Best things to do on the Sunshine Coast
Discover the best things to do on the Sunshine Coast and learn why Queensland is known as beautiful one day, and perfect the next. The Sunshine Coast is considered the most ‘Instagramable’ getaway in sunny Queensland.
With spectacular beaches and surfing destinations, scenic walks along the coastline, wildlife zoos and aquariums, deep sea fishing adventures, art galleries and award winning eateries. All this and more, just an hour north of Brisbane, Queensland’s capitol city.
Take at least 3 to 5 days to do this coastal roadtrip or stay longer and explore some of the best things to do on the Sunshine Coast and the hinterland.
My favourites things to do on the Sunshine Coast
- See Koalas and Kangaroos in the wild in the Noosa National Park
- Visit the Eumundi Markets in the lush Sunshine Coast hinterland
- Laze a day away on any one of the Sunshine Coast’s magnificent beaches
The Best Things to do on the Sunshine Coast
Enjoy the laid-back lifestyle of the Sunshine Coast. Leave your footprints on one of the spectacular beaches and take in the sweeping views of the volcanic peaks of the Glasshouse Mountains.
Experience the easygoing charm of Caloundra to the bubbling centre of Maroochydore and the holiday vibes of Noosa village. You will enjoy the personality of each.
Things to do in Caloundra
A sleepy little surf town at the southernmost end of the Sunshine Coast, Caloundra offers a choice of trendy little cafes and restaurants overlooking the Pacific Ocean.
- Walk or take a bike-ride along the 25 kilometre boardwalk to Mooloolaba to enjoy the headland cliffs, historic sites and nature reserves. You’ll pass the heritage-listedKings Beach Bathing Pavilion and remnants of coastal rainforest at Dicky Beach.
- Caloundra Music Festival: In October each year, this beachside event attracts big name acts as well as local artists who add their blues, rock and jazz to the ocean breeze.
- Australia Zoo: Just a short drive from Caloundra, you’ll find Australia Zoo. In this interactive conservation destination you can see over 1,200 animals, including all of your Aussie favourites.
- Go fishing in Pumicestone Passage and snag a bag of whiting for dinner.
Things to do in Mooloolaba
Mooloolaba has a large port where you can learn to surf, sail, take a deep sea fishing trip or join a whale watching cruise when in season. If you continue walking you will arrive at Cotton Tree, where the river meets the ocean.
- Walk the beaches: Coastal walks are a morning ritual for locals on the Sunshine Coast, so rise early and enjoy the best part of the day. There’s nothing like a sunrise over beautiful Mooloolaba Beach as you walk north. Its an easy 20-minute stroll along the sunshine coastline.
- Dine alfresco: Some of the Sunshine Coast’s best alfresco dining is found along the beachfront in Mooloolaba with fresh seafood brought in daily.
- Seafood: Mooloolaba is the place to find fresh seafood. Head down to the seafood outlets and buy freshly caught prawns, crab and fish straight from the fishing trawlers.
- Swim in the Surf: Mooloolaba Spit is one of the safest swimming beaches along the Queensland coast.
- Go Deep Sea Diving: For diving or snorkelling, head to the Ex-HMAS Brisbane Conservation Park, site of the shipwreck of the HMAS Brisbane.
- Swim with the whales: The opportunity to swim with the largest mammals on Earth in their natural habitat is rare and incredibly moving. Swim with the whales with Sunreef at Mooloolaba. Tip: July to October are when the whales migrate.
Things to do in Maroochydore
Maroochydore is the cultural capital of the region. In the heart of the Sunshine Coast, the Maroochy River meets the ocean at Cotton Tree. Learn stand-up paddle boarding or other watersports along the beaches and river-front.
- Maroochy: Take a cruise with Cruise Maroochy Eco on the Maroochy River to Maroochy Wetlands Sanctuary and see kangaroos, wallabies and tons of local birdlife.
- Buderim Falls: A few minute’s drive can have you wandering your way through the sub-tropical rainforest discovering the picturesque Buderim Falls. It’s a gorgeous place to visit at any time of year, the waterfalls looks particularly spectacular after rainfall. This tranquil spot can be accessed in short 20 minutes return walk.
- Twin Waters: For peace and quiet, visit Marcoola or Twin Waters. You might be the only person on the beach! Hawksbill turtles, come up on the beach to hatch their young from November to March.
Things to do at Coolum Beach
Catch a wave at Coolum Beach or try your hand on one of the most prestigious golf courses on the Sunshine Coast.
- Enjoy the coastline views: Walk down Coolum’s beachfront boardwalk the ocean from Coolum Beach around the headland to spectacular Point Arkwright.
- Learn to surf: The whole family can take a surf lesson together. All you need to bring is a towel. The beginners surf lesson runs every day from 10 am to 12 noon year round.
