The best dining spots in Airlie Beach and The Whitsundays

They don’t call The Whitsundays the heart of the Great Barrier Reef just because it’s home to a reef in the shape of a love heart.

There’s lots to love about the region – and its reef, islands, beaches are only just the beginning. Under the surface, there’s a killer food scene, ranging from casual bar bites to fine dining with personal chefs who promise love at first bite.

So if you’re wondering where to eat during your stay in The Whitsundays, get ready to taste the best of the best with this guide:

For the best breakfast … The Deck Restaurant, Airlie Beach

The Deck Restaurant | Where to eat in The Whitsundays

Hotels don’t always have the best reputation when it comes to serving a delicious breakfast, but this one bucks the trend. The Deck Restaurant at the bottom of Heart Hotel is where you’ll find locals for the most important meal of the day.

An a la carte menu is a far cry from the normal hotel buffet spread (soggy omelettes, why?) and each meal is served with complimentary sea breezes straight off the Coral Sea. Its location in the centre of town, makes The Deck the perfect launch pad to these Airlie Beach activities, providing the perfect fuel for your next Great Barrier Reef adventure.

You have to try their… Breakfast Bruschetta – a modern twist on the Italian classic.

Address: 277 Shute Harbour Rd, Airlie Beach
Open: 7:30am-10pm Sunday – Thursday, 7:30am-11pm Friday and Saturday

For the best coffee… Fat Frog Beach Cafe, Cannonvale

Fat Frog Beach Cafe | 13 of the best Airlie Beach restaurants

Photo by Fat Frog Beach Cafe via FB

Grab your pooch and head to the Fat Frog Beach Cafe for (all-day) brekkie or lunch with a view. This quirky cafe opposite Cannonvale Beach is a popular spot with locals and tourists for good reason; serving up healthy homemade dishes, Campos coffee, and yummy treats for little tadpoles (aka kids) and four-legged fur babies.

After scoffing down your meal, walk it off with a stroll along the Bicentennial Boardwalk.

You have to try their… Fish tacos with Asian slaw and grilled corn, and delicious baked goods!

Address: 44 Coral Esplanade, Airlie Beach
Open: Monday to Friday from 7am-2pm and Saturday to Sunday from 8am-2pm

For somewhere off the beaten track… Oar Bar & Restaurant, Cape Gloucester Resort

Whitsundays locals will hate us for sharing their secret, but some places are too good to keep to yourself. Fifty-three kilometres north of Airlie Beach, Cape Gloucester Resort is hiding in the aptly named Hydeaway Bay.

Their onsite restaurant Oar Bar & Restaurant is as popular as the resort itself. Uninterrupted views are a hard guarantee for a venue to make – but one this restaurant can uphold being entirely open air and fronting onto 1.5km of beachfront. Come by car, come by yacht, seaplane or helicopter, either way, just make sure you come to this slice of paradise.

You have to try their… Seafood Platter because seafood always tastes better when you can see the connection from trawler to table.

Address: 128 Gloucester Ave, Hydeaway Bay
Open: Daily from 12pm-8pm

For the best water views… Northerlies Beach Bar and Grill, Woodwark

Views don’t come much better than the ones you find at Northerlies Beach Bar and Grill, 15 minutes north-east of Airlie Beach. It’s the kind of restaurant where you’ll want your phone set to panorama to capture the vistas over Airlie Beach, Whitsunday Islands and the Coral Sea.

Just like the destination itself, the menu and atmosphere at Northerlies is casual and family-friendly, but with none of the fluoro lighting or loud music that so often go with the casual-dining territory. People come for the views and relaxed atmosphere but stay for the food, with its seafood-focused menu.

You have to try their… Kingfish carpaccio with avocado, salmon roe and miso vinaigrette – light and fresh,  just like the destination itself.

Address: Lot 116, Pringle Road, Airlie Beach
Open: Daily from 10am-8:30pm

For a honeymoon or uber special occasion meal… Elysian Retreat, Long Island

There’s a long list of reasons why you should visit Long Island and Elysian Retreat is just one of them. If the lure of staying in your own private haven isn’t enough, the food will do all the convincing for you.  

