Easily experience the magic of the Whitsundays without breaking bank or compromising on creature comforts with a stay at BIG 4 Adventure Resort Whitsundays, Airlie Beach. With organised kids activities and wonderful resort facilities, dull and dismal holiday parks are a thing of the past. We were surprised at just how good this family friendly Airlie Beach accommodation was. Here we discover why BIG 4 is best for families.
We were guests of Tourism Whitsundays, all opinions remain my very own.
Post Debbie – Whitsundays is back in business
The Whitsunday community have been busy rebuilding after Cyclone Debbie’s devastation and it’s safe to say that Whitsundays is back in business. The first tours to The Great Barrier Reef has commenced, cruise ships are once again dropping anchor at Airlie Beach, shops and restaurants have swung open their doors and tourist hotspots like the Airlie Beach Lagoon and Bicentennial Walk restored and ready to go by the end of this month (May 2017).
Now is a the time to snag a cheap flight, lock in discounted rates and support the local community who depend on tourism. The palm trees may still be a little shaken up, the hills slightly brown with leaves peaking through, however the sun is shining and the clear, calm waters are waiting.
Pros BIG 4 Adventure Whitsunday Resort
There are loads on offer for families with the resort’s own animal farm, two jumping pillows shaded from the sun, basketball hoops, a volley ball court, mini golf course, an enormous pool and massive water park opening soon.
Cons BIG 4 Adventure Whitsunday Resort
The resort is located on the outskirts of town approximately 5 kilometres from Airlie Beach Main Street. However, getting into town is a short and inexpensive taxi ride away.
BIG 4 Adventure Whitsunday Resort Bottom Line
The Big 4 Airlie’s fab facilities, combined with a kids club, a variety of accommodation options from campsites to luxury cabins at affordable prices makes it simply one of the best places to stay in Airlie Beach for families.
Fun things to do at BIG 4 Adventure Whitsunday Resort
When I think Caravan Park, I’m instantly transported back to a rickety hot metal box where I’m sharing a bunk bed in cramped quarters with my three other siblings. I can almost smell the rank odour coming from my thin, brown stained foam mattress and hear my parents snoring, separated only by a dusty, velour brown drape.
My kids will never understand just how good they have it. The spotless luxury cabins are practically palatial, free from bed bugs and questionable stenches. During our stay, there was certainly no counting down the days to check out.
This BIG 4 Whitsundays resort offers an almost impossible list of things to do and never a moment where they ever wanted to go home. Pleasantly surprised, we are now BIG 4 converts now and we have these wonderful resort facilities to blame:
Swim in Airlie Beach’s largest resort pool
The biggest pool in Airlie Beach and beating heart of the resort is where you’ll hear cackles of kids laughter as they zip down the two slides, see toddlers splashing by the mushroom fountains or find parents relaxing poolside.
Splash at the mega water park – opening soon!
There will be more added fun when the mega water park opens, which is any day now. It was already hard enough prying our kids away from the pool, the water park will make it a much more difficult task.
There will be 13 water slides, plenty of fountains, jets and a giant tipping water bucket to cool off from the tropical Queensland sun.
Jump on Jumping Pillows
Our kids spent most of their lazy days around the resort, switching between the two giant jumping pillows and pool.
Protected by shade sails, one pillow is firmer for the big kids (6+) and the other is suitable for the younger kids to bounce on.
In the late afternoon as families prepared dinner, the kids around the resort would ride their scooters and bikes to the playground for a play. They’d swing, dangle, climb and slide until called in for dinner.
Go for a Putt
Kids can challenge the parents to a round of mini golf at the 18-hole course. Putters can be borrowed from reception with a small fee of $2 per golf ball to play.
Play Ball + Chess
Plenty of ball sports on offer including bocce balls, table tennis, basketball and volleyball all free for guests to use.
Tennis courts are also free to use, racquets can be borrowed and balls purchased for $2.50 each.
There’s also a giant outdoor chess piece that kids tended to gravitate towards, despite having no chess skills whatsoever.
Feed the animals
The resorts own animal farm further cements the crown of being one of the best Whitsunday resorts for families.
At select times, kids are welcome to feed the animals including ducks, geese, sheep, pigs and the cutest herd of resident alpacas, who thoroughly enjoy a pat and a shower under the sprinkler at any chance they get.
During select times, horse riding lessons are offered for an extra fee, where kids can try out their skills under a guidance from horse trainers, brought into the resort.
