If you look a little further past the infamous Great Barrier Reef and the enticing island tranquility, you will find that the Whitsundays region offers so much more to explore than what first meets the eye. The Whitsunday coast boasts a vibrant range of activities and must-see locations and deserves a spot on any visitor’s bucket-list when visiting the region.
For those looking to get back to nature, within a short drive you will discover an abundance of appealing National Parks that are brimming with hiking trails, mountainous scenery, fresh waterfalls and native floral and fauna. If you are hunting for a quintessentially Australian experience, then the Whitsunday Hinterland provides a range of activities where you can meet the local wildlife, drink traditional Billy Tea, camp under the stars or look out over the ranges awash with sugar canes and cattle farms. Alternatively, soak up the friendly North Queensland charm in the quaint local townships nearby if time allows, with intimate cafes, unique shops and a classic country atmosphere.
The Whitsunday coast acts as the tropical island you can drive to, with all the beauty of the islands, with all the convenience and diversity of the mainland.
- Airlie BeachAirlie Beach
Where Coral Sea Marina Resort gets to call home, Airlie Beach is a wonderfully diverse town which acts as a flourishing hub of activity. Just a 2 minute walk along the waterfront Bicentennial Walkway lies the main street which boasts an array of dining and nightlife, quirky shops and high street stores, local sandy beaches and a fresh swimming lagoon. Everywhere you look you greeted with gorgeous views over the water and islands, where you can watch the comings and goings of boats exploring our aquatic playground.
Saturday’s welcome the Lions Market which takes place on the Esplanade and has plenty of unique and interesting stalls and trinkets to browse. From sunrise and into the early hours of the morning, you will never be short of options for dining and socializing, from contemporary cafes for your morning coffee to bars, pubs and nightclubs to end your days on a high, there will be no disappointment as to the assortment of options.
You can spend your days lazing away on the many beaches under the Queensland sun or get out and soak up the vibrancy that this beachside town offers – It is so much more than just a gateway to the islands, it is a place to stay, play and explore; Airlie Beach is a destination location in itself that easily will provide memories to treasure.
- Conway National ParkConway National Park
Conway National Park
A tranquil and tropical coastal national park, Conway National Park is well worth an explore.
The park boasts a coastline full of hidden gems and secluded beaches, incredible scenic vistas with panoramic views overlooking the breath-taking Whitsundays water and islands, and fresh-water streams and waterfalls that wind their way through the lush lowland tropical rainforest. With many trails waiting to be trodden, you can spend many a day bushwalking or cycling the many paths through this mesmerising landscape.
As a delightful coastal town with picturesque beaches, the most spectacular sunsets, and a rich history, Bowen gives a sense that you are stepping back in time.
Bowen is one of the few places on the Queensland coast where you can physically walk to the reef, with some of the most stunning fringing coral gardens resting just metres from the shoreline. In addition to this, Bowen is famed for its local mango production (be sure to taste these scrumptious delights during the mango season from October to April), as well as being the filming location for the classic movie ‘Australia’, starring Nicole Kidman and Hugh Jackman.
This town remains largely undiscovered by backpackers and tourists as it is located approximately 45 minutes drive north from Airlie Beach, which means its peaceful charm and enchanting setting is even more of a reason to make the journey.
- Cedar Creek FallsCedar Creek Falls
Cedar Creek Falls
This hidden gem is tucked away in a tropical nook of paradise under the canopy of ancient rainforests. Just a leisurely 30 minute drive from Airlie Beach, Cedar Creek Falls is a naturally formed waterfall and swimming hole provided the perfect place for a cooling dip in the waters on a hot summers day.
Whether you wanted to picnic in the shade on the banks, hike the trail to the top of the waterfall to enjoy the vantage point overlooking the lush scenery, or swim under the cascading falls, it provides the perfect retreat into nature. Helpful hint – although beautiful all year, it is best during the wetter months of summer or after a fall of rain as this is when the falls flow magnificently.
Just 20 minutes inland from Airlie Beach, the charming township of Proserpine oozes in quintessential Australian charm and country atmosphere.
With a strong focus on agriculture, the economic backbone of this enchanting town includes sugar cane and cattle grazing. Having said that, the town itself is teeming with quirky boutique stores (try Colour Me Crazy or Ginger and Blonde), old-fashioned tea rooms and country-style hotels with incredibly well-preserved traditional Queensland architecture.
