Mike Koch, author of the budget travel guidebook, Australia Free 3, has been on the road travelling for the past seven years and has found three bucket-list worthy gems near Airlie Beach that travelers can enjoy at no cost.

At the end of a long dirt road, around 50 kilometres from Airlie Beach, lies a peaceful, long sandy beach at Hideaway Bay. Here, locals say the only thing people can catch is peace and quiet. Travelers might even be lucky enough to sight some of the local wildlife, including turtles, dolphins, dugongs and whales. Koch recommends checking out Cape Gloucester whilst travelling in this region, as it is home to a great, eco-friendly beachfront resort, Montes, which is the perfect spot for a relaxing lunch.

Another of nature’s best-kept secrets is Cedar Creek Falls, a tranquil place filled with birds and butterflies that is thirty kilometres south of Airlie Beach. The waterfall is a short 100 metre walk from the car park, and is perfect for a refreshing swim in the stunningly clear waters with the local turtles.

Koch recommends visiting the Whitsunday Sailing Club in Pioneer Bay at Airlie Beach. “If you go there on a Wednesday afternoon, around 3pm you may be lucky enough to get a ride on board a yacht for their round the bouys race,” says Koch. “This is an amazing opportunity to go for a sail at twilight in the beautiful waters of the Whitsundays and might even encourage you to book a yacht to cruise around the islands yourself. This is very popular and places are limited, but it is definitely worth the experience.

“I would say there definitely can be a mental block for us locals that domestic travel is too expensive, but as I have discovered and proven in Australia Free 3, there are so many ways to save money and still enjoy the staggering beauty right in our own backyard,” says Koch.

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