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Things To Do In Airlie Beach Without A Car

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Lily Kerley
Updated Thu 24 Aug 2023

A group of friends in the Whitsunday ISlands swimming

With the array of airports, pathways, buses, coaches and taxis around town, it’s super common for visitors to come to the walkable Whitsundays and not rent a car.

Just because you don’t have your own wheels, doesn’t mean you can’t see the wonders of Airlie Beach! From coastal walks, beaches, lunches on the foreshore, cycle routes and evenings on the town, you don’t have to venture out of the heart of Airlie Beach to lap up that luxe tropical vibe! But first thing first, where should you stay in the Whitsundays to optimise your trip without a car?

Where should I stay in Airlie Beach without a car?

If you are planning on visiting Airlie Beach without a car, it is ideal to get a hotel, hostel or Airbnb closer to the centre of the town, as that’s where the majority of public transport, shops, restaurants, cafes, beaches and the Airlie Beach Lagoon are. Neighbouring suburbs like Cannonvale and Jubilee Pocket are doable with a bike (or a can-do on-foot attitude), but a little further than most are probably willing to walk daily.

The centre of Airlie Beach strip

Things to do in Airlie Beach without a car

1. Swim in the Airlie Beach Lagoon

Located smack-bang in the middle of town, you don’t have to venture far to cool off in the Airlie Beach Lagoon. And it’s totally free, so lay down your towel on the sand and enjoy this oceanfront, stinger-free swimming spot! Perfect for families, backpackers and everybody in between, the hours will float by.

A sunny image of Airlie Beach Lagoon

2. Sunbake at Boathaven Beach

Another free and stunning gem of the Whitsunday mainland in Airlie Beach is Boathaven Beach, tucked just around the headland passed the Whitsunday Sailing Club. With stinger nets, ample sandy stretches and peace and quiet amongst the fringing trees, it’s a great way to escape the bustle of the city for a suntan and swim session!

A blue water Boathaven Beach with a stinger net and white sand

3. Walk along the Airlie Beach esplanade to Cannonvale

An easy and scenic way to see the best of the mainland, embark on the Bicentennial walk from the Airlie Beach foreshore, along the bars, lagoon and eventually to the boardwalk. This boardwalk will take you past the Coral Sea Resort, by the chic Coral Sea Marina, through shady park pathways eventually to the charming bays of Cannonvale. All up, this walk is about 4km and takes about 45 minutes.

A woman in a bathing suit walking through a bardwalked forest

4. Head out to the Whitsunday Islands

No car, no worries! There’s an array of island trips that mostly depart from the Coral Sea Marina: an easy walk or shuttle ride from the heart of Airlie Beach. Whether you’re an avid diver, keen snorkeller, lover of catamaran cocktails, sailing enthusiast or nature lover, getting out to the Whitsunday Islands is an absolute must-do while you’re in town. Stroll down the sands of the famous Whitehaven Beach, catch a brilliant view at Hill Inlet Lookout, swim with turtles, spot whales and enjoy fresh food and excellent company aboard your vessel! 

A group of people on a white catamaran in the Whitsunday Islands

5. Hike to Honeyeater Lookout

A challenging yet rewarding adventure along the outskirts of town, this is a great one for keen hikers! The Honeyeater Lookout trail takes you through the bush and to a stunning panoramic lookout of Airlie Beach, the Coral Sea and the Whitsunday Islands! A steep-in-parts 8km return hike, we recommend doing this one earlier in the morning during the summer months to beat the heat and crowds.

A woman looking out at the Coral Sea in hiking gear

6. Go shopping in the Airlie Beach centre

Boutiques, bookstores, clothing stores, homeware nooks and souvenir shops line the streets of Airlie Beach. Whether you’re looking for some resort wear, a new swimsuit, a souvenir to send home or a new holiday read, Shute Harbour Road and Main Street will have you covered with ample shop options!

