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Walking on Sunshine (and don’t it feel good!)

As far as Aussie treasures go, Queensland’s Sunshine Coast is easily the most aptly named. With clear blue waters and some of the richest natural habitats on the planet, the Sunshine Coast is a magnet for tourists the world over – and a reminder to those of us who live in Australia that not all of this wide brown land is, in fact, brown.

From luxe Noosa Heads to the packed-out sunny beaches of Caloundra, the Sunshine Coast is every beach-lover’s paradise.

The sun-drenched, laidback surf haven is a little slice of what life should be. While you’d be more than forgiven for wanting to spend your entire trip camped out on the beach, there are plenty of other attractions that are well worth a look – assuming you can tear your eyes away from the effortlessly bronzed and happy locals.

There’s Steve Irwin’sAustralia Zoo, the breathtaking Glass House Mountains, Noosa National Parkand a gaggle of gastronomic gems, with more and more popping up each days as Sydney and Melbourne chefs decamp north to live their dreams.

Of course, if that all seems like too much work, no-one will stop you from making the only items on your itinerary rolling over every 20 minutes to even out that tan.

Sunshine Coast’s Top 10

10. Aussie World & Ettamogah Pub You may think they’re a tad silly and aimed at overseas tourists, but actually they’re just made for a good time.

5. Kondalilla National Park One of the best in the country, this place will drop your jaws.

9. Hastings Street Get your pick of great Aussie designers and local gems in this shopaholic’s paradise.

4. Noosa A must-visit for it’s luxe resorts and generally all-round gorgeousness.

8. Caloundra Beaches galore! Go and get a one-and-only Sunshine Coast tan.

3. Australia Zoo The late Steve Irwin’s dream became a reality. Part showcase, part-educational experience, it’s an amazing animal escape that houses and helps critters from around the world. And yes, Bindi really does wander around here.

7. Noosa National Park Explore this stunning rainforest and it’s bounty of native flora and fauna.

2. Glass House Mountains They’re beautiful, culturally significant and spiritual. A must!

6. UnderWater World Swim with the seals and gawk at the sharks in this aquatic gem.

1. Maroochydore Surf legends flock here for the epic waves and chilled out vibes. You should, too.

Sunshine Coast History

  • Yandina Historic House – Built in 1899, this house is run by the Yandina Historical Society with the aim of preserving and showcasing the local history of the Sunshine Coast area.
  • Eumundi Heritage – Home to an extensive collection of artefacts from the time of the early settlers through to the contemporary days.
  • Sunshine Castle Bli Bli – This award-winning landmark offers excitement and enchantment for all. Take a walking tour through the courtyard, reception hall and great hall, among other areas.
  • HMAS Brisbane - This ship is a local landmark and makes for a great excursion as you go underwater and discover this shipwreck.
  • Valley Rattler – Offers a railway tour that begins at Gympie Railway station and dates back to the early 1900s.

Sunshine Coast Art & Culture

  • Eumundi Museum – Promotes the natural and cultural heritage of the Sunshine Coast area.
  • Noosa Museum – Home to an impressive collection of photos that captures different moments of the area’s history, including the pioneering days up to the present.
  • Nambour & District Historical Museum – Visit this museum and take a walk down the memory lane of the area through the exhibits, halls and collections displayed.
  • Queensland Air Museum – Home to a wide selection of real airplanes and aircraft that have played a part in the history of the area.
  • Landsborough Museum – Features a mosaic of forests, residential settlements and farming activities that you will find on the plains and surrounding areas of the town.

Sunshine Coast Shopping

  • Sinerju – Offers fabrics that are designed locally, as well as jewellery made from natural materials with great prices.
  • Noosa Organika – Local Sunshine Coast grocery store and cafe that specialises in organic food.
  • Eudmundi Market – The largest and best market in the country held each Wednesday and offers arts and crafts and produce.
  • Hastings Street – Home to a wide selection of trendy boutiques that offer clothing and accessories.
  • Montville Main Street – The place to find many of the local craft, gifts and souvenirs.