Pop into the Whitsunday Gold Coffee Plantation for a sneak peak into regional life, with its fantastic café, play area for the kids, and tour of the Great Barrier coffee bean from tree to cup! The Proserpine Museum is also worth a visit if you are interested in learning more about the unexpectedly vast history of the region. Alternatively, take the kids for a dip in the brand new Splash-Park (opening soon) and swimming pool for a family friendly aquatic adventure without stepping foot off solid ground.
- Proserpine DamProserpine Dam
For those water-lovers needing a fresh water relief from the salty and sandy coastline, Proserpine Dam (or Lake Proserpine) is a fresh water escape located a further 30 minutes inland from Proserpine town.
Enjoy a scenic drive through the Whitsunday outback before arriving at the dam where you can enjoy the perfect location for wake-boarding, jet skiing, wind-surfing, and most famously – fresh water fishing! Barrimundi is plentiful in the lake so cast your lines and catch yourself a dinner to enjoy on the barbeques on the banks.
If you want to try out fishing or hiring your own boat, there are some great suppliers in the region, be sure to ask our Guest Services team for further information.
- Hydeaway BayHydeaway Bay
The small coastal hamlet of Hydeaway Bay is surely one of the Whitsundays’ best kept secrets. A strong favourite with the locals, and only a 40 minute drive North of Airlie Beach, this incredible stretch of coastline features palm-fringed coastlines and the softest stretches of sand.
Dotted along the beach are clusters of rocks which brings out the adventurer in you, you can try your hand at fishing from the shore or simply stretch out under the palms with a view over the islands. Whilst you feel you a world away from it all, you can choose to enjoy lunch or dinner at either of the two beachside resorts in Hydeaway Bay, Montes Reef Resort and Cape Gloucester Eco Resort, either of which provide the perfect place to soak up your surroundings over a cocktail or bite.
As the name suggests, Hydeaway Bay is a place to hide away from it all and immerse yourself in breath-taking paradise and a laid-back Queensland setting.
- Dingo BeachDingo Beach
Dingo Beach is Hydeaway Bay’s little brother township. With even more traditional Queensland charm than its neighbour, Dingo Beach is a hidden paradise just waiting for you to explore and get back to nature.
The unspoilt nature of the beach, reef, and coastline makes this the perfect place to cast off and go for a fish, hop on a boat to explore the fringing reefs or grab a paddle and trace the coastline. If you feel a bit peckish, there is even the quaint Dingo Beach Pub ready to satisfy your hunger.
Nicknamed the The Great Dingo Beach Escape, you can relax and get back to nature away from the crowds.
- Cape Hillsborough National ParkCape Hillsborough National Park
Cape Hillsborough National Park
A visit out to Cape Hillsborough National Park is a must if time allows. Although a slightly extended drive from Airlie Beach (approximately 1.5 hours), the incredible wallaby population that like to visit the beach in the early morning or before nightfall are an amazing site to behold for anyone wanting to witness these iconic furry friends in their natural environment.
The sweeping beach and rolling hills is another visually pleasing reason to make the visit, as well as some great bush walks exploring the coastline. Being close to Eungella National Park, it is easy enough to drop in for a visit as part of an extended trip venturing further afield.
- Eungella National Park and Finch Hatton GorgeEungella National Park and Finch Hatton Gorge
Eungella National Park and Finch Hatton Gorge
For those visitors with a little more time up their sleeves, we can’t recommend highly enough sneaking away from the coastline just briefly to visit Eungella National Park and Finch Hatton Gorge. Just a 2-2.5 hour drive south and inland, this spectacular National Park is a wonderland of walking tracks, waterfalls, and epic mountain views.
The beauty of the landscape is simply breath-taking, with a lush floral and fauna and the expansive range of volcanic formations. Hike Wheel of Fire waterfalls through the gorge and take a drip in the rock pools and cascades, or traverse the mountain range to enjoy the epic views. Treat yourself to lunch or a drink at the infamous Eungella Chalet with views over the pioneer valley, followed by a game of patience at Broken River where you have the opportunity to spot a platypus in it’s natural habitat. For nature lovers and diving enthusiast, you can even suba dive in the river to get up close and personal with these incredible creatures through Rainforest Scuba, providing a truly unique and memorable moment.