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If you’re visiting for the first time, or a long time resident looking to explore your backyard, you will find a multitude of exciting things to do on the Sunshine Coast. With something for everyone — and we do mean that literally, considering the broad range of options available — living at or visiting the Sunshine Coast can offer many vibrant and exciting times . To make your planning easy for you, we have put the top 10 things to do on the Sunshine Coast.
We can’t mention the Sunshine Coast without mentioning the world-famous Australia Zoo. With over 1,200 animals, Australia Zoo is one of the best-known Australian entertainment destinations, in part due to to their exhibits — which include everything from crocodiles (at The Crocoseum) to birds (at the Rainforest Aviary) — and in part due to the Irwin family, who still own and help operate the park. Australia Zoo is also home to the largest wildlife hospital in the world, and has treated over 90,000 injured animals. It’s definitely worth heading to the wildlife park for the day to experience everything it has to offer!
Of course, we’d be remiss to mention the Sunshine Coast and not talk about the incredible beaches you can enjoy. There’s something for everyone, no matter what type of surf you prefer. Noosa Beach is one of the most well-known with a north facing aspect which is rare in Australia for a surf beach. It is also