A Travel Price Comparison for Families, Couples, and Backpackers Picton vs. Airlie Beach for Beaches, Hiking, Couples, and Food

Should you visit Picton or Airlie Beach?

Which is cheaper to visit? Which is more expensive for vacation?

Which city should you visit? Read on to compare the activities as well as the prices of travel for Picton and Airlie Beach. We'll break down costs for accommodation, food, transportation and more to help you learn more about these two destinations. Then, you can figure out if either of these two places are accessible based on your travel budget, schedule, and interests. So, let's dig into it.

Picton

Picton is a scenic, quaint, and relaxing town. It's a very nice small town not to be missed. It's also known for beaches, hiking, and shopping.

Airlie Beach

Airlie Beach is a idyllic, paradise, and laid back town. You'll find world class beauty here as well. Other popular activities here include scuba diving and snorkeling, beaches, and hiking.

Picton and Airlie Beach: Pros and Cons

Pros
  • Popular museums and historical sights
  • Popular beach
  • Good for hiking
  • Family-friendly
  • Good for couples and romance
  • Good for backpackers and budget travelers
Things to Consider
  • Less popular for nightlife
Pros
  • Active nightlife
  • Nice resorts
  • Good scuba and snorkeling destination
  • Popular beach
  • Good for hiking
  • Family-friendly
  • Good for couples and romance
  • Good for backpackers and budget travelers
  • Impressive beauty
Things to Consider
  • Less museums and historical sights


Is there more to do in Picton or Airlie Beach?

Visitors will usually find more to do in Airlie Beach than Picton, as it offers more sights, attractions, and activities. Airlie Beach is better known for its nightlife, resorts, scuba diving & snorkeling, beaches, hiking, and impressive beauty, while Picton is more popular for its museums, food, and small town charm. Picton is well known for its picturesque scenery, laid back setting, and beautiful walking trails. Airlie Beach is well known for its tours and transportation that visit the Great Barrier Reef and the Whitsunday Islands. Also, Airlie Beach is famous for the Airlie Beach Lagoon.

How is Picton different from Airlie Beach?

Which is Better for a Holiday?

Let's take a look at the differences and similarities between Airlie Beach and Picton. Then, you can decide for yourself which place is better for your next trip.

Are the Museums and Historical Sights Better in Picton or Airlie Beach?

Picton
Airlie Beach

Picton is a good destination for its sights and museums. However, Airlie Beach is not a good town for its museums and history.

Picton is a good place to visit if you're interested in museums or other recognizable sights. There are a few local museums around town that are fun to visit with the weather isn't cooperating. Edwin Fox Ship is the world's oldest merchant ship. You can also learn about the town's whaling past at the Picton Heritage and Whaling Museum.

If you're looking to pass the time, head to a museum or historic sight in Airlie Beach. Oceanfront beauty is what this town is all about, so you won't find much is the form of museums and manmade landmarks.


Is the Food Better in Picton or Airlie Beach? Which Destination has the Best Restaurants?

Picton
Airlie Beach

Picton is a well-known place for its local cuisine and restaurants. Also, Airlie Beach is not as famous, but is still a good town to visit for its restaurants.

With its innovative style combined with traditional elements, Picton makes for a great culinary experience. The town is filled with restaurants that stay true to New Zealand's culinary traditions. Mussels and salmon are common on menus, and there are many bakeries and waterfront cafes to try.

Airlie Beach has a delicious restaurant scene that relies on local flavors. There's a good selection of restaurants in town that offer everything from freshly caught local seafood to fine dining or casual. Try to pick a place with a view.

Is Picton or Airlie Beach Better for Nightlife?

Picton
Airlie Beach

Airlie Beach is a good destination for its evening party scene. However, Picton is not a good town for nightlife.

There's a variety of activities in the evening in Airlie Beach. The town has a number of nightlife venues that include DJ hosted parties, beachfront cocktail lounges, and mellow local bars.

Those looking for nightlife will find a few places to hang out in Picton. It's a small town with a quiet and calm atmosphere.

Is Picton or Airlie Beach Better for Resorts?

