Airlie Beach is a town in the Whitsunday Region of Queensland, and is one of many departure points for the Great Barrier Reef.
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 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 m2 and 4.5 million litres of fresh, self chlorinated water.
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.