Airlie Beach is the gateway to the tropical Whitsunday Islands and the Great Barrier Reef. It’s also a holiday destination in itself with gorgeous stretches of sandy beaches, national parks, lush waterfalls and a lively town brimming with bars and restaurants. If you’re visiting Airlie Beach, you might be wondering if it’s safe to swim. The short answer is yes. It’s safe to swim, but only if you’re aware of the risks, follow local advice and observe warning signs.
Where can you swim in Airlie Beach?
One of the most popular places to swim is the Airlie Beach Lagoon on the oceanfront. It’s a large chlorinated saltwater swimming pool and there are lifeguards on patrol throughout the day. The lagoon has designated swimming lanes, shallow areas to relax and a children’s pool. It’s surrounded by a sandy beach and amazing sea views and has a grassy picnic area, barbeques and changing room facilities (which are all free to use). It's a great spot where the whole family can spend the day.
You can also swim at the beach. There are two beaches in Airlie Beach: Boathaven Beach near the Port of Airlie Marina and Canonvale Beach which is located 3km to the west. Currently, lifeguards don't patrol these beaches, but there are stinger nets to protect you from jellyfish and larger marine life. It’s recommended to swim in the designated enclosures to stay safe.
Stinger season is from November to May when large populations of box and Irukandji jellyfish arrive in the warm waters. Getting stung by one of these guys can be extremely painful or even deadly. The local council created the Airlie Beach Lagoon for this reason – it's free from stingers and is the safest place to swim. There are also stinger nets at Boathaven and Canonvale Beach throughout most of the year. If you're swimming in unprotected areas, it’s recommended to wear a one-piece stinger suit to protect your body, arms and legs. Your hands, feet and head will still be exposed, so take extra caution when you're in the water.
Are there crocodiles at Airlie Beach?
It’s extremely rare to see crocodiles around Airlie Beach, but they have been spotted around the Whitsundays (mostly in the Coral Sea Marina) while travelling to their regular river habitats. Crocodiles prefer murky, dirty waters and the inlet to Prosperine River (26km south of Airlie Beach) is home to crocs, but they don’t usually venture too far from here. Overall, it’s very unlikely to see a crocodile in Airlie Beach, but it is possible. Be croc-wise and follow local advice to stay safe.
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