For the little ones, ponies come to BIG 4 Adventure Whitsunday Resort to offer rides on the lawns surrounded by manicured tropical gardens.
Go karts, toddler bikes and scooters are available to hire for use around the sprawling resort. Kids can choose to share a double-seated Go Kart or go solo.
Go Karts cost $10 charged by the hour, although bikes and scooters are $5 per hour.
Check out board games
On rainy days, board games are available to borrow for free. All the favourites are there including Monopoly, Scrabble, Connect 4 and Family Pictonary.
Activities Galore at BIG 4 Adventure Whitsunday Resort
Take a scan of the weekly What’s On Guide and find stacks of family friendly activities organised by the resort staff, good clean fun and most are free or require a small donation to help with the material costs. Check out the best activities to do at BIG 4 Adventure Whitsunday Resort:
Meet Friends at Kids Club = 2 hours kid free
The Kermits Kids Club runs every Saturday from 9:30am to 11:30am and twice daily during school holidays in a dedicated air-conditioned room near the reception area and were grabbed the opportunity for a little kid free reprieve to sip a warm cuppa, flick through the paper and enjoy some peace and quiet on the back deck of our cabin, which was heavenly.
The small fee of $5 per child goes towards arts and crafts activities. Our kids were keen to show off their snowflake paper creations but most excited about meeting some new besties. From that one kids club session, whenever we would meet the kids at the pool or in the playground, our kids were warmly greeted and invited to play.
The supervised two hourly sessions welcomes kids aged 4 years through 12 years of age, where they make paper crafts, colour in and play organised games like indoor bowling or duck duck goose.
Bookings are essential as every parent wants to dump and run!
Toddler Play = 1 hour kid free
Parents with infants and toddlers need the break the most and they do not miss out. A separate session is held at select times, where kids 18 months to 5 years can join in on a 1-hour supervised session of play, which gives a small but precious hour to do whatever they wish, time to start thinking of another baby perhaps or just a quick nap?
Activities include crafts, play dough and painting, sessions cost $10 per child and bookings are essential.
Decorate biscuits and other fun family activities
The resort staff that facilitates the kids club program also put on wonderful activities that give the resort a delightful community feel.
We gathered with other happy families to ice arrowroot cookies and watched the kids load them with all sorts of sugary treats where children blatantly ignored the two raspberry maximum. It was good clean simple fun that brought back loads of nostalgia for the parents and joy for the kids.
The weekly What’s On Guide offers fun and free organised activities which fun activities like: enjoying pancakes by the pool, making chocolate crackles in the Kids Club room or a scavenger hunt if done right is rewarded with a treat.
Have some night time family fun
The resort also organises nightly activities, typically early in the evening so kids can get some much needed rest. On most nights there is a PG rated movie showed on the purpose built movie screen.
Whilst we could’ve enjoyed DVDs in the cabin’s living room, its more fun for the kids to join the families on the lawn under the stars. There’s a feeling of mutual understanding between parents as we collectively settle in for yet another animated movie, synchronising our sipping of wines as a general acknowledgement that we’re in it together.
TIP: Pack Mossie SprayDon’t forget the insect spray as the midges are ruthless at night
On nights when the movies are not showing, there are other organised events from spit roast dinners and wine and cheese gatherings for a nominal fee or a free early evening family disco with all the favourite kids tunes and disco lights.
Facilities at BIG 4 Adventure Whitsunday Resort
The resort caters to all guests providing everything needed for a fun family holiday Whitsundays style. Resort facilities across the 26-acre property include:
Camp Kitchen with the lot
The large undercover purpose built camp kitchen offers all the facilities a family needs to prepare their own meals, helping families save a bit more money eating out on holidays in Airlie Beach.
The Camp Kitchen features a large sink, long bench space, a fridge freeze, stovetop, several BBQ hotplates and electrical appliances including kettle, toaster and microwave.
There are a number of long bench tables to enjoy a family meal together or loads of room to share a meal with extended family and friends.
BBQ Areas Galore
Self-catering is simple and easy with several BBQ areas throughout the sprawling property. Conveniently spread out across the different accommodation categories, a family is never too far away from a hot plate to cook their sausage dinners.
Jo’s Vintage Kitchen for coffee & snacks
Families need not leave the resort for their fresh barista coffee with Jo’s Vintage Kitchen providing a take-away brew just by the pool gates.
Light snacks for lunch included pies, hot dogs, toasted sandwiches and fresh smoothies to enjoy poolside. A home-made meat pie was $6 and smoothie $5.