Gay & Lesbian Sunshine Coast

  • Noosa Cove Apartments – Offers gay-friendly accommodations.
  • Kingfisher Bay Resort – The place to go for a great eco-friendly experience.
  • Buddies Bar Sands Tavern – A gay club held on the second Saturday each month at the Maroochydore.
  • Falcons at Peregian – A relaxing place to stay in the Sunshine Coast.
  • Manyana Gay Motel – A guesthouse close to the beach that includes a gym, pool and other amenities.

Sunshine Coast Outdoor

  • Noosa National Park – Features beautiful nature trails, lovely coastal scenery and well-known bay areas.
  • Fraser Island – A wonderful place in the Sunshine Coast, don’t miss Lake MacKenzie and Seventy Five Mile Beach.
  • Noose Everglades – Cruise along the river or swim in the crystal clear water.
  • Sunshine Beach – Perfect place for a seaside walk.
  • Alexandria Bay – Some of the best sandy areas around.

Sunshine Coast Sport

  • Find great waves for surfing at Noosa Beach.
  • There’s great river and ocean kayaking opportunities awaiting you in Noosaville.
  • For adventurous climbing, check out the Glasshouse Mountains.
  • Mooloolaba is the place to go for great fishing charters.
  • Don’t miss the golf clubs and courses of the Sunshine Coast found in the Headland hills.

Sunshine Coast Local

Noosa

Simply one of the most beautiful and famous spots on the Sunshine Coast. The resort area of Noosa Heads is home to Noosa National Park, a great place for a nature walk, wildlife sightings and a number of small but stunning beaches, including Alexandra Bay.

Once you’ve had a quick dip in the blue waters, jump on a cruise along the Noosa River to view the unspoiled scenery from a different perspective. Feel like getting back in the water? Who could blame you, really. Noosa has a stack of surf and scuba diving services available around Laguna Bay.

When you’re done with the sea and surf (for the day, at least), make your way to the shopping paradise that is Hastings Street. There’s also a bunch of great eateries and bars scattered around.

Mooloolaba

Once just a sleepy locality, Mooloolaba is now one of the Sunshine Coast’s trendiest spots with beautiful beaches (hellooo, Mooloolaba Beach!) and other great attractions. Discover the creatures of the deep at UnderWater World or visit the iconic Australia Zoo (where the spirit of Steve Irwin really does live on) for the best animal experiences.

For something quirky and true-blue, hit up Ettamogah Pub and Aussie World, an Australian-themed fun-park that boasts a stack of rides, games and entertainment. You can even approach it ironically, if you like!

If you’re up for a little travel, the Buderim Ginger Factory has a live bee show (sounds weird but is surprisingly fun), cooking classes and every kind of ginger-based product you could imagine (and some you couldn’t!). Make sure you head over to the Mooloolaba Wharf to buy some kitschy souvenirs – nothing says ‘missed you’ like an underwater-themed toilet seat.

Montville

Although one of the smaller towns on the Sunshine Coast, Montville still has many gems to be explored. Start with the lush, subtropical rainforest of Kondalilla National Park, which also includes the gorgeous Kondalilla Falls. Take a walk, have a picnic and inhale the fresh scents of nature.

If you’re up for some shopping (and who isn’t?), Montville also has dozens of tiny speciality stores that cater for pretty much every taste. Whether you want leather, antiques, handmade wooden toys, original art or adorable teddies and dolls, you’ll find it here.

Maleny

Close to sMontville is this Sunshine Coast town with an eclectic population. Start with the Glass House Mountains National Park, a stunning piece of nature with fab views of the Glass House Mountains. Next, why not visit the Maleny Mountain Winery for a cheese and wine-tasting fest, as well as more excellent views? If you’re after more spectacular scenery and plenty of photo-ops, try Mary Cairncross Scenic Reserve, a massive hinterland rainforest filled with native fauna and flora, including cuties like the pygmy mouse, wallabies, sugar gliders and echidnas.

Caloundra

Laidback Caloundra is famed for its extraordinary beaches, so if you need a tan and are dying for another swim, make sure you pay it a visit. Check out King’s, Bulcock, Moffatt, Golden and Dicky beaches for yellow sands and clear waters. Most are great for families, but beware of strong tides and big waves at Bulcock Beach. Don’t forget to feed that grumbling tummy at one of the many surf clubs and chilled cafés scattered around and remember, as mum would say, stay out of the water for a good half an hour after you’ve finished!

