SUNSHINE COAST: THINGS TO DO FROM LAND TO SEA

The Sunshine Coast things to do list is long, the area is packed with natural beauty and some of the best beaches, waterfalls, and national parks in South East Queensland. There is no shortage of things to do, so today we are sharing our favourites, the places we think you should see on your next trip.

With an average of 300 days of sunshine per year, it’s no surprise that the Sunshine Coast is a treasured travel destination. And to help you plan your trip, we’re sharing the best things to do on the Sunshine Coast that cost next to nothing and create memories of a lifetime.

Local tip: To avoid the crowds, book your trip outside of the Queensland school holidays.

The Kabi Kabi and Jinibara People are the Traditional Owners of the Sunshine Coast beaches and hinterland.

How to Get to and Around the Sunshine Coast

The Sunshine Coast sits north above Queensland’s capital of Brisbane. If you are driving up, it takes as little as one hour on the Bruce Highway to reach the south Sunshine Coast passing by theme parks such as Australia Zoo and Aussie World.

For those flying from interstate, the Sunshine Coast airport in Mudjimba receives flights from Brisbane, Sydney, Melbourne, and Adelaide. At the airport, you can rent a car.

Hands down, the best way to get around the Sunshine Coast is by car. There are public transportation options with train and bus but it will be harder to get to many of the locations on the list. If having a car is not an option, then we would suggest basing yourself at Bulcock Beach in Caloundra, Mooloolaba, or Noosa Heads for walkable locations in close proximity to places of interest.

17 Mostly Free Sunshine Coast Attractions

Here are 17 stunning things to do on the Sunshine Coast that don’t necessarily require you to open your wallet.

Spot humpback whales from land!

During whale watching season from June to November, you have the opportunity to witness majestic humpback whales without even leaving land. Here are some of the best places to see whales for free (from south to north):

  • Moffat Headland: 2 Mcilwraith St, Moffat Beach QLD 4551
  • Point Cartwright: Lot 577 Pacific Blvd, Buddina QLD 4575
  • Alexandra Headland: Alexandria, Alexandra Headland QLD 4572
  • Point Arkwright: 26 Jubilee Esplanade, Point Arkwright QLD 4573
  • Dolphin Point: Coastal Walk, Noosa Heads QLD 4567.

Look Out at the Glass House Mountains

A collection of 11 ranges make up the Glass House Mountains, which were formed from volcanic activity approximately 25-27 million years ago. One of the easiest ways to see the Glasshouse Mountains is at the Glass House Mountains lookout day-use area in Beerburrum West State Forest.

Glass house mountains lookout
Glass House Mountains Lookout Credit: Tourism Events Queensland

The day use area has free barbecue facilities, picnic tables, and is wheelchair accessible (some assistance may be required).

The Glass House Mountains are highly significant for local Traditional Owners, the Jinibara people and the Kabi Kabi First Nations

Best time to visit: Open 24 hours a day but best visited during sunlight hours.
Location: Glass House Woodford Rd, Beerburrum QLD 4517

Walk Through a Railway Tunnel

This heritage-listed railway tunnel no longer has tracks or trains running through it. Instead, visitors can walk or ride through 93.5m tunnel. It gets dark in the middle, although not pitch black. If this makes you squeamish or you want to see the bats living on the inside roof of the tunnel, take a torch along.

Best time to visit: Early morning or late afternoon to avoid the hottest part of the day, while leaving enough time to return in daylight hours.
Location: Park at the corner of Beech Road and Cunningham Avenue in Landsborough. The tunnel track is 3 km one-way from the road to the tunnel on foot.

Swim in a Beachfront Saltwater Pool

Kings Beach in Caloundra is a fantastic spot on the Sunshine Coast for a family holiday. Smack bang in front of the beach is a spray park, children’s swimming pool, and wading area with disabled access. Most famously is the 25-metre sea water pool that provides epic ocean views.

Kings Beach Caloundra
Kings Beach Caloundra

Best time to visit: Open year round with the Ocean pool unlocked from 4.30 am to 9.00 pm and the Fountain unlocked from 8:00 am to 5:00 pm.
Location: 36 Esplanade, Kings Beach QLD 4551

Chill Out at Moffat Beach

Just down the road from Kings Beach, you’ll find a completely different vibe altogether. Moffat Beach is well known and loved for its laid back atmosphere. The surf beach is not regularly patrolled but not to worry, if you prefer a more sheltered swim, you can paddle around in Tooway Creek, which connects with the sea.

