Escape Travel Holiday Expert, Ryan Trimble went to the Whitsundays to work for six months and ended up staying four years. Coming from the dry landscapes of Western Australia, Ryan was truly taken with the lush, tropical surrounds of North Queensland. Based in Airlie Beach, Ryan remembers first arriving at Abel Point Marina and seeing the beautiful stretch of water. He was instantly mesmerised by the region’s astounding natural beauty. From restaurant recommendations to hidden gems only a local would know, we chatted with Ryan to get his insider tips on the ultimate Whitsundays holiday.
Q: For those who have never been, can you describe Airlie Beach and the surrounding Whitsunday Islands?
In two words, I would say, beautiful variety. The township itself is designed to cater to tourism so everything is clean and welcoming. The locals are incredibly friendly by nature. But you don’t go there for the town itself, but instead for the promise of a beautiful tropical escape and the area always delivers.
As for the islands, there are 74 of them all together. They range from small resort islands like Daydream to Whitsunday Island which houses huge national parks. Coincidentally, Whitsunday Island also offers Whitehaven Beach, which is believed to be one of most photographed beaches in the world.
Q: Tell us where to stay? We know some people prefer the mainland while others will stay on one of the islands, like Hamilton or Daydream.
You can’t really go wrong. Most of the accommodation at Airlie Beach is tiered on the hills, so many of the properties offer enviable ocean views. The mainland is a great option for couples or families. Hamilton Island also offers a selection of fantastic activities and a wide range of accommodation choices. For a five star holiday, you can’t beat the One&Only Hayman Island Resort or Qualia on Hamilton Island.
Daydream Island is actually a favourite of mine. It feels more secluded than other islands. It is also home to the Living Reef Lagoon, which is a man-made reef with stingrays and reef sharks that swim beneath you as you wander along the boardwalk. You can also participate in a fish feeding, which is a fun one for the kids. The resort also has a swim up pool bar and a relaxing day spa.
Q: What is your one ‘must do’ activity?
Without a doubt, diving in the Great Barrier Reef is a must. It’s really worth doing – I wasn’t sure whether to go but I will never forget it. There are plenty of diving options but I did mine on the Cruise Whitsundays’ Great Barrier Reef Adventure. The dive crew really love their jobs and it shows because they make the experience really enjoyable.
Q: Is there plenty to do and see?
Everything revolves around the water. There’s heaps of exciting water activities including snorkelling, parasailing, kayaking and windsurfing. Hamilton Island also has a go kart area and a shooting range - both are heaps of fun.
Q: Do you have a hidden gem to share?
If you love to explore nature, take a visit to Cedar Creek Falls, which is about a 30 minute drive from Airlie Beach. Also, when you visit Whitehaven Beach, try and make your way to the Hill Inlet lookout on Whitsunday Island. It’s the perfect spot for excellent photos – you’ll probably recognise the view from all the postcards!
Q: Do you have any restaurant recommendations for us?
I certainly do, particularly around Airlie Beach. For beautiful local seafood, visit Fish D’vine – my personal favourite is the Atlantic King Salmon with Mango Chutney. For something a little more exotic, try Cha’Mah. They serve delicious Moroccan food and the Moroccan Mess is the best dessert I have ever eaten. Also make sure you have a mango smooth from the Sidewalk Cafe. The first time I had one, I almost wept – it was THAT good.
Looking for your own Whitsundays adventure? Chat to Ryan on (08) 9792 5293 or email email@example.com. Ryan is a holiday expert at Escape Travel's Bunbury store in Western Australia.