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 holiday experiences to suit their style.
Airlie Beach is a perfect stop along your Northern Queensland road trip or as a destination to visit all on its own.
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In this post, we will let you know our favourite things to do as a family around Airlie Beach and some tours we recommend to anyone visiting us from the big smoke with kids.
But first, we wanted to let you in on a couple of local travel tips.
Local tip on where to stay as a family
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 – The 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 on where to eat as a family
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 the 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, 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!
Visit Shute Harbour and throw a line in
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 or two 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 pop up 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
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. Everythings set up for comfort, education and entertainment – and most importantly, lunch is provided!
Spend some 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 sport activities and 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:
- Hamilton Island day trip with lunch
- Whitsunday Islands high-speed cruise & scenic flight
- Whitehaven Beach and Daydream Island day trip
Hike through 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.
Take your pick from the many 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 spiders web among other climbing, tunnel, swinging, spinning and balancing equipment.
Get the adrenaline going on a Jetski Tours
For the older kids, 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).
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!
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.