Sunshine Coast Eat & Drink

Dicky Beach Surf Club Hidden behind the sand dunes is this gem for cheap-but-awesome food.

Sangs The prices are a little steep but the meals are worth every cent. Try the red curry at this South East Asian eatery.

Coconut Grove Bar & Bistro This chilled, plantation-style eatery uses the best in local produce and transforms it into epic meals.

4th Floor Restaurant Grab a table by the window to pair magnificent views with modern dishes.

Hot Pipis Their seafood curry is legendary, as is their mammoth MCG brekkie.

Harry’s on Buderim Nestled in green rainforest is this venue serving some of the best modern cuisine.

Mulu Char A rustic and slightly quirky restaurant with killer steak on the menu.

The Boathouse This floating restaurant will see you sipping a cocktail by the sunset while you wait for a seafood feast.

Bella Venezia Grab a hearty Italian dish along with a nice wine from their vast collection.

Ebb This is an elegant and lush haven for food and wine lovers. The menu values quality over quantity.

Sunshine Coast Events

We all love our food and wine, so head to the Audi Noosa Food & Wine Festival in mid-May. National and international celeb chefs come to host workshops and presentations and the markets have a stack of delicious stuff on offer. Yummo!

Celebrate the history, culture and wonderful achievements of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people at NAIDOC Week, held in early July. Enjoy dance, music, art exhibits and loads of market stalls brimming with traditional eats and arts and crafts.

The Caloundra Music Festival in early October is a family-friendly event that hosts a stack of musical performances, parades, market stalls, carnivals and fairs as well as big outdoor concerts. Most genres are covered at this music-fest, so whether you like hip-hop or rock, you’re bound to find something that makes you move.

You probably have fond memories of kites from your younger days, so go and relive them at the Coolum Kite Festival in early October. This festival showcases some of the best kites and kite flyers in the world and hosts a bunch of concerts, kids activities and cultural exhibits.

When To Go

There’s a reason why it’s called the Sunshine Coast. Summer, autumn and spring all see hefty amounts of sun. Even winter, while slightly cooler , is no stranger to the big yellow ball in the sky!

  • Winter average temperature: 17ºC
  • Spring average temperature: 23ºC
  • Summer average temperature: 29ºC
  • Autumn average temperature: 19ºC

What To Miss

The waves can get mighty rough out there, so unless you’re super-experienced and a strong swimmer (and even if you are), it’s best not to surf if it looks dangerous – and always swim between the flags.

The recent floods have caused some waters to be littered with debris like wooden planks and bits of plastic, so be wary about where you step.

Getting There & Around

If you’re not planning to drive to the Sunshine Coast, both Noosa and Maroochydore have their own airports. Then, Sunbus buses and TRANSlink trains, ferries and buses are the top ways to move around. Grab a Go-Card to get more value.

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Hotels in Sunshine Coast

Recommended hotels

From US$97

1 Mantra Mooloolaba Beach Sunshine Coast

4 stars
4.2 / 5 89 reviews

cnr of Esplanade & Venning Street Map

Includes FREE Undercover Secure Parking

Mantra Mooloolaba Beach Sunshine Coast boasts of a seamless fusion of lavish amenities and tranquil self-contained accommodations ideal for holidaymakers and couples in an intimate Mooloolaba... More

Nice Relaxing Getaway
Lovely large rooms. In the middle of everything. So much to do. Would definitely go back
27 May 2015
From US$150

2 Peppers Noosa Resort and Villas

5 stars
4.6 / 5 45 reviews

Little Hastings Street Map

Stay 2 Nights & Save 5%

Outrigger Little Hastings Street Resort & Spa Noosa is situated close to restaurants and shopping venues. It is also in vicinity to Aussie World, Australia Zoo, Great Sandy National Park,... More

Loved It!
We had an overnight stay and could not fault this hotel. All of the staff were all friendly, polite and extremely helpful the room was beautifully appointed and spotless the restaurant was...
30 Jun 2015
From US$85

3 Noosa International Resort

3 stars
3.9 / 5 16 reviews

EDGAR BENNETT AVE Map

Includes FREE Undercover Secure Parking

Ideal for families visiting Sunshine Coast, Noosa International Resort offers a suitable holiday retreat with self-contained apartments and tranquil surroundings. Apart from exploring the many... More

