20 cheap and free things to do on the Sunshine Coast

20 (almost) free things to do on the Sunshine Coast

Sure, you could hit the beach again, but if you’re strapped for cash and looking for some fun things to do on the Sunshine Coast, there’s a lot more than just good surf going down.

From laser tag and soaking up the sunshine in a kayak to devouring cheese platters in the hinterland, we’ve got 20 awesome things to do on the Sunshine Coast for under $25.

Bust out those five dollar bills gold coins, ya’ll.

1. Ain’t no mountain high enough

Mount Coolum

No need to head to Tibet when you can conquer your own Everest on the Sunshine Coast. There are a bunch of treks and climbs for the novice (and slightly petrified) adventurers right up to the daredevil pros, with beach and hinterland views to match!

Climbing Mount Coolum is almost a Sunshine Coast rite of passage when you’re here. We recommend getting up early to tackle the beast; you’ll be rewarded with the most stunner sunrise. Trust us, it’s worth every one of those steep steps!

Heading inland you will find the Glass House Mountains whose tracks are varied to suit every age and fitness level. For an easy walk there’s Mount Beerwah, but for something a tad more challenging you’ve got Mount Ngungun and Mount Beerburrum. More experienced climbers should set their sights on the Mount Tibrogargan summit route, with its steep and near-vertical exposed rock sections, you’ll feel like you’re scaling the side of the earth!

COST: Fuel to get you there? Some dollars. The sense of accomplishment? Priceless.

2. Hey Macklemore, can we go thrift shopping?

The man himself would be impressed by the nifty op shops that reside on Aerodrome Road in Maroochydore.

Begin your treasure hunt at the Maccas end, starting at the Op Shop Kidney Support Network followed by the Hospice Community Shop and Vinnies. Work your way down to Lifeline (my personal favourite for funky clothing finds) and finally, good ol’ Salvos.

After all that bargain shopping you’re going to be hungry. Head back up to Cafe Venice (under the Sebel) to go to town on their $5 lunch menu.

COST: Only as much as you’d like to spend.

3. Your mission awaits

Laserzone Sunshine Coast

Photo by Laserzone Sunshine Coast via FB

Pew pew pew your way through a game of mission impossible at Laserzone in Warana. Even if you don’t come out on top of the leaderboard, you will still feel pretty boss being kitted up with a high-tech pack and phaser while dodging laser beams.

COST: Sessions are $12 per person, per game.

4. Sunday seshin’

Live music? Good. BYO beer? Great. All this by the beach? BLOODY FANTASTIC.

End your weekend on the right note when you get your groove on at Peregian Originals, held every second Sunday of the month. The open air concert is 100% crowd funded by the community and has tunes to suit every music lover, from folk and blues to soul and rock.

COST: Free, but do your bit to help out and keep some change spare for donations.

5. PYO strawberries

Strawberry picking

You’ll find your strawberries taste just that touch sweeter when you’ve put in the hard yards to pick them yourself (okay, so maybe it’s not a strenuous activity, but hey, you still did the work!).

Each year from June to November you can head out to Strawberry Fields in Palmview to collect your own strawberries fresh from the patches.

COST: Admission is free, however, the cost of your strawberries will depend on the weight and current wholesale market price. So basically, don’t go too nuts.

6. Explore the coastline

Caloundra Coastal Walk

There’s something about a good view that makes exercise bearable. (Sort of.)

Whether you jog, bike or stroll along the Caloundra Coastal Walk, it’s hard not to feel happy when you’re witnessing some of the most scenic shorelines you could ever lay eyes on.

The path is a continuous coastal link from Golden Beach in the south – where it hugs the Pumicestone Passage – before passing Bulcock Beach and Kings Beach on its way around Caloundra Headland heading north following the long, sandy beaches of Kawana to Mooloolaba.

COST: If you’re leaving it up to your own devices (bike or feet) it’ll cost you nada, but if you want to hire a set of wheels you can get a solid four hours of peddling for $25 from Hire Hut Mooloolaba or Bill’s Boat and Bike Hire at Golden Beach.

7. Say Eat CHEESE

Maleny Cheese Factory Platters

Photo by Maleny Cheese Factory via FB

Bring your appetite when you head to the hinterland to tuck into some dairy goodness at the Maleny Cheese Factory. Not only is the drive there a treat in itself – think green rolling hills and cows lazing and grazing – but once you get there you’ll find delicious boutique cheeses ready and waiting to be tasted.

