WELCOME TO THE SUNSHINE COAST
The Sunshine Coast is Australia’s authentic and immersive subtropical holiday destination.
Rich in diversity, the destination is brimming with the best that Australia has to offer – for real.
Pristine beaches sit alongside subtropical rainforest and majestic mountains, interspersed with villages steeped in history. Frolic at the beach in the morning and enjoy the afternoon in the lush hinterland, just 45 minutes easy drive away. Savour the fresh and bountiful local produce through a paddock to plate and trawler to table dining experience.
Discover the array of attractions, tours and experiences – from wildlife encounters to getting lost in a hedge maze and embarking on a special tour – there is a veritable goldmine of activities.
Sunshine Coast Itineraries
Start your beachside vacay in Maroochydore – located in the heart of the Sunshine Coast.
For the ultimate in coastal views, take to the skies with Paradise Seaplanes who take off from the Maroochy River before jetting over the coastline for unobstructed views of the Sunshine Coast below.
Or you can fly on water. Kite surfing is a combination of wakeboarding, windsurfing, surfing, paragliding, and gymnastics all in one extreme sport. Harness wind power to propel across the water, or up and over waves, with Maroochydore Beach and the river mouth connecting to Cotton Tree is the perfect spot to give it a go.
SUP. It could be jargon for ‘what’s up’, but on the Sunshine Coast it stands for Stand Up Paddling Boarding, an ancient form of surfing that has taken the world by storm. Maroochydore River offers calm waters for first-timers and learners. Hire a stand-up paddleboard or take a lesson with Paddle Days.
If you prefer to be the captain, you can skim over the Maroochy River and around Chambers Island with your own craft from Swan Boat Hire, throw in a line to catch your own lunch or hire one of the barbecue cruisers for up to 12 people. They also rent a range of kayaks and canoes.
Splashing about can work up an appetite and we recommend lunch with a view at the iconic Maroochy Surf Club. At night, the vibrant Ocean Street is a hive of activity with a number of restaurants, bars and live music. The new Maroochy CBD is also home to a couple of hot new restaurants, open for lunch or dinner.
Maroochydore, Cotton Tree and surrounds has plenty of options to rest your head. There is hotels, self-contained apartments and caravan parks in enviable beachside positions. Top tip – check out retro throwback, Loea Boutique Hotel.
Whales travelling past the Sunshine Coast
More than 35,000 majestic humpback whales migrate through Sunshine Coast waters from June to October.
And Mooloolaba is the place to set out on your whale adventure, with the destination the first in Australia to offer a swim with whales experience. Book in this once-in-a-lifetime encounter with Sunreef Mooloolaba.
If you prefer whale watching there is a range of boats offering different tours to get up close with these curious creatures such as Sunshine Coast Afloat or Whale One.
The Sunshine Coast is also home to a new Cultural Whale Watching Tour! Two operators Saltwater Eco Tours and Adventure Rafting have joined forces so you can experience the magic of whale watching from an entirely new perspective.
The two-hour whale watching and wildlife tour is led by local Indigenous guides who share their ancient stories, and deep connections to these majestic ocean dwellers as they migrate along our beautiful coastline.
Whale watching vessel Coastal Express allows everyone to have a front row seat, while the state-of-the-art underwater HD cameras and hydrophone allows you to see and hear the whales sing and play.
Mooloolaba is also home to some of the best seafood in Australia, with trawlers carrying spanner crab, export grade tuna, Mooloolaba prawns and swordfish returning to Mooloolaba harbour each morning.
Enjoy takeaway fish and chips from The Spit Mooloolaba or head down to The Wharf Mooloolaba – a destination in itself with water views, eclectic retail, delicious restaurants, bars, entertainment and adventure tour experiences.
There are plenty of accommodation options to suit every budget but why not spoil yourself and stay in some luxury 5-star digs with incredible water views at Oceans Mooloolaba or Sea Pearl Resort Mooloolaba.
Relaxing at Point Cartwright
It’s a beach-lover’s paradise! From Point Cartwright in the north to Currimundi Lake in the south, Kawana Beach at nine kilometres long is one of the Sunshine Coast’s longest stretches of sand. You will find lots of open space to relax, lap up the sun or surf like a local.
