Airlie Beach is a town in the Whitsunday Region of Queensland, Australia. At the 2006 census, the suburb of Airlie Beach itself had a population of 2,751. The greater Whitsunday region had a population of approximately 31,000 Airlie Beach is one of many departure points for the Great Barrier Reef. Near latitude 20 degrees south, Airlie Beach, Proserpine and the nearby Whitsunday Islands enjoy a tropical climate and lifestyle.
The Whitsunday Islands, named by James Cook in 1770 are a sailors' paradise. Cook named the islands as he believed he passed through the area on the Christian festival day of Whit Sunday. It is now widely accepted that he didn't actually pass through on this date, as he had failed to take into account the yet to be brought into existence International Date Line à la Phileas Fogg.
Each year the residents of Airlie Beach celebrate The Blessing of the Fleet on Whit Sunday or Pentecost Sunday.
Airlie Beach is a tourist destination, extremely popular with backpackers. Its beach is small and the sea is inhabited by marine stingers, the box jellyfish (Chironex fleckeri) from November to May. In order to provide somewhere for the visitors tourists to swim, the local council, has built a small - medium sized swimming lagoon on the foreshore, similar to the lagoon found in Cairns. The Airlie Beach Lagoon is 4,300 m and 4.5 million litres of fresh, self chlorinated water.
The Great Barrier Reef is easily accessible from Airlie Beach, with an array of different types of tours available.
A survey conducted by Ray Green in 2000, found Airlie Beach was often described by local residents and tourists as 'commercial and touristy', 'relaxed', 'beautiful' and 'friendly' while maintaining a 'natural environment' with tropical vegetation, views of the sea, islands and surrounding hillsides - perhaps more reflective of the towns overall representation