This guide on things to do in Noosa on your first visit will help you discover some of the best sites this famous beachside paradise has to offer.
Noosa, or Noosa Heads on the Sunshine Coast, is sometimes compared to the French Riviera in Europe. It does have a certain cosmopolitan feel about it. And like the Riveria, a Noosa holiday combines all the finer things in life with stunning beaches and plenty of fantastic food. It also boasts the remarkable Noosa National Park.
With so many things to do in Noosa, you may never want to leave.
Where is Noosa
Noosa Heads is located on the Sunshine Coast in South East Queensland, Australia. It is less than two hours, or 140 kilometres, to drive north from Brisbane. The closest airport is at Maroochydore offering regular interstate flights. From the airport, it is a forty-minute drive to Noosa.
We have come up with enough to fill a week-long itinerary easily, so with no further ado… here are some of the best things to do in Noosa.
Kabi Kabi or Gubbi Gubbi people are the traditional owners on the land where Noosa sits
Top Things To Do In Noosa
Things to do in Noosa range from fun water activities, indulgent day spa visits, drinking and dining at some of Noosa’s top restaurants, or just simply beach-bumming.
Explore Noosa National Park
Noosa National Park is simply stunning, and every visitor will want to spend some time here. The park boasts an abundance of wildlife, scenic walks and secluded beaches. Best of all, it is only a ten-minute walk from Hastings Street in the centre of town.
You will discover kilometres of walking trails suitable for most abilities and graded from easy to medium – most are level sandy tracks.
The most popular track is the coastal walk that initially comprises boardwalks and concrete pavement. As you walk around the headland, you will glimpse magnificent views over Boiling Point, Tea Tree Bay, Dolphin Point, Winch Cove and then to the point aptly named Hells Gate. Aptly named this because of its steep cliffs and deep crevasse. From Hells Gates, you get magical views of Alexandria Bay, another remote and stunning Noosa beach.
Hells Gate is also one of the best spots to watch a Noosa sunrise over the sea.
Keep an eye out for dolphins and other sea creatures along the coastal walk.
Hit the Hastings Street Shops
The main street of Noosa is always vibrant and alive. Browse the fashion boutiques, gift shops, art galleries and surf shops lining Hastings Street.
Here you will find high-end fashion, one-off designer pieces, swimwear and resort wear, alongside fashion chain stores and surf brand clothing.
If you’re into art, don’t miss the Noosa Regional Gallery, and if you fancy taking home a bit of the laid back vibe, there are a selection of art galleries with a local flavour of paintings and sculptures.
Surf Noosa Main Beach
Hire a surfboard, book a lesson and surf the point break at Noosa Main Beach. This protected beach has gentle waves that are perfect for the beginner surfer.
Noosa Main Beach is also the location of the famous nine-day long Noosa Festival of Surfing event held in March every year.
Check out Noosa River
The gorgeous Noosa River meanders through the Noosa suburb of Noosaville. It then extends through a series of lakes up to the Noosa Everglades.
The river’s sandy banks are safe for swimming and offer endless water activities like jet skiing, sailing, kayaking, stand-up paddleboarding, boating, and fishing. One of the popular things to do in Noosa is to take the ferry along the Noosa River on a daytime or sunset cruise. For some added romance, book a moonlight Gondola ride.
Paddle or cruise the Noosa Everglades
Discover the tropical wetlands of Noosa Everglades on a kayaking tour. Located in the upper reaches of the Noosa River, it is an excellent place for bird watching amongst the ancient landscapes of the tranquil waterways.
An eco boat cruise combined with kayaking is the best way to see the uniqueness of the “river of mirrors”. This small group full-day kayaking tour includes a delicious lunch on the banks of Fig Tree Lake and plenty of time to swim and relax. If you don’t need a guided tour, they also offer a self guided option.
Take the Great Beach Tourist Drive
Set off on an adventure along the Great Beach Drive from Noosa Northshore to Double Island Point and Rainbow Beach. Four-wheel drive tours are available from Noosa with various tour companies.
Most tours include a full day of adventure with a drive along Teewah Beach to the aquatic paradise of Double Island Point. A selection of water activities are offered, such as surfing, stand-up paddleboarding or sea kayaking. You will see the vibrant coloured, sandy cliffs of Rainbow Beach and a bounty of marine life and birdlife. The day also includes a tasty picnic lunch.
