A Travel Price Comparison for Australia Rockhampton vs. Airlie Beach for Beaches, Hiking, Couples, and Food

Should you visit Rockhampton or Airlie Beach?

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

Should I visit Rockhampton or Airlie Beach? This is a common question asked by many travelers. By figuring out which city has activities that align with your interests along with knowing which is more affordable, you'll understand where you can get more bang for your buck. So, let's dive into the details and the data, which all comes from actual travelers.

Rockhampton

Rockhampton is a traditional, charming, and cultural town. It's a very nice small town not to be missed. It's also known for nightlife, food, and beaches.

Airlie Beach

Airlie Beach is a paradise, laid back, and slow-paced town. It's considered by many to be an absolutely beautiful destination, too. It's also popular because of the shopping, nightlife, and food.

Rockhampton and Airlie Beach: Pros and Cons

Pros
  • Popular museums and historical sights
  • Active nightlife
  • Good for hiking
  • Family-friendly
  • Good for couples and romance
  • Good for backpackers and budget travelers
  • Good for students
Things to Consider
  • Less attractive beach
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 Rockhampton or Airlie Beach?

Visitors will usually find more to do in Airlie Beach than Rockhampton, as it offers more sights, attractions, and activities. Airlie Beach is better known for its resorts, scuba diving & snorkeling, beaches, hiking, and impressive beauty, while Rockhampton is more popular for its museums, food, and small town charm. Rockhampton is well known for its cultural centers and surrounding national parks. 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 Rockhampton different from Airlie Beach?

Which is Better for a Holiday?

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

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

Rockhampton
Airlie Beach

Rockhampton is a well-known place for its sights and museums. However, Airlie Beach is not a good town for its museums and history.

Visitors can fill many days exploring the museums and attractions around Rockhampton. While many people come for the area's natural beauty, there are also educational centers where you can learn about the indigenous culture. Make sure you visit the Dreamtime Cultural Centre as well as the Rockhampton Museum of Art. Also of interest are the Rockhampton Heritage Village and the Mount Morgan Historical Railway 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 Rockhampton or Airlie Beach? Which Destination has the Best Restaurants?

Rockhampton
Airlie Beach

Rockhampton 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, Rockhampton makes for a great culinary experience. Despite its small size, the food scene is surprisingly diverse. There are local cafes that offer local produce, waterfront restaurants that have great views, and casual international eateries, as well as low key pubs.

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 Rockhampton or Airlie Beach Better for Nightlife?

Rockhampton
Airlie Beach

Both Rockhampton and Airlie Beach have notable vibes after the sun sets.

With a handful of venues, visitors can find a fairly lively vibe in Rockhampton. It's a small place, but there are still a number of pubs and bars around town. Many visitors enjoy going to a coastal beach bar for the evening.

Airlie Beach has an active nightlife scene for those who seek it out. The town has a number of nightlife venues that include DJ hosted parties, beachfront cocktail lounges, and mellow local bars.

Is Rockhampton or Airlie Beach Better for Resorts?

Rockhampton
Airlie Beach

Airlie Beach is a world-class destination for its luxury resorts. However, Rockhampton is not a resort destination.

For the ultimate resort vacation, Airlie Beach is a great choice. There's everything from posh resorts and luxury hotels to family-friendly campgrounds. There are also hostels that cater to the budget crowd.

Rockhampton is not a resort destination.


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

Rockhampton
Airlie Beach

Airlie Beach is a world-class destination for snorkeling and scuba diving. However, Rockhampton is not a scuba or snorkeling destination.

The clear water and abundant marine life make Airlie Beach a world-class scuba diving and snorkeling destination. 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.

Rockhampton is not a scuba or snorkeling destination.

Is Rockhampton or Airlie Beach Better for Beaches?

Rockhampton
Airlie Beach

Airlie Beach is a world-class destination for the beach. Also, Rockhampton is not quite as popular, but is fairly good for its beaches.

Travelers come from around the world to visit the beaches in Airlie Beach. 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.

Many people head to Rockhampton to enjoy the beach. The town is about 40 kilometers inland from the Capricorn Coast beaches.

Is Rockhampton or Airlie Beach Better for Hiking?

Rockhampton
Airlie Beach

Airlie Beach is a world-class destination for its hiking trails. Also, Rockhampton is not quite as popular, but is fairly good for its hiking experiences.

People visit Airlie Beach specifically for its hiking, as the natural beauty is well-known. 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.

