The ultimate guide to Noosa National Park
Noosa is already a favourite with holidaymakers with its buzzy beachside vibe, social eat streets and postcard-perfect beaches.
But do you know much about its natural, wilder side? It’s called Noosa National Park and if you’re not already acquainted, it’s time you should be.
What’s so special about Noosa National Park?
Not too many places can lay the claim of a National Park within easy walking distance of their CBD. Spanning 2883 verdant hectares incorporating Noosa headland and areas around Lake Weyba, Peregian and Coolum.
Its most popular tracks can be found on Noosa headland, just a short 30 minute wander from beachside Hastings Street. Parking is available, but you will need to be early to nab one.
Noosa National Park trails
First port of call is the day use area, and a cute little kiosk where you’ll grab a coffee; a map if you need one from the information booth and do a quick check to see how many koalas have been spotted in the treetops. Picnic tables, electric barbecues, drinking water and public toilets are available.
The Coastal Walk is a favourite for a reason. All you’ll need to know is keep the ocean on your left. The way in is the way out – but allow approximately 4 hours total (5.4 km each way) to do the full return walk.
By now you’ll have already passed a few pretty beaches, but continue to follow the smell of eucalyptus and the sound of whip birds calling until you reach Boiling Pot. Watch as the waves fizz across the rocks and keep your eyes peeled on the treetops for koalas before carrying on to Tea Tree Bay, one of Noosa National Park’s most scenic beaches.
After you’ve longed to be a surfer out there on your longboard and left fresh footprints in the sand, continue to Dolphin Point to hopefully spot dolphins, turtles and in season (June to November) whales. For even more surfer envy, locals say they can hear the whales sing when they’re beneath the waves.
If you’ve made it this far, push on to Hells Gates to be rewarded with crashing waves and big sweeping views over Alexandria Bay. While it may be tempting to jump in, resist the temptation and choose safety.
Just around the corner instead, and the fitting end of the Coastal Walk, is Sunshine Beach – a lovely spot for a swim or a surf.
Some choose to take the bus back to Noosa from here or you can return the same way to complete the full 10.8km. There are 5 walks in this area and most loop into the Coastal Walk at some junction.
For elevated views, take the Tanglewood Walk at Hells Gate or start at the Noosa National Park Day Use area. It’s a 8.2 km return journey, but a good option to see an inland pocket of rainforest and flourishing wildflowers as an optional return.
Palm Grove is an easy 1.1km return through a shaded thicket of rainforest, and the longer 2.8km return Noosa Hill Walk is moderately easy too. The last of the headland walks can be picked up mid-way at Alexandria to take you into Sunshine Beach village instead of the Coastal Walk’s departure point of Sunshine Beach.
More to explore
Noosa National Park has three sections: while Noosa Headland is the most visited, Emu Mountain and Peregian are worth a wander too.
Emu Mountain is an easy 1.1 km return to take in elevated views of the coastline. Red gums and Emu Mountain she-oak line the walk and on sunset – soak up spectacular Glasshouse Mountains views. Access if on the western side of David Low Way, 3.5km north of Coolum Beach and 2.5km south of Peregian Beach.
If you have the stamina; follow the 2.4 km Hawkea walk, which is signposted 400 metre into the Emu Mountain walk, for even more jaw dropping coastal and hinterland views.
Finally, the Ocean Walk will take you from Peregian to the beach through a mesh of casuarina, paperbark swamp and sedgelands. The walk will seem all the more pleasant if you pack your swimmer and a towel for a dip at the patrolled Peregian beach afterwards.
The flora and fauna of Noosa National Park
Noosa National Park is teeming with native Australian plants and wildlife. From the main entrance, you’ll set off through a forest of Queensland brush box trees. Deeper into the park you’ll pass banksias, she-oaks and giant kauri pines.
Carpets of brilliant green coastal boobialla creep down the escarpment at Hell’s Gates, and if you look closely, you’ll notice the plant is sprinkled with tiny white flowers.
The Coastal Track offers a box seat for whale spotting during the migration season. It’s also not uncommon to see pods of dolphins frolicking year-round. If you look into the clear water at Dolphin Point, Boiling Pot and Hell’s Gates, you might also spot a sea turtle or two.
Once you cut inland keep your eyes peeled for koalas snoozing in the trees and black cockatoos, and if you’re lucky you could see an echidna scuttling across the ground.
The best photo spots in Noosa National Park
Noosa National Park is an photgrapher’s paradise. Get snap-happy capturing the rolling turquoise waves, wildlife or a beach shot perfectly framed by a pandanus branch.
There are a few key lookout points along the way, like Boiling Pot (formerly known as the Witch’s Cauldron due to the surge of frothing water that bubbles into the bay), Dolphin Point, where you can often spot dolphins, and Granite Bay, where you can see all the way to Double Island Point on a clear day.
Despite its morbid-sounding name, the crowning jewel is Hell’s Gates, which is a sandstone cave carved out by pounding waves. The deep valley of the Gates sits on the edge of a headland, with infinite ocean views on one side and the long sandy stretch of Alexandria Bay to the other.
If you’re feeling footloose and fancy-free, carry on to Alexandria’s unofficial nudist beach for a kit-off dip.
To explore beyond the beaten track, scramble down rocks to the ‘fairy pools’ near the eastern end of Granite Bay. While photogenic, these natural tidal pools are a magnet for tourists so may not be as blissfully secluded as you hope. Adventure early if possible.
Surfing is a way of life in Noosa, and some of the best breaks can be found fringing Noosa National Park. Proud locals will tell you in February 2020, Noosa will finally be recognised as a World Surfing Reserve.
Deciding where to surf in Noosa National Park? Learners should try Little Cove; long boarders, First Point or Little Cove; short boarders, the open beaches for fast, clean waves; and Paddle Boarders, First Point or Nations.
Tea Tree Bay is considered the most scenic, Granite Bay is home to the biggest surf, and if it’s windy, try First Point or Nations.
Another way to explore Noosa National Park is by kayak. Join a guided tour to learn how the headland was formed millions of years ago. And you’ll gain local insights into Noosa’s history while you’re on the lookout for dolphins and turtles. Two-0hour tours are $77 per person.
Discover more of Noosa with these guides:
- Plan your visit with this 48-hour guide.
- Time your visit with the Noosa Festival of Surfing. Check out this guide to the festival.
- Surf your way across Noosa with this surfing safari guide.
- Plan where you’ll eat after exploring the Noosa National Park with this food and wine list.
- Find out where the locals spend their time with this guide.