Drink your way around town on a brewery tour, starting at Land and Sea in Noosaville, then on to Heads of Noosa, followed by Boiling Pot Brewing Co, and polishing the tour off at Copperhead in Cooroy.
If you don’t want the hassle of driving and drinking, jump on an organised group tour with Sunshine Coast Brewery Tours. Their Noosa Brewery tour includes four great breweries with tastings and lunch.
A morning yoga class
Start your day with a morning beach yoga class with Noosa Beach Yoga. The best way to start your day is with sun salutations and gentle stretches. And there is no better venue for morning beach yoga than at Main Beach Noosa.
Eat your way around the Farmer’s Market.
Buy farm-fresh local produce at the Noosa Farmers Market every Sunday morning. The market is packed with seasonal fruit and vegetables, freshly caught seafood, homemade marinades and sauces, crusty bread and creamy cheeses.
Noosa Farmers Market is held at the Noosa Australian Football Club at 155 Weyba Road, Noosaville, from 6am.
Book a horse ride along the beach
Take a horse ride upon one of Noosa’s beaches with Equathon Horse Riding Adventures. There’s no better way to explore the beaches and bushland surrounding Noosa rather than on horseback.
Equathon offer horse riding experiences for riders of any skill level utilising the Noosa Trail network and Noosa North Shore beaches.
Enjoy Noosa’s Cafe Culture
If there is one thing that Noosa is famous for, it is its upbeat cafe culture. It’s compulsory to sip coffee, and people watch when holidaying in Noosa! People watch at one of the many cafes in Hastings Street and grab a coffee or cold beverage. Alternatively, sit riverside at one of Noosaville’s cafes enjoying a fresh brew.
Some of our favourite hangouts are:
- Aromas Noosa in Hastings Street.
- Boardwalk Bistro on Hastings.
- Cafe La Monde on Hastings Street.
- Grind Cafe on Gympie Terrace, Noosaville.
- Pure Coffee on Gympie Terrace, Noosaville.
- Depot Cafe on Gympie Terrace, Noosaville.
Indulge in one of the town’s day spas
Indulge and pamper yourself with a visit to a Noosa day spa. Select from the Balinese inspired Ikatan Day Spa, a European aqua therapy experience at The Spa – Noosa Springs Resort, or the invigorating aqua therapy pool and steam room at AQUA Day Spa.
Take a day trip to Eumundi
Visit Eumundi Markets in the nearby hinterland town of Eumundi every Wednesday and Saturday. These extensive art and craft markets, which seem to engulf the entire village of Eumundi, are the largest in Australia.
You will discover a vast range of locally made artisan treasures, fresh produce, fine foods, live entertainment, health and wellness products and services, and well-crafted fashion and jewellery.
Eumundi is located 20 kilometres west of Noosa and has plenty of car parking available in the town. A local bus service from Noosa Heads only takes 30 minutes. This day tour is a great alternative if you are travelling without a car. It includes a visit to the market, the ginger factory and Montville.
Take a stroll in the Noosa Botanic Gardens
It’s a pretty 22km drive to the Noosa Botanic Gardens situated on the shores of the majestic Lake Macdonald and only a short drive from the hinterland town of Cooroy.
The sprawling gardens will delight enthusiasts of native and exotic plant species. Wander the pathways throughout the extensive gardens, discover the open-air bush chapel, pretty lily pond and large lawn areas perfect for a picnic. You can also bring your dog on your visit! The gardens are free and open 24 hours a day.
Do a Noosa Beach Crawl
Many people only know Noosa on the Sunshine Coast because of the famous Noosa Main Beach. However, it is blessed with several other equally attractive beaches. So one of the best things to do in Noosa is beach hop, and check out its many splendid beaches.
Noosa Main Beach
Fringing Hastings Street, Main Beach is the most popular beach in Noosa. It is a safe beach for swimming because of its northerly aspect with gentle waves and is patrolled daily. It is a favoured surf break for longboard riders. You can rent umbrellas/ beach chairs, and being north-facing, it’s well protected from all but northeast winds.