Great place to stay
We stayed in a small queen size bed room. Was amazed by the amenities and equipment provided (Eg, Microwave, TV, Toaster, plates, bowls, spoon and fork, detergent and etc). The only downside was no...
12 May 2015
From US$138

4 Rumba Beach Resort Caloundra

5 stars
4.5 / 5 21 reviews

Bulcock Beach Esplanade Map

Free WiFi

With deluxe accommodations set in stunning beachfront location, Rumba Beach Resort Caloundra makes for an ideal retreat for holidays under the sun on the beautiful Sunshine Coast. For leisure,... More

Wonderful relaxing time
My only comment negative about the Hotel was that after two days stay, no replenishes were made i.e. tea, coffee etc. We stayed longer and felt that it would have been nice to have a cup of tea...
28 Feb 2015
From US$63

5 Australis Noosa Lakes Resort

4 stars
4.3 / 5 35 reviews

3 Hilton Terrace Map

Includes FREE Parking

Surrounded by Doonella Lake and Noosa River, Australis Noosa Lakes Apartments on the Sunshine Coast offers an idyllic base for travellers visiting Queensland. Ideally located, the Sunshine Coast... More

A great place to stay
I needed somewhere near Tewantin and this was the perfect location, walking distance to the shops and even closer to the Marina where there are a fabulous selection of shops and restaurants. I'll...
26 May 2015
From US$99

6 Bellardoo Holiday Apartments Sunshine Coast

3 stars
3.7 / 5 6 reviews

cnr Meta Street & The Esplanade Map

Includes FREE Undercover Secure Parking

If you are looking for great Mooloolaba holiday accommodation then Bellardoo Holiday Apartments Sunshine Coast is the right place to be, where you stay for a while and leave with a smile. It... More

Convenient location in Mooloolaba
A convenient location, cost effective and handy to amenities in Mooloolaba. Staff were very welcoming and the rooms clean and well equipped with all we needed. Would definitely stay there again.
28 May 2015
From US$164

7 The Sebel Noosa

4 stars
4.5 / 5 23 reviews

32 Hastings Street Map

The elegant Sebel Resort in Noosa features 76 luxurious one and two bedroom apartments. Landscaped with numerous water features throughout the sub-tropical garden courtyards, this property is set... More

Love Noosa
I was disappointed in Hotel as reviews were very favourable. It was very noisy, hearing noises from adjoining units, doors constantly closing and much yahooing in the street at night. Alongside...
26 May 2015
From US$101

8 Headland Tropicana Resort Sunshine Coast

3 stars
4.2 / 5 20 reviews

274 Alexandra Parade Map

Includes FREE Undercover Secure Parking

Get ready to experience the warmth and elegance of the Headland Tropicana Resort Sunshine Coast, which is a welcome embrace for weary travellers who are looking for comfortable accommodation in a... More

Awsome Value great location
great location excellent games room. heated pool and spa inside were really good and convienient on overcast days.
19 Jun 2015
From US$110

9 Noosa Blue Resort

4 stars
3.8 / 5 4 reviews

16 Noosa Drive Map

Includes FREE WiFi & Undercover Secure Parking

With tastefully designed spaces and top-notch facilities, Noosa Blue Resort creates a suitable base for travellers in this part of Southeast Queensland, Australia. Tourists at this Sunshine Coast... More

Extended weekend away
Noosa blue was very nice, my room had great view but unfortunately my friends room had to many trees blocking view. The bed would have to be the comfiest I have ever slept in. The staff were very...
21 May 2015
From US$88

10 BreakFree Grand Pacific Resort Sunshine Coast

4 stars
4.2 / 5 24 reviews

100 Bulcock Street Map

Includes FREE Undercover Secure Parking

Set in the pristine seaside area of Caloundra, BreakFree Grand Pacific Sunshine Coast offers an ideal haven for sophisticated vacationers looking to experience the charm of Sunshine Coast.... More

Great location, rooftop relaxation.
Great value for money in an exceptional location. Stayed two nights in a one-bedroom rooftop apartment. While the rooms are a little dated, they were clean, comfortable, and afforded all the...
6 Jun 2015
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