Picton
Airlie Beach

Airlie Beach is very popular for its resorts. However, Picton is not a resort destination.

Vacationers flock to Airlie Beach for its luxury resorts. There's everything from posh resorts and luxury hotels to family-friendly campgrounds. There are also hostels that cater to the budget crowd.

Picton is not a resort destination.


Is Picton or Airlie Beach Better for Scuba Diving and Snorkeling?

Picton
Airlie Beach

Airlie Beach is very popular for snorkeling and scuba diving. However, Picton is not a scuba or snorkeling destination.

People travel from around the world to go scuba diving and snorkeling in Airlie Beach. You can't snorkel right off the shore because the water is murky and mucky, but there are excursions that will take you to the Great Barrier Reef. There are many day cruises that will take you out on the reef to several sights where you may see beautiful coral, sea turtles, or even reef sharks.

Picton is not a scuba or snorkeling destination.

Is Picton or Airlie Beach Better for Beaches?

Picton
Airlie Beach

Airlie Beach is very popular for the beach. Also, Picton is not as famous, but is still a good town to visit for its beaches.

Airlie Beach offers stunning beaches that attract visitors from around the world. Near town there are world class beaches that range from secluded and idyllic to those lined with luxury resorts. For an escape, head to Hideaway Bay or Dingo Beach. If you don't want to leave town, there's also Airlie Beach, which is right off the Main Street. You likely won't want to swim here, but you can enjoy a picnic. Whatever beach you chose, do confirm that there's a stinger net.

Picton is considered a top beach destination. There are four beaches in the area. Picton Beach is by the town center and near many restaurants and cafes. About a ten minute walk from town is Shelley Beach and if you're up for more walking, Bob's Bay is secluded and nice. If you have a car you can make it to Governer's Bay.

Is Picton or Airlie Beach Better for Hiking?

Picton
Airlie Beach

Airlie Beach is very popular for the nearby hiking options. Also, Picton is not as famous, but is still a good town to visit for its hiking trails.

Airlie Beach is well-known for its hiking and trekking. You'll find many incredible hiking trails in the area. Conway National Park is a great place to hike through the rainforest and Conway State Forest is another nice spot.

Many visitors explore the nearby hiking trails while visiting Picton. There are many nice walking paths in the area and this is a great way to explore, reach beaches, and see the surrounding landscapes. If you're up for a longer trip, Queen Charlotte Track is a popular trail.


Is the Shopping Better in Picton or Airlie Beach?

Picton
Airlie Beach

Both Picton and Airlie Beach are notable shopping destinations.

Many visitors go to Picton to go shopping. There are a few galleries and local shops around town.

Plenty of visitors enjoy shopping while in Airlie Beach. Head to the town's main street for your typical souvenir shops and holiday stores.

Is Picton or Airlie Beach Better for Families?

Picton
Airlie Beach

Both Picton and Airlie Beach are excellent family-friendly destinations.

Picton is known to be a very family-friendly place to visit. Kids will enjoy taking a boat cruise to Motuara Island. You can see dolphins, birds, and other wildlife. There are also wildlife centers in the area, family-friendly walking trails, museums, aquariums, and kayaking opportunities.

Airlie Beach is a very family-friendly destination. Kids will enjoy playing in the Airlie Beach Lagoon, visiting the markets, or hanging out at the local beaches or playgrounds. If you're hoping to swim in the ocean, be very aware of the season and the conditions.

Is Picton or Airlie Beach Better for Couples?

Picton
Airlie Beach

Airlie Beach is very popular for couples. Also, Picton is not as famous, but is still a good town to visit for romance.

Airlie Beach is fantastic couple's destination with fun and romantic activities. Couples often use this as a gateway to the stunning Whitsunday Islands. The dining scene is good and there are countless outdoor activities that you can enjoy together. There are also many different resorts in the area.

Picton makes for a fun place to visit for a couple. There are romantic and quaint bed and breakfasts, beautiful walking paths, wildlife encounters, and many more fun activities for couples. Kayak trips, vineyard tours, and local spas make this a great couple's getaway destination.