A woman looking through a rack on clothes on the foreshore

7. Walk the Airlie Creek Track

A total hidden gem just a stone’s throw from Main Street in Airlie Beach, you can access this easy path from Waterson Way. The Airlie Beach Track is just a 1.7km return walk, laden with tropical plants, wallabies and a massive fig tree. A lush, green getaway so close to the heart of Airlie, it’s perfect for those craving a secluded walk without needing to drive! 

Two women walking through the bush

8. Fly over the Great Barrier Reef

There are an array of scenic flights that include complimentary transfers from a lot of hostels, hotels and pick-up points in Airlie Beach. So, book your adventure about the clouds and experience the Great Barrier Reef like never before. Seriously, these flights are such an underrated, stunning way to see the Whitsunday Islands… and the transport is sorted!

GSL seaplane overview of a small island with forest, sand and bright blue water

9. Grab a seafood lunch at Northerlies

Hop on the courtesy shuttle bus from designated Airlie Beach pick-up spots to Northerlies Beach Bar & Grill! Get out of Airlie, and sit on the beautiful white sands of this bar, bespoke cocktail in hand. Treat yourself to a locally sourced seafood platter, and live it up with chill acoustic live music lining your afternoon. This is the perfect place on the mainland to snap your beach-babe Instagram piccies! 

A seafood platter at Northerlies

10. Watch the sunset with a cocktail on Airlie Beach foreshore

Stroll along the sea-kissed foreshore and take your pick from an impressive selection of Airlie Beach bars to watch the sun go down. Our favourites for sunset drinks are Paradiso, Mika’s, Garden Bar Bistro and Anchor Bar! Check out where to get the best cocktails in Airlie Beach to ensure you and the girlies are sipping in style!

Two cocktails at sunset

11. Skydive over the Whitsunday Islands

Another (slightly more daring) experience with complimentary shuttle transport, book into a skydive for a seriously bucket-list adventure! The Airlie Beach skydive is renowned as one of the best in Australia due to the stunning views of the Great Barrier Reef and rolling islands that greet your descent. Live life like it’s for the living with this adrenaline-inducing morning… You won’t ever forget your trip to the Whitsundays! 

A woman smiling and skydiving over the Whitsunday Islands

12. Do a day tour of Cedar Creek Falls

Want to venture to the cascades of Cedar Creek Falls but don’t have a car? There is an array of locally run operators that take a small shuttle of visitors out to the cool pools of this nearby hidden gem. All transport is included in Cedar Creek tours, so you can leave and return from your Airlie Beach base easily. Float the days away, stand under the refreshing waterfall and enjoy the magic of the North Queensland bushlife!

Cedar Creek Falls landscape

Do I need a car in Airlie Beach?

You don’t need a car in Airlie Beach if you plan on staying relatively close to the centre of town. Many people come to Airlie for 4 days, spending at least 2 days and nights of those out at sea on an overnight tour of the Whitsundays. If this is what you’re next holiday looks like, you really don’t need a car considering it will probably lay ideally parked until you return from your sail! However, if you’re planning to explore the regional gems of the area like Bowen, Proserpine and Cape Gloucester, a car might come in handy. 

A woman in the drivers seat of a car 

How to get around Airlie Beach without a car?

There are ample options for travellers without cars in Airlie Beach, like public buses, free shuttle buses, cycling paths, tuk-tuks and taxis. Check out our complete guide to getting around Airlie Beach for more information!

Getting from Proserpine Airport without a car

The cheapest way to get from the Proserpine Airport to Airlie Beach is via shuttle bus, which takes about 40 minutes and costs roughly $20. You can also take a taxi, which will be more costly, although a bit faster and private. Check out the local shuttle and taxi services, along with more information on the airport journey with our guide on getting from the Whitsunday Airport to Airlie Beach.

Whitsunday shuttle bus

Ready to start your holiday in the Whitsundays in style? The passenger seat is the perfect place to be!

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