded area. Hideaway Bay Beach is the perfect place to stroll or sunbathe on the soft, golden sand. Dingo Beach is also in the area, which offers more swimming and sunbathing opportunities away from the tourists. If you’re a beach lover, visiting Hideaway Bay is one of the best non touristy things to do in Airlie Beach!

Hideaway Bay

Explore Conway National Park

Right on the outskirts of Airlie Beach is the lush area of natural beauty known as Conway National Park. Exploring the wilderness here is one of the best non touristy things to do in Airlie Beach! You may run into a few tourists here and there, but you’ll find this national park to be relatively uncrowded and peaceful. 

With a range of hikes to suit all fitness levels and multiple scenic lookout spots, you’ll be able to immerse yourself in nature and escape the crowds. Mount Rooper is a popular hike, or you can book a guided segway tour to cover more ground while exploring the park!

Mount Rooper

Go Fishing

Fishing is a popular local pastime in Airlie Beach! Because the town is surrounded by the wildlife-rich waters of the Coral Sea, there is some incredible fishing to be done here. The best fishing locations are all spread out across the area, so even if other tourists are out fishing, the chances of everyone being at the same spot are slim. 

Joining a local fishing tour is the best way to try fishing in Airlie Beach. If you’re a traveler, chances are you don’t have your own fishing gear or transport. A guided tour will cover all of that for you, and take you to the best fishing locations with a knowledgeable local guide. If you do have your own gear and you’d rather not book a tour, chat to a few locals in town to see what their favorite fishing locations are!


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