Is Picton or Airlie Beach Better for Backpackers and Budget Travelers?

Picton
Airlie Beach

Both Picton and Airlie Beach are excellent destinations for backpackers.

Picton is a very popular town for backpackers and budget travelers. There are plenty of hostels in the area as well as great transportation links, making this a great spot for backpackers.

Airlie Beach is very popular with the backpacker crowd. If you're hoping to visit the Whitsunday Islands, then is a good place to base yourself as a backpacker. It has a decent selection of hostels and there are a number of restaurants and other dining options.

Is Picton or Airlie Beach Better for Public Transit? Which Is Easier to Get Around Without a Car?

Picton
Airlie Beach

Both Picton and Airlie Beach offer notable public transit options.

Picton has a few public transit options. There are water taxis but no buses around town.

Airlie Beach has some public transit options. There's a public bus that runs from Proserpine to Shute Harbour. The main bus station is near the city center and the main beach.

Is Picton or Airlie Beach a more walkable city?

Picton
Airlie Beach

Picton and Airlie Beach both are excellent when exploring on foot.

Picton is a very walkable destination. It's a quaint and compact town that's easy to explore on foot.

Airlie Beach is very walkable. The town itself is walkable, but the surrounding area is hilly and requires a car.


For even more information, also check out Is Picton Worth Visiting? and Is Airlie Beach Worth Visiting?.

Should I spend more time in Airlie Beach or Picton?

How long in Picton or Airlie Beach?

Both Picton and Airlie Beach have a number of activities to choose from. With generally more activities and things to do, visitors tend to spend more time in Airlie Beach than in Picton. Usually, 1-2 days is a good amount of time for Picton, and 4-7 days is enough time in Airlie Beach.

Families should spend more time in Airlie Beach than Picton. Because of the many family-friendly attractions and fun things to do for kids in Airlie Beach, it's a great place to visit with the whole family.

Couples should spend more time in Airlie Beach than Picton. You'll find plenty of romantic sights and fun activities in Airlie Beach that are perfect for a weekend getaway or a longer couple's trip.

Backpackers and budget travelers should spend more time in Airlie Beach than Picton if your budget allows for it. With a larger number of budget-friendly sights, good nightlife, and active things to do, anyone traveling on a budget would have a good time in Airlie Beach.


  • How many days in Picton or Airlie Beach? Ideal Length of Stay
    Picton 1-2 
    Airlie Beach 4-7

One day in Picton or Airlie Beach?

In Picton, many people enjoy the shopping and museums that this scenic town offers. Many travelers plan to spend time hiking while in the area. The length of your ideal trip is an individual decision. In one day, you should have a good grasp of this town.

Many travelers enjoy the shopping and nightlife when visiting the destination of Airlie Beach. Hikers are also drawn to this area. But since there are so many activities, you'll likely want to spend more than one day exploring.

A weekend in Picton or Airlie Beach?

Picton is a fun place to experience. You'll find plenty of activities on the beach. If you have a weekend, this is a great place to go. It will give you the chance to have new experiences. So, a weekend is just the right amount of time to spend here.

Airlie Beach is a great place to explore. With so much to do, a weekend is probably not enough time to see everything. Your budget might influence how long you stay.

Five days in Picton or Airlie Beach?

You'll find food and shopping around the scenic destination of Picton. Hikers are also drawn to this area. Take your pick from the many activities offered here. Five days is more than enough time to enjoy everything. Take some day trips to nearby places to fill the extra days.

It's hard to know how much time to spend in Airlie Beach. For many, it makes a great getaway for five days. Make sure you spend some time hiking while you're in the area. With all of its activities, you can easily fill five days here. It has many unique tourist attractions and fascinating things to do.


A week in Picton or Airlie Beach?

Picton is a popular place to visit. Many visitors also spend a good bit of time hiking. One week may feel like too much time unless you plan to do a lot of relaxing. The entire region has so many activities, and you'll want time to do everything.

Many travelers enjoy the scuba diving and snorkeling and shopping when visiting the paradise destination of Airlie Beach. This town offers a variety of activities to choose from. Many travelers plan to spend time hiking while in the area. If you have one week, this is a great place to go. This would be the perfect place to spend one week, as it has just the right amount of activities.


