The Sunshine Coast is the perfect Queensland holiday getaway.
The Sunshine Coast spans some of Queensland’s most spectacular beaches and surfing destinations.
Just an hour north of Brisbane, the town of Caloundra marks the start of one of the most picturesque coastline drives in southern Queensland.
A true haven for relaxation, the Sunshine Coast is the perfect destination to soak up the sunshine, wriggle your toes in the warm sandy beaches and enjoy some of the most ‘Instagrammable’ adventures in Australia.
We recommend at least 4 to 5 days to do this coastal road-trip of but if you have the time, stay longer and enjoy some of the very best experiences of the Sunshine Coast.
My favourites things to do
- See a Koala in the wild in the Noosa National Park
- Visit Eumundi Markets in the lush Sunshine Coast hinterland
- Laze a day away on some of the most magnificent beaches
The Best of the Sunshine Coast
Check out Caloundra
A sleepy little surf town at the southernmost end of the Sunshine Coast, Caloundra offers some of the best beaches and is a great location for a range of watersports.
Walk or ride the 25 kilometre boardwalk: A walking path extends from Caloundra to Mooloolaba featuring headland cliffs, historic sites, nature reserves and cafes and shopping opportunities.
Bulcock Beach is a hive of activity, with trendy little cafes and restaurants overlooking the beach. You’ll pass the heritage-listed Kings 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.
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 they’re migrating.
Some of the Sunshine Coast’s best alfresco dining is found along the beachfront in Mooloolaba, with the freshest seafood brought in daily.
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. Watch as the dawn breaks over beautiful Mooloolaba Beach as you head north towards Alexandra Headland. Its an easy 20-minute stroll to arrive at one of the most Instagram spots on the Sunshine Coast. Keep walking, and you’ll arrive at Cotton Tree, where the river meets the ocean.
Swim in the Surf: Mooloolaba Spit is one of the safest swimming beaches on this part of the coast.
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: The best months for whale watching and swimming are July to October, when the whales are migrating.
Seafood: Mooloolaba is the place to find fresh seafood. Head down to the seafood outlets and buy freshly caught prawns, crab and fish and chips, straight off the fishing trawlers.
Maroochydore is the cultural capital of the region. In the heart of the Sunshine Coast, the Maroochy River winds through to 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.
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 beginner 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, 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.
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. Known for its perfect weather, sheltered beaches and pristine waters, holiday makers head to Noosa to ‘get away from 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!
Walk through Noosa National Park: Visit the Noosa National Park to take in spectacular coastal scenery and see an abundance of native Australian wildlife.
Read next: Noosa – Australia’s favourite Holiday Hotspot
Explore Eumundi and the Markets
Eumundi is a quaint historic town is overflowing with modern galleries and art studios, delicious cafes and restaurants.
Eumundi Markets are among Australia’s best artisan markets and take place every Wednesday and Saturday. A sea of 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.
After your market wanderings, head across the road to 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
From the Sunshine Coast 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 Blackhall Range Tourist Drive through the Sunshine Coast Hinterland is one of the region’s most picturesque drives.
Home to some of the region’s most spectacular national parks, with waterfalls and impressive views of the Glass House Mountains often called the Sunshine Coast’s ‘food bowl’. Local produce stalls dot the roadside offering the freshest flavours, while cafes, restaurants and a vineyard along the route offer paddock to plate experiences.
Explore the hinterland towns of Mapleton, Maleny and Montville for a range of locally made gourmet food, stunning views and boutique hotels. Its a great opportunity to explore the many art galleries in the area and take home something special.
How to get to the Sunshine Coast
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 and you can fly direct from Auckland with Air New Zealand. Flights may also land at Maroochydore, so check your airline to see if they provide this service.
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.
Inspired to visit the Sunshine Coast? Pin this for later.
Growing up in Queensland, the Sunshine Coast was one of our families favourite places to holiday. I spent many days spent soaking up the sunshine on some of the best surf beaches in Australia, bobbing about in the surf and shopping in some of the most trendy shops along the Coast.
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.