Where to Stay | Airlie Beach, Australia

Two years after Best Job in the World clued me in to the existence of the Whitsunday Islands, I finally made it to Proserpine Airport to commence girls’ weekend with Tourism Queensland pal Sarah. Sarah and I met when she supported one of the other Best Job finalists during the Queensland Exchange we attended in LA. We’ve been in touch ever since and I stayed at her apartment for two nights in Kangaroo Point before our holiday in Airlie.

The view from Water’s Edge Resort

We arrived on a Saturday morning and checked in to the Water’s Edge Resort in Airlie Beach. It was the perfect location – literally a five minute stroll down to the main drag, shops, restaurants, ice cream and the manmade Airlie Lagoon.

Our room at Water’s Edge Resort

Sarah was only staying for two nights of my scheduled four nights in Airlie Beach, so we had much to cram in. After we settled into our huge suite, complete with kitchen, washer/dryer and gorgeous views of the town below, the sea and the far off islands, we did what anyone would do – walked down the hill to find the nearest restaurant with free WiFi. (What? We’re both confessed social media addicts, so we had to get our Tweet on.)

The pool deck at Water’s Edge Resort

Though Airlie Beach sounds like it would be a destination similar to the Gold Coast or Sunshine Coast, complete with long stretches of sand and gorgeous water, its beaches are un-swimmable for several months during the year due to poisonous jellyfish. You may remember Best Job winner Ben had a painful run-in with an Irukanji stinger during his tenure as Island Caretaker. As a beach guru, I can’t quite wrap my head around an island locale where you can’t swim… but it doesn’t seem to affect tourism, so who am I to complain.

The hillside overlooking Airlie Beach

Aside from the danger lurking in the sea, Airlie Beach is just what you’d expect from a beachside Aussie town. As relaxed as it is hot, visitors spend lots of time in the pool or the lagoon cooling off. There are surf shops, backpacker hotspots and tour operators lining the main drag, so you don’t have to go far to plan a day out on the water if you like.

Visitors to our Water’s Edge balcony

The nightlife crowd in Airlie Beach is varied; on the one hand there are heaps of young backpackers, so there seemed to be quite a bit of fall-down drunkenness by about 10 p.m. On the other hand, there were lots of random old weirdos hitting on us at the Colourfide gig at Paddy’s Shenanigans. (How could I not go to a place called Paddy’s Shenanigans?!) Despite the randomness of the crowd, the band was amazing and surprisingly worth the trouble. Sarah and I danced ’til it was over.

Marina Shores Resort

When Sarah left, I moved into another gorgeous room, this time at Marina Shores Resort. Directly on the water, Marina Shores was only about a 20 minute stroll on the Bicentennial Boardwalk to central Airlie Beach, and I made the walk daily to get free WiFi and food.

My writer’s nook at Marina Shores Resort

I was so relaxed at Marina Shores just hanging out by the pool and getting work done in my bright, airy suite, that I changed my flight and stayed the rest of the week. More about that later…

Where to stay in Airlie Beach:

  • Water’s Edge Resort
  • Marina Shores Resort

Where to eat in Airlie Beach:

  • Cactus Jack’s Bar & Grill – not the best Mexican food, but the chocolate nachos for dessert are to die for!
  • Paddy’s Shenanigans – great live music; no idea if the food is decent

Up next… What To Do in the Whitsundays

Special thanks to Water’s Edge & Marina Shores for the beautiful digs!

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