Let’s just say your visit is sure to be a Gouda one.

COST: Free cheese and yoghurt tastings are seven days a week between 9:30am – 4:30pm, but if you find yourself wanting more, their large cheese platter is only $20.

8. Get kayaking

Treat your arms to a workout (and a damn good view) when you glide across the Noosa River or explore Mooloolaba’s canals by kayak.

Pelican Boat Hire in Noosaville and Hire Hut in Mooloolaba will kit you up with all you need – including a map – when you hire one of their beasts.

COST: From $10 – $25 for up to two hours.

9. Go to hell

Noosa National Park

Now, before you start thinking I’m a horrible person who’s being unreasonably mean, let me start by saying the Sunshine Coast’s version of hell is not at all what you would expect: think sunshine, koalas snoozing in treetops, epic coastal views and sandy pocket beaches. Sounds pretty good, right?

The coastal track in Noosa National Park, starting at the information centre, will take you through several headlands past pandanus-lined beaches, the coastal rock formations known as Boiling Pot, Dolphin Point, Hell’s Gate (keep an eye out for dolphins, turtles and migrating whales at these stops), ending at the sweeping Alexandria Bay.

Set aside a couple of hours so you can have a few sneaky dips along the way.

COST: Zilch, though after all that walking you’ll be probably be tempted to tuck into some delish food at one of the many awesome cafes on Hastings Street.

10. Find your zen

Feeling stressed? Finding it hard to clear all those thoughts running about your head? If you said a big fat yes to either, then a little meditation with the Chenrezig Institute might be just what you need. Regular sessions are held weekly at the centre in Eudlo and also in Maroochydore and Caloundra.

Can’t fit those sessions in with your schedule? Even just a trip to the Buddhist centre to wander the gardens, enjoy some chai and cake will leave you feeling a little lighter.

COST: Entry to meditation sessions are by donation.

11. We like to market, market

Eumundi Markets

From street food to local knick-knacks, the Sunshine Coast is bursting at the seams (of your basket) with awesome markets.

For your week’s worth of fruit and veg head to the Kawana Farmers Market on a Saturday morning, or the Noosa Farmers Markets and Fishermans Road Markets in Maroochydore on a Sunday morning

If you’re a hardcore food lover, check out the Marcoola Markets held every Friday night or Nights On Ocean in Maroochydore on the second Friday of every month.

For arts, crafts and anything locally-made, you can’t beat the Eumundi Markets and Caloundra Street Fair.

COST: Entry is free meaning you can save your moola for some goodies.

12. Dinner dates

Going out for dinner on the Sunshine Coast doesn’t have to cost you your day’s work; you just need to know where and when to go. Let us hook you up with the best (and most reasonably priced) dinner deals going:

  • Wednesday wings at Alex Bar and Grill
  • Happy hour pizzas at the Nook & Cranny in Nambour every day between 6-7pm
  • The famous Chicken Parma Night at The Beach Bar and Grill Mooloolaba on Thursday
  • Pizza and pasta night at the Brightwater Tavern on Wednesdays
  • Steak nights at Your Place Espresso in Mooloolaba on Tuesdays

COST: These bad boys range from $5 to $16, so get feasting.

13. That’s a paddlin’

What’s the best way to cool down after hitting the sand and surf at Moffat Beach in Caloundra? By sipping on a few cold ones at the Blackwater Trading Co. of course.

Quench your thirst at the beachside brewery and order up their beer tasting paddle where you get to choose any four craft beers on tap to taste-test.

Don’t you just love the beach?

COST: Tasting paddles comin’ atcha hot for just 20 bucks.

14. Three words: Aqua Fun Park

Aqua Fun Park

Photo by Aqua Fun Park via FB

Because a playground on water is always a good time!

The inflatable water park, which now hails from the man-made lagoon at the Novotel Twin Waters Resort, is a dream come true for the young at heart, where you can bounce, flip, climb, swing and bomb dive your way to physical exhaustion.

COST: Get one session (50 mins) for $15 or snap up two for $25.

15. Picture perfect picnic

Stock up on tasty treats and make your way to the Maleny Botanical Gardens for a picnic in a stunning 14-acre oasis.

