The Sunshine Coast is one of Australia’s most beautiful destinations. Located in Queensland, this area boasts of 300 days of tropical sunshine per year, providing visitors with the perfect climate to enjoy its many natural attractions. From long sandy beaches to lush green rainforests, from marveling at native wildlife to indulging in local produce, climbing mountains to surfing crystal clear waves, this unique and laid-back destination offers something for everyone. Here’s a local’s perspective on eight places you simply cannot miss when you visit the Sunshine Coast.
Noosa National Park Walk
Noosa is often referred to as the jewel in the crown of the Sunshine Coast. One of the northernmost townships of the Sunshine Coast region, Noosa is a mecca for saltwater pursuits being surrounded by estuaries, rivers, beaches, and headlands. Whether it be swimming, surfing, paddleboarding or fishing, you are sure to find plenty of spots around Noosa to keep you entertained on your holiday.
If you don’t feel like getting wet while admiring the blue hues of the Pacific Ocean surrounding Noosa’s bays and points, the National Park Walk is a feast for the senses. Starting at the south end of the popular main strip, Hastings Street, the entrance of the coastal walk takes you straight onto the boardwalk lined with Eucalypts and coastal foliage. If you’re in luck, you’ll even spot a koala or two dozing in the tall trees above. Continuing the walk will take you to various lookouts, where you can admire picturesque natural landmarks including Boiling Pot, Tea Tree Bay, and Granite Bay. If the waves are pumping you’ll also be treated to another show, with surfers flocking to the region from far and wide to score their very own slice of the action at these world-famous surf breaks.
Learn To Surf
As the saying goes, ‘when in Rome, do as the Romans do’.…and on the Sunshine Coast the locals go surfing! Why not try this popular past-time for yourself, with the Sunshine Coast offering some of the most ideal conditions for those new to the sport. Some of the best spots for learners on the Coast include Noosa’s Main Beach with long-withstanding surf school ‘Go Ride A Wave’, or King’s Beach, Caloundra with the crew at Caloundra Surf School. In fact, wherever you are on the Sunshine Coast you’ll find a local surf school who’ll be stoked to help you get up and shredding!
Craft Beer Tour
The craft beer scene has exploded globally, but when you’re on foreign turf it can be difficult to discover the best local brewers. Thankfully the crew at Sunshine Coast Craft Beer Tours are well connected with the local beer producers and have, pardon the pun, crafted their very own Sunshine Coast brewery excursion.
Jump on the mini-bus and grab yourself a beer or two at some of the most highly regarded breweries on the coast including Your Mates Brewhouse and Moffat Beach Brewing Co. Not only do you get the chance to sample some of Australia’s best brews, but as an added bonus you’ll travel through some of the coast’s hottest spots including Caloundra, Mooloolaba, and Maroochydore. Think of it as beer tasting with a side of sightseeing!
Maleny Hinterland Village
For a change of pace from salty hair and sandy toes, take a trip inland and head to Maleny. This delightful Sunshine Coast town in the hinterland offers a picturesque mix of rainforests, interspersed with dairy farms and quaint little galleries and cafes. For the more adventurous, take a hiking trail to Gardners Falls and bathe in the freshwater swimming hole beneath the waterfall. Or for something a little more subdued, check out Botanic Gardens for a stroll and a picnic, and the adjoining Bird World where you can walk through their aviary of exotic birds – where one may even land on your shoulder!
Climb Mount Coolum
When thinking of mountain climbing, it can conjure up images of sheer cliff faces and treacherous heights. Thankfully the well-trodden path up Mount Coolum, 20 minutes south of Noosa, has none of that. This walk is suitable for virtually all ages and fitness levels, with a return trip taking 1 to 2 hours, depending on how long you stop at the top to admire the Instagram-worthy views.
What makes the summit special, is being able to take in the entirety of the magnificent Sunshine Coast, from Noosa in the North all the way down to Caloundra in the South. The summit is just over 200m above sea level, offering a 360-degree view from the coast to the cane fields and beyond. When you reach the bottom, head straight to Coolum Beach just 3.5 kms away for a dip to cool off. Tip: If early mornings are your cup of tea, take to the track early and catch the sun rising over the ocean for a truly memorable experience.
Sea Life Aquarium Mooloolaba
Formerly known as Underwater World, this all-ages attraction located at the Wharf at Mooloolaba is a Sunshine Coast icon. Home to thousands of marine animals including sharks, rays, tropical fish, jellyfish, seals, and penguins, you’ll be mesmerized as you make your way through the Ocean Tunnel spanning almost 100m in length, whilst the sea life frolics around you.
There’s also an interactive touch pool which includes a variety of starfish, a range of daily talks, and additional experiences to consider including the seal swim and the nerve-wracking shark dive. And after your Sea Life session, what better way to refuel than a fresh seafood feast! Head up Wharf Road and take your pick from some of the best ‘fish & chipperies’ on the Coast, offering produce straight hauled from the Mooloolaba fishing trawlers including calamari, barramundi, fresh oysters, whiting, hot chips, and salads.
If an Aussie wildlife experience is high on your priority list, you can’t go past the Australia Zoo. Founded by the late Steve Irwin, well known as The Crocodile Hunter, this attraction draws both local and international crowds in droves for its fabulous daily shows and exhibits. Not to be missed is the crocodile show, where some of the park’s biggest crocs are precariously hand-fed by the zookeepers and the hilarious bird show in which rare and native birds show off their unique traits, at times zooming above the audience within inches of their heads! Other rare animals to check out include kangaroos, Tasmanian devils, koalas, tigers, meerkats, and hundreds of other captivating creatures.
Visit the Glasshouse Mountains
The Glasshouse Mountains is a National Park in the Sunshine Coast hinterland scattered with 11 dramatic peaks and spanning across thousands of hectares. This area is actually listed on the Heritage Register as a landscape of national significance and offers countless hiking trails for an adventure in the wilderness. Many of these walking tracks start by meandering through open forests which gradually lead towards the various mountain peaks, such as Mount Tibrogargan, offering spectacular views of the surrounding mountains at their summits. Rock scrambling, rock climbing, and abseiling are all possible here for those with the right equipment and skillset. Check out the guides on the Queensland National Parks website for detailed information on the trails, including their gradings and equipment requirements.
Kings Beach Caloundra
Your visit to the Sunshine Coast wouldn’t be complete without a proper day out at the beach, and what better place to do it than Kings. This is a beach suited to all walks of life, with gently rolling waves for surfers and swimmers, and a rocky headland that is perfect for snorkeling around on calmer days where you may even spot a sea turtle or wobbegong.
On the Kings Beach foreshore, you’ll find a kid’s playground which includes interactive water features that will keep the youngsters amused for hours. There are more cafes and restaurants within walking distance from the beach than you can count on two hands. With everything you could ever want at your fingertips, you may never want to leave this idyllic beach location!