There’s no shortage of picturesque walking trails to explore, the pathways weaving around the coastline to offer picturesque views and plenty of options to stop for a swim or throw in a line.
Pack a picnic to enjoy at La Balsa Park on Mooloolah River, before following the path that winds through the nearby Point Cartwright Lighthouse Reserve. High cliffs in the coastal headland provide spectacular views of Mooloolaba, the Mooloolah River mouth, Mount Coolum to the north and Kawana Beach to the south.
These days, you’ll find the Sunshine Coast boasts just as many craft breweries as it does surf breaks. Beyond the beach, you can quench your thirst at popular hangouts in the area such as Kawana Waters Hotel or sip on local frothy creations at Your Mates Brewing Co or Malt Shovel Taphouse.
To really round out your visit and for the best in entertainment and eats; head to the street-food night market destination – NightQuarter. Located in Birtinya and open Friday and Saturday from 4pm to 10pm, this new attraction has food stalls galore, cultural festivals and live gigs.
Credit: Visit Sunshine Coast
Surfing lessons at Coolum Beach
Your family adventure starts at the beach!
Begin the day enjoying the balmy waters of the Sunshine Coast with a surf lesson at Coolum Beach. Learn the basics using easy-to-ride long boards to start out – fun is pretty much guaranteed!
After working up an appetite, head to The Wharf Mooloolaba for lunch. With the picturesque Mooloolah River and Marina as its backdrop and with dining experiences that will have you licking your plate, you simply can't go wrong!
Once you've satisfied your hunger, head across the road to Sea Life Mooloolaba where you can discover the array of creatures that live below the surface of the ocean. Along with thousands of marine and freshwater animals, some of the amazing animal interactions include; Seal Swims and Seal Trainer for a Day.
You can’t beat a surf club for a tasty and value priced family meal, let alone the incredible locations right near the beach! Surf clubs feature a variety of menu options, daily specials, some even have a few dining venues, plus most offer a children’s menu and ‘kids eat free’ night. They also have entertainment for big kids and little kids including a children’s play area and local entertainment. All of the clubs provide a local courtesy bus for pick up and drop off, so you can all enjoy a relaxing night out!
Here are some of our top surf clubs on the coast where you're guaranteed great food with a side of ocean views.
Kangaroo feeding at Australia Zoo
Australia Zoo – where you can get up close to animals - is perfect for families and needs your full attention! Watch the world-famous Wildlife Warriors show at noon, with all the slithering, swooping, jaw-snapping action of saltwater crocodiles, birds and snakes live in the Crocoseum.
Check out giraffes, rhinos, zebras and cheetahs at the African Savannah, and majestic tigers and red pandas in South-East Asia. Visit Bindi’s Island, where you can explore a three-storey treehouse with sweeping views of Australia Zoo, and see ring-tailed lemurs, giant Aldabran Tortoises and colourful macaws.
A full day at the zoo will work up quite the appetite. Many restaurants on the Sunshine Coast cater for children and offer 'kids eat free' deals on various nights. Some also provide fully equipped kids’ rooms, children's entertainment or activity packs, enabling the adults to savour their delicious meals while the kids are happily occupied. Try Sandbar Cafe for a relaxed dining experience in Caloundra, or Kawana Surf Club for a sea breeze and ocean views from the beer garden.
Time to laugh and scream with FUN for all ages. With plenty of rides and attractions, Aussie World has rides for the little ones to teenagers and something for the daring, to the simple joys of games and toys. There are rides that will get you soaked, make you green and dizzy, there are simulators and slides, bumps and coasters! For the kids or the big kids at heart, they offer fun for all ages.
Next up is a feed at Australia’s quirkiest pub – the Banana Bender! From the playful name to the quirky and eclectic decor, the Banana Bender Pub is a place of fun, where nobody takes anything too seriously. Explore magnificently coloured visual tribute to the fun and lifestyle of the Sunshine Coast before tucking into a delicious meal.