Work up a bit of an appetite first by taking to their walking tracks – there are over six kilometres of strolling to be done – passing by ponds, lakes, waterfalls and their many colourful plant varieties (you’ll find there’s just a mere thousand or so to admire).

You can also bring your pooch along to enjoy the day, but make sure they are kept on a leash!

COST: A whole day’s entry to the gardens is $16 for adults, children can go on in for free.

16. Walk on water

Sunshine Watercraft

Photo by Sunshine Watercraft via FB

Who said the Sunshine Plaza was just for shopping? If you’ve had enough of the crowds, head down to Sunshine Watercraft on the Riverwalk and enter into your own space of solitude when you roll around the water in an inflatable ball.

If that’s a little too claustrophobic for you, hire one of their paddle boats and kill some time exploring the natural waterway and making friends with the locals (aka the cute little duckies). 

COST: The walk-on-water balls cost $10 per person and go for the longest six minutes of your life; the paddle boats range from $4 to $8 per person (depending on age and number of people per boat) for 20 minutes.

17. Chase waterfalls

Kondalilla Falls

Take a break from the Sunshine Coast’s salty sea and high-tail it to the hinterland for a dip in some freshwater rock pools.

On the way to Maleny, turn off at Obi Lane to find Gardeners Falls. From the car park, it’s a short walk on a sealed path to the falls. You’ll find there are a bunch of smaller-sized pools to splash about in, but if you are more of the dare-devil type, try your hand at the rope swing that will plunge you into the larger pool.

If you’re after more of an adventure, the Kondalilla Falls Circuit that will take you on a round-trip through the rainforest valley to the actual falls itself, then back to the rock pool and lookout where you can rest up and cool off.

COST: Zilch minus petrol to get you there.

18. Time warp

You’ll feel like you’ve stepped into a scene from Grease when you’ve ordered up a burger and shake from Ricks Garage in Palmwoods. Originally a petrol station and mechanical workshop (it actually still functions as a workshop!), the retro diner has got ’50s American-style down to a tee with its pop coloured interiors, comfy booths and old-school memorabilia.

COST: Depends on how hungry you are! Regular burgers range from $16 to $25, but their mini range of burgers – for those with smaller appetites – will cost you only $11 or $12.

19. Meet the gingerbread man

The Ginger Factory

Finally, catch the gingerbread man at The Ginger Factory in Yandina. As the world’s largest ginger operating factory, it would be a crime not to pay a visit to this iconic attraction on the Sunshine Coast.

While you’re there, hop aboard ‘Moreton’ the historic cane train as he takes you through the sub-tropical gardens, or take a factory tour to see how ginger is grown and turned into a range of products.

For a little retail therapy, Ginger Town has got your needs sorted from souvenirs to sweet treats. If you’ve got the munchies after all that perusing, order up one of their famous parfaits at the Ice Creamery.

COST: Admission is free, however, if you want to take part in any tours or rides, tickets will cost you up to $15 per tour/ride. (PS. Check out their double deals on their website to score a bargain for under $20.)

20. Beach it, 4×4 style

Beach driving

Pack the car with rods, surfboards and kayaks for an adventure-packed weekend at Noosa North Shore! To get there will literally take you five minutes aboard the Noosa North Shore Ferry at Tewantin, and there’s a heap of awesome activities to keep you occupied for a solid day or two!

Hit the coastline for some beach driving (best suited to within three hours either side of low tide) to ogle at the coloured sands along the Great Sandy National Park or take the rainforest circuit from the Freshwater Track travelling to Rainbow Beach and Tin Can Bay; do some kayaking and fishing at Lake Cooroibah, take a picnic down to ‘The Frying Pan’ (at the left-hand side of the Noosa River mouth) and splash about in the shallow water or check out the lighthouse at Double Island Point and see if you can spot any dolphins.

If you want to stay overnight, these epic freshwater and beach camping spots are yours for the picking. (Psst, find packing overwhelming? Make sure you don’t forget anything with our handy camping checklist!)

COST: A trip over with a 2WD or 4WD with cost you $7 each way. You will also need a vehicle access permit to drive through the national park and beaches ($11.75 per day) and camping permit ($5.95 per person/per night).

What’s your favourite thing to do on the Sunshine Coast for under $25?