The Whitsunday Coast is a cosmopolitan and enchanting peninsula that stretches far to encompass secluded beach townships, inland regional centres and picturesque hinterland.
A tropical playground of sparkling azure water and white-sand beaches, the Whitsunday Coast is one of Australia’s foremost tourist attractions. Renowned as the country’s best vantage point from which to explore both the Great Barrier Reef and the Whitsundays (a group of 74 spectacular island atolls) the coast is also home to Airlie Beach – an international party town that buzzes with restaurants, bars, clubs and backpackers.
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Airlie Beach – which offers more affordable accommodation options that the nearby Whitsundays – fosters an impressive casual dining and bar scene. Mangrove Jacks Café and Bar, on the town’s main street, enjoys alfresco dining and classic dishes like fish and chips and wood-fired pizzas. The Coral Sea Resort's Clipper Lounge Bar and Grill boasts some of the region's best beef dishes and freshest seafood within an absolute oceanfront setting. Nearby at what locals call 'the best spot in town', the famous Whitsunday Sailing Club features a bar and bistro with seasonally designed menus and an all-weather balcony.
Just a few minutes away, the residential town of Cannonvale also features a number of enticing casual dining experiences. Banjos Bar & Bistro and Alain’s Restaurant are two of the town’s most reputable eateries. Banjos serves great food at affordable prices with relaxed indoor or garden dining and live music on Friday and Saturday nights. Nestled amongst hibiscus and tropical palms Alain’s boasts a relaxing tropical North Queensland outlook with chic Parisian ambiance.
Inland, on the Bruce Highway, Proserpine reflects country Queensland at its best with a lively pub restaurant scene. The Grand Central Hotel is one of Proserpine's oldest hotels and hosts one of the town’s best restaurants; while The Metropole’s Tudor Tavern, located in the centre of town, is a great spot to meet-up with friends and enjoy a beer and a pub meal.
At the northern tip of the Whitsunday Coast, Bowen – made famous by Baz Luhrmann’s Australia – features a number of resort restaurants that cater for affluent diners. The Cove restaurant, in Coral Cove Apartments, boasts spectacular views of the Coral Sea and plates up fine-dining with Australian and Asian influences; while the Sands Restaurant at the Whitsunday Sands Resort also enjoys fine-dining in a laid-back atmosphere.
Out into the Whitsundays, islands like Hamilton Island and Hayman Island boast the area’s most upmarket dining options. A booming tourism trade sees Hamilton Island host more than a dozen restaurants and cafés, catering for every occasion. While resort island, Hayman has a long-standing reputation as a food lover’s paradise – offering an impressive array of restaurants and eateries, all overseen by a multi-award winning executive chef.
The Whitsunday Coast might be famous for its beaches, islands and backpackers; however the area also boasts an impressive shopping scene.
Airlie Beach is the area’s shopping hub. The town’s main street is dotted with shops that sell everything from swimwear and casual beachwear to fashionable garments and Whitsundays souvenirs. Every Saturday morning the Airlie Beach foreshore plays host to local markets, where fresh produce can be sampled and arts, crafts and fashion can be purchased. A few minutes away, the residential town of Cannonvale features fashion and homewares boutiques and two major shopping centres.
The Whitsundays, in particular Hamilton Island and Hayman Island, are known as havens for upmarket shopping. Hamilton Island’s shopping scene is mainly focused at the Marina Village and Resort Centre, where local art, fashion and jewellery are on display at boutiques and specialty stores. Guests staying at qualia have exclusive access to the qualia boutique, which stocks a wide range of premium labels – the boutique is so special that Collette Dinnigan produced a bikini especially for it. Hayman Island also features a range of boutiques, which offer both highly sort after Australian and international brands.