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Airlie Beach is a thriving coastal town in Queensland. Often referred to as the gateway to the Whitsundays, this tropical playground makes it impossible for visitors to be short of things to do in Airlie Beach, especially with kids.
With a mix of free activities, experiences to get the adrenaline going or relaxing tours to inform, families will be able to customise their Airlie Beach vacation experiences to suit their interests.
Airlie Beach is a perfect stop along your Northern Queensland road trip or as a destination to visit all on its own.
- Local tip on where to stay as a family
- Local tip on where to eat as a family
- The Best Things to do in Airlie Beach with Kids
- Charter a yacht around the Whitsunday Islands
- Experience the world-famous Whitehaven Beach
- Visit Shute Harbour and throw a line in
- Spend a day or two at the Airlie Beach Lagoon
- Take a day trip to the Great Barrier Reef
- Spend some time on an island resort
- Hike through tropical Rainforest
- Go on a Crocodile Safari
- Join a Segway Tour
- Take your pick from the many playgrounds
- Get the adrenaline going on a Jetski Tours
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In this article, we have put together the best things to do in Airlie Beach as a family and some of the best tours we recommend to anyone visiting with kids.
But first, we wanted to let you in on a couple of local travel tips.
Local Tip: Where To Stay In Airlie Beach With Kids
As any parent knows, the key to an enjoyable holiday is entertaining the kids so the adults get to relax.
And it just so happens that Airlie Beach is home to one of the best holiday parks in Australia – Big 4 Adventure Whitsunday Resort.
This action-packed “resort for kids” is complete with an enormous waterslide park, heated pool, toddlers’ water play zone, petting zoo, mini-golf, movie nights, café and kids club. Your kids will be in heaven and so will you!
Local Tip: Where To Eat In Airlie Beach
Our favourite place to take the kids for a meal is Northerlies. Located just out of Airlie, but with a free shuttle bus running from town, Northerlies is all about great food, entertainment and music.
But perhaps the best things about Northerlies is the location. The hotel sits close to the coast, with stunning Whitsunday views as the backdrop.
They have a massive outdoor games area, and the classic Queensland style open-air bar means you can sit back while the kids run amuck on the lawn.
The Best Things to do in Airlie Beach with Kids
Charter a yacht around the Whitsunday Islands
It’s hard to imagine a more fantastic way to experience the Whitsunday Islands than from a private charter yacht.
When you sail the Whitsundays, you get to experience resorts, national parks, snorkelling, sunsets and starry nights from your own floating hotel.
The best bit is you can travel at your own pace to visit secluded islands and beaches, spending quality time as a family.
Experience World-Famous Whitehaven Beach
The most famous attraction amongst the Whitsunday Islands is Whitehaven Beach.
Frequently voted one of the best beaches in the world and definitely ranking high in the best beaches in Queensland, Whitehaven stretches 7km with the silkiest white sand you will ever set foot on.
The water is crystal clear, and off the beach, you can hike through the forest up to Hill Inlet, a stunning lookout over the shifting tidal colours below.
The best way to get to Whitehaven Beach with kids is on the speedy Thundercat – the kids will love it!
Go Fishing At Shute Harbour
Shute Harbour is a short drive from Airlie Beach through the Conway Ranges National Park. The Harbour is one of the largest in Queensland, and it’s home to dolphins, small boats, birdlife and tons of fish.
The jetty is a local fishing hot spot, which is great for travellers who don’t have boats.
Spend A Day At The Airlie Beach Lagoon
The Airlie Beach Lagoon is a vast communal space complete with beaches, palm trees and pools to suit all swimming abilities.
There’s a great kids section down near the playground, and the shops are only a short walk away if you want to grab something for lunch.
Many people spend most of their holiday beside the lagoon because it’s like a resort, but free!
Take A Day Trip To The Great Barrier Reef From Airlie Beach
The best way to see the Great Barrier Reef with kids is a day trip from Airlie Beach.
Cruise Whitsundays operate out of the Port of Airlie Marina. Geared towards kids, their boat trip out to Reef World will take you to a kid-friendly snorkelling site right on the reef’s edge.
For those who don’t want to get in the water, there is an underwater viewing conservatory. Everything is set up for comfort, education and entertainment – and most importantly, lunch is provided!