You'll find a nice variety of hiking trails around Rockhampton. The area has several national parks that are perfect for an avid bush walker or anyone looking for an afternoon in nature. Whether you're interested in a day trip or overnight camping trip, there are many natural scenic areas nearby.


Is the Shopping Better in Rockhampton or Airlie Beach?

Rockhampton
Airlie Beach

Shoppers can find a variety of notable stores in both Rockhampton and Airlie Beach.

Rockhampton has a variety of shopping areas worth visiting. There are several shopping centers in town where you can pick up anything you might need.

Airlie Beach is a great destination for shopping. Head to the town's main street for your typical souvenir shops and holiday stores.

Is Rockhampton or Airlie Beach Better for Families?

Rockhampton
Airlie Beach

Kids will enjoy a visit to either Rockhampton or Airlie Beach.

You'll find plenty of family-friendly things to do in Rockhampton. Kids will enjoy a visit to the Rockhampton Heritage Village. You can also picnic and walk around the nearby Mount Etna Caves National Park or explore the Capricorn Caves which is about half an hour outside of town. Other kid-friendly places include Kershaw Gardens and Rockhampton Botanic Gardens.

Airlie Beach is a very family-friendly place to visit. 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 Rockhampton or Airlie Beach Better for Couples?

Rockhampton
Airlie Beach

Airlie Beach is a world-class destination for couples. Also, Rockhampton is not quite as popular, but is fairly good for romance.

Airlie Beach makes for a terrific place to visit as a couple. 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.

Couples visit Rockhampton frequently as it offers plenty of romantic activities. Near several great national parks and interesting outdoor settings, this is a wonderful couple's destination. There are sunset cruises and beautiful gardens as well as wellness spas and great food and wine.


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

Rockhampton
Airlie Beach

Airlie Beach is an excellent place to visit for backpackers and budget travelers. Also, Rockhampton is not quite as popular, but is fairly good for backpackers.

Plenty of budget travelers and backpackers visit Airlie Beach. 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.

Rockhampton is popular with backpackers and budget travelers. There are a couple of hostels in the area as well as a low key backpacker scene.

Is Rockhampton or Airlie Beach Better for Students?

Rockhampton
Airlie Beach

Rockhampton is a good destination for students. However, Airlie Beach is not popular with students.

Rockhampton is a good town to visit for students. The city has universities that attract an international crowd. It's a friendly setting that welcomes cultural diversity.

Airlie Beach is not popular with students.

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

Rockhampton
Airlie Beach

Airlie Beach is a popular place for times when you don't have a car. However, Rockhampton is lacking in options for its public transit.

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.

Public transit is generally limited in Rockhampton. There are regional buses operated by Sunbus.


Is Rockhampton or Airlie Beach a more walkable city?

Rockhampton
Airlie Beach

Airlie Beach is an excellent place to visit for its ease of walking around. Also, Rockhampton is not quite as popular, but is fairly good for its walkability.

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

Rockhampton is somewhat walkable. It's fun to explore the Riverside Precinct on foot.

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

Should I spend more time in Airlie Beach or Rockhampton?

How long in Rockhampton or Airlie Beach?

Both Rockhampton 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 Rockhampton. Usually, 2-4 days is a good amount of time for Rockhampton, and 4-7 days is enough time in Airlie Beach.

Families should spend more time in Airlie Beach than Rockhampton. 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 Rockhampton. 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 Rockhampton 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 Rockhampton or Airlie Beach? Ideal Length of Stay
    Rockhampton 2-4 
    Airlie Beach 4-7

One day in Rockhampton or Airlie Beach?

In Rockhampton, many people enjoy the food and shopping that this natural town offers. Many travelers plan to spend time hiking while in the area. The length of your ideal trip is an individual decision. With so much to do, one day is probably not enough time to see everything.

Visitors enjoy the nightlife and food when visiting the idyllic town of Airlie Beach. You can also relax and pamper yourself at one of the resorts. One day is usually not enough time for a trip here as there is plenty to do. The entire region has so many activities, and you'll want time to do everything.

A weekend in Rockhampton or Airlie Beach?

Rockhampton is a fun place to experience. Hiking can easily take up a good amount of your time here, too. 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.

Visitors enjoy the food and scuba diving and snorkeling when visiting the idyllic destination of Airlie Beach. Many visitors also spend a good bit of time hiking. This town offers something for everyone. Since there is so much to do in the area, a weekend is probably not enough for all of it.


Five days in Rockhampton or Airlie Beach?

You'll find museums and nightlife around the rural destination of Rockhampton. 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.

