We have only 7- 9 days early Feb 2011 to explore the Whitsundays/ GBR areas and with the huge distances, have made peace with the fact that we will probably not be able to visit both Airlie Beach and Cairns areas. We are keen on snorkelling (especially if it can be off the beach as I tend to get seasick) and would like to know whether we should opt for Airlie Beach and the Whitsunday Islands or rather visit Cairns (and include Kuranda) and the islands surrounding it (eg Green Island)? We were thinking of buying a one - way ticket out to either Cairns or Airlie Beach and then driving back to Brisbane with rental car. Please- any advice will be helpfull! Thanks guys!
Cairns is a better location for a diverse holiday. Reef, rainforest, rafting waterfalls, quad bikes etc etc. The reef trips here are awesome with more fish/coral to see. Airlie Beach is better known for the sailing. Here most people will spend 2days 2 nights sailing the Whitsunday Islands. There are some day trips available.
After Cairns you can then do the 2 day drive to Brisbane or you can break it up along the way. Good stops are Mission Beach-Airlie Beach- 1770-Hervey Bay- Noosa - Brisbane. Let me know if I can be of further help. firstname.lastname@example.org almost 6 years ago
Cairns is more of a party town and can be really busy. You can do a variety of trips out to GBR to suit and then day trips to other places such as Kurunda, Daintree, Port Douglas etc.
I loved Airlie Beach more than Cairns - although I prefer Port Douglas over everything! Airlie Beach is more relaxed I felt and its a jumping off point for the Whits which are amazing. The fishing from Airlie was good but not great and I thought the sea was rougher than Cairns/Port Douglas, but once you are closer to the Whits then its better.
The drive back to Brisbane was okay - a bit monotonous in places and we stopped off along the way at 1770, Harvey Bay where we stayed for a couple of weeks as it was so lovely, Noosa where I want to move to if I ever get enough money before ending up in Brizzie.
Either one that you choose would be great. I possibly would be more tempted by the GBR option but thats because I really enjoyed it on that bit of my trip. almost 6 years ago