For some great organized tour ideas, see The Best Adventure Tours to New Zealand, The Best Eco Tours in New Zealand, The Best 2-Week Tours in Australia, and The Best 3-Week Tours in Australia.


Which place is cheaper, Airlie Beach or Picton?

These are the overall average travel costs for the two destinations.

The average daily cost (per person) in Picton is $87, while the average daily cost in Airlie Beach is $141. These costs include accommodation (assuming double occupancy, so the traveler is sharing the room), food, transportation, and entertainment. While every person is different, these costs are an average of past travelers in each destination. What follows is a categorical breakdown of travel costs for Picton and Airlie Beach in more detail.



Accommodation
  • Accommodation Hotel or hostel for one person
    Picton $37
    Airlie Beach $58
  • Accommodation Typical double-occupancy room
    Picton $74
    Airlie Beach $116
Compare Hotels in Picton and Airlie Beach

Looking for a hotel in Picton or Airlie Beach? Prices vary by location, date, season, and the level of luxury. See below for options and compare which is best for your budget and travel style.

Hotels in Picton


Hotels in Airlie Beach


Kayak helps you find the best prices for hotels, flights, and rental cars for destinations around the world. Compare prices for multiple destinations when planning your next trip.


Our Analysis
We've analyzed the average and typical hotel prices based on guest reviews, star ratings, and hotel amenities here: Picton Hotel Prices and Airlie Beach Hotel Prices.

Local Transportation
  • Local Transportation Taxis, local buses, subway, etc.
    Picton -
    Airlie Beach $19

Hired Cars and Shuttles in Picton

Some specific examples of transportation prices in Picton:

  • Private Transfer from Picton Cruise Port to Blenheim City Hotels: $38
  • Private Transfer from Blenheim city hotels to Picton Cruise Port: $38
  • Private Transfer from Picton Port to Blenheim Airport (BHE): $46
  • Private Transfer from Blenheim Airport (BHE) to Picton Port: $46

Hired Cars and Shuttles in Airlie Beach

Some specific examples of transportation prices in Airlie Beach:

  • Whitsunday: Prosperpine Airport to Airlie Beach Transfer: $16
  • One Way Only - Airport Transfer share shuttle service: $16
  • Airport Transfers - Return (round fare) share shuttle service: $27
  • Return Transfer PPP Airport Shute Harbour / Renta Yacht / Freedom Shores: $31
  • South Molle Island Camping Transfer: $46
  • Whitehaven Beach Club Transfers from Airlie Beach: $91
  • Private Transfer to Whitsunday Coast Airport: $308

Is it cheaper to fly into Picton or Airlie Beach?

Prices for flights to both Airlie Beach and Picton change regularly based on dates and travel demand. We suggest you find the best prices for your next trip on Kayak, because you can compare the cost of flights across multiple airlines for your prefered dates.





Food
  • Food Meals for one day
    Picton $20
    Airlie Beach $32

Food Tours and Cooking Classes in Airlie Beach

Also, here are some specific examples of food and dining related activities in Airlie Beach.

  • 3-Hour Sunset Segway Tour with Dinner: $71
  • Whitsundays Segway Sunset and Boardwalk Tour with Dinner: $82

Entertainment
  • Entertainment Entrance tickets, shows, etc.
    Picton $109
    Airlie Beach $160

Tours and Activities in Picton

Some specific costs of activities, tours, and entrance tickets for Picton are as follows:

  • Skip the Line: Dangerous Skies WWII Exhibition - Omaka Aviation Heritage Centre: $15
  • Picton Self-Guided Audio Tour: $15
  • Hinterland Cycling Tour, Havelock: $25
  • Skip the Line:WWI & WWII Combo Exhibitions at the Omaka Aviation Heritage Centre: $30
  • Winery Express Tour: $39
  • Queen Charlotte Track: Cruise & Self-Guided Hike from Picton: $51
  • Kayaking Mangrove Adventure at Havelock: $56
  • Marlborough Sounds and Ship Cove Cruise from Picton: $57
  • Motuara Island Bird Sanctuary and Ship Cove Cruise from Picton: $57
  • Half-Day Cruise in Marlborough Sounds from Picton: $58
  • Cruise Ship Day - Marlborough: $60
  • Queen Charlotte Sound Mail Boat Cruise from Picton: $66

