Kings-Beach-Caloundra

5 Sunshine Coast must-dos for first-time visitors

Hey mate. Ni hao ma? Selamat pagi? Yes, I may speak a few languages but unfortunately, the one language I’m unfamiliar with is the one most Queenslanders are fluent in – the active-outdoor-lifestyle language.

Having lived in an urban cage for most of my life – think constant traffic, high-rise apartments and an umbilical cord connection to at least four devices – you can only imagine the excitement of learning the ‘new language’ when I visited the Sunshine Coast for the first time.

Here are my five must-dos on the Sunshine Coast for first-time travellers:

Rock hopping at Kings Beach

Caloundra is a laid-back, humble, friendly beach town. I must admit, I felt a moment of Eat, Pray, Love while standing on the cool rocks at Kings Beach with the cold water flowing over my feet, and my thoughts floating amongst the fluffy clouds and sunshine. I could sum up this entire experience in one word – Namaste, my friend. Namaste. There is something revitalising about the ocean here that you have to feel to truly understand.

Jet skiing along Pumicestone Passage

Pumicestone Passage_Sunshin Coast_Courtesy of Caloundra Jet Ski

Don’t ask me why but I had only ever jet skied for 15 minutes before and although I loved the thrill of it, I never got the chance to fully experience it. Thanks to Ken from Caloundra Jet Ski, I upped that number to a staggering 180 minutes along the Pumicestone Passage.

It probably wasn’t my most glamorous moment (and I apologise if you were around that day), but I squealed all the way from Pelican Waters to Toorbul, resting my voice when we stopped for some fun facts about the region. If you have half a day spare and an appetite for all things 007, then put this on top of your soft adventure shopping list.

Caloundra Street Fair

Caloundra Street Fair_Sunshine Coast_Courtesy of Brandon Chew

Every Sunday morning more than 200 stalls line Bulcock Street for the Caloundra Street Fair creating the perfect place for an affordable retail therapy session – quite an oxymoron but I stand by it. Also known as the Bulcock Street Markets, this is where the Caloundra Buzz (locals would know what I’m talking about) comes alive.

What did I get out of it? A custom T-shirt (a picture of rock, paper and scissors with a tagline that reads “why can’t we all be friends?”) and a belly filled with the Himalayan Magic Momos –a tasty morsel that’s similar to a spring roll but round in shape.

 Beachfront eats at Mooloolaba

Mooloolaba Esplanade_ Sunshine Coast_Courtesy of Vanessa Chew

Mooloolaba Esplanade is a beachfront eat street that offers dozens of spots for bar bites, caffeine hits and full on gourmet meals, in between hours of people watching and sun basking. It’s one place to get your glutton on.

For breakfast I started back a few streets in a quaint café called The Velo Project for a full hit of aromatic coffee, and fresh avo and pistachio dukkah on toast. As the clock struck noon, I sat myself down at Entice Café for a feed of chilli cheese fries, a fresh fruit smoothie and a mega-watt view of the ocean – one that screamed for this Instagram pic. Then, I took a break from stuffing my face and literally rolled across the road to Mooloolaba Beach for an afternoon laze to work off my food coma.

Dinner was at Spice Bar Restaurant – a Sex and the City-esque restaurant with an exotic round-up of Asian flavours, a touch different from home. Quite a delight to find.

Swimming with humpback whales

Mooloolaba_ Sunshine Coast_Sunreef Scuba Diving ServicesThis is one big tick off my bucket list thanks to Sunreef Scuba Diving Services at Mooloolaba, the first operator in Australia to give whale lovers the chance to swim with humpback whales. I could go on forever but I’ll narrow it down to – IT WAS FREAKING AWESOME!

What was in my head about this experience was extremely different from reality. Having a whale just five metres away was surreal. My first thoughts were, what if the whale is hungry? My second thought? That’s a big one… and never would I have thought we would be so close. When whale season approaches – mid-June ’til early November – I’d say put on a wetsuit, head to Mooloolaba and just keep swimming.

What’s your favourite thing to do on the Sunshine Coast?