There's no escaping it -- Airlie Beach is a party town, but you don't have to stay at a major party hostel right next to the bars to have a good time -- Backpackers by the Bay is a great alternative to the party scene! Since everyone does a sailing trip to the Whitsundays, most people are only in Airlie Beach for a night or two before and after their boat trip.
Backpackers by the Bay is located right on the edge of town. Airlie Beach itself is quite small, with only one or two major roads, and it's about a five-minute walk from the hostel to town where there's a major supermarket, bars, restaurants, and tourist shops. This is the only hostel that has a shuttle bus meet the Greyhound buses; it's nice not to have to worry about finding the hostel on your own. It is a quick drive though -- and unnecessary, if it weren't for luggage. As it's located up on a hill, there's a nice view of the water from the hostel, and there's always sulfur-crested cockatoos flying about!
Rooms and Bathrooms
Rooms are nice and clean. There's a shelf at the foot of each bed where you can put your things, so clothes and bags don't have to be spread out all over the floor. There's air conditioning in the rooms for when it's warmer, or there's good blankets on the beds for when it's colder. Most rooms have a sliding glass door too, and the bunk beds are comfy.
There are female bathrooms as well as unisex bathrooms, and these are both checked frequently to see if they need cleaning. The showers are great, but it would be nice if there were a shelf where you could put your things.
There's lots of places to hang out at the hostel. There's a pool table and chairs right next to reception. Plenty of tables can be found next to the kitchen and just outside as well, with some under cover if it happens to be raining. The kitchen is on the small side, and unfortunately there tends to be flies because the windows are open and not everyone washes up right away. But the kitchen is cleaned frequently and there's plenty of room in the refrigerator to store food, as well as shelves in the kitchen. As all the plates and everything are already in the kitchen, there's no need for a deposit and keeping track of your own dishes! The hostel offers breakfast for a small price, and it's a good value, with not only cereal and toast, but also fresh fruit! There's also a clean pool outside, as well as hammocks, a BBQ, and lawn chairs.
Depending on how many guests are at the hostel, there's a free trivia quiz most nights, with the winning team receiving a bottle of champagne. Occasionally there's an outdoor movie too. This all seems to depend on the guests, staff, and if anyone requests it. Reception is very helpful, and they are willing to help you book anything necessary, whether it's a boat for the Whitsundays or a future hostel, and you can store your bags at the hostel while you're out sailing the Whitsundays, or just for the day if you have a late bus.
The staff are absolutely amazing here -- never too busy to say hello and chat, they keep the place clean and friendly! Without being surrounded by other hostels and bars, it's a quiet place to sleep, but close enough to the action that you don't miss out on all that Airlie Beach has to offer.