Tours and Activities in Airlie Beach

Some specific costs of activities, tours, and entrance tickets for Airlie Beach are as follows:

  • Private Airlie Beach Tuk-Tuk Tours: $20
  • 2-Hour Sunset Cruise with Sparkling Wine: $44
  • Sundowner Sunset Cruise Airlie Beach: $45
  • Airlie Beach Sunset Cruise : $45
  • Whitsundays Sunset Sailing Cruise: $52
  • Glass-Bottom Boat Tour: $57
  • Airlie Beach Glass Bottom Boat Tour: $58
  • Whisper Cruises Turtle Spotting Sunset Cruise - Electric Boat: $63
  • Whitsundays Guided Jet Ski Tour: $85
  • Segway Rainforest Discovery Tour: $89
  • Half Day Cruise Direct to Whitehaven Beach: $90
  • From Airlie: Whitsundays and Whitehaven Half-Day Cruise: $90

Alcohol
  • Alcohol Drinks for one day
    Picton $35
    Airlie Beach $8.99

Sample the Local Flavors in Picton

Here are a few nightlife and alcohol tours and activities from local tour providers in Picton:

  • Self-Guided Biking Wine Tour (full day) in the Marlborough Region.: $36
  • Self-Guided Wine Tours by Bike with Steve & Jo in Marlborough : $39
  • Marlborough: Hop On Hop Off Wine, Brewery, and Wonders Tour: $53
  • Hop on Hop off Wine Tours Marlborough: $54
  • Marlborough Afternoon Wine Tour with Tastings: $69
  • Half-Day Wine Tour from Blenheim: $87
  • Half-Day Wine Tour from Picton: $88
  • Morning Guided with Afternoon Self-Guided Biking Wine Tour: $90
  • Discover Marlborough Wine - Afternoon Marlborough Wine Tour : $91
  • Marlborough Discovery Sampler Wine Tour - 1/2Day Blenheim: $96
  • Taste the Valley Wine Tour in Marlborough with Wine Tasting: $99
  • Half-Day Marlborough Wine Tour & Beer Tour : $108


When we compare the travel costs of actual travelers between Picton and Airlie Beach, we can see that Airlie Beach is more expensive. And not only is Picton much less expensive, but it is actually a significantly cheaper destination. So, traveling to Picton would let you spend less money overall. Or, you could decide to spend more money in Picton and be able to afford a more luxurious travel style by staying in nicer hotels, eating at more expensive restaurants, taking tours, and experiencing more activities. The same level of travel in Airlie Beach would naturally cost you much more money, so you would probably want to keep your budget a little tighter in Airlie Beach than you might in Picton.

If you're trying to decide if either of these two destinations are within your price range, also see Is Picton Expensive? and Is Airlie Beach Expensive?.



When is the best time to visit Picton or Airlie Beach?

Both destinations experience a temperate climate with four distinct seasons. And since both cities are in the southern hemisphere, summer is in January and winter is in July.

Should I visit Picton or Airlie Beach in the Summer?

Both Airlie Beach and Picton are popular destinations to visit in the summer with plenty of activities. The summer months attract visitors to Picton because of the beaches, the hiking, the small town charm, and the family-friendly experiences. Also, the beaches, snorkeling, the hiking, and the family-friendly experiences are the main draw to Airlie Beach this time of year.

In the summer, Picton is cooler than Airlie Beach. Typically, the summer temperatures in Picton in January average around 18°C (64°F), and Airlie Beach averages at about 26°C (79°F).

It rains a lot this time of the year in Airlie Beach. In January, Picton usually receives less rain than Airlie Beach. Picton gets 61 mm (2.4 in) of rain, while Airlie Beach receives 331 mm (13 in) of rain each month for the summer.


