17 different things to do on the Sunshine Coast
Ah, the Sunshine Coast. Just when it feels like every nook and cranny has been thoroughly explored, it tosses up yet another treasure trove of goodies to sift through.
Finding things to do on the Sunshine Coast certainly isn’t hard. It’s one of the most visited destinations in Queensland for good reason. But discovering off-the-beaten-track alternatives to the usual suspects is just so much more satisfying.
Here are our suggestions for things you may also like outside of the obvious things to do on the Sunshine Coast.
If you’ve done: Sunshine Beach
You should try: Mudjimba Beach
Any Sunshine Coaster worth their salty hair has spent many a sun-drenched day at Sunshine Beach. Both the patrolled and dog beach sections are popular with beach-goers looking to escape the hubbub of Hastings Street and Noosa Main Beach. But, if you’re after even fewer crowds with the same surf-pounded shores, then point your bonnet towards Mudjimba.
Just north of Maroochydore, and flanked by the Maroochy River Conservation Park, the patrolled beach is pure Pacific Ocean glory, combining surfable swell with plenty of family-friendly options.
If you’ve done: The hinterland
You should try: The ‘other’ hinterland
Places like Pomona, Cooroy and Kenilworth are having a cafe and microbrewery moment. Start with the Fox and Hound Espresso in Cooroy for a morning brew, the Kenilworth Cheese Factory for a tasty lunch spread, and finish with the Bonsai Brewhouse in Pomona.
If you’ve done: Kings Beach rock pools
You should try: Mothar Rock Pools
While there are plenty of Sunshine Coast beaches to lay out a beach towel, finding a rock pool to soak in – like it’s some kind of natural spa – involves a little more effort.
The flat, easily accessed, tidal rock pools at Kings Beach in Caloundra are the obvious choice for rock pool seekers, but for something a little more out of the way, head to Mothar Mountain Rock Pools.
Technically in the Gympie region, they’re only a rock-hop, skip and a jump from the Sunshine Coast Hinterland, so we’re counting them in. Warm up with your pick of a 20-minute or two-hour forest walk, then slip into these granite and eucalypt-fringed waters for a refreshingly serene dip.
If you’ve done: A movie at Sunshine Plaza
You should try: A silent film at the Majestic Theatre
It’s hard to compare Pomona’s Majestic Theatre to anything else because it is so singular and unique on the Sunshine Coast. It’s a must-do whether you’re a film buff or not.
Queensland’s longest-running operational film theatre, the Majestic is also one of the only pre-World War II theatres that haven’t been demolished or adapted to other uses from its glory days.
Although it was recently refurbished, much of the original material and character remains. The country hall-cum-theatre functioned as the home of vaudeville theatre productions, the town’s community space, and a silent film theatre. Every Thursday it shows The Son of the Sheik starring Rudolf Valentino, as well as a host of other events throughout the year.
If you’ve done: Cafe by the Beach
You should try: Cool locals’ cafes
A little bit over the same menus? Focus your appetite towards some of the fresh new alternatives frequented by locals.
North of Mudjimba, High Tide serves a coastal inspired menu, while over in Mooloolaba The Velo Project is perfect for locally sourced creative breakfasts. As they put it: simple, honest, real food made with true love.
Still in Mooloolaba, The Colombian Coffee Co. is a modern, independent coffee shop shaped by traditional Colombian values – hard work, fair trade and strong community bonds. Over in Maroochydore, TOME serve up delectably decadent cakes worth a visit.
If you’ve done: Eumundi Markets
You should try: Kawana Farmers Markets
There’s nothing like a good trip to the markets to make you feel a) very hungry, and b) full of that community spirit. And while the Sunshine Coast’s most famous offerings, Noosa Farmer’s Markets and Eumundi Markets are definite must-dos, there are plenty of alternatives to fill a basket and pick up something locally-made.
The Kawana Waters Artisans and Farmers Markets is a less-busy, just as impressive option where friendly local producers share their wares every Saturday from 7am to 12pm.
If you’ve done: Farmers markets
You should try: Roadside produce hotspots
One of the more heartwarming parts of rural Queensland life is coming across the occasional honesty box method of payment on the road side.
The Sunshine Coast hinterland has lots of these mini markets dotted along the roads between Kenilworth and Montville – as soon as you see the signs, pull over for straight-off-the-field produce and sometimes, gorgeous flowers. It doesn’t get much better than picking up an ultra-fresh treat while supporting local producers.
If you’ve done: The Pub at Aussie World
You should try: Another country pub
There’s nothing like perching yourself at the bar of a classic old-style Australian pub, a pot of beer in hand, pub grub on the way. And while the Sunshine Coast’s pub stalwart, The Pub at Aussie World (previously known as the Ettamogah) still draws the crowds, there are a few more old charmers just waiting to be experienced up and down the Sunshine Coast.
If you like: Gardners or Kondalilla Falls
You should try: Serenity Falls
We know a good waterfall when we see one. This hidden gem is in the middle of Buderim Forest Park in the quaint hillside community of Buderim – also home to the beautiful Foote Sanctuary and relaxing boardwalks.
