Secret beaches on the Sunshine Coast (shhhh don’t tell!)

Born an only child, I hate to share; least of all when it comes to sun, surf and sand.

So often a beach trip is a game of deftly tiptoeing over a carpet of towels, taking a tennis ball to the head and falling into the remnants of yesterday’s sand castle… or maybe this is just me?

I’ve long dreamt of a stretch of beach where I can throw down my towel like an explorer at a secret spot. So I spent my summer trawling secret Sunshine Coast beaches to find seven spots to enjoy (almost) alone.*

Alexandria Bay

You know a beach is secret when you can only access it by foot. Alexandria Bay is completely off the beaten track nestled between Hell’s Gate and Lion’s Rock in Noosa National Park. Literally, all you’ll need is a towel and sunscreen to discover this beach (technically it’s an unofficial nudist beach so prudes beware). Here, you’re guaranteed a private patch of sand to call home and a few cute surfers to watch from your perch.

Point Cartwright Beach

Just when you thought there were no secrets in Buddina, there’s the Carties or Point Cartwright Beach, a hidden gem that the locals prefer to keep under their broad-brimmed hat. Once you’ve had enough of the sand and the surf, wander up the hill towards the Point Cartwright lighthouse to toast the sunset and watch the surf action below.

Shelly Beach

Shelly Beach on Caloundra’s coastline is a marine biologist’s dream with countless rock pools to get your Robinson Crusoe on. Teeming with sea cucumbers, barnacles and periwinkles, there’s over 20 types of marine species to put under your microscope. Throw down a towel, soak up the sun and when things get too hot, dip your feet into the rock pools to cool off.

Mudjimba Beach

Mudjimba Beach | Secret beaches on the Sunshine Coast

Photo by @ourcoastlife

Slip, slop, slap, and stick around on this wildly named stretch of beach. Mudjimba Beach, named after its island namesake that sits about one kilometre offshore, is a hidden golden sandy oasis. Just across from the Maroochydore River, this secret paradise beckons.

Moffat Beach

Moffat Beach Caloundra | Secret beaches on the Sunshine Coast

Photo by @anitaski

Shadowed by its popular cousins Kings and Dicky Beach, Moffat Beach in Caloundra is a superb spot to throw down a towel without fear of a stampede. Grab a coffee from Pocket Espresso, nab a shady spot in the park near the playground and you’ll be set for the day. And although it’s not patrolled, Tooway Creek – which runs out onto the beach – is shallow enough to cool off in during summer.

Happy Valley

You can’t help but feel happy at this beach in Caloundra, and there are plenty of green spaces to retire to once you’ve had enough sand and sea. The playground is a children’s paradise and the esplanade BBQs are the perfect spot to cook up your catch. Be warned, though, it can feel less of a secret come weekends and school holidays.

Rainbow Beach

Rainbow Beach | Secret beaches on the Sunshine Coast

It may require a little more effort to get here, but boy oh boy, is this kaleidoscope of sandy stretch worth the day trip. Set your compass – who are we kidding, GPS – north and in just under two hours you’ll be in photo-op heaven at Rainbow Beach.

With an acclaimed epic-status thanks to its (legit) Coloured Sands, unique ‘moonscape’ sand blow, and prime beach 4WD-ing and horse riding, this gem is starting to become a reg on the social media circuit, so get in now before this low-key local beach haunt blows up (in the best possible way).

*Being a landlubber with no intention of getting wet, non-patrolled beaches don’t faze me. If you are looking for a swimming spot – these beaches are not for you.

Queensland beaches

Where do you like to set up for the day on the Sunshine Coast?

*This post was originally published in 2014 and updated in March 2018.