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Things To Do In Airlie Beach With A Car

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Gabby Boucher
Updated Wed 11 Oct 2023

Though a car isn't essential for getting around Airlie Beach, there are plenty of fun things to do in Airlie Beach with a car! As the Gateway to the Whitsunday Islands, most travellers visit Airlie Beach to explore the offshore islands, reefs, and beaches. Getting out on the water should be your main priority, and most boat tours offer courtesy pickup so you don't need a car in Airlie Beach.

But if you do have a car or you're interested in renting one, there are some amazing places to explore on the mainland outside the town centre. Here are the top things to do in Airlie Beach with a car!

girl standing near a car surrounded by green fields

Do You Need A Car Around Airlie Beach?

You don't need a car around Airlie Beach, but having one does help you explore further outside the town centre. In downtown Airlie Beach, all the main shops, tourism offices, restaurants, cafes, and accommodations are within walking distance of the main street. You can also book public transport options such as the Airlie Hopper to visit other nearby attractions. So a car is not essential for getting around Airlie. 

However, having a car gives you access to more off-the-beaten-path locations on the mainland. The area around Airlie Beach is quite rural, so you'll need a car to get to some more remote towns, beaches, and national parks. So if you have some spare time to explore, rent a car while you're in Airlie Beach and go on some day trips!

couple overlooking a beautiful beach in Bowen

Is There Free Parking In Airlie Beach? 

There is plenty of free parking in Airlie Beach! If you've booked accommodation during your stay, parking will most likely be provided to you. There is also timed street parking and a number of free car parks scattered around time. Check out our guide to parking in the Whitsundays for a detailed breakdown of all the best parking options in the area. 

9 Fun Things To Do In Airlie Beach With A Car

Here are our favorite things to do in Airlie Beach with a car! From day trips to regional towns, to waterfall swims, to wildlife parks, and more, this part of Queensland is packed with things to see and do. 

couple leaning out of a car near palm trees

Visit Bowen

Bowen is a quaint coastal town located just north of Airlie Beach. Home to the famous "Big Mango", Bowen has a charming town center full of cafes and eateries. The area also has gorgeous beaches where you won't find many other tourists! Spend the day strolling around, swimming, snorkelling, and getting a taste of regional Queensland. 

couple posing in front of an old theatre in bowen

Explore Proserpine

If you're flying into Airlie Beach, you'll most likely begin your journey at Proserpine Airport, also known as Whitsunday Coast Airport. But if you have a car, head back out here for a day of exploring the town! Grab a fresh brew from Whitsunday Gold Coffee, learn about the area's history at the Proserpine Museum, or look for crocs on the Proserpine River. 

Whitsunday Gold Coffee sign

Watch The Sunrise With Kangaroos

Cape Hillsborough is a stunning part of Queensland with its own national park and wildlife. It's just about an hour south of Airlie Beach! The best way to spend a day here is to get up early and head to the local beach for sunrise. Kangaroos are almost always hopping around as the day begins, so you can get some amazing photos of these adorable marsupials. You can also book this as a tour if you don't want to drive. 

man on the beach with a kangaroo at sunrise

Check Out Dingo Beach

If you're looking for a beach day that's more off-the-beaten-path, Dingo Beach is a must visit! Drive about 45 minutes north of Airlie Beach to this hidden gem and get ready for a gorgeous day out in the sunshine. With soft golden sand, a stinger net to protect you from jellyfish, and calm sapphire waters, Dingo Beach is the ultimate day trip spot. 

aerial view of Dingo Beach with stinger net

Cuddle Australian Animals at Bredl's Wild Farm

Every traveller to Australia dreams of cuddling a koala or patting a kangaroo. Bredl's Wild Farm near Airlie Beach is the place to make your dreams come true! This family-owned farm is settled on 175 acres of natural Australian bush and is home to countless fascinating species. Interact with iconic Aussie creatures and learn about the wildlife from the experienced staff!

girl patting a kangaroo at Bredls Wild Farm

Explore Hydeaway Bay

Not far from Dingo Beach lies Hydeaway Bay, another non-touristy beach destination near Airlie Beach. The small town of Hydeaway Bay showcases rural Queensland at its finest, and the local beach is absolutely breathtaking. Bring some friends, some music, and some snacks so you can enjoy a glorious day trip from Airlie Beach!

aerial view of hydeaway bay beach in queensland

Hike In Shute Harbour

Right next to downtown Airlie lies Shute Harbour, an area that is mostly associated with its marina. Tours and ferries depart Shute Harbour for the Whitsunday Islands every day, but there is more to do here without leaving land! The forests of Conway National Park stretch into Shute Harbour, offering some excellent bushwalks and hikes including the Coral Beach Walk and the Mount Rooper Loop Track. Enjoy panoramic views of the ocean and offshore islands, and remember to pack plenty of water!

couple standing in the forest overlooking islands

Swim In Cedar Creek Falls

Another one of the best things to do in Airlie Beach with a car is to visit Cedar Creek Falls. This scenic local waterfall is the perfect place to go for a freshwater swim and escape the heat of Australia's Tropical North. There are a few guided tours that can bring you here on a day trip from Airlie Beach as well if you don't have a car. 

girl standing next to Cedar Creek Falls

Spend The Day In Cape Gloucester

Last but not least on our list of the best things to do in Airlie Beach with a car is visit Cape Gloucester. Located just about an hour north of Airlie, this coastal locality has some lovely attractions to entertain visitors. From beautiful beaches and walks to the pool, bar, and live music at the Cape Gloucester Resort, it's well worth a drive up here! If you want to have a few cocktails and not worry about driving, you can also book this as a tour

entrance to Cape Gloucester Eco Resort

If you have any questions about car hire or parking in Airlie Beach, chat with our local travel experts and we'll help you plan your trip!

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