To finish the day, why not join a sunset cruise or hop on a ferry to discover the picturesque natural surroundings of the Sunshine Coast river systems? Watch the sun sink into the horizon over the water of the Maroochy and Mooloolah Rivers or Pumicestone Passage in Caloundra with Coastal Cruises Mooloolaba, Caloundra Cruise or Sunshine Coast Afloat.
Treetop Challenge at the Big Pineapple
Immerse the family in a thrilling day out in nature as you conquer personal goals at the TreeTop Challenge and have a whole lot of fun while you are at it.
Head to The Big Pineapple, and choose one of the five exciting courses - from easy to extreme – you will tackle. Even better, they have just opened a new park built specifically for junior adventurers! It has five courses featuring rope bridges, flying foxes, swings and jumps for kids aged up to 10 years.
After all that action, it’s time to sink your teeth into a well earned burger at Ricks Garage in Palmwoods.
Finally, for a change of pace, finish your adventures at Bellingham Maze. With its big, star-like shaped hedge maze, timber maze, rope maze, tyre maze, 18 hole mini golf course, outdoor games, garden cafe and puzzle shop, it is the perfect end to your Sunshine Coast family escape.
Credit: Visit Sunshine Coast
White Picket Fence
A day is only as good as the breakfast that gets it going and the Sunshine Coast has cafes galore and a vibrant coffee culture that makes this the best way to start the day. After waking in your boutique accommodation by the beach at Rumba Resort, head down to White Picket Fence or One Block Back for a relaxing breakfast.
It’s time to stretch the legs after enjoying your meal. The Caloundra Coastal walk is the spot for this!
The walk stretches from Golden Beach in the south, all the way to Mooloolaba but you can just take on a section and enjoy the views.
The beaches can be at their most beautiful on these sunny ‘off-season’ days when the sky is clear, the water is glistening and it’s not too crazy hot or busy.
Spend the day relaxing near the coast and treat yourself to dinner at Tides Waterfront in Bulcock Beach.
Ideally located with views from the Pacific Ocean to Sunsets over the Glass House Mountains, enjoy some stunning local seafood to finish your first day immersed in paradise.
Spirt House Cooking School
Continue the food-loving experience today with a cooking class and take a trip out to the Spirit House Cooking School in Yandina.
The scenic venue in itself is enough to make the trip worthwhile, with a path winding through dense tropical gardens to a Thai pavilion that overhangs an ornamental lake where classes are held. Learn the secrets to creating the perfect dim sums, seafood delights, and flavoursome curries, while channeling the environmental Thai vibe. The four-hour-long group lessons can be booked for both morning and night, and don’t require anything other than an enthusiastic attitude and a healthy appetite.
Picnic in the Hinterland
Sample some more of the finest produce the Sunshine Coast has to offer and join a tour along the cheese, wine beer and chocolate trail with Mystic Mountain Tours.
You will get a true taste of the Hinterland with stops at Mountain View Cafe with added panoramic views of the Glasshouse Mountains, a chocolate fix from delicious handcrafted chocolates at Maleny Chocolate Co, wine and views at Flame Hill Vineyard, and a delicious board of local cheeses, handmade local bread & condiments is waiting for you at Maleny Cheese.
Maleny Botanic Gardens
Today is all about exploring!
Stop by Gardner’s Falls just outside Maleny. It’s a short stroll along the banks of the Obi Obi Creek to the waterfall. These delightful waters are bounded by a grassy bank and backed by native forest making it the ideal spot for a hinterland picnic.
Nearby, your next stop is Maleny Botanic Gardens & Bird World. Surrounded by rainforest and with views over the Glasshouse Mountains, the 18 acres of sculpted, layered gardens are full of treasures waiting to be explored.
Enjoy the panorama of waterfalls, ponds and colourful plantings or explore the aviaries where you will find colourful birds from around the world.
The onsite café is the spot for an afternoon Devonshire Tea or a scenic lunch before finishing up your Sunshine Coast adventure.
Credit: Visit Sunshine Coast
Fly directly to the Sunshine Coast Airport in Maroochydore and pick up a hire car or take a transfer to your accommodation to drop of your bags and get ready for your Sunshine Coast adventure!