Jo serves up tasty treats inspired by thermomix recipes every Thursday and Friday from 9:30am – 2.30pm and more frequently during school holidays.
The Shop filled with essentials
Tucked away beside the reception where the Frogettes are at guests beck and call is a small resort shop.
Catching the kids eye is the slushy machine, ice cream fridge, sweet treats and inexpensive toys and souvenirs. Parents will find it handy to pick up eggs, milk, fruit, bread, butter and spreads, cereals, drinks and instant noodles, all at very reasonable prices.
Other essentials include emergency toiletries, sunscreen, insect repellent and batteries.
Clean toilets and laundry blocks
There are three shared amenities blocks that offer hot water showers, large changing rooms to for families with good bench space, clean toilets and a large laundry area with washer, dryers, extra hooks and lines to hang clothes dry.
The pavilion near the pool offers massages at select times. Make the most of the Airlie Beach Big 4 and time a well-deserved poolside massage when the kid are content in Kids Club or Toddler Time sessions.
Pre-book food supplies with Whitsunday Provisioning
Particularly handy for families staying in self-catering accommodation in Airlie, our grocery items ordered from Whitsunday Provisioning was ready and waiting for us when we arrived.
Whitsunday Provisioning allows families to pre-book groceries and have it delivered for free to BIG 4 Adventure Whitsundays. It was a welcoming sight to have to have a dinner of quiche and salad ready for the family without the frantic search for food after hours, particularly as we did not have a car during our stay.
We felt instantly at home with pantry that had essentials muesli, spreads and a fridge filled with fresh fruit, yoghurt, juice, milk and bread ready for a healthy fuss free breakfast in the morning.
Whitsunday Provisioning provides breakfast, lunch and dinner meal plans or a BBQ pack for families to easily self cater their meals during their family Whitsundays holiday. They also have an online bottle shop to deliver beer, wine and soft drinks, straight to the door – although there is a liquor store that has just opened up across the road.
Free Wireless Internet (WIFI)
Complimentary high speed WIFI is available to all resort guests. An impressive feat considering some Australian hotels and resorts are still charging outlandish prices for substandard hotel internet.
A WIFI code can be obtained at check in or at reception. There was a time when we had a few devices going at the same time and the free service held up without lag or outage.
A variety of accommodation options
There’s a variety of accommodation options to suit every family budget at BIG 4 Adventure Whitsundays resort. There are powered campsites for families to pitch a tent or park the camp trailer starting from $35 per night (off peak).
Families with caravans or motorhomes can park their vehicle on powered slabs. We walked past a 5-berth camper home set up on a powered site with private ensuite, which was nicely sectioned off by botanical foliage. The happy couple were under an awning reading a book with some ambient music in the background. It added to the appeal knowing that they paid somewhere around $35 – $71 a night depending on the season, the resort offers the best budget accommodation in Airlie Beach.
What is exceptional about the BIG 4 Adventure Whitsunday Resort is variety of accommodation options that cater to different family groups travelling to Whitsundays. The resort embraces the fact that families come in different sizes, that friends and extended family members do travel together and they don’t want to be penalised or go over budget for doing so.
The cabins are perfect for larger families, multiple groups and support multi-generational travel. The best example are the Studio Villas, the smallest cabin size that offers self-catering facilities and two bunk beds that can still sleep up to 5 people, start from $125 per night.
Our 2-bedroom Spa Villa
Our 2-bedroom Spa Villa was incredibly spacious with a comfy bed in the main room, two bunks sleeping four people in the separate kids bedroom, an open plan living area with corner suite lounge, flat screen TV and DVD player.
We made good use of the large dining and kitchen area and relaxed on our undercover deck over looking a shared garden. The cabin also had a separate shared toilet and large bathroom with the luxury of a corner spa, which was by no surprise the kids favourite and can produce some impressive bubbles.
The full kitchen was perfect for self-catering with an oven, dishwasher, fridge, microwave, kettle and stovetop. Ample cooking utensils, pots, pans, cutlery, plates and glasses were also available. Nice little touches included a clothes horse for air drying towels and supplied iron and hair dryer.
Although a little older in style, the spotless cabin was comfortable and from $215 (off peak) per family, offers exceptional value for money.
Spa Villa’s are designed to share a common garden area, ideal for families travelling in larger groups, where kids can play safely, surrounded by family.
The Spa Villa’s do not have a laundry though a shared amenities block is not far away. Families wanting their own washer and dry conveniences can upgrade to a luxury 3 bedroom condo with modern furnishings and its own washer and dryer, great for extended stay.
