Car or Camper
Cedar Creek Falls to Bowen
If The Whitsundays is on your bucket list, then you’ve most likely planned on sinking your toes into Whitehaven Beach or snorkelling or diving with the colourful sea life on the Great Barrier Reef. However, if you’re looking for a mainland adventure to immerse yourself in The Whitsundays fully, we recommend hiring a car for a couple of days and exploring the diverse scenery and experiences on offer throughout this incredible region.
Cedar Creek Falls to Hydeaway Bay
Today we start our journey in the Whitsunday Coast hinterland, home to waterfalls and hidden beaches. Walk along Conway Road then along Saltwater Creek Road towards Cedar Creek Falls, where in the wet season you’ll experience the tropical waterfall luckily though, whatever the season, there’s a year-round natural swimming pool at the base of the falls. There are walking tracks that lead you to the top of the waterfall, where you will find lots of smaller waterfalls and rock pools looking out over the Conway National Park. Once you’ve cooled off, jump in the car, it’s time to head to one of the local’s favourite spots.
Hydeaway Bay is located on the coast, around 45 minutes’ drive north of Airlie Beach. This little hidden wonder is home to a stretch of beach over 2 kilometres long with five public access points, meaning you will likely have your own little section of beach all to yourself. The beach is characterised by a few rocky outcrops filled with long stretches of white sand, the perfect place to take your family, search for unique shells, or do a little rock hopping. If you find yourself thirsty for a bevy, pop into the Cape Gloucester Eco Resort or Montes Reef Resort and enjoy a little seaside relaxation time and watch the sun melt into the ocean.
Airlie Beach is the vibrant hub of the Whitsundays and the ideal mainland base for fun and adventure in The Whitsundays. There is so much to see and do here you’ll need the full day!
We recommend starting the day with a hike through the Airlie Beach mountains! Beginning on Kara Crescent just off Airlie Beach main street, the Honeyeater Lookout track is not for the faint-hearted! It is an 8km round trip, allow at least 2.5 hours to conquer this hike. The terrain is steep and rugged, but the view is beyond worth it! With panoramic views over Airlie Beach and out to the Whitsunday Islands, this is a beautiful way to start your morning, get your heart pumping, take in the tranquillity of listening to the birds and watching a glorious Whitsundays sunrise.
If you’re looking to get your tan on, then Airlie Beach is the place! You can choose from sandy beaches or the huge Airlie Beach Lagoon. Boathaven Beach is a beach-lovers paradise, perfect for those Insta shots with a turquoise blue background dotted with boats and islands, and with a stinger net during the summer months, you can enjoy the water all year round. The Airlie Beach Lagoon, situated in the middle of the main street, is the perfect place to soak in the Airlie Beach vibe. Ideal for those warm summer days, the whopping 4,000 square metres public pool is a great spot to sit and enjoy your lunch, read a book, rollout the yoga mat, or watch on as the kids splash in the children’s area.
After a day of exploring, you’ll be ready to enjoy dining out in one of Airlie Beach’s delicious restaurants or perhaps a BBQ on the beach. If you’d prefer something a little more upbeat the pumping Airlie Beach nightlife will not disappoint. With clubs, bars, and live music venues, you can party the night away with like-minded travellers and make lasting memories (provided you can remember the night).
Today is the day to visit Australia’s mango capital, just a short drive north of Airlie Beach is Bowen, home to the delicious Bowen Mango (or Kensington Pride). Bowen is a small town with big photo opportunities and an even bigger mango. Tick an Aussie icon off your list and grab a photo with The Big Mango, one of many fascinatingly ‘big’ things around the world.
Bowen’s secluded beaches are one of the many treats you’ll enjoy about the town, so secluded that you only have to share with locals who in-the-know. Horseshoe Bay is a must, an all-rounder perfect for swimming and relaxing or take a picnic and enjoy the beautiful Bowen breeze! This secluded cove is also ideal for snorkelling; it is one of the only places where you can snorkel the fringing Great Barrier Reef straight off the beach! There are multiple places you can hire out some snorkel equipment.
Be sure to make your way up to Flagstaff Hill where you will be rewarded with views of the surrounding Bays.
Bowen is known for its delicious fresh seafood; a favourite is Birds Fish Bar at Bowen Fishermans Wharf. You can’t get any fresher than this; their local seafood is unloaded from the boats daily. It is cooked to order, make use of their outdoor seating area and enjoy your fresh fish and chips with a BTO beer or wine overlooking the Beautiful Bowen Marina.