From the minute you enter the Sunshine Coast Hinterland, surrounded by the peaks of the Glass House Mountains, you will instinctively slow down to take in the view and start to take it easy.
On your way through the rolling hills of the Sunshine Coast Hinterland, stop in for a light takeaway snack at Maleny Food Co. The team here offer a delectable cheese, dried fruit, cracker, and chilled drink picnic baskets, perfect to pick up and enjoy at a nearby waterfall.
Just a short drive from Maleny Food Co, Gardner’s Falls is an easy stroll from the carpark. With a wonderful bush setting complete with rockpools and rope swings for the more daring, this is the perfect place to set up a picnic, pop in for a quick dip and enjoy lush greenery.
After exploring the lush rainforest, head to Brouhaha to try their locally crafted beer featuring flavours of the Sunshine Coast. Brouhaha are famous for their Strawberry Rhubarb Sour Beer which features delicious Sunshine Coast strawberries.
For a spot of shopping, drive to Montville, a quaint Sunshine Coast Hinterland town where you will find chocolate shops, small boutiques, and beautiful views.
If you are feeling up for a bit of a hike, The Glass House Mountains’ peaks are calling for you. Mount Ngungun, is one of the most popular and easy hikes. It is a spectacular place to watch the sunset as it offers views all through the Hinterland.
Start your day with a coffee and breaky from The Pocket Espresso Bar in Moffat Beach, Caloundra. We can’t go past the savoury muffins! Take the beautiful Coastal walk from Moffat to Caloundra and Golden Beach, where it is time to hit the water.
With stand-up paddle boards, kayaks, and jet skis to hire, you’ll be all set to explore the pristine Pumicestone Passage which is the body of water between Bribie Island and Queensland mainland. You will want to keep your eyes peeled; the passage is teaming with wildlife.
For lunch, stop off at the newly opened Greedy Gringos’ for a taste of Californian-style tacos and a margarita or two before driving to Australia Zoo. Spend the afternoon with some of Australia’s most iconic animals. Get up close with koala’s, kangaroos, wombats, and many more native Australian animals. Australia Zoo is also home to an array of African and South East Asian animals.
Head back to Alexandra Headlands to catch a stunning Sunshine Coast sunset. As the sun sets in red and gold, enjoy watching local surfers lap up the last waves of the evening.
In the evening, discover Mooloolaba Wharf, which boasts a variety of dining options, bars, and pubs. Our personal favourite is Rice Boi, which features delicious Asian fusion meals and fresh cocktails. The Dock is also another restaurant loved by Sunshine Coast locals which has waterfront views and relaxing vibes.
For a great start to the day, journey to The Velo Project in Mooloolaba, one of the locals most loved breakfast spots tucked away.
If you enjoy spending time in the water, make your way to Sunreef Mooloolaba where you can choose your own ocean adventure! Sunreef offer amazing snorkelling and diving tours to Mudjimba Island and the HMAS Brisbane, where you can get up close to turtles, fish, and beautiful corals.
If you prefer to view the ocean from above, experience a once in a lifetime flight with Paradise Seaplanes. Flying high above the Sunshine Coast, Paradise Seaplanes will take you on flight over stunning beaches, lush Hinterland, and blue waters. Each seat on the plane has panoramic windows, so make sure you bring your camera for this experience!
In the afternoon, make your way to the Ginger Factory, to taste some locally grown ginger, experience the Ginger Train, and enjoy a tasty lunch looking out into their beautiful ginger gardens. We recommend saving room for their ginger ice cream – it’s amazing.
Spend your evening relaxing and enjoy dinner at Harry's on Buderim. Harry’s is an iconic restaurant, positioned on the edge of the Buderim Forest Park and offers contemporary Australian cuisine to be enjoyed in the setting of a 140-year-old, Heritage-style homestead. The wide veranda stages an authentic outdoor Queensland dining experience whilst offering stunning views of the rainforest.
Start the day off with an early morning hike up Mount Coolum. It is a short 20-25 min walk to the peak of Mount Coolum and is a great spot to spot whales in the distance towards Mudjimba Island. Featuring sweeping coastal views, this walk is not one to be missed!