Speaking of which, your journey to serenity begins with a boardwalk stroll through the lush forest. Opening out like an oasis at the finish you’ll find this collection of clear, freshwater pools and falls, just off Lindsay Road in Buderim.
If you’ve done: Fraser Island 4WD
You should try: The Great Beach Drive
The Great Beach Drive is Queensland’s answer to the Great Ocean Road and starts right in the heart of the Sunshine Coast. Running from Noosa North Shore through Rainbow Beach (and incorporating part of Fraser Island and Fraser Coast), it’s the perfect Sunshine Coast road trip.
Spending your days zooming the sandy highway, frolicking in the surf and soaking up plenty of sunshine. Take your camping gear and pitch a tent wherever you find yourself for the night. Talk about idyllic summer freedom.
If you’ve done: Mt Coolum
You should try: Wild Horse Mountain Lookout
Heading north from Brisbane up the highway, between Bribie Island and Caloundra, you’ll notice the wooden rotunda of Wild Horse Mountain Lookout jutting from the top of a rise to your right. Surrounded by little but commercial pine forests, the lookout’s panoramic views of the Sunshine Coast are hard to beat.
From Caloundra around to the Glass House Mountains, the view is most spectacular at sunset when the sun lights up the landscape with a warm golden glow, throwing rays out from behind the jagged and ancient mountain formations. To get here, take the Wild Horse Mountain Lookout turnoff, off the Bruce Highway.
If you’ve done: Baroon Pocket Dam
You should try: Lake Weyba
Visitors to Noosa have probably driven past a hundred times between Hastings Street and Noosaville without realising Lake Weyba is there. Aside from its serious environmental cred – Lake Weyba is a Wetland of National Importance and an integral section of the Noosa UNESCO Biosphere – this lake is one of the most beautiful you’ll find anywhere.
Home to amazing bird watching, horse riding and kayaking, the bulk of the lake is just a stone’s throw from Sunrise Beach and is easily accessible. Book into 4.5 star Lake Weyba Cottages or Eumarella Shores Noosa Lake Retreat to experience unspoilt Sunshine Coast seclusion.
If you’ve done: Noosa Sound
You should try: Currimundi Lake
Hugged by wallum heath and tea trees on either side, Currimundi Lake is a tidal lake running adjacent to the surf beach of the same name. With its inland reaches dyed brown by the forest which surrounds it, it’s a local secret from way back.
A favourite with families thanks to the calm, shallow waters for splashing, swimming and canoeing, it’s beautiful to visit any time of year but in winter and spring, the heath flowers come out to play.
Seek out the paved pathways running through the Currimundi Lake (Kathleen McArthur) Regional Park for a spot of beachside bushwalking. This type of coastal heathland which thrives on Lake Currimundi’s northern shore is rich in plant species, attracting all kinds of interesting birds like wrens, finches, honeyeaters and the noisy friarbird looking for food. Along the track you’ll come across wildflowers like the wallum banksia, then try and find the perfect spot to look out for views of the ocean.
If you’ve done: Bistro C
You should try: Green Zebra
Noosa’s Bistro C is popular for a reason, but new favourites can only be discovered by branching out. Overlooking Double Bay on Kawana Island, Green Zebra Restaurant is a suburban bistro serving up quality modern Australian fare.
“Eat local” is what this restaurant lives and breathes, with the majority of the ingredients sourced from local Sunshine Coast suppliers, quality produce from local farmers and a drinks list full of tipples from local wineries and microbreweries.
If you’ve done: Op shopping in Maroochydore
You should try: Nambour
Rummage through a different set of drawers in Nambour’s thrift stores and op-shops. Take home vintage treasures and still-good pre-loved goods begging to be rediscovered and for a new lease on life. Best of all – your money goes to help one of the charity organisations that operate the stores.
Our picks: Margie’s Place, Hospice Shop, Bloomhill Op Shop, Endeavour Op Shop and Lifeline. The Old Ambulance Station is also worth a stop, now a bustling creative arts space with pop-up shops and gallery exhibitions. You could spend an entire day trawling up and down these vintage havens, so make sure to bring cash and settle in for a stroll down memory lane.
If you’ve done: Caloundra Coastal Pathway by foot
You should try: Caloundra Coastal Pathway by bike
There’s an extensive network of cycle tracks on the coast, but Caloundra’s Coastal Pathway is a clear winner. The breathtaking nine-kilometre stretch takes in a lighthouse, lakes, creeks and surf as it meanders along Caloundra’s beaches.
Although the shared walk and cycle path runs from Point Cartwright in the north to Golden Beach in the south, there are different sections for those who want to spread the fun out over several days. Stop at family friendly Kings Beach for a cool-off splash as your reward.
If you’ve done: Fish ‘n’ chips
You should try: Sum Yung Guys
So close to Sunshine Beach you can smell the sea spray, Sum Yung Guys brings an electric energy, top-notch service and specially curated dishes that embody all that its founders love about Asian cuisine and culture. Inventive cocktails are designed to complement the food, and the colourful and eclectic dining room perfectly captures the dynamic personality of the menu.
The menu in question is all about sharing, so go all in and order one of almost everything with your dining party. Wash it down with one of their signature cocktails, like the coriander infused gin “Splice of Life”.