The beach is adjoined by a walking path and some lovely shady pandanus trees. At the eastern corner, you will find Noosa Surf Club. It has a fantastic restaurant and bar with one of the best views you’ll find anywhere.
Near the head of the Noosa River is Noosa Spit. There are a couple of different beaches here, including Noosa Groyne beach on the eastern side.
On the northern banks of the river, you will discover a sheltered dog beach where dogs can swim in the sea and play off-leash all year round. The Noosa River wraps around the Noosa Woods isthmus on the other side.
National Park Beaches
There are several beautiful unspoilt beaches in the headland section of the Noosa National Park. Including Granite Bay, Picnic Cove, Tea Tree Bay, Little Cove and Alexandria Bay.
As you meander around the coastal walk of the national park, take your time to check out some of these beauties. Select your little patch of secluded beach, soak up some sun, splash about and swim.
Sunshine Beach is located on the southern side of the Noosa National Park headland. It is about a 5-minute drive south of Noosa Heads and starts a 15 kilometre stretch of open beaches with good surf breaks. It is also a great spot to view the early sunrise.
Noosa North Shore
Cross the Noosa River by ferry to access the long, expansive beach of Noosa Shore, located on the northern side of Noosa. It’s a great surfing beach and popular for fishing and beach camping.
Noosa North Shore beach is the perfect spot to get away from the crowds, soak up some rays, build a sandcastle, splash in the sea, and enjoy a swim.
Check out some of Noosa Main Events
Alongside all the fabulous things to do in Noosa, it is also famous for holding numerous free festivals during the year. Whether you’re a surfer, an athlete, a foodie or a music lover, pick one and visit Noosa on your next Sunshine Coast holiday, based on one of these events.
- Noosa Eat & Drink Festival in June – four days of gastronomic indulgence that showcase the best of the region’s fresh produce.
- Noosa Alive! Festival in July – ten days of arts, literature, food and fun.
- Noosa Triathlon – held in late October, is one of Australia’s largest sporting events.
- Noosa Festival of Surfing in March – attracts surfing competitors and visitors from far and wide with 13 days of surfing events and more.
- Noosa Jazz Party in late August/early September – Nine days of fabulous jazz and live music.
Where To Eat In Noosa
Some of the top Sunshine Coast eateries and hatted dining establishments are Noosa. There is something to cater to all budgets: hamburger joints, grungy cafes, upmarket riverfront restaurants, alfresco dining venues and surf club bistros.
- Betty’s Burgers & Concrete Co in Hastings Street, Noosa, is always a popular spot to grab a classic burger.
- Ricky’s River Bar & Restaurant in Quamby Place, Noosa Heads, has a casual atmosphere and river views to die for.
- Village Bicycle in Sunshine Beach Road, Noosa Heads is the perfect Noosa bar to down a coldie and a taco with live music on offer several times a week.
- Noosa Beach House by Peter Kuruvita on Hastings Street, Noosa, is a fine dining experience offering fresh seafood and local ingredients.
- Bang Bang Noosa on Hastings Street, surrounded by abundant greenery serving delicious fusion Asian cuisine.
- Jimmy Fox on Gympie Terrace in Noosaville boasts one of the best burgers in Noosa.
- Noosa Boathouse floats on the Noosa River with a 3 level bistro and bar, takeaway fish ‘n chips and coffee.
- Sum Yung Guys at Sunshine Beach is designed to highlight a passion for Asian cuisine and culture.
- Locale Noosa in Hastings Street is surrounded by lush gardens with tasty Italian cuisine.
- Noosa Waterfront is one of the premier dining establishments in Noosa, right on the Noosa River.
Where To Stay In Noosa
There is a large variety of hotel/resort accommodation available in Noosa Heads or Noosaville on the Sunshine Coast.
Three caravan parks/camping grounds are located in the Noosa area for the budget-minded traveller, and there is also a backpacker hostel.
- Noosa River Holiday Park – right on the Noosa River at Noosaville
- Culgoa Point Beach Resort – self-contained beachfront or riverfront apartments located within 10 minutes walk of Hastings Street.
- Peppers Noosa Resort & Villas – sit above Hastings Street with amazing views.
- Mantra French Quarter Noosa – also in Hastings Street, these bright spacious apartments with lagoon-style swimming pool and a children’s pool