Visitors enjoy the scuba diving and snorkeling and shopping when visiting the laid back town of Airlie Beach. People enjoy relaxing at one of the resorts. Many people spend five days here.If you enjoy all that's offered here, then five days is just the right amount of time to spend here. The length of your trip often depends on your style of travel.

A week in Rockhampton or Airlie Beach?

Rockhampton 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.

Visitors enjoy the shopping and nightlife when visiting the destination of Airlie Beach. Anyone can find something fun to do here. This is a popular place to visit for one week. Travelers enjoy the resorts in the area as well. In one week, you should have a good grasp of this town.


For some great organized tour ideas, see The Best Food and Culinary Tours in Australia, The Best Vineyard & Wine Tours in Australia, The Best Romantic Tours for Couples in Australia, and The Best Contiki Tours to Australia.


Which place is cheaper, Airlie Beach or Rockhampton?

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

The average daily cost (per person) in Rockhampton is $170, 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 Rockhampton and Airlie Beach in more detail.



Accommodation
  • Accommodation Hotel or hostel for one person
    Rockhampton $101
    Airlie Beach $58
  • Accommodation Typical double-occupancy room
    Rockhampton $202
    Airlie Beach $116
Compare Hotels in Rockhampton and Airlie Beach

Looking for a hotel in Rockhampton 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 Rockhampton


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: Rockhampton Hotel Prices and Airlie Beach Hotel Prices.

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

Hired Cars and Shuttles in Airlie Beach

Some specific examples of transportation prices in Airlie Beach:

  • Whitsunday: Prosperpine Airport to Airlie Beach Transfer: $16
  • Whitehaven Beach Club Transfers from Airlie Beach: $93
  • Return Transfer PPP Airport Shute Harbour / Renta Yacht / Freedom Shores: $32
  • One Way Only - Airport Transfer share shuttle service: $17
  • Airport Transfers - Return (round fare) share shuttle service: $28
  • Private Transfer to Whitsunday Coast Airport: $316

Is it cheaper to fly into Rockhampton or Airlie Beach?

Prices for flights to both Airlie Beach and Rockhampton 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
    Rockhampton $50
    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.

  • Segway sunset and boardwalk tour, incl dinner.: $72
  • Whitsundays Segway Sunset and Boardwalk Tour with Dinner: $84

Entertainment
  • Entertainment Entrance tickets, shows, etc.
    Rockhampton $40
    Airlie Beach $160

Tours and Activities in Airlie Beach

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

  • 1-Day Whitsunday Islands Cruise: Whitehaven Beach and Hill Inlet: $141
  • Airlie Beach Glass Bottom Boat Tour: $60
  • Airlie Beach Jet Ski Tour: $100
  • Airlie Beach Sunset Cruise : $46
  • Airlie Beach Sunset Cruise with champagne & antipasto: $59
  • Airlie Beach Trike Tours: $50
  • Airlie Beach sightseeing Tour: $50
  • 2-Hour Sunset Cruise with Sparkling Wine: $45
  • Adults-Only Whitehaven Beach Sailing Tour: $184
  • Airlie Adventure Jet Ski Tour: $165
  • Glass-Bottom Boat Tour: $59
  • Great Barrier Reef & Whitehaven Beach Tour: $205

Alcohol
  • Alcohol Drinks for one day
    Rockhampton $13
    Airlie Beach $9.03


When we compare the travel costs of actual travelers between Rockhampton and Airlie Beach, we can see that Rockhampton is more expensive. And not only is Airlie Beach much less expensive, but it is actually a significantly cheaper destination. So, traveling to Airlie Beach would let you spend less money overall. Or, you could decide to spend more money in Airlie Beach 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 Rockhampton would naturally cost you much more money, so you would probably want to keep your budget a little tighter in Rockhampton than you might in Airlie Beach.

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



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

Both places have a temperate climate with four distinct seasons. As both cities are in the southern hemisphere, summer is in January and winter is in July.

Should I visit Rockhampton or Airlie Beach in the Summer?

The summer brings many poeple to Rockhampton as well as Airlie Beach. Most visitors come to Rockhampton for the beaches, the hiking, the small town charm, and the family-friendly experiences during these months. Also, the summer months attract visitors to Airlie Beach because of the beaches, snorkeling, the hiking, and the family-friendly experiences.

In the summer, Rockhampton is around the same temperature as Airlie Beach. Typically, the summer temperatures in Rockhampton in January average around 27°C (81°F), and Airlie Beach averages at about 26°C (79°F).

