If you’re looking for things to do in Noosa and Sunshine Coast you might get overwhelmed. The list of ways to explore this playground of relaxing beaches and lush rainforest hinterland is endless.
So we’ve made it easy.
Here’s our list of 9 top things you’ve got to do while in Noosa and Sunshine Coast. You’ll be spending your vacation like a local in Australia’s most laid-back beach culture.
1. Soak in the Sun on the Beach
Sunshine Coast is the top destination Aussies choose for a relaxing beach holiday. Many locals are transplants from all over Australia. Once you step foot on one of many golden beaches it’s easy to see why. Here are some of the top beaches in the Sunshine Coast.
Main Beach, Noosa
Main Beach in Noosa is a local favorite for its gentle waves ideal for surfing, kayaking or just for a swim. Rent a kayak, paddle board or boogie board and enjoy the warm waters that constantly hover around mid-70 degrees Fahrenheit.
Ever wanted to learn how to surf? Main Beach is one of the best places to take a surf lesson. World-class surfing coaches give lessons right on the beach and will have you standing on your board by the end of your first lesson.
Visit Main Beach in March for the annual Noosa Festival of Surfing. This 8-day festival draws surfers from around the world to gather and celebrate their love of surfing.
Have you ever seen a dog surf? Catch the Surfing Dog Spectacular during the festival and watch as dogs and their owners take on the waves.
Sunshine Beach, Noosa
Once known as Golden Beach, this laid-back spot draws repeat visitors with its soft golden sand, secluded surfing and amazing dining along its elegant main street.
The irresistibly cool waters will draw you in with their unbelievable clarity. Boasting larger waves and little crowds, here you’ll find some of the best surfing in all of Sunshine Coast.
After a day at the beach catch a bite to eat at the award-winning Sunshine Beach Surf Club for a taste of fresh, locally-sourced dining.
If you haven’t already noticed, surfing is kind of a big deal in Sunshine Coast. It’s no surprise when there’s no shortage of gorgeous beaches with amazing waves.
Coolum Beach is no exception.
With its carefree holiday feel and consistent rolling waves, it’s a spot locals escape to for uncrowded and patrolled surfing.
Here you’ll find one of the best beach boardwalks in all of Sunshine Coast. Take a leisurely stroll on the boardwalk and see breathtaking views of beach. Reach Point Perry Lookout for one of the best whale watching vantage points in Sunshine Coast. You might also spot turtles or dolphins frolicking in the glimmering blue sea below you.
2. Discover National Parks and Hinterland
Need a break from the beach? One of the great things about Sunshine Coast is the unique blend of coastal beaches and charming hinterland.
There’s dozens of national parks, lush rainforests and towering mountain vistas to explore. The problem is choosing which sites of many to discover.
Here are the top things to do in Noosa and Sunshine Coast hinterland.
Noosa National Park
This popular park is a perfect mix of rainforest, mountains, wildlife and beaches, making it a quintessential Sunshine Coast destination.
Here you can hike through some of the region’s most picturesque scenery of lofty trees, rocky coasts and glorious clifftops. Spot wildlife as you wander through one of five tracks along the heath and woodlands. If you’re lucky you might spot a koala napping on the branches!
Imagine swimming in your own private rock pool with crystal clear water right on the doorstep of the ocean.
Sounds amazing, right? It’s no wonder the locals like to keep the Fairy Pools a secret.
The Fairy Pools are two pools of water in the rocks along the coast of the park. The high tide fills the pools, creating a magical scene of clear water rock pools surrounded by the ocean.
Look for these hidden gems early in the morning for the best chance to take a private dip in the Fairy Pools.
Mary Cairncross Scenic Reserve
One of the Sunshine Coast’s shining examples of hinterland rainforest is found in Mary Cairncross Scenic Reserve.
Located about an hour away from Noosa, this stunning rainforest preserve makes for a great day of educational fun. Its Rainforest Discovery Center offers interactive information about its diverse plant and wild life.
A remnant of rainforests that once covered Blackall mountain range, this subtropical rainforest boasts stunning views of the Glass House Mountains.
Take a tranquil stroll on the long timber boardwalk winding through the reserve and explore the lush scenery.
Glass House Mountains National Park
Easily one of the essential things to do in the Sunshine Coast is visiting the Glass House Mountains. The towering mountains are a distinct landmark of the Sunshine Coast hinterland, drawing eyes to their jutting peaks.
This group of thirteen hills were formed as molten lava cooled in the cores of volcanoes around 26 million years ago. Now the peaks hold cultural significance to the traditional owners, the Gubbi Gubbi people.