  • Summer Average Temperatures January
    Picton 18°C (64°F) 
    Airlie Beach 26°C (79°F)

Should I visit Picton or Airlie Beach in the Autumn?

Both Airlie Beach and Picton during the autumn are popular places to visit. The hiking trails, the shopping scene, and the small town atmosphere are the main draw to Picton this time of year. Also, many travelers come to Airlie Beach for the hiking trails, the shopping scene, and the natural beauty of the area.

In April, Picton is generally much colder than Airlie Beach. Daily temperatures in Picton average around 15°C (58°F), and Airlie Beach fluctuates around 23°C (73°F).

Airlie Beach gets a good bit of rain this time of year. Picton usually gets less rain in April than Airlie Beach. Picton gets 82 mm (3.2 in) of rain, while Airlie Beach receives 143 mm (5.6 in) of rain this time of the year.


  • Autumn Average Temperatures April
    Picton 15°C (58°F) 
    Airlie Beach 23°C (73°F)

Should I visit Picton or Airlie Beach in the Winter?

The winter attracts plenty of travelers to both Picton and Airlie Beach. Many travelers come to Picton for the museums, the shopping scene, and the cuisine. Also, many visitors come to Airlie Beach in the winter for the shopping scene and the cuisine.

Picton is much colder than Airlie Beach in the winter. The daily temperature in Picton averages around 10°C (49°F) in July, and Airlie Beach fluctuates around 16°C (62°F).

Picton gets a good bit of rain this time of year. In July, Picton usually receives more rain than Airlie Beach. Picton gets 111 mm (4.4 in) of rain, while Airlie Beach receives 40 mm (1.6 in) of rain each month for the winter.


  • Winter Average Temperatures July
    Picton 10°C (49°F) 
    Airlie Beach 16°C (62°F)

Should I visit Picton or Airlie Beach in the Spring?

The spring brings many poeple to Picton as well as Airlie Beach. Many visitors come to Picton in the spring for the beaches and the small town charm. Also, most visitors come to Airlie Beach for the beaches and the natural beauty during these months.

In the spring, Picton is much colder than Airlie Beach. Typically, the spring temperatures in Picton in October average around 13°C (55°F), and Airlie Beach averages at about 23°C (73°F).

Picton usually gets more rain in October than Airlie Beach. Picton gets 93 mm (3.7 in) of rain, while Airlie Beach receives 48 mm (1.9 in) of rain this time of the year.


  • Spring Average Temperatures October
    Picton 13°C (55°F) 
    Airlie Beach 23°C (73°F)

Typical Weather for Airlie Beach and Picton

Picton Airlie Beach
Temp (°C) Rain (mm) Temp (°C) Rain (mm)
Jan 18°C (64°F) 61 mm (2.4 in) 26°C (79°F) 331 mm (13 in)
Feb 18°C (64°F) 51 mm (2 in) 26°C (78°F) 377 mm (14.8 in)
Mar 17°C (62°F) 75 mm (3 in) 25°C (77°F) 312 mm (12.3 in)
Apr 15°C (58°F) 82 mm (3.2 in) 23°C (73°F) 143 mm (5.6 in)
May 12°C (54°F) 92 mm (3.6 in) 20°C (68°F) 67 mm (2.6 in)
Jun 10°C (51°F) 113 mm (4.4 in) 17°C (63°F) 57 mm (2.2 in)
Jul 10°C (49°F) 111 mm (4.4 in) 16°C (62°F) 40 mm (1.6 in)
Aug 10°C (50°F) 98 mm (3.9 in) 18°C (65°F) 27 mm (1.1 in)
Sep 12°C (53°F) 79 mm (3.1 in) 20°C (68°F) 15 mm (0.6 in)
Oct 13°C (55°F) 93 mm (3.7 in) 23°C (73°F) 48 mm (1.9 in)
Nov 15°C (58°F) 79 mm (3.1 in) 25°C (77°F) 107 mm (4.2 in)
Dec 17°C (62°F) 69 mm (2.7 in) 26°C (78°F) 191 mm (7.5 in)