things to do in the sunshine coast

7 Things to Do on the Sunshine Coast, Australia

The Sunshine Coast, located in Queensland, Australia, is one of the nation’s most popular destinations.  It stretches from the coastal city of Caloundra, near Brisbane, all the way to the Great Sandy National Park, home to multicolored sand dunes popular for recreational 4WDs. This area is much loved because of its diversity and laid-back culture, encompassing beach resorts and campgrounds, some amazing surf spots, and a captivating rural hinterland.

Having visited the Sunshine Coast many times over the years with family and friends and on solo adventures, here are my recommendations on the best things to do on the Sunshine Coast.

Hit the Beach

Sunshine Coast

This region is called the Sunshine Coast for a good reason, being home to some of the best beaches in the world! With a pristine coastline, white sand, and crystal clear water, complemented by the frequently blue skies that are present for over 300 days each year, you’ll be hard-pressed to find another beachside community quite like it. Some of the most popular locations for a day at the beach are Caloundra, Mooloolaba, and Noosa.

If a family holiday is your priority, Kings Beach at Caloundra is heaven on Earth for kids. At this popular family destination located on the southern end of the Sunshine Coast, you will find options aplenty to keep the whole family occupied. There are also plenty of amenities, including picnic tables and BBQ facilities for a casual family lunch, as well as plenty of cafes and restaurants to choose from lining the oceanfront. 

If you fancy a day at the beach with a side of alfresco dining, Mooloolaba might be more your scene.  Along the esplanade lining Mooloolaba’s Main Beach runs a strip of restaurants and cafes, offering diners the chance to enjoy a meal or coffee while watching the beachy world go by.  The beach itself is usually relatively calm, ideal for swimmers who prefer smaller waves.

Last but certainly not least is Noosa, located at the north end of the Sunshine Coast.  Home to a beautiful national park that occupies the headland, a day at the beach Noosa is a delight for people of all ages.  From the small gentle waves, perfect for swimmers or learning to surf, to the National Park walking trails that wrap around the headland, offering views of the bays and headlands – in fact, if you’re lucky, you may even spot a koala in the trees overhead.  

Climb a mountain

It may come as a surprise that one of my other favourite places for a short Queensland holiday isn’t one of the many beautiful white sandy beaches, it’s actually further inland at the Glass House Mountains.

Located just south of Caloundra, this mountain range is so beautiful that it’s listed as a landscape of national significance on the National Heritage Register.

The mountains are part of the Glass House Mountains National Park and are a popular destination for hiking, rock climbing, and sightseeing. The Glasshouse Mountains consist of eleven individual peaks, with the most prominent being Mount Beerwah and Mount Tibrogargan. These peaks were formed by volcanic activity millions of years ago.

If you want to go hiking, the easiest is Mt Ngungun at 253m.  I prefer Mt Tibrogargan, or ‘Tibro’ as we sometimes call it, as it’s more challenging and involves a bit of rock scrambling.  Whichever mountain you climb, time your approach to the summit near sunrise or sunset, and you’ll be treated to spectacular views across the surrounding region.

Visit Sealife Aquarium & Australia Zoo

Sea Life Aquarium in Mooloolaba is an experience for all ages. The aquarium is home to a wide variety of marine life, including sharks, rays, turtles, and tropical fish. One of the highlights of Sealife is the 80-meter underwater tunnel, which visitors can walk through and marvel at the sharks and rays swimming above and around them. The interactive touch pool is another highlight, allowing visitors to get up close and personal with starfish, sea cucumbers, and other creatures. And if you’re feeling really daring, consider booking a dive with the sharks.

If you love animals of all kinds, it is also worth checking out Australia Zoo.  It’s a short drive away from the coast, but well worth the effort as their world-famous crocodile show is a crowd favorite.  You can easily spend an entire day at Australia Zoo, with animals, including everything from African species such as rhinos and giraffes through to the exotic bird show.

Learn to surf

With its warm water and an endless supply of swell, it’s a rite of passage to snag a few waves on your visit to the Sunshine Coast.  Learning to surf is a popular activity for thousands of visitors each year, with well-established surf schools spanning from Noosa to Caloundra and almost every beach in between.

Some of the most well-known surf schools include Go Ride A Wave in Noosa and Caloundra Surf Schools.  Otherwise, you can also hire a board from the many surf stores nearby if you’d rather take it at your own pace.

Eat fresh local seafood

Mooloolaba on the Sunshine Coast is renowned for its fresh seafood, and undoubtedly, the best fish and chips in town can be found at the Fisherman’s Wharf Seafood Market. The fish and chips here are made using locally sourced, fresh, and sustainable fish that is cooked to perfection in a light and crispy batter.

The chips are thick-cut and fried to golden brown perfection, ensuring a perfect crunch with every bite. The friendly staff and the stunning waterfront location make the dining experience all the more enjoyable. So, if you’re in Mooloolaba and looking for the best fish and chips in town, head straight to Fisherman’s Wharf Seafood Market for a memorable and delicious meal.

Standup paddleboard down Noosa River

Stand-up paddleboarding in the Noosa River is the ideal way to get some exercise while taking in the stunning natural beauty of the area.  Depending on the route you choose, you can take in the grandeur of the multi-million dollar waterfront houses that line the canals or alternatively head across the river to enjoy the sandy beaches of Noosa’s north shore, an untouched coastal haven. Keep your eyes out, and you’ll see plenty of fish, rays, and maybe even a dolphin if you’re lucky!

Go Chasing Waterfalls

If you fancy your water falling, check out one of the best waterfalls on the Sunshine Coast, Kondalilla Falls, located in Kondalilla National Park. The falls cascade down a series of rock pools and a 90-meter gorge, making for a truly spectacular sight. The trail walk to the falls is a 4.7 km round trip, taking visitors through lush rainforests and offering breathtaking views of the surrounding area. The park also has picnic facilities and a swimming hole, making it an ideal spot for a day trip with family or friends. The best time to visit Kondalilla Falls is after heavy rainfall when the falls are at their most impressive. 

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