The mountains are a popular destination for bushwalking and climbing. Challenge yourself on one of the tracks winding around the mountains. You’ll be rewarded with sweeping views of the rainforest hinterland below.
3. Explore the Noosa Everglades
This is one of Australia’s best kept secrets. For an escape into an entirely different world of untouched wilderness, there’s no place better than the Noosa Everglades.
There are only two everglades systems in the world. One is in Florida and the other is in Noosa. The everglades is home to over 44 percent of Australia’s bird species along with over 700 native animals, so be sure to take your camera to snap photos of any wildlife you may see!
As the Noosa River winds through the everglades it becomes known as the “River of Mirrors.” You’ll see pristine reflections of the ancient tropical landscape around you, interrupted only by the gentle glide of canoes serenely paddling by.
Explore the river and Lake Cootharaba in the everglades with guided kayak tours. Or rent a kayak and take on the waterways on your own. Linger a little longer and camp lakeside at Boreen Point Campground or Cooloola Recreation Area. Permits to camp at these sites are easily obtainable with the Queensland National Park Booking Service.
One of our favorite tours takes you on a cruise through the Noosa River in the everglades. You’ll stop at Harry’s Hut, a historic quarters for forest workers and now a popular camping site. Here you’ll feast your senses with a delicious Aussie BBQ prepared by your tour guide in the tranquil wilderness of the Noosa Everglades.
4. Wind down on the Noosa River
The sparkling waters of the Noosa River are perfect for a relaxing day of kayaking or stand up paddle boarding. Several businesses along the river provide kayaks and boards for you to hire and enjoy the river at your own pace. Glide down the river and pass the mysterious Makepeace Island, a small heart-shaped island resort.
Experience the fun of owning a boat for a day and rent a boat or pontoon – even without a license! Explore great fishing spots and cast your line in the river for a chance to catch Australian Bass, Tailor, Trevally and more.
The sunsets in Noosa are a glorious blend of pinks, purples and oranges, best seen on a romantic Gondola cruise on the river. One of our favorite Noosa River cruises is in a beautiful Venetian inspired Gondola. This Gondola holds six people, perfect for an intimate journey with your loved one or a small group of friends.
5. Get your shopping on at Hastings Street
In need of a little retail therapy? Noosa’s got the perfect place. The city’s cosmopolitan cafe and boutique society lies in Hastings Street, a bustling mecca of alfresco dining and world-class shopping. Explore one of Australia’s most elegant shopping and gourmet dining strips, drawing in locals and visitors from all over Australia alike.
Pop into Massimo’s Gelateria for a taste of some of the best gelato and ice cream in Noosa. Warm up with a delicious coffee from one of many cafes – Clandestino Roasters are king in the Noosa coffee scene.
Discover hand-picked and stylish treasures from France, Italy and Belgium in Eliza’s Boutique. Browse through the beautiful custom boards in Noosa Longboards. No matter what your taste, you’ll find something just for you in Hastings Street.
6. Indulge in fresh seafood and gourmet cuisine
The only problem with grabbing a bite to eat in the Sunshine Coast is choosing where to go. Foodies will be in heaven in with the myriad of restaurants, cafes and pop up restaurants to choose from. In Sunshine Coast the food is as fresh as the sea air, the cocktails flow with ease, and the flavors will delight your taste buds. Here are some of the top food experiences in Noosa and the Sunshine Coast.
Cafe Le Monde
One of the oldest restaurants in Noosa, Cafe Le Monde is a Hastings Street staple. Try their crab omelette for a hearty breakfast or enjoy a burger grilled to perfection after a day at the beach. Head to their special oyster bar on Thursday nights for $1 oysters from 5pm to 6pm.
Noosa Boathouse Bistro and Bar
Get a taste of Noosa’s fantastic seafood at Noosa Boathouse Bistro and Bar, floating right on the river. Dine on perfectly cooked New Zealand Salmon or try their crowd favorite – a 3 tiered seafood tower – while enjoying the gorgeous waterfront views.
One thing you should know about the Sunshine Coast is that it’s teeming with cooking schools. For a great hands-on experience cooking dishes bursting with flavor, take a cooking class while in Sunshine Coast. The Cooking School Noosa offers classes covering regional, French and modern South East Asian cuisines suitable for all skill levels. Love Asian cuisine? Spirit House in Yandina will have you creating tasty dim sums, tasty curries and seafood delights. One of the best things about a cooking class is getting to taste your fine work afterwards!