The Spa Cottage is similar to the Spa Villa in facilities and layout. The only difference is that it does not surround a communal garden. A few of these great self contained accommodation options occupy prime location fronting the pool and soon to open water park, great for parents with older school aged kids who can check in on them from the front deck.
New 3 Bedroom Luxury Condos
For a touch of the new, the modern Luxury Condos offer three bedrooms which can sleep up to 8 people, in stylish surroundings.
These Condo’s with a current kitchen, wooden floorboards and bright contemporary furnishings, have modern amenities including; rain showerhead, flat screen TV, cocktail equipment, iPod dock and verandah with private BBQ. Packed full of luxuries minus the hefty price tag with a starting price of $235 per night for two people and each added person is $15 extra. A family of six from $295 (off peak).
Location of BIG 4 Adventure Whitsundays
BIG 4 Adventure Whitsundays is located near Cannonvale, a large residential suburb, 5 kilometres from central Airlie Beach. The resorts’ flat 26-acre property sits near the base of Conway National Park, surrounded by bushland just off the main thoroughfare between Airlie and Bowen.
Whilst the resort does not offer beach views or direct access to the water, its convenient location, affordable rates and incredible facilities within makes up for the out of town location. Airlie Beach BIG 4 is within walking distance of a McDonalds, Centro Shopping Centre and a Celebrations liquor store across the road.
We were surprised we didn’t miss being away from Airle Beach central. Even without a car, we never had that isolated feeling, mostly because the kids never wanted to leave the resort in the fist place.
When we did take the opportunity to visit Airlie Beach, taxis were reasonably priced and easily available. Most families hired a car or had their own vehicle, which made getting into town even easier as it is not far away.
Getting around Airlie Beach
Cost of Taxi in Airlie Beach
Taxis from BIG 4 Adventure Whitsundays to Shute Harbour, Airlie Beach takes approximately 7 minutes and cost no more than $15 one way. A small amount to pay, considering the money saved staying away from town.
Shout out to the Whitsunday taxi drivers
Our son left a St Louis Cardinals hat in the back seat of a taxi as we rode into Airlie Beach. These kid size hats are hard to come by in Australia and was a sad loss.
On our return taxi ride, we mentioned the lost hat in passing with a different taxi drive. The hat then magically appeared at reception just before we check out of the resort. This act of kindness leaves us indebted to the dear Whitsunday taxi drivers and we send our heartfelt thanks to them.
Airlie Beach Bus Transfers
Private bus transfers operate regularly, transferring passengers to and the BIG 4 Whitsundays accommodation to Proserpine Airport.
The Frogettes at reception can organise airport transfers for the family. Once the booking is confirmed, families are given times to wait for pick up at the front of the resort.
As BIG 4 Adventure is one of the last pick up points before the airport, there are passengers already occupying the bus, however we were able to get seats at the front together as a family.
Our experience with Whitsundays 2 Everywhere was seamless with ample time to spare check in to the flight, our transfers were with Whitsundays 2 Everywhere.
Bus transfers work out a little more economical with families, taxis cost approximately $80-$90 one way to Adventure Whitsunday from Proserpine Airport.
Cost of Airlie Beach Airport Transfer
Whitsundays 2 Everywhere
Airport transfers with Whitsundays 2 Everywhere cost $20 one way or $35 return per adult.
Children aged 4 through 14 years of age cost $15 one way or $26 return.
Kids under 4 years ride free.
Total price for a family of four is $70 one way or $122 return.
Prices are valid since May 2017 please see Whitsundays 2 Everywhere for latest the latest transfer fares.
Airport transfers with Whitsunday Transit 2 cost $20 one way or $34 return per adult.
Children aged 4 through 14 years of age cost $10 one way or $18 return.
Kids under 4 years ride free.
Total price for a family of four is $60 one way or $104 return.
Prices are valid since May 2017 please see Whitsunday Transit for latest the latest transfer fares.
Coast Transfers after tours
Tour operators can provide transfers back to BIG 5 Adventure Whitsundays Resort for a small fee.
Cruise Whitsunday charges $14 per adult and $7 per child aged 4 – 14 years.
Getting Around Airlie Beach via Public Bus
Public busses are also available with Adventure Whitsunday bus stop right at the front of Paluma Road, outside the resort.
Proserpine to Airlie Beach and Shute Harbour Bus No. 1
This bus takes passengers right into Airlie Central with other popular stops including Abell Point Marina, Airlie Beach and Shute Harbour. The journey time is approximately 16 minutes.