Moffat Beach Sunshine Coast
Moffat Beach Credit: Tourism Events Queensland

Only a few steps from the beach are the highly rated Pocket Espresso Bar and Moffat Beach Brewing Co.

Best time to visit: Come late morning and plan to stay until sunset to enjoy all that Moffat Beach has on offer.
Location: Bryce Street, Moffat Beach QLD 4551

Escape to the Sunshine Coast Hinterland

Block out a full day on your holiday itinerary for a Sunshine Coast Hinterland escape. It might be hard to tear yourself away from the Sunshine Coast’s sun-kissed beaches, but trust us, it’s worth it! The Sunshine Coast Hinterland is an enchanting destination full of waterfalls, national parks, and country towns.

Main street of Montville
Main street of Montville Credit: Tourism Events Queensland

Snap photos of pademelons at Mary Cairncross Scenic Reserve and freshwater animals, including platypus, in Maleny. Peruse the art galleries in Montville and pack a picnic for the Maleny botanic gardens.

Read our day trip to the Sunshine Coast Hinterland.

Best time to visit: The best time to see the waterfalls is during the wetter months (December to June).
Location: The Sunshine Coast Hinterland starts at Glass House Country and stretches north to Eumundi and west to Kenilworth.

Explore Point Cartwright Lighthouse

Located in Buddina, the Point Cartwright Lightouse has been standing here since 1967 on a strip of land between the Mooloolah River and the Pacific Ocean. The tower is surrounded by a scenic reserve and a 2km circuit with views over Mooloolaba Beach, Mooloolah River, and Buddina Beach.

Point Cartwright Lighthouse
View of the Point Cartwright Lighthouse and Reservoir near the mouth of the Mooloolah River.

Best time to visit: sunrise or sunset can be especially spectacular. Look out for humpback whales between June and November.
Location: 577 Pacific Blvd, Buddina QLD 4575

Wander Through Mooloolaba Wharf

The Wharf Mooloolaba is a tourist hub with restaurants, tourists attractions such as the Sea Life Sunshine Coast Aquarium, and tour companies that operate marine life safaris and river cruises.

Mooloolaba Wharf
Mooloolaba Wharf Credit: Tourism Events Queensland

The nautical aesthetic and ocean views make this a great place to dine, have a drink, or browse through the boutiques.

Best time to visit: Sunday from 12:00 pm to 3:00 pm for a live open air concert in the courtyard.
Location: 123 Parkyn Parade, Mooloolaba QLD 4557

Choose Surf or Calm at Cotton Tree Beach

Similar to Point Cartwright in Mooloolaba, Cotton Tree is a small triangle of land between the Maroochy River and the Pacific Ocean. Choose between standup paddle boarding in the calm waters of the Maroochy River or surfing on Maroochydore’s patrolled beach. Don’t feel like getting wet? Grab a cold one at The Boat Shed and kick back on the sandy banks of the Maroochy River.

Best time to visit: Anytime of day, just be careful in the sun and slip, slop, slap.
Location: Park on The Espalanade or Alexandra Parade in Maroochydoore

Walk to Chambers Island

While you are in Maroochydoore, make sure you don’t miss the chance to walk across to a tiny island in the Maroochy River. Chambers Island is connected to the mainland by a foot bridge and is small enough to easily walk around the entire island. There is a playground, public toilets, a sailing club, and sandy beaches galore.

Best time to visit: Anytime during daylight hours.
Location: Bradman Ave, Maroochydore QLD 4558

Snap a Pic at Serenity Falls

If you’re staying on the coastline and don’t have time to make a full-day trip to the Sunshine Coast Hinterland, then Buderim Forest Park provides a convenient waterfall fix. Located 15 minutes by car from Maroochydore and Mooloolaba Beach, you’ll feel a world away in this 45-hectare green oasis.

Waterfall in Buderim Forest Park (1)
Waterfall in Buderim Forest Park

A paved trail leads to a bridge overlooking Buderim Falls, unofficially referred to as Serenity Falls.

