Over the last 60 years, Airlie Beach has captured people’s attention as the more modest part of the Queensland coast. As the gateway to the Whitsunday Islands, it receives a lot of attention.

It’s been touted as more affordable for any wannabe island hoppers.However, Cyclone Debbie changed that. Residents mark time as “before Debbie” and “after Debbie”.

Regeneration efforts are working hard within the area, as some islands are closed due to renovations.

This has given tourists an opportunity to explore what else is around the Whitsundays. Bowen, which is 45 minutes north of Airlie Beach, is an old-style coastal town that even the local tourism body is trying to keep a secret. 

Bowen is known for the Big Mango, but that’s not the best thing that Bowen has to offer. With three vastly empty white sand beaches of Grays, Horseshoe and Coral Bay on offer, it wouldn’t be surprising if you’re reminded of South-east Asia instead of Australia.


If you’ve already seen Bowen, maybe head on over to Paradise Cove. The Cove has hosted celebrities and foreign dignitaries as an exclusive getaway but is now offered to the public as a hideaway for those on a budget.

There are guided tours from Airlie Beach that skirt up along Paradise Cove if you’re not looking to stay there.

Long Island is also another hidden gem within the Whitsunday Islands. There are only two resorts nestled amongst palm trees and you won’t be able to arrive via the jetty as there isn’t one. Water taxi is the way to go as it’ll allow you to glide up on the sandy shoreline.

You’re able to stay here for under $250 a night in a tropical bungalow that’s right along the water. The only downside for some is that the island is self-catered, which means you have to provide your own food.

You’ll also be sharing the island with 60 other guests, which means there’s little to no chance of running into someone whilst you’re snorkelling, kayaking or relaxing on the sand.

Have you been to the Whitsundays?

This article has been published in conjunction with Over60.