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.
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, 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 m2 and 4.5 million litres of self chlorinated water.
The Great Barrier Reef is somewhat accessible from Airlie Beach, with an array of different types of tours available. Majority of these tours depart from Abell Point Marina but a few depart from the recently completed Port of Airlie. The Abell Point Marina contains 507 berths. Trips to the islands and reef are relatively expensive.
The name derived from the former town of Airlie and unbounded locality of Airlie Beach. Airlie was named following a request by the Lands Department in December 1935 for the Proserpine Shire Council to provide a name for a new sub-division on the coast. It is almost certain that the town was named for the parish of Airlie, in Scotland, as the name was suggested by the chairman of the former Proserpine Shire Council, Robert Shepherd, who was born in nearby Montrose, Scotland. The official name was Airlie from 1936 until 1987, when it became Airlie Beach.
Airlie Beach Post Office opened on 2 November 1959.
Busking was made legal in June 2010 through an Adopted Draft Policy created by Whitsunday Regional Council.