- Lunch at Coolum Surf Club: Take the opportunity to lunch at the surf club where you will enjoy an uninterrupted view of the beach. My favourite meal there was their delicious seafood tower!
- Climb Mount Coolum: Mount Coolum is the second largest rock in the world. Climbing to the top of this 25-million-year-old laccolith is a must-do when visiting the region. Make sure you pack your camera to capture the amazing views from the peak.
- Yandina Ginger Factory: The Ginger Factory at Yandina offers fun rides for the littlies, fascinating tours, a cafe surrounded by beautiful sub-tropical gardens for all to enjoy. Free entry and open seven days, year round. There is something for everyone!
Things to do at Noosa
Surrounded by secluded beaches, Noosa is Australia’s favourite holiday hotspot. With many fashion boutiques and trendy cafés and restaurants along Hastings Street, this town is bustling with activity most of the year round.
Well-known for its perfect weather, sheltered beaches and pristine waters, holiday makers head to Noosa to ‘relax and get away from their busy city life’.
You’ll find Italian specialty restaurants serving wood-fired pizzas, bistros and classic ‘beach shack’ style eateries showcasing the diversity of flavours along the Hastings Street strip. Celebrity chef, Peter Kuruvita has one of the most popular restaurants in Hastings Street, Noosa Beach House. Make sure you check out his amazing menu!
- Take a walk through Noosa National Park to take in spectacular coastal scenery and see an abundance of native Australian wildlife.
- Go shopping at some of the trendy boutiques and homeware stores down Hastings Street. You’ll be sure to come home with a treasure or two!
Explore Eumundi and the Market
Eumundi is a quaint little town overflowing with modern art galleries, funky little cafes, craft breweries and award winning restaurants.
- Eumundi Markets are among Australia’s best artisan markets and take place every Wednesday and Saturday. Colourful stalls take over the town offering everything from handmade ceramics and homewares, to fashion and jewellery and a wealth of fresh produce and gourmet treats.
- Visit the Imperial Hotel and Eumundi Brewery a charming heritage pub brewing its own beer on site. Take a seat in the luxuriant beer garden, or head upstairs to the balcony for charming views over the village’s main street.
Tewantin and the Noosa North Shore
You can catch a car ferry from the village of Tewantin and explore the Noosa North Shore, the Great Sandy National Park and World Heritage-listed Fraser Island.
The Sunshine Coast Hinterland
Take a drive along the Blackhall Range Tourist Drive through the Sunshine Coast Hinterland. It’s one of the hinterland’s most picturesque drives.
Home to some of the region’s most spectacular national parks, the Glass House Mountains are one of the best places to go bushwalking. It’s a great place to spend a few days.
Explore the hinterland towns of Mapleton, Maleny and Montville. You will find a range of locally made gourmet food, art galleries and boutique hotels. Its a great opportunity to take home something special.
The Glass House Mountains is often called the Sunshine Coast’s food bowl. Local cafes, restaurants and a vineyard along the route offer paddock to plate experiences.
5 Essentials to Pack for Sunshine Coast
- Great Camera – I love my Sony A6000 mirrorless camera, which was ideal for capturing my Sunshine Coast experience.
- Lonely Planet Guidebook – The Lonely Planet Queensland guide book is helpful for any trip to Sunny Queensland with lots of tips and useful information. I wouldn’t travel without it!
- Sandals – A good pair of sandals are at the Sunshine Coast and I love my Tiva Sandals. Perfect for keeping my feet cool and well supported with all the walking that I did. I wore them all day, every day!
- Shady Hat – Queensland is well known for it’s sunshine! Make sure you are protected by a big shady hat. This is my favourite – Furtalk Beach Hat. Slip on a shirt, Slop on some Sunscreen and Slap on a hat.
- Light, Waterproof Jacket – Tropical downpours happen! Bring a light waterproof jacket which can be stuffed into a bag when sightseeing. I love my North Face Venture 2, which was perfect for rainy days in Queensland.
How to get to the Sunshine Coast
By Air – Fly into Brisbane with Jetstar, Virgin Australia and Qantas from all centres in Australia.
- Jetstar, Virgin Australia and Qantas service the Sunshine Coast from Sydney, Melbourne and Adelaide. You can also fly direct from Auckland with Air New Zealand.
- By Car – It takes about an hour and a half to drive to the Sunshine Coast from Brisbane. You can also catch the train from Brisbane to various stations in the Sunshine Coast area.
Have you been to Queensland’s Sunshine Coast? Pin this for later.
Growing up in Queensland, the Sunshine Coast was one of our families favourite places to holiday. I spent my younger life soaking up the sunshine on some of the best surf beaches and I love that today, when visiting, not a lot has changed. It has that familiar flavour of somewhere warm and friendly and somewhere I feel comfortable.
Have you been to Australia’s Sunshine Coast yet? Put this destination on your bucket list. Trust me, you’ll love it!