7. Get up close with wildlife at the Australia Zoo
After filling up with amazing food, treat yourself to a day out at the Australia Zoo.
There’s probably no zoo in Australia more iconic than this, famed as Home of the Crocodile Hunter. The late Steve Irwin along with his family set out to conserve Australian wildlife through attentive rehabilitation and educational exhibits. Now the zoo is recognized world-wide for its conservation efforts along with its informative and interactive wildlife encounters.
See expert handling of enormous crocodiles, giant snakes and swooping birds in the Crocoseum. Here you’ll see the Wildlife Warriors put on a show that will have you at the edge of your seat. You’ll feel the radiating passion and excitement the handlers have for caring after wildlife.
Wander through the zoo and spot Tasmanian devils, dingoes and mysterious binturongs as you make your rounds. Visit the Kids Zoo to pet goats, pigs and sheep, or even better – pat a koala on the koala walk-through. Spot Red Pandas climbing tree branches, and meet some of the most playful wombats in Australia.
Don’t worry if you need to take a whole day to explore the zoo – you’ll discover something new at every turn!
8. Discover the beauty of Fraser Island
For a more natural look into Australian wildlife and natural beauty take a day trip out to Fraser Island. This World Heritage listed island boasts towering rainforests, over 100 freshwater lakes and long, uninterrupted beaches. This unique island is the only place in the world where rainforest grows on sand, lending to its image of an island paradise.
Here you can enjoy beach fishing, four wheel driving, camping and spotting wildlife out in the wild. The adventures never end in Fraser Island – here are some of the things you must experience while there.
75 Mile Beach
This impressive stretch of beach is on the east coast of the island. Though its waters are too dangerous to swim in due to strong currents, its perfect for a four wheel drive tour.
One of our favorite tours takes you on a journey across the sands of 75 Mile Beach and off road into the island’s core. You’ll explore the rainforests and enjoy lunch at one of the island’s gorgeous lakes.
You don’t need to scuba dive to see a shipwreck. Driving down 75 Mile Beach you’ll discover the Maheno Shipwreck, truly a wondrous sight to behold. Learn the history of this ship through informative signs and snap a photo with the wreck.
There are many beautiful lakes in Fraser Island to enjoy a refreshing swim, but the silky white sands and crystal clear waters of Lake McKenzie make it one of the top lakes in the island.
The sparkling blues and greens of the lake will mesmerize you and draw you in for a swim. The lake is pure rainwater and the sand below prevents it from draining away. This is just one of many gems that showcase the stunning beauty of Fraser Island.
Another great spot for a swim in Fraser Island is in the Champagne Pools. These natural pools were formed by volcanic rock and are now a popular swimming spot.
Waves from the sea crash into the pools and settle with a fizzing foam, hence its name. This makes for an exciting yet relaxing swim in one of the top attractions of Fraser Island.
9. Browse through Markets
No trip is complete without purchasing some souvenirs to remember your unforgettable adventures. Or perhaps you’d like one last taste of fresh, local produce. You’ll be sure to find delightful treasures in one of many markets in Noosa and Sunshine Coast. Here are some of our favorites:
Noosa Farmers Market
Held every Sunday in what was once a sports carpark, this market is a must while in Noosa. You’ll find fresh and organic produce, local seafood, artisan cheeses, handcrafted art, skincare products and so much more. Grab breakfast in one of the stalls to fill up before a day full of browsing through the aisles.
This hotspot is where you’ll find the thing you never knew you absolutely needed until you laid eyes on it. Precious gemstones, yummy street food and gourmet meals, local art, designer clothing…the list could honestly go on forever. There’s even massage spots to help take the edge off the endless market browsing. Stop by on Wednesdays and Saturdays for this popular Sunshine Coast marketplace.
Yandina Country Markets
These markets are dubbed “The country markets locals love,” and once you stroll through it’s easy to see why. You’ll find freshly harvested produce, vintage finds and collectables, plants and herbs and even car parts. Held every Saturday morning, the sights and smells of these colorful markets are sure to leave a spring in your step.
Things to do in Noosa and Sunshine Coast
You could spend a whole vacation just exploring Sunshine Coast. And as the heart and soul of Sunshine Coast, you’ll find many of its quintessential experiences in Noosa.
Is the Sunshine Coast beckoning towards you? Want a few more recommendations? Contact one of our Destination Specialists for more information on this special region. We’ll even give you free quote on a vacation in the Sunshine Coast!
Phone us Toll Free on 1-888-359-2877 (CT USA, M-F 8.30am – 5pm).
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