Sailing into the Great Barrier Reef has to be done very precisely, with the assistance of a pilot on board for well over 40 hours, as not to disturb the environment.
Cruise ships are not able to dock here, you will be tendered ashore. The Port of Airlie is easy walking distance from most hotels and accommodation in Airlie Beach's town center.
Beside going to to the town of Airlie Beach, local chartered tenders will meet you right at the ship for diving and snorkeling trips to the Great Barrier Reef, not to be missed!
Airlie Beach is a small town, one main street really, so assuming you tender to the main quay you'll be a 10min walk to the tourist info offices which are all located on that street. You will also probably find quite a few enterprising locals waiting for you when you hop off the tender offering all kinds of exciting deals. Don't dismiss them too quickly, they aren't necessarily dodgy and some of them do really good trips.
Printable map to take along on the cruise.
Cruise calendar for this port.
Watch a destination video.
Airlie is a relatively tiny town that can at times get very busy. Pop. 5000
Airlie Beach is a Town in the Whitsunday Region, Queensland, Australia. Airlie Beach is known as the Heart of Australia's Great Barrier Reef (GBR) due to its position near the center of the GBR that stretches for two thousand kilometers along the coast.
Near latitude 20 degrees South, Airlie Beach and the nearby Whitsunday Islands enjoy a tropical climate and lifestyle which includes rain all year round and humidity!. The Whitsunday Islands, named by James Cook in 1770 are a sailors' paradise. Cook named the islands as he believed he passed through the area on the Christian festival day of Whit Sunday. It is now widely accepted that he didn't actually pass through on this date, as he had failed to take into account the yet to be brought into existence International Date Line a lá Phileas Fogg.
Each year the residents of Airlie Beach celebrate The Blessing of the Fleet on Whit Sunday or Pentecost Sunday. The Blessing was started by Father Keith Felgate. Airlie Beach is a tourist destination and together with the adjacent Shute harbor, provide one of the embarkation points for both the Whitsunday Islands and the Great Barrier Reef.
Its beach is small and the sea is inhabited by marine stingers (a type of jellyfish) from November to May. In order to provide somewhere for the short term visitors tourists to swim, the local council, has built a medium sized swimming lagoon on the foreshore.
It pays to compare your cruise line shore excursions here.
All forms of shopping facilities can be found in the Airlie Beach
area, from specialty and gift shops, food and provision shops, fine
clothing boutiques and an assortment of tourist shops. Located only
a few meters from the beach the Airlie Beach shopping center has a
casual atmosphere and holiday feel. Shopping is a wonderful way to
spend a day, especially if you're after those hard to find gifts.
There is a large amount of shops in and around the main street of Airlie Beach and you are sure to find what ever item you need in this uniquely friendly environment. In the center of Airlie Beach you are extremely likely to encounter a large number of gift shops, eating places ranging from fast foods to quality restaurants, pubs, bars, and easily accessible shops catering for all your holiday needs. Please note that most shops in the center of Airlie Beach usually open seven days a week.
Shopping facilities are also available close to Airlie Beach, in the neighboring towns of Proserpine and Cannonvale. The Whitsunday shopping center on Shute harbor road Cannonvale is the areas largest mall style shopping center. This is the common place for locals and holiday-makers alike, to come together and shop till they drop. This shopping center has many much-needed facilities including; specialty shops, a post office, banks, automatic teller machines, sports store, cafes and a Bi-lo supermarket.
Another good place to spend time shopping is at the markets, which
are located on the Airlie Beach Esplanade along the beachfront, every
Saturday morning. This local market showcases a wonderful range of
Airlie Beach and Whitsunday art and craft from very talented craftspeople.
At these Airlie Beach markets, you can expect to find beautiful jewelry,
clothing, unique souvenirs, glass blowing and lots of entertainment.
Located in the heart of downtown Airlie Beach, the shopping facilities and weekly markets offer you a friendly and relaxed atmosphere to collect the gifts and essentials you need. Enjoy a day or two walking around the Airlie Beach shops as your bound to find something that intrigues the imagination
Shops and services are generally open Monday to Friday 9am to 5pm and until lunchtime on Saturday. In cities and larger towns, many shops stay open late on Thursday or Friday evening - usually until 9pm - and all day on Saturday. Shopping malls are often open on Sundays as well.
In remote country areas, roadhouses provide all the essential services for the traveler and, on the major highways, are generally open 24 hours a day. In tourist areas, even ones well off the beaten track, tourist offices are often open every day or at least through the week plus weekend mornings; urban information centers are more likely to conform to normal shopping hours.
Tourist attractions such as museums, galleries and attended historic monuments are often open daily, though those in rural communities may have erratic opening hours.
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