The Sunshine Coast extends from Caloundra and the Glass House Mountains in the south to Noosa and Rainbow Beach in the north and then west to the Hinterland and Mary Valley.
As its name implies, it has fantastic sunshine and coastline, but go beyond the beaches and there is a magnificent Hinterland waiting with adventure sports, rainforest trekking, decadent spa resorts, heritage villages, authentic markets and one of Australia’s richest and most diverse food scenes.
While people might come initially for the sunshine, increasingly they are coming back because the Sunshine Coast offers so much more.
The Sunshine Coast is renowned as a prime family destination because of the quality of beaches plus very special attractions such as Australia Zoo. However, the Hinterland is just as popular with couples, wedding parties, ‘mumcations’, adventure and wellness groups and those who just want a laid-back holiday.
How to get to the Sunshine Coast
The Sunshine Coast has its own airport that is being extended to make it a truly international airport by the end of 2020. Currently it is serviced by the major carriers from Sydney, Melbourne, Adelaide and Auckland, but with the new runway there will be direct access across the Asia Pacific region. From Brisbane Airport it is about 90 minutes’ drive away and there are plans to upgrade both road and rail infrastructure.
Top 10 things to do in the Sunshine Coast
- Swimming with whales is one of those ‘once in a lifetime experiences’ worth a visit to the Sunshine Coast in its own right. The waters off Mooloolaba are like a whale super-highway between June and October and as an added advantage you can swim with humpback whales.
- Have plate, will travel – a great way of getting a full taste of the Sunshine Coast is by attending The Curated Plate food festival held across the Sunshine Coast from 8 to 11 August.
- Captain Cook named the Glass House Mountains on his voyage up the east coast in 1770 because their shapes reminded him of the glass furnaces back in his native Yorkshire. You can climb them (Mt Ngungun has a very good path), cycle between them, eat produce grown from the volcanic soils and even paint them.
- There’s something about the Mary Valley – magnificent rolling hills, cute heritage villages and the legendary Mary Valley Rattler steam train make a visit to the Mary Valley a must.
- Cook up a storm – what’s better than learning how to cook stunning Thai food? Eating it. You can do both at one of Australia’s finest cooking schools and restaurants, The Spirit House in Yandina.
- Mary Cairncross Scenic Reserve offers an easy way of exploring the Sunshine Coast’s rainforests, while the new Discovery Centre provides a tremendous insight into the region’s animal and plant life. The views across the Glass House Mountains are spectacular.
- The Hinterland villages of Maleny, Montville and Mapleton straddle one of Australia’s most spectacular drives – the Blackall Range drive. The villages are rich in dining, authentic shopping, arts and crafts, wineries and breweries, markets, health and wellness retreats and, of course, views to die for.
- Eumundi markets has been a legendary market for 40 years and still retains its hippy charm and genuine local character. You can spend a whole morning there and finish off with lunch while listening to local music.
- The Great Beach Drive is indeed great. Take a guided 4WD tour along the beaches from Noosa up to Rainbow Beach and see coloured sands, whales and dolphins, and a spectacular coastline.
- Get up close and personal to a seal at SEA LIFE. These seals have been rescued and play a great role in educating visitors about marine life and conservation. A really memorable add-on is to swim with the seals in a guided session.