Whitehaven Beach_a short seaplane ride from Airlie Beach

Power it like P Diddy: 48 hours in Airlie Beach

48 hours does not seem long, but in a town that’s just had more than a Meg Ryan makeover, Airlie Beach left Shelley Winkel feeling as fresh as a new born. Here’s her account of a girls’ weekend away with the fabulous Tash from Breakfast with Audrey, Gaynor a.k.a The Modern Woman’s Survival Guide, and Erica from Melbourne Girl.

Friday 4.30 pm: Sunset sail with Queensland Yacht Charters  

The only thing between me and P. Diddy right now is $3500. That’s the kind of coin I need to hire the 38-foot kick-ass boat I’m on – and to stay on it for the next four days. Not bad, given it can sleep eight of my own A-Lister buddies.

We are two hours into a 48-hour Airlie Beach girls’ getaway and Captain Christophe, the charming Gallic skipper from Queensland Yacht Charters , has dangled the dream of a rock star lifestyle in front of me. After an hour’s sail into the sunset the one thing I know is that Puff Daddy (or whatever he calls himself these days) can keep St Tropez to himself, the waters around the Whitsundays are where it’s at.

(P.S. As much as I wish it, this is not a picture of me!)

Friday 7.00pm: First feed with Mr Bones

This weekend is all about speed dating the newly revamped town of Airlie Beach, and if my first meal is the second act to romance, then I’m on the path to love.

I don’t tend to judge a destination by its balls, but the robust Arancini types served up at Mr Bones Pizza are the best things ever. Or maybe the second best. Because the mackerel spring rolls that follow are pillows of incredibly fleshy fish wrapped up in crunchy rice wrapping.

No bones about it, Airlie Beach has just served up some seriously good nosh.

Friday 10.30 pm: Deep sleep in the heart of the town

I’m stuffed. And because of that, I’m really pleased we booked the Airlie Beach Hotel. One, because just like the main street, the hotel has had a remarkable makeover and two, it’s a short stroll to everything. I manage to navigate my way around the party crowd at Magnums and fall asleep 10 minutes after leaving the restaurant.

Saturday am: Good morning paradise

What I didn’t know when I slumped into the bed was that I would wake up to a box office view of a palm fringed sandy beach and the waft of steaming coffee from Capers on the Esplanade just below. This outlook should be on a postcard.

Hang on. It is.

After last night’s excess its two poached eggs and a side of people peeking for me.

Saturday 10:30 am: A rub and a dip

A massage is on the menu. Two of the girls head to Endota Spa at Peppers Airlie Beach for a signature massage while the other two skive off poolside to find themselves in the thick of a post wedding recovery party. One young buck has already approached our fair damsels. #loveairliebeach is all I can say.

Saturday noon: Afternoon delight at Cape Gloucester

We are in paradise. It took 50 minutes to drive here from Airlie Beach but Montes Reef Resort at Cape Gloucester is one of those honest gems you pray no one will blog about (oops!). Little more than a cluster of eight beachfront cabins and a rough and ready open walled restaurant, it’s back to bare basics here – pristine views, high ball beachside cocktails and bucket loads of sunshine. The more adventurous can jump on a jetski and go for a spin. But that’s someone else’s story.

Saturday Night: Back for the world’s best Mojito

We are at Fish D’vine – a seafood–come-rum bar in the main street of Airlie Beach and a welcoming young waiter has just whipped up a Mojito. It’s touted as the world’s best and after a wee gulp I feel the need to salute to that. I could be tempted to hang bar side with the owner Kev Collins, but I’ve just spotted my waitress carrying a tower of local prawns drenched in a jungle curry in one hand and a slab of seared tuna served with a side salsa in the other. Yabba dabba doo! It’s chow time. Again!

Sunday 8.30am: A rock star’s guide to the reef

We started the weekend like rock stars and that’s how we end it, in an Air Whitsunday Seaplane enjoying a half-day Panorama Tour over Heart Reef before landing beachside at Whitehaven.

What strikes me is the raw beauty. There’s no lie here. Nothing has been retouched by computer graphics. This place is naturally hyper coloured and gob smackingly beautiful. Just like Dorothy, I’ve stepped into the reef version of Oz. The water is an unworldly turquoise, it’s fringed with vermilion green reefs and the sandy cays are blindingly white.

Sadly just like Dorothy, I do have to return to a sepia version of life.

Forty-eight hours in Airlie Beach is just not enough!

(PS: This is a photo of me. I’ve been photo bummed!)