If you're planning to hit Airlie beach or just stopping over, this backpackers is fun, cheap, clean and smack bang on the beach.
The backpacker phenomenon has certainly made its mark in Australia. Every city and town has accommodation and facilities for travellers who are roaming around the world on a budget and looking for economical places to stay.
Airlie Beach has its share of these places and one that has it all is Airlie Waterfront Backpackers, the only one right on the beachfront. Being the gateway to the Whitsunday Islands and the Great Barrier Reef, and having the beautiful climate it has, Airlie is probably on most travellers' agendas.
Ocean swimming is off-limits between October and April because that's when the stingers take over, but the Airlie Beach Lagoon is stinger-free and is surrounded by landscaped tropical gardens, sheltered tables and chairs, shady trees, free barbecue facilities and extensive pathways. It has showers and toilets, first aid and security rooms. The lagoon holds 4.5 million litres of salt water and there is a wading pool for toddlers and another shallow children's pool. Lifesavers are on duty from 7am to 9pm each day.
Just 200m from the coach terminal, the Airlie Waterfront takes up three upper levels of a beachfront building. The lower floors have shops and restaurants, so everything is right where you are staying. Just a short stroll will take you to shops, banks, more restaurants, nightspots and the lagoon.
The Waterfront Backpackers has 67 beds and caters more for double and twin-share stayers, but there are dormitories if you wish. They have visitors from 18 to 80 years old and everyone enjoys themselves in the air-conditioned rooms.
Its two large kitchens are stocked with tea, coffee and milk and there are seven bathrooms.
The communal area is bright and airy and opens onto a balcony which gives wonderful water views. Lounges are comfortable and are just right for writing postcards, meeting other travellers, relaxing with a book or looking at brochures for onward travel.
Hayman, Hamilton, Club Croc Long Island, Palm Bay, South Molle and Daydream islands are all easy to reach and you can go sailing, fishing, reef-jetting, diving, snorkelling or skydiving.
For a bit less action, take a walk through a beautiful, cool rainforest where you could spot elusive platypuses, turtles, kingfishers and kangaroos.
The staff at Airlie Waterfront Backpackers can assist with day trips to the islands, any of the exciting destinations in the area and in fact all over Australia.