Shute Harbour is where we caught our ferry ride to Hamilton Island. You can book your transfer to Shute Harbour for the ferry ride via your accommodation or just catch the bus there. The ferry ride doesn't have to be booked. Just front up on the day and pay as you board. There are regular ferries from Shute Harbour and also Able Point Marina at Airlie Beach to most of the Whitsunday Islands. Check out the site below for more info.
If you have a car and want to park it while you visit an island in the Whitsundays for a few days then you can park it right at Shute Harbour.
We left Zig's car (1+1) at Shute Harbour while we visited Hamilton Island.
See details below.
We flew with Virgin Blue airlines from Brisbane to Proserpine Airport which is the airport for Airlie Beach and I totally recommend it. In fact it was a better trip with friendlier staff than my trip from Perth to Brisbane with Qantas.
Coming into Proserpine (which btw, is known as Whitsunday Coast when booking with flightcentre.com.au) it looks like you are flying into the scrub in the middle of nowhere....in fact I guess you could say we did as Proserpine airport is about 40 minutes from Airlie Beach.
Anyway, when we enbarked...a pleasant warm breeze and lovely weather greeted us!!... Bit hot for some of my overseas visitors... but I was in my element ;o)
There are a few different ways of getting to Airlie Beach from Proserpine Airport.
When you arrive at the airport, there are a few different counters, all getting you to Airlie Beach for around the same price.
We used Whitsunday Taxis. Their "share fare" from the airport is A$15 per person.
To return to the airport after your holiday, you need to book them the day before to get this price. Otherwise, as a single journey, the price is more like $70. Make sure when you call to book that you mention "share fare".
Shute Harbour is where the ferries leave Airlie Beach for the Whitsunday Islands, some of the islands serviced from here are Hamilton Island, Daydream Island , Long Island etc etc. The major ferry operator is FantaSea Cruises and they operate a modern cat service, very fast.
Shute Harbour is about a 15 minute drive from Airlie Beach on the local bus service.
A local bus company operates the service between the Whitsundays Coast Airport and Arlie Beach. Cost of one way trip was about $13.
The trip from the airport is just over 1/2 hour so unless you're in a large group getting a maxi taxi, or you're prepared to pay a premium to get to Airlie use this service.
The bus will stop off at several stops around Airlie. All you need tell the driver is where you are staying.
We took Fantasea Cruises from Hamilton Island airport to Shute Harbour (a town next to Airlie Beach) and return. They are quick and easy but a bit pricy (about $35 per trip)...
Fantasea also does trips to the Great Barrier Reef and some areas of the Whitsunday Islands... Everywhere you go you will see something to do with Fantasea...
You can walk around Airlie in an hour but what you cant do is see it all at once, unless you get out to Cannonvale Airfield (just around the corner from Airlie) and try a helicopter ride.
Shute Harbour is a sheltered port near Airlie Beach and serves mainly as a ferry terminal for tourists travelling to and from the Whitsunday Islands and the mainland.
The Reef Oceania Village Resort had its own double decker bus to take you in and around Airlie Beach.
You will see lots of these campers in Airlie, all hand painted in a different theme, this one rung a bell.