Free things to do with kids in Airlie Beach
Please note that this post contains affiliate links and any bookings made through such links will award me a small commission (at absolutely no extra cost for you).
The town of Airlie Beach is known as the gateway to the Whitsundays, and I think that many people who come here use it for just that - as a place to get a boat out to explore the islands of the Whitsundays.
I am sure these tours are amazing and the islands do look so beautiful, but we travel on a budget so we spent our time exploring the town and we loved it!
We found many things that were free to do with kids, and the first five on this list are in the town, so no car required.
Airlie Beach Lagoon
Right in town, the Airlie Beach Lagoon is awesome - definitely our favorite place in Airlie!
You can swim there year round (with no chance of stingers, sharks or crocodiles!) and there are lifeguards patrolling.
It’s free to get in, and the area is massive - 4,300 square metres - with two pool areas separated by a bridge, and include a toddler paddling area and marked lanes for swimmers.
The lagoon enclosure has toilets, change rooms and showers, gas BBQs and shaded picnic tables, and a kids playground. There’s also plenty of grass and open space to just kick back and relax!
Airlie Foreshore Playground
It’s pretty rare to find a playground that is fun for all ages, but the Airlie Foreshore Playground is!
There is so much to do - 3 mega slides, a massive 10.5 metre high skywalk, a climbing net, a pirate ship play area for little kids, it’s easy to spend a couple of hours there.
Although there are no toilet facilities in the enclosed playground, there are some only a few minutes walk away near the roundabout.
There are some shade cloths, but it’s not totally covered, so make sure your kids have sunscreen and hats on!
Airlie Creek Track
We love bush walks and this one was awesome!
It starts here where there is a little parking area, although there are no other facilities.
The track winds up the hill along the Airlie creek through the most beautiful bushland, finishing at some lovely rock pools and waterfalls (especially after rain).
It starts as a grade 1 walk, with a reasonably flat gravel track, however as you progress along the walk (it’s only 850 metres one way) it progresses to a grade 4, where you scramble up rocks near the rock pools.
If you’re not up for a grade 4 hike, when the track becomes a grade 3, there is a huge, magnificent fig tree, which would be a great place to stop if you have littler kids.
The track features rare flora and fauna, like the Whitsunday Bottle Tree and the endangered Proserpine Rock Wallaby, which are only found here. There are also lovely views of the Coral Sea on your way back down the hill.
We took about 2 hours to do the track, with lots of stopping and playing along the way. Without the stopping you could do it in one hour.
Unfortunately the beaches of Airlie are not exactly the nicest, especially at low tide where the water goes out as far as you can see, leaving behind what looks like mud flats. But as part of the Port of Airlie development, Boathaven Beach was built.
It's a lovely white sand beach, which doesn’t disappear with the tides, and is a great place to spend the day.
There is a large stinger net, so it is apparently safe to swim here all year round, although I am not sure I’d risk it in the stinger season (November to May).
There are toilets nearby but not other facilities, so bring all the food and water that you will need for the day. There is also no shade, so don’t forget hats and sunscreen!
This is a 4km long walkway which goes from the Airlie Beach Lagoon to Cannonvale Beach, along the water’s edge, with excellent views the whole way.
The walkway is fairly flat and well maintained, and you can ride your bike, scooter or skateboard, and leashed dogs are welcome.
Along the way there are plenty of cafes and restaurants that you can stop at, and as there isn’t a lot of shade, hats and sunscreen are essential.
This pub (just out of town) is super family-friendly and they have a free shuttle service that will pick you up and drop you home again (to book call 0447 899 832).
They have a large kids play area and a decent kids menu with free ice cream.
On Sundays they have a family fun day, with free fairy floss, ice cream and kids meals. They also run free trivia nights on Wednesdays and free live music on Friday evenings.
If you have a car and are looking for some free things to do in the surrounding area, we can recommend these:
Cedar Creek Falls
About a half an hour drive from Airlie Beach are the Cedar Creek Falls.
There is a short walk from the carpark (where there are toilet facilities) to the falls, which are surrounded by beautiful cedar trees.
There is a towering rock wall, that after rain and in the wet season is a big waterfall, but sadly when we visited it was only a trickle.
It was still a lovely, peaceful place to have a swim and cool off!
Dingo Beach and Hydeaway Bay
About 40 minutes drive north from Airlie Beach is the small town of Dingo Beach.
The beach here has beautiful soft white sand and crystal clear blue water.
There is a stinger net for the summer season, as well as toilets, a playground, BBQs and shaded picnic tables.
There is a small shop to buy ice creams and snacks, but not much else, so bring everything that you’ll need.
A few minutes drive from Dingo Beach is Hydeaway Bay, a small town with a lovely beach area.
There is a shaded picnic table and a little playground, but no other facilities.
Located near Proserpine, this is one of Australia’s largest coffee plantations, and it is a great place to bring the kids, especially on a rainy day.
As well as a cafe and restaurant (with a kids menu), there is a little animal area that you can explore, and a pretty awesome indoor play area.
The playground is air conditioned and has a big slide area as well as tea cup rides and a flying fox.
Where to stay
We stayed here - a 2 bedroom, 2 bathroom apartment. It has a big balcony with amazing views, a full kitchen and laundry, great wifi and even a little office space.
There was a small pool and undercover parking (although our van didn’t fit, but we had no issues parking on the street. The only minus was that it was a little drive into town, just a bit too far for the kids to walk in the heat.
If you wanted to stay closer to town, these are some recommendations:
Whitehaven Beachfront Holiday Units - approx $200 per night
These are studio apartments with a queen bed, a single bed and a sofa bed. They look over the park right on the water, and are pretty much in the centre of the action of town. They have WIFI, full kitchens and washing machines, but no pool - although the Lagoon is only a couple of minutes walk away.
Whitsunday Beachfront Apartment on Broadwater - approx $440 per night
This apartment is also in an excellent location, walking distance to everywhere and with beautiful views. It’s a 2 bedroom, 2 bathroom apartment, with a full kitchen and washing machine. Also no swimming pool, but it's just a few steps to the beach.
If staying in a resort is more your thing, this is right on the water and it looks lovely! They have a restaurant, private jetty and swimming pool, and a range of room styles from hotel rooms to 3-bedroom apartments, and even incredible looking penthouses. You can get good deals on Agoda, from the $350 mark per night.