The beautiful Sunshine Coast is located in Queensland, Australia. It is mostly known as a beach lover’s paradise with white sandy beaches stretching along the coastline. Sunshine Coast is a popular tourist destination, but there is plenty more to do than just relaxing on the beach here (although there is nothing wrong with that)! For the adventurous, why not get up close and personal with Australian wildlife at the Australia Zoo (made famous by the late Crocodile Hunter, Steve Irwin)? There are also plenty of good shopping hot-spots including Noosa Heads and the Sunshine Plaza in Maroochydore. Cruise along the Maroochy River and be captain for a day or head to Mooloolaba Surf Club for a delicious meal! Read on for the top 4 activities not to be missed!
1. The best shopping right here on the coast
Many people enjoy a spot of shopping and the Sunshine Coast has plenty! The Sunshine Plaza is a two storey shopping mall straddling Cornmeal Creek, so while you enjoy the range of shopping on offer you can catch glimpses of the water below. It is the largest shopping mall on the Sunshine Coast and has 200 retail shops, cinemas and more! The food court is located on a boardwalk over the creek so you can enjoy a tasty meal or snack while enjoying the view. San Churro’s is a Chocolateria, with a delicious range of chocolate snacks, meals, desserts and beverages (perfect for a sweet tooth)! Try their amazing range of hot chocolates; I would recommend the Peanut Butter Melt for something a little different or if you’re into a more classic taste try the Milk Couverture!
After dining and shopping you may enjoy actually getting out on the water with kayaks and paddle boats that are available to hire from the plaza. You can walk from Sunshine Plaza along a picturesque walkway known as ‘the Riverwalk’ and head towards the Maroochy River for even more activities!
The second best spot to head to for shopping is Noosa. Noosa has many boutiques and a range of specialty stores. Noosa is located about 30 minutes north of the Sunshine Plaza and is a very popular tourist destination, featuring as one of Australia’s most beautiful places. It has beaches galore and sandy white surf, but it also has great shopping!
Noosa township is on the smaller side, so walking to and from shopping areas doesn’t take long. So for starters, head to the Noosa Fair shopping centre, which has a good range of retail and specialty shops. For more boutique shopping head to the shopping mall Noosa Civic, which is on Eenie Creek Road.
2. Be captain for the day on the Maroochy River
The Maroochy River is a popular spot to head to that is a little quieter than the beaches. It is located just 10 minutes from the Sunshine Plaza or 15 minutes from Mooloolaba. In the aboriginal language, Maroochy means ‘place of the black swans’ so keep an eye out for these majestic birds, as well as other Australian wildlife like pelicans!
Here you can picnic on the banks of the river or venture out on the river itself. You don’t need a license to drive or hire a boat, as long as you are 18 years or older you are good to go! If you are going out on a boat you can have 4 people on it with you, but there are more options for larger groups of people. I would recommend hiring the boat for at least two hours, that way you get a good amount of time to explore. Don’t worry if you don’t know how to drive a boat, the guys at the shop will explain everything including a few brief rules about boat driving. If this doesn’t interest you, you can also hire kayaks or jet skis too.
Swan Boat Hire is highly recommended for hiring your boat. It is easy to spot, and is located right opposite the water’s edge. Prices start from 50 AUD (35 USD) an hour and includes a life jacket and a fishing line.
It is not unusual to spot fish jumping out of the water and you will get to glimpse Australian wildlife in and out of the water!
3. A day out at the Australia Zoo
The late Steve Irwin also known worldwide as ‘the Crocodile Hunter’ made the Australia Zoo a special place to visit. The Australia Zoo is located in Beerwah, slightly inland from the coast, and is quite an experience. I would suggest getting to the zoo 10 minutes before it opens and make sure you pack plenty of water, because, in case you didn’t know, Australia is VERY HOT (in the summer)! You can purchase your tickets online or onsite and you can choose either a single day pass or a multi day pass. It costs 59 AUD (41.92 USD) for an adult’s single day pass. On entering the zoo don’t be surprised to see little lizards and gecko’s covering the ground! They are literally everywhere and roam freely around the park.
There is so much to do within the zoo, it is well worth allocating a full day here. Tours of the zoo are available for an additional fee, and there are several shows on at different times throughout the day including parrots shows and a crocodile feeding show. This is a great way to see different wildlife up close!
There are plenty of photo opportunities and not just with the animals but there are props and photo booths setup around the zoo, which is a fun activity and interesting way to record your time here.There is a great experience offered for children from 4 years and over called ‘zookeeper for a day’, where you can take your zoo experience to the next level by meeting and holding some of the animals! Prices vary depending on the type of activity you choose and the season, so do check on the website if you are planning this activity!
You might be interested in these Airbnbs!
4. Grab a bite or a drink in Mooloolaba then check out the many walks
Mooloolaba is well known for it’s beautiful scenery and coastline but it has a range of other activities besides relaxing at the beaches. Mooloolaba is located on the actual beachfront with the main shopping street, Mooloolaba Esplanade, running parallel to the water. Eating out here is highly recommended as you will truly have the best views around! There are restaurants here with a range of worldwide cuisines.
The Mooloolaba Surf Club’s restaurant, the Boat Shed, is probably is the best spot to grab a bite to eat and has a grand view over the beach and ocean. Go here for breakfast when it opens at 7 am to find the best spot on the beach to enjoy your meal. There is a buffet breakfast on offer, as well as a full range menu available for all main meals during the day. There is often live music and plenty of entertainment provided by people-watching!
Another recommended place to visit is Seajuiced, a popular smoothie and drinks bar located on the Esplanade. Try the delicious berry blast or the tropical ‘dreaminator’ coconut is a delicious refreshment on a hot day!
To walk-off your delicious meals, you can take a walk around the suburb of Mooloolaba, from Underwater World on Parkyn Parade through the man-made canals. This is a great way to see brilliant architecture and lavish homes. You can also walk out onto the spit that gives you a good view back to Mooloolaba main street and the lighthouse. Another enjoyable walk is along the coastline from Mooloolaba to Alexandra Headland, which takes only 5 minutes. So as you can see there is plenty to do here once you’ve had enough of eating!
Have a whole lot of fun on the Sunshine Coast!
As you have seen, the Sunshine Coast has plenty of activities on offer that don’t just include the beach! While it is most popular as a tourist destination for its stunning coastline, make sure you do go and check out some of these other places to hang out!
Just one more quick tip before you go to the the Sunshine Coast: make sure you hire a car as transport is very limited! The closest international airport is located in the state’s capital, Brisbane, and takes about an hour to drive from the airport to the coast.
The Sunshine Coast is best visited in the spring and summer months (December - February) when it is warmer, so you can enjoy the outdoor activities.
So if beaches aren’t your cup of tea, or you’ve had enough of them, don’t pass up the opportunity to check out the Sunshine Coast. There is more to do here then meets the eye!
Get Trip101 in your inbox