Introducing Airlie Beach
Like olives, oysters and Vegemite, Airlie Beach is a love-or-hate affair. A good-time town of the highest order, the mainland gateway to the Whitsundays is loud, brash and busy, a total contrast to the tranquil ocean glittering just metres offshore. Despite a backdrop of jungle-clad hills and Airlie’s proximity to obvious natural wonders, those in search of serenity will find it only once anchors are aweigh; those after wildlife need look no further than the frenzied backpacker bars lining the recently renovated main drag. That said, the town does offer some respite from the party pace in the form of a lovely swimming lagoon and the amble-worthy landscaped foreshore.
Abel Point Marina, where the Cruise Whitsundays ferries depart from and where many of the cruising yachts are moored, is about 1km west along a pleasant boardwalk, while many other vessels leave from Shute Harbour (about 12km east); most cruise companies run courtesy buses into town.