Shute Harbour to Airlie Beach and Proserpine No. 1
The No.1 from Shute Harbour, transports families back to Adventure Whitsundays or to the nearby Whitsunday Plaza shopping centre which is walking distance from the BIG 4 Adventure Resort Whitsundays.
Cost of Airlie Beach Public Bus
BIG 4 Adventure Whitsunday Resort is located in Zone 3 and Airlie Beach Central is located in Zone 1.
Families will need to purchase a Zone 3 fare. Best value for money fare for a family is to access the Daily Fare, if intending to catch a return trip to BIG 4.
An adult bus fare cost $9 per day or $4.50 one way.
Children Airlie Beach bus fares cost $4.40 per day or $2.20 one way.
It works out almost as economical to catch a $15 taxi into town one way.
There’s a small saving of approximately $3.20 better if opting for the bus with the family. Rather than costing $30 return, in a private airconditioned direct ride to the BIG 4 resort, the return trip on a bus for the family cost $26.80.
See bus timetable and latest fare prices herebus timetable and latest fare prices here.
The Whitsunday Plaza shopping centre is a short drive (2-3 minutes) or 15 minute or 800 metre walk away from the BIG 4 Airlie Beach family accommodation.
The shopping centre has a Woolworths, hairdresser, petrol station, ATMs, food court with sushi and donut king as well as a Best and Less, BCF and Harvey Norman.
There’s also a local McDonalds at the end of the block and a new Celebrations liquor across the road.
Day tours from Airlie Beach
There’s some spectacular Whitsunday day tours, all departing from Airlie Beach the ‘gateway to the Whitsundays’. Here are the best day tours from Airlie Beach with kids:
Snorkel the Great Barrier Reef
Spend the day at the recently restored Reefworld, Cruise Whitsundays purpose built pontoon called, in the heart of The Great Barrier Reef.
Take a scenic 2.5 hour catamaran cruise to the outer reef and spend the day chasing tropical fish in one of the largest and most diverse reef ecosystems in the world. Just for kids is a semi-submersible to ride, fish feeding platform, underwater viewing area and toddler wading pool.
Go Island Hopping
Cruise across to Hamilton Island to spend a day on the water at Catseye Beach, where stand up paddle boards, canoes and catamarans are available for hire.
Other fun family activities include go karting, kids quad bike tours, bushwalking or zip around the island in a golf buggy.
Cruise Whitsundays offers an Island Hopper pass where families can spend a day touring Hamilton before cruising over to the powder white shores of Whitehaven Beach.
Feel the soft white sand at Whitehaven Beach
Cruise to Whitehaven Beach and sink your toes into the softest sand in the world. The pure white silica squeaks beneath your toes and flows through your fingers like fine granules of castor sugar.
Spend the day with the family swimming the brilliantly blue and perfectly serene waters with an option to trek up to Hill Islet to see the creamy aqua swirls of Whitehaven Beach from the top.
Look out for the Best Whitsunday Day Tours for families coming soon.
Best things do in Airlie Beach with kids
As well as cruising the Whitsundays, Airlie Beach offers a variety of outdoor activities for families and fun things to do in Airlie with kids. Highlights include:
Take a Tuk Tuk ride around Airlie.
Zip around Airlie Beach on a couple of pedicabs as you see the best Airlie Beach sights with expert guides Tania and Bret ‘Jingo’ Jones from Just Tukn’ Round. These guys are absolutely infectious and know Airlie like the back of their hand.
Take a dip at Airlie Beach Lagoon
The Airlie Beach Lagoon is the place to be on a typically warm sunny day in Airlie. Recently closed for maintenance after Cyclone Debbie, the lagoon will once again take pride of place for tourists and locals to take a stinger free swim, reopening at the end of May 2017.
Hit the Airlie Beach Markets
Every Saturday morning, locals gather at the Airlie Beach Markets where handmade arts, crafts, fresh produce and local food and drink are available for purchase. A great opportunity for families to support the Airlie Beach community and sample a cold brew coffee, fluffy funnel cake, shaved ice or Bowen mango ice cream.
Look out for the The Best Things to Do in Airlie Beach with Kids coming shortly.
Has your family stayed at the BIG 4 Adventure Whitsunday Resort? What are you tips for the best accommodation in Airlie Beach? Do you think the BIG 4 is the best Airlie Beach family resort? Please leave a reply below: