Whitsundays: Where NOT to go

Whitsundays Insider
A Green Turtle ( Chelonia mydas ), Great Barrier Reef, Queensland. Lonely Planet photo Bob Charlton.
A Green Turtle (Chelonia mydas) returns to the sea after laying its eggs on Lady Elliot Island - Great Barrier Reef
"Avoid some of the backpacker bars on Airlie Beach's main street if you're not on the same wavelength as a 20-year-old lad from east London."
Whitsundays Insider

Cedar Creek Falls is not so falls-like in the winter months. During the wet season (summer) it's definitely worth a look, though you'll be disappointed in the drier months (take the trek down to Eungella National Park to go platypus spotting if you want to see nature at its best in the winter).

Avoid some of the backpacker bars on Airlie Beach's main street if you're not on the same wavelength as a 20-year-old lad from east London. Some of these 'bras' are great fun and offer cheap drinks and a lively crowd, but you'll also see your fair share of wet T-shirt competitions, 'Wonderwall' covers and more English football jerseys than at the last FA Cup final.

Don't stay at the Reef View Hotel on Hamilton Island — how on earth they let 1980s property tycoon Keith Hamilton put up a 20-plus-storey block of concrete on one of the earth's greatest island groups defies belief. It doesn't feel right being in so much concrete while you're in such pristine surrounds.

I'd also avoid most of the bars on Hamilton Island (they're okay at the Marina, though) where the "new rich" battle each other to see who can produce their platinum Amex cards first and have bragging rights about their wealth. You'll also see a few work conference groups here — not always so much fun to be around.

There's the odd tourist attraction on Hamilton Island more suited to places such as Phuket or Kuta. For example, Jetryder, is a jet-boat ride that brings yachties running to their decks with their fists in the air as jet-setters thunder past with loud techno music blaring. The day we tried it, the driver ripped off a large section of mangrove vine and one of our main ports of call was a haven for turtles and dolphins. Sigh.

Also, consider avoiding the big group tourist activities. Beaches such as Whitehaven Beach are best looked at with a small group, or even with just your partner or your family — it might cost a little more to book an intimate charter, but consider how it feels to have paradise plundered by a hundred others fighting you for their bit of paradise.

If you want absolute water frontage accommodation in the Airlie Beach area, don't book anything located in Cannonvale. Cannonvale is actually a suburb of Airlie Beach and is a five-minute drive from any water. Many accommodation outlets use pictures of famous Whitsunday Island beaches, such as Whitehaven Beach, on their brochures, which give customers the idea they'll be staying on the beach. Unless you're staying on an island resort, you won't be staying on any beach in Airlie (the closest you can come is at Coral Sea Resort, which is actually on the water).

Got any more places to avoid? Have your say using the comments form below.

Next: Near the beaten track

Get some amazing ideas for Queensland adventures in our action-packed gallery below:

User comments
Bella Vista on Nara (Stayz) ... location, tranquility and comfort is what we were looking for in holiday accommodation. we got this Huge, Holiday House in Airlies premier residential precinct, Is It!!! ONLY MINUTES WALK to the new Port of Airlie, Lagoon and Airlie village. we had a fantastic Family holiday in this holiday home we were there for a wedding. so close we walked everywhere and didn't need a car. Great Rates, Great location, Great home there was 10 guests and it worked out at $38.00pp per night for the week.
I totally disagree with the opinions of Cannonvale. I went there for 1 week with my bro & sis in law (down from Canada) and my partner. We rented an apartment at Marina Shores and it was amazing. There wasn't a beach but we had beautiful views of the marina and there was a nice big balcony and barbecue for us to use, we saved heaps on $$ as we bought our own food and enjoyed cooking . It was fabulous! We also did 2 boat cruises and got plenty of "beach" time. On our Island tours I found that Daydream Island was probably better geared towards families with young children - it reminded me of a cheesy hotel in Vegas and I would never stay there. Hook Island was pretty dirty looking and would never stay there - the snorkling was good though and we got to see some pretty cool fish. Hamilton Island is beautiful, I've never stayed but we spent an afternoon there for lunch and the people were friendly and the pricing was comparable. I live in Sydney so nothing is cheap for me anyway
Its hard to know where to start with this one! - Cedar Creek has waterfalls during the summer wet season, but not so much during the dry season DUH! However, even when there are no falls its still a great fresh water swimming spot. - If you want waterfront accommodation try Shingley Beach resort, Marina Shores, Peninsula or Whitsunday Waterfront Apartments in Cannonvale. For waterfront accommodation in Airlie Beach, check out The Boathouse by Outrigger at the new Port of Airlie marina. - I won't argue that the Reefview Hotel on Hamilton Island is a big concrete block, but it offers guests huge rooms, fantastic views, and top class service. I would (and regularly do) recommend it to anyone visiting the area.
Hamilton Island is a great place to stay! Its a great place to get away from everything and a excuse to drive around in golf carts all day! Another Island to go to is Magnetic Island only 20 mins ferry ride from Townsville with everything hamilton has to offer and somewhat cheap to but with the same service. Most Islands up the east coast have something different and indiviual to show for themselves so its best to stay there first and then right your comments then! Never judge a book by its cover!
Yes, Reef View only deserves two stars, suitable for school excursions who book it, launches from Shute Harbour expensive, as are reef tours, cannot enter water without worrying about stingers, and they do kill, despite promotional material read on last vist to Hamo (xmas 2010), why bother.
i lived in cannonvale and found it to be a very relaxed lifestyle. it's far enough away from airlie, to avoid the crowds, but a nice walk along the boardwalk into airlie if you do want some entertainment. shopping is excellent, and the people are very friendly. cannonvale has a country village atmosphere, that is hard to find these days.
we have visited the whitsundays many times over the last 5 years, my (now) wife actually worked on Daydream for a while. my only advice would be spend the extra $$....$ and treat yourself to HAYMAN! we honeymooned there and were lucky enough to return for our 1st anniversary. It eliminates the back packer issue and although there are a few "snobby" european tourists around the fantastic atmosphere and the attention to detail of the amazing staff quickly makes up for anything you may be thinking at the time. I absolutely recommend this magic place to anyone, just perfect.
I would never stay at the Airlie Beach Hotel or eat at their restaurant again !! The rudest girls I have ever seen serving tables at the restaurant. I have traveled a lot and could not believe people could be so rude, I think they wanted to close early !! Lots of other good places. Stay away from the Airlie Beach Hotel and restaurant and enjoy your visit !!
My partner and I booked a campervan to have a bit of an adventure for our three year anniversary. We drove it from Brisbane to Airley. Honestly there was nothing at all worth seeing between the Sunshine Coast and Bowen... and the only decent places off Airley took all morning to get to, you got a brief hour on them, then you spent all afternoon getting back. I think next time we'll fly straight to Cairns! Perhaps it MIGHT be better if you stayed on an island... but excepting special occasions us mere mortals can't afford to do that. It's literally cheaper flying to Thailand and spending twice the time there in just as good (if not better) surrounds! Even the snorkelling was disappointing... Whitehaven beach DID have lovely sand, though. We shouldn't have expected to be beautiful all along the coast like NSW... QLDs claims just don't hold water!!!
Just read what you said about Airlie Beach and it is not all true what you said! Being a owner operator of accommodation in Airlie Beach we offer great accommodation and no wet t-shirt competitons. I do agree with you that Hamilton is not that great very commercialised and Keith Williams did ruin it but Airlie Beach is not at all like that. We do rely on the backbackers as they are the hub of this town but you can stay and eat in the main street and not be bothered by the loud party atmersphere of the town. Walking the board walk from Airlie Beach to Cannonvale is a great way to see all of the area. And as for Ceder Creek Falls well any idiot would know that any water fall will only be running after rain so the creeks and rivers flow, being no rain no falls. If you choose to pick on the Whitsundays make sure you get your facts straight and dont just base it on Hamilton Is. there is a lot more to the whitsundays than that Island.