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Airlie Beach Cruise Port Guide

On a cruise to Airlie Beach, you’ll be quickly captivated by what many say are Australia’s best beaches. Beach towels and flip flops are must-haves in this warm, subtropical paradise. Marina views provide a beautiful backdrop for your day in Airlie Beach. Enjoy fruity cocktails or dinner featuring the bluest waters and plenty of friendly vacationers. On cruises, Australia in particular is a gem, and Airlie Beach is famous for its closeness to the ultimate destination for nature lovers, adventurers, surfers, sailors, and snorkelers: the Great Barrier Reef.

Whitehaven Beach is a popular spot for paddling and is famous for having over four miles of impossibly soft white sand. There’s also the Airlie Beach Lagoon, where you can go swimming year round. Or, go island hopping along the lush Whitsunday Islands. There are 74 islands ripe for exploration on a day trip while on your cruise to Airlie Beach. Whether you decide to go sailing or dip in the lagoon during your time here, there’s no wrong way to relax in Airlie Beach.

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Top Sights & Attractions for Cruises to Airlie Beach

Great Barrier Reef

There’s perhaps no better way to see the largest coral reefs in the world than at the Great Barrier Reef, which is easily reachable from your time in port on an Airlie Beach cruise. Several tour operators in the area offer activities that include snorkeling, catamaran rides, scuba diving, and more, so you can see this incredible natural wonder up close.

Whitehaven Beach

Universally adored as one of the best beaches in the world, Whitehaven Beach on Whitsunday Island is the perfect spot for swimming, paddling, or sunbathing. Turtles and dolphins are often spotted along the beach. Take a short boat ride from Airlie Beach to enjoy this world-famous beach.

Conway National Park

If you’re craving some time deep in nature, check out Queensland’s premier national park, Conway National Park. Hike the tropical rainforest or admire the view of the coast from various lookout points. Conway National Park combines an athletic afternoon getting into the heart of the forest with fragrant fresh air and unique beauty only this part of Australia can offer.

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Top Things to Do in Airlie Beach

Swim in Crystal Blue Waters

There’s no shortage of beautiful waters to swim in around Airlie Beach. Stop for a dip in the Airlie Beach Lagoon or take it easy on Whitehaven Beach. Whether you’re looking for a relaxing afternoon sunbathing or an active swim, there’s something for everyone here.

Go Island Hopping

There are 74 Whitsunday Islands to choose from in this part of Australia. Boat tours and helicopter tours are popular ways to get from island to island. Each one varies in terms of remoteness, and only seven of the Whitsundays are developed.

Shop the Saturday Morning Markets

If you visit Airlie Beach over a weekend, you’ll quickly find yourself shopping among the locals at the Saturday Morning Markets. Meander through the small clothing and jewelry stalls to find a unique Queensland treasure.

Top Food and Drink Spots Near the Airlie Beach Cruise Port

Clipper Restaurant Bar & Lounge

Address: 25 Ocean View Avenue, Airlie Beach, QLD, Australia

Next to the pool at Coral Sea Resort is Clipper Restaurant, which has a unique five-course tasting menu as well as a pricier, more gourmet menu experience. Steak tartare, ceviche, snapper, and New Zealand venison are favorites. End the evening with date pudding or a palate-cleansing matcha parfait.

 

Sorrento Restaurant & Bar

Address: 22 Shingley Drive, Airlie Beach, QLD, Australia

If you’re looking for views of the marina on your Airlie Beach cruise, Sorrento Restaurant & Bar is a good pick for pizzas and pastas. Local oysters make a good starter before continuing to a rich pasta or risotto dish.

 

Fish D’Vine & The Rum Bar

Address: 303 Shute Harbour Road, Airlie Beach, QLD, Australia

Relaxed but regularly crowded, Fish D’Vine and The Rum Bar offer over 450 rums to choose from, plus seafood galore. Start with fresh-shucked oysters or calamari before moving on to the main dish featuring a fresh catch of the day, like a Thai fish curry. You can also indulge in market price fish selections like local mud crab or whole fish. 

 

 

Culture & History of the Airlie Beach Cruise Port

Before Europeans came to the Airlie Beach area in the 20th century, Aboriginal populations called the Gia and the Ngaro groups lived here for centuries. By 1966, the town had a population of just 235 people. Over time, Airlie Beach has become known as a coastal town where the beaches and proximity to the Great Barrier Reef make it popular for vacationers. Every November, the Airlie Beach Festival of Music draws a ton of visitors and welcomes over 70 bands and music acts to the area.

Airlie Beach Port Facilities & Location

The Port of Airlie is centrally located, so it’s a short walk to get off the ship and into the center of town. Note that Airlie Beach is a quiet beach town where it’s easy to see everything during your time onshore.

Transportation in Airlie Beach

One of the most popular ways to get around Airlie Beach is a local shuttle bus that takes passengers around the area’s flea market. The downtown area is also fairly walkable and easy to get around on foot. It’s about a 10-minute walk from where your cruise ship will tender to the town center.

Shopping Near the Airlie Beach Cruise Port

There’s a quick shuttle available to a craft market in Airlie Beach, where you can shop for jewelry, handmade goods, clothing, and art. The town also has a variety of beach shops, souvenir shacks, cafes, and supermarkets.

Local Currency & Tipping Customs

The official currency of Australia is the Australian dollar (AUD). Credit cards are widely accepted, including Mastercard, American Express, and Visa. It’s helpful to carry a little bit of cash with you during your Airlie Beach cruise. Tipping in Australia isn’t customary, so tipping a taxi driver or tour guide is uncommon.

 

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On your cruise to the Great Barrier Reef, this is the perfect departure point for local excursions. The coral reef is the largest living thing on the planet—so big you can see it from space—but made of billions of tiny organisms known as polyps.

A UNESCO World Heritage site, the reef supports a vast diversity of marine life, with 600 types of soft and hard corals, 1,625 types of fish, and 30 species of whales and dolphins. Great Barrier Reef Marine Park covers 133,000 square miles, including 3,000 coral reefs and 900 islands. The snorkeling and diving here are unmatched.

Airlie Beach is popular with backpackers, yachtsmen, and other lovers of the tropical lifestyle. Sailing among the calm, protected waters of the Witsunday Islands and skydiving over the pristine shorelines are a couple of the must-do adventures for many visitors.

When it's time for some shopping during your Airlie Beach cruise, you'll find lovely seaside markets and galleries with friendly artists, handmade jewelry, colorful paintings, stunning photos, and tropical beachwear—perfect for a leisurely browse after breakfast.