Pop into the Coolum Surf Club for some breakfast or a takeaway coffee. This iconic surf club features some of the best ocean views on the Sunshine Coast.
Head north towards Noosa, out to the beautiful Habitat Noosa, where you can experience the Noosa Everglades - the only Everglades in Australia. Join an Everglades Eco Safaris tour which offers you an unforgettable wilderness cruise into one of Australia’s most pristine regions. Swim in tea tree infused waters, canoe through the mirrored waterways or simply relax in this unique natural environment.
In the evening, explore Noosa’s Hasting Street home to fairy lit walkways, boutique shops, restaurants, cafes, and bars. Our recommendation for dinner would be Bistro C; their menus are inspired by the amazing local produce of the Sunshine Coast. Their menus include favourites such as succulent steak, locally caught fish, oysters, and signature dishes such as the caramelised pork belly and a coconut chicken salad, as well as calamari that will melt in your mouth.
A trip to Queensland's Sunshine Coast is not complete without indulging in a unique once in a lifetime four-wheel drive tour experiencing the Great Beach Drive from Noosa to Rainbow Beach with Great Beach Drive 4WD Tours. More than just a drive, this tour is an unforgettable experience of the natural beauty and rich history of this unique coastline, with knowledgeable and passionate guides.
Explore idyllic National Parks, the Great Sandy Biosphere, the coloured sands at Teewah, and stunning views at the Double Island Point lighthouse. Travel on more than 70 kilometres of iconic beaches so you can soak in the scenery and wildlife, such as dolphins, manta rays, turtles, soldier crabs, bird life, and whales (whale season is June to October). This is a full day activity so be prepared to relax in the evening!
Our dinner recommendation would be The Surf Club at Sunshine Beach. This stunning surf club enjoys unparalleled views of the coast from its position set above beautiful Sunshine Beach. From the spacious Ocean Deck and Seaside Deck with unencumbered views to their unique dining areas and booths where diners can taste the best the sea has to offer, their seafood dishes are not to be missed!
Throw on your trainers and head to the Noosa National Park. Nestled on the doorstep of Noosa, this popular park features some of South East Queensland's most picturesque scenery. Discover secluded beaches, rugged coastal features, and views from the iconic headland at Noosa Heads. Spot dolphins frolicking in the ocean at Boiling Pot and Dolphin Point and be thrilled as thunderous waves crash into the rocks below Hell's Gates. Wind through lush rainforest, fragrant open woodlands and heathlands exploring 15 kilometres of walking tracks. Walk along clifftops boasting unforgettable coastal views before leaving your footprints on pristine sandy beaches.
Spend your afternoon relaxing at the award winning Ikatan Spa. Massage and treatments are created based on wellness and stress-relief for body, mind and soul using Balinese traditional techniques as well as spice and herbal recipes for body treatments. Bali village style, where life is at a slower pace and your therapist has ample time to prepare and care for you with packages, massage, facials, body treatments, pedicures, manicures, and head massage treatments. Unlike other day spas, the tropical gardens at Ikatan are part of the relaxation experience for guests. Enjoy high tea, platters, light lunch, or taster plates in their garden and let the afternoon drift away.
When the sun has gone down, drive to Spirit House in Yandina. Clustered around a tranquil pond, the restaurant setting is magical - a temple style main building with covered courtyard tables nestled amongst lush tropical gardens with towering palms and stands of bamboo. Their menu focuses on local ingredients creating amazing Thai inspired dishes. A visit to the Spirit House is a treat for all your senses, sight, sound, scent and of course, taste.
Enjoy the sand between your toes
Stroll along the beach and have a quick dip in the ocean before breakfast at Aromas Noosa. Aromas is the best spot to people watch whilst you enjoy your breakfast! Enjoy watching the local surfers head to the beach for their first wave of the day and locals going for their morning stroll as you tuck into an amazing meal.
After breakfast, start your journey back to the Sunshine Coast Airport in Maroochydore for your departure.
Credit: Visit Sunshine Coast