Best time to visit: The best time to see the waterfall is during the rainy season (December to June).
Location: Buderim Forest Park entrance at Quorn Cl, Buderim QLD 4556

Look for Turtles at Point Arkwright

The Point Arkwright Lookout is on the Coastal Pathway, a full 73km scenic walk. This lookout is well-known for turtle sightings. South of the lookout, is Yaroomba Beach which is popular for snorkelling around the rocks. Whether you stay on land or venture into the sea, this is a great place to spot sea life.

Best time to visit: The best time for snorkelling is in winter when the seas are more calm.
Location: 26 Jubilee Esplanade, Point Arkwright QLD 4573

Stroll Along a Boardwalk from Beach to Mountain

The Boardwalk Mount Coolum begins near the lifeguard station on Coolum Beach. From here you can ascend onto the elevated boardwalk, following it across the treetops and heading towards the distinct dome-shape of Mount Coolum. This section is wheelchair accessible.

View from Mount Coolum
View from Mount Coolum Sunshine Coast, Queensland, Australia.

If you are up to a challenge, we also recommend the grade-four track in Mount Coolum National Park. Follow the steps up to reach a summit with 360-degree views.

Best time to visit: Anytime during daylight hours.
Location: 9 Wave Cres, Mount Coolum QLD 4573

Shop at Australia’s Largest Arts and Crafts Market

Located in north Sunshine Coast, the Eumundi Markets are a hive of colourful activity within a charming country town. There’s always something interesting to see, eat, and hear at the Eumundi Markets.

Eumundi Markets
Eumundi Markets Credit: Tourism Events Queensland

It’s a crowd favourite full of tasty treats and guaranteed to be a fond memory from your Sunshine Coast holiday.

Best time to visit: Open Wednesdays 8 am – 2 pm and Saturdays 7 am – 2 pm
Location: 80 Memorial Drive, Eumundi
Cost: The market is free to enter but the cost for parking is $7.

Feel Glamorous in Noosa Heads

Noosa Heads is one of the more upmarket beaches on the Sunshine Coast. Even if you don’t stay here, it’s well worth planning a full day for window shopping at boutiques on Hastings Street, lunch overlooking Noosa River, swimming at Noosa Main Beach, cocktails at a beach bar, and sunset from Laguna Lookout.

Noosa Queensland
Hastings Street Noosa

In search of more sandy shores? Checkout the nearby as Sunshine Beach and Noosa North Shore.

Best time to visit: Try to avoid peak traffic times so you don’t lose too much time searching for a car park.
Location: Hastings Street, Noosa Heads, QLD 4567

See the best things to do in Noosa for first-time visitors.

Hike Noosa National Park

There are over 20 national parks throughout the Sunshine Coast and surrounding hinterland. If you only have time for one national park, then without a doubt it should be Noosa National Park.

Noosa National Park Queensland

With multiple inland and coastal walking tracks, you’ll have the opportunity to discover secluded beaches, rock pools, and sea life.

Read our guide on the Noosa National Park walks.

Best time to visit: Try to avoid peak traffic times so you don’t lose too much time searching for a car park.
Location: 60-62 Park Rd, Noosa Heads QLD 4567. If you are unable to get a park at this entrance, look for street parking on Parkedge Road and the northern end of Noosa National Park at Sunshine Beach.

Paddle Through the Sunshine Coast’s Everglades

One of the most unique things to do on the Sunshine Coast is to visit the Noosa Everglades. It’s one of two of the world’s everglades systems and the only everglades where you can swim. We stayed at Habitat Noosa, an eco camp with glamping tents, camping sites, and an onsite micro brewery. This is a wonderful spot for a family holiday with an abundance of wild kangaroos and gonna roaming the grounds.

Noosa Everglades TEQ
Noosa Everglades Credit: Tourism Events Queensland

For a day trip, the Noosa Everglades are approximately 40 minutes from Noosa. There are kayaking tours from Booren Point and multiple wilderness walking tracks, from 400 metres return, within the Cooloola Recreation Area of Great Sandy National Park.

Best time to visit: The best times for canoeing, kayaking, and standup paddelboarding are when there is less wind.
Location: 204 Lake Flat Rd, Boreen Point QLD 4565
Cost: It’s free to visit the Great Sandy National Park and walk on the trails. Watercraft hire starts from $15 and can be organized through Habitat Noosa, Lake Escapades, and Kanu Kapers.

Not sure where to stay on the Sunshine Coast? See our top picks with these 10 best Sunshine Coast beaches for your next holiday.

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