Spend Time On An Island Resort
The Whitsunday Islands are home to several resorts, each catering for a different sort of holiday.
For families, we recommend visiting Hamilton Island and Daydream Island because both of these resorts cater to families in more ways than one.
Hamilton Island has loads of pools, golf buggies to get around, ten-pin bowling, a fantastic beach with water sports activities and a koala nature park.
Daydream Island’s recent refurbishment has made this resort’s island facilities better than ever. Check out the living reef observatory and book in at the kid’s club so the adults can enjoy the pool and water bar.
Here are some island day trip tours you will love:
Hike Through A Tropical Rainforest
Surrounding Airlie Beach is the Conway Rangers National Park, a tropical rainforest with loads of lovely walks and trails taking you to incredible views over the islands.
Kids are not always the best hiking companions, but if you have some resilient little people in your tribe, take the climb up to the Honey Eater Lookout behind the town.
For an easy walk, go to Cedar Creek Falls where you can park the car and walk a short path through the forest to a waterhole under a fall. Note that Cedar Creek only flows in the wet season.
Go On A Crocodile Safari
Take a tractor ride through untouched wetland habitat to learn about the local wildlife and see wild saltwater crocodiles on a safari river cruise along the Proserpine River.
You’ll also get a chance to observe other wildlife in the mangroves, catching the famous Queensland mud crab to learn about these local characters.
Speaking of entertaining locals, the kids will love meeting Boofhead the crocodile!
Join A Segway Tour
A Segway is a mechanical, two-wheeled vehicle that saves your legs from walking and allows you to travel upright.
If you have delightful, slightly older children who complain about too much walking, this is the activity for you.
Choose between two available Segway ride options – either head deep into the delightful greenery of the Conway National Park and follow the Whitsunday Great Walk or for watery views take an itinerary that follows the Whitsunday Bicentennial Boardwalk.
Have Fun At The Many Airlie Beach Playgrounds
I don’t think I’ve ever been to a town with as many playgrounds as Airlie Beach. There are three dotted along the town’s coast, with the best playground up near the sailing club.
The new Foreshore Playground has a skywalk play area with a climbing net, tunnel slides and sky cabins.
A fourth thrill-seeking playground is Logans Adventure Playground in Cannonvale which features a 30m Tandem Flying Fox and a giant spider web among other climbing, tunnel, swinging, spinning and balancing equipment.
Get The Adrenaline Pumping On A Jetski Tour
For older kids and teenagers, they might like a fun-filled 1.5-hour jet ski tour. Mum or dad can drive the jet ski along the Airlie coastline, viewing the islands with the kids as passengers.
Turtle spotting is a feature of this family-friendly tour, and if you’re lucky, you might also spot dugongs and seasonal humpback whales (July – Sept).
Enjoy The Local Beaches
Another great activity for kids during your family holiday in Airlie Beach is to explore the many different beaches the town has to offer. Kids can build sandcastles, paddle in the shallows, or even go snorkelling and swimming.
Browse The Markets
Airlie Beach is well known for its vibrant markets along the Airlie Beach Esplanade, which are held every Saturday. Kids will love browsing the stalls and picking out souvenirs to take home. You will find everything from handmade arts and crafts to fresh seafood and local produce.
Have A Picnic
Enjoy the beautiful weather and a spot under a shady tree by having a picnic during your Airlie Beach family holiday. There are many beautiful parks and gardens in town, so you can find the perfect spot to relax and enjoy the scenery. Kids will love running around and playing games in the park.
Stroll The Airlie Beach Bicentennial Walkway
The Airlie Beach Bicentennial Walkway is a great way to see the stunning coastline and get some exercise. The walkway winds its way from the Lagoon through to Cannonvale Beach, taking around 45 minutes to walk one way.
You will have no trouble finding what to do in Airlie beach with your family now, with so many fun ideas to enjoy! The hardest part is now simply what to do first!
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Author Bio – Emily & Shane Korosec and their 2 kids live in Shute Harbour, a tranquil pocket just 10 minutes from Airlie Beach. They own and operate Whitsunday Rent A Yacht. The one thing they love more than exploring the Whitsunday Islands is sharing them with their friends. They believe the Whitsunday Islands are one of the best places on earth and that every Australian should enjoy these treasures on their doorstep.