A fit traveller’s guide to the Sunshine Coast
You don’t give a place a name like the “Sunshine Coast” and then expect the locals to be a bunch of couch potatoes, do you?
And why would they be when you can swim, run, walk, ride, and omm your way along 100km of beautiful beaches or zip up into the hinterland and find a nature lover’s adventure playground any day of the week? In the words of Reel to Real, “I like to move it, move it” on the Sunshine Coast.
The big wigs of the endurance sports and wellness worlds seem to agree, with a full calendar of events taking place on the coast each year – from the epic Ironman 70.3 to the Mooloolaba Triathlon Festival.
From the best outdoor adventures to where to get your vegan protein smoothies, consider this your fit travel guide to the Sunshine Coast.
Where to salute the sun (and sweat it out)
The early bird gets the worm on the Sunshine Coast – and the earlier you rise, the better the prize. Whether you’re surfing glassy peaks or testing your balance with SUP yoga on the Noosa River, you’ll bag the best conditions of the day.
Never been on a board before? Learn to surf with one of the accredited surf schools positioned along the coast from Caloundra to Noosa. If you’ve bought your own board, this local’s guide might come in handy.
Beyond the breaks of the surf beaches, you’ll find prime waterways for kayaking and stand-up paddleboarding from Currimundi Lake to the Maroochy River at Cotton Tree and, further north, the ecologically-blessed Noosa Everglades.
If you prefer mountains to rivers, take the ultimate fit travel challenge and conquer six mountains in one day with local adventurers, Experientia Sunshine Coast. (They also offer a great combo experience, following in the footsteps of explorer Matthew Flinders where you’ll paddle along the Pumicestone Passage in Caloundra, climb Mt Ngungun and walk the base of Mt Tibrogargan.)
Of course, you don’t need to scale mountains or shred waves to enjoy the great outdoors on the coast. Seek out waterfalls on one of the many Hinterland walking trails, meander along the Caloundra Coastal Walk for some of the prettiest vistas and secret beaches, or go luxe and trek a part of the 58km Hinterland Great Walk with Tropical Treks and Narrows Rainforest Retreat.
While you could navigate it yourself, camping along the way, this option includes luxury accommodation, a knowledgeable guide and no tinned food in sight.
For adventures on two wheels, check out these cycling routes, whether you’re a social cycler or in training for Velothon Sunshine Coast.
Bonus reps: If you’re all about endurance events, here’s how to train like an Ironman on the Sunshine Coast.
Where to refuel your temple
After working up a sweat, it’s time to find a healthy cafe to refuel. Faster than you can say “Kayla Itsines”, you’ll be seated somewhere with all the nut milks and gluten-free fare you can handle. When it comes to organic, vegan and health-conscious eats on the Sunshine Coast, you’re well catered for.
For an epic breakfast feast without the snide look when you ask for GF bread, Vanilla Food at Belmondos Organic Market in Noosaville and CK Coffee Bar and Wholefoods Mooloolaba are ready and waiting.
Down the southern end of the coast in Caloundra, Greenhouse Cafe consistently dishes out healthful meals (and crazy good desserts) while Kunara Marketplace in Forest Glen is your go-to if you’re self-catering your stay. Expect to spend at least an hour inside this organics warehouse alongside an organic butchery, cafe and nursery.
If you’re all over poke like white on rice, then make a beeline to Mooloolaba to check out Raw + Rice for a bowl full of fresh fish goodness.
Acai Brothers in Mooloolaba dish up bowls of the superfruit along with smoothies and coffee, while MooFree Burgers and Charlie’s Raw Squeeze in Maroochydore help to satiate any carb cravings (without the carnivorous undertones).
For true locals-only spots, check out New Earth Cafe in Coolum and Nurcha – located in a group of shops next to the IGA Marketplace in Maroochydore.
Bonus reps: Yes, you can still drink cocktails and feel healthy if you go to Elixiba on Ocean Street in Maroochydore. Their custom-brewed spirits are distilled with herbs, superfoods and traditional bush tucker ingredients. They also have a mood-boosting range of non-alcoholic herbal elixirs so you can still have a pretty drink, without the booze.
Treat yourself even more with this foodie guide to the Sunshine Coast.
Where to get your zen on
After all that swimming, running and riding required in endurance events, it’s nice to know you can keep your balance. It’s easy to have a good ol’ stretch and reset while staying on the Sunshine Coast.
Salute the sun with a waterfront yoga class in Cotton Tree Park or head to CGM Pilates in Maroochydore for dawn rooftop pilates. You’ll also find regular classes in Buddina and Noosa with Zenko Yoga, and reformer pilates classes at Noosa Flow, across the road from Noosa River.
But if you like to get weird and wonderful with your wind-down, why not try aerial yoga at Circ Studios in Warana or head into the Hinterland for some sound or colour therapy at Lift in Montville.
Soak your tired muscles in the magnesium pool at Spa Anise at Spicers Tamarind or book into the spa at Noosa Springs Resort for a float. And as well as sensory-deprivation tanks, Float Space in Maroochydore offers BioMat Therapy to support alkaline balance and lymphatic movement.
Bonus reps: Channel your healthy chakras into the kitchen with a healthy cooking class at Kunara Organic Marketplace or to completely bliss out under the pandanus, steal away to one of these secret beaches.
Where to take things next level
The Sunshine Coast is THE home of triathlons in Australia and if you’ve ever holidayed on Noosa’s sunny shores, you’ll appreciate why. Whether you’re a hardcore endurance junkie or are keen to sign-up for your first fun run, there are plenty of events for all levels happening on the Sunshine Coast each year.
- Kick off the year with the family-friendly Mooloolaba Triathlon Festival – an Olympic distance triathlon (11 March 2018)
- Choose from distances between the 5km fun run through to the big kahuna in the Runaway Noosa Marathon (26 May 2018)
- Or if two wheels are more you’re thing, check out Velothon Sunshine Coast and test-ride the best cycling routes here (12-15 July 2018)
- Warm up for Kona or just have an active family holiday that incorporates Ironman 70.3 Sunshine Coast (26 August 2018)
- With over 12,000 athletes competing during the Noosa Triathlon Multi Sport Festival, get prepped with these training tips) (31 October – 4 November 2018)
- Start thinking about entering the Noosa Summer Swim in 2019 now (dates TBC)
- Dive into a spring fitness fling with the Sunshine Coast Spring Swim (dates TBC)
- Will next summer be the time you take on an ocean swim in the Mooloolaba Beach Festival? (dates TBC)
- Follow the coastline of Alexandra Headlands as you run in the Sunshine Coast Marathon, host of the Australian Half Marathon Championships (19 Aug 2018)
Looking for more healthy holiday options? Here’s how to DIY detox holiday on the Sunshine Coast.