It's quite rainy in Airlie Beach. Rockhampton receives a lot of rain in the summer. Rockhampton usually gets less rain in January than Airlie Beach. Rockhampton gets 124 mm (4.9 in) of rain, while Airlie Beach receives 331 mm (13 in) of rain this time of the year.


  • Summer Average Temperatures January
    Rockhampton 27°C (81°F) 
    Airlie Beach 26°C (79°F)

Should I visit Rockhampton or Airlie Beach in the Autumn?

Both Airlie Beach and Rockhampton are popular destinations to visit in the autumn with plenty of activities. The autumn months attract visitors to Rockhampton because of the hiking trails, the shopping scene, and the small town atmosphere. Also, the hiking trails, the shopping scene, and the natural beauty of the area are the main draw to Airlie Beach this time of year.

In April, Rockhampton is generally around the same temperature as Airlie Beach. Daily temperatures in Rockhampton average around 23°C (74°F), and Airlie Beach fluctuates around 23°C (73°F).

It rains a lot this time of the year in Airlie Beach. In April, Rockhampton usually receives less rain than Airlie Beach. Rockhampton gets 51 mm (2 in) of rain, while Airlie Beach receives 143 mm (5.6 in) of rain each month for the autumn.


  • Autumn Average Temperatures April
    Rockhampton 23°C (74°F) 
    Airlie Beach 23°C (73°F)

Should I visit Rockhampton or Airlie Beach in the Winter?

Both Airlie Beach and Rockhampton during the winter are popular places to visit. The museums, the shopping scene, and the cuisine are the main draw to Rockhampton this time of year. Furthermore, many travelers come to Airlie Beach for the shopping scene and the cuisine.

Rockhampton is around the same temperature as Airlie Beach in the winter. The daily temperature in Rockhampton averages around 16°C (61°F) in July, and Airlie Beach fluctuates around 16°C (62°F).

Rockhampton usually gets less rain in July than Airlie Beach. Rockhampton gets 29 mm (1.1 in) of rain, while Airlie Beach receives 40 mm (1.6 in) of rain this time of the year.


  • Winter Average Temperatures July
    Rockhampton 16°C (61°F) 
    Airlie Beach 16°C (62°F)

Should I visit Rockhampton or Airlie Beach in the Spring?

The spring attracts plenty of travelers to both Rockhampton and Airlie Beach. Many travelers come to Rockhampton for the beaches and the small town charm. Furthermore, many visitors come to Airlie Beach in the spring for the beaches and the natural beauty.

In the spring, Rockhampton is around the same temperature as Airlie Beach. Typically, the spring temperatures in Rockhampton in October average around 23°C (74°F), and Airlie Beach averages at about 23°C (73°F).

In October, Rockhampton usually receives around the same amount of rain as Airlie Beach. Rockhampton gets 47 mm (1.9 in) of rain, while Airlie Beach receives 48 mm (1.9 in) of rain each month for the spring.


  • Spring Average Temperatures October
    Rockhampton 23°C (74°F) 
    Airlie Beach 23°C (73°F)

Typical Weather for Airlie Beach and Rockhampton

Rockhampton Airlie Beach
Temp (°C) Rain (mm) Temp (°C) Rain (mm)
Jan 27°C (81°F) 124 mm (4.9 in) 26°C (79°F) 331 mm (13 in)
Feb 27°C (80°F) 120 mm (4.7 in) 26°C (78°F) 377 mm (14.8 in)
Mar 26°C (78°F) 109 mm (4.3 in) 25°C (77°F) 312 mm (12.3 in)
Apr 23°C (74°F) 51 mm (2 in) 23°C (73°F) 143 mm (5.6 in)
May 20°C (69°F) 59 mm (2.3 in) 20°C (68°F) 67 mm (2.6 in)
Jun 17°C (63°F) 35 mm (1.4 in) 17°C (63°F) 57 mm (2.2 in)
Jul 16°C (61°F) 29 mm (1.1 in) 16°C (62°F) 40 mm (1.6 in)
Aug 18°C (64°F) 30 mm (1.2 in) 18°C (65°F) 27 mm (1.1 in)
Sep 20°C (69°F) 27 mm (1.1 in) 20°C (68°F) 15 mm (0.6 in)
Oct 23°C (74°F) 47 mm (1.9 in) 23°C (73°F) 48 mm (1.9 in)
Nov 26°C (78°F) 78 mm (3.1 in) 25°C (77°F) 107 mm (4.2 in)
Dec 27°C (80°F) 125 mm (4.9 in) 26°C (78°F) 191 mm (7.5 in)