On arrival, you’ll be met by the chef to discuss your palette’s preferences and dietary requirements, so each meal is customised to you. We’re not just talking breakfast, lunch and dinner – the chef will want to get to the bottom of what you’d like in your alfresco picnic hamper to take for a day’s exploring too. Save room for dinner, because each night guests are treated to a three-course meal served overlooking Conway National Park.

You have to try… Catching your own fish for the chef to cook. Seriously, if you catch something while out fishing in the day, the chef will prepare your catch for you that night.

Address: Long Island, Whitsundays
Open: Daily from 7am-9pm

For the best pub food… KC’s Bar and Grill, Airlie Beach

KC's Bar and Grill | Where to eat in The Whitsundays

Photo by @kcsbarngrill

You’ve come to the Whitsundays and blown the food budget on one of these jaw-dropping experiences – KC’s Bar & Grill to the rescue! It’s somewhat of a Whitsundays institution, serving steak and seafood to the sounds of live music.

Just as Cheers was the bar where everyone knew your name, KC’s Bar & Grill has built its reputation on making everyone feel as though KC’s is their local.

You have to try their… Taste of Australia on a plate –  a roo and croc medley cooked on chargrill.

Address: 382 Shute Harbour Rd, Airlie Beach
Open: Daily from 12pm-12am

For date night… La Marina, Airlie Beach

It’s not just a date night, it’s amore when you visit La Marina. This family-owned Italian Restaurant at the Port of Airlie brings a taste of Rome to the Whitsunday Coast.

Everything is made fresh onsite, right down to the tiramisu and doughnuts, with recipes passed down (and perfected) over generations. What you see is what you get at this restaurant, with the owners working the kitchen and floor – guaranteeing quality no matter when you go.

You have to try their… Salsiccia pasta. It’s about to become your death row dish – homemade Italian pork sausage, wild portobello mushrooms, parmesan and fresh ricotta.

Address: 1/33 Port Drive, Airlie Beach
Open: 11:30am-10pm, Monday to Friday, 8am-10pm Saturday and Sunday

For the best seafood… Fish D’vine and Rum Bar, Airlie Beach

Fish D'Vine and Rum Bar | 14 of the best Airlie Beach restaurants

Photo by Fish D’vine via FB

Not only will you be over-the-freaking-moon with this award-winning restaurant’s drool-inducing seafood offerings (ocean basket and seafood chowder anyone?), but Fish D’vine also boasts an impressive collection of over 560 rums!

Even if you’re not into rum, you’ll walk away with a new-found appreciation for the spirit (and hopefully a new fave beverage of choice). Bookings are essential!

You have to try their… Tempura battered local tiger prawns with Asian slaw, the chilli mud crab, and retro banana fritters with spiced rum maple syrup, vanilla bean ice-cream and dark chocolate swirl to top it off.

Address: 303 Shute Harbour Road, Airlie Beach
Open: 7 days a week from 5pm till late

For fine dining (and a divine degustation)… Clipper Restaurant & Bar, Airlie Beach

Picture this: A five-course meal featuring culinary delights such as kingfish ceviche, braised beef cheek, pan-seared snapper, pork loin served with truffle sweet potato, and sticky date pudding with homemade honeycomb for dessert – all with uninterrupted views of the Coral Sea and Whitsunday Islands, poolside.

Yes, that my friends is a degustation with Clipper Restaurant Bar and Lounge at Coral Sea Resort.

You have to try their… Tasting menu, of course. (But if that’s a bit too much to handle, their a la carte lunch and dinner menus are damn good too.) And if you want to surprise a loved one, book the private gazebo.

Address: 25 Oceanview Avenue, Airlie Beach
Open: Monday to Sunday from 6:30am-9:30pm

Looking for more information on The Whitsundays? Step over here for everything you need to know before you go.

What’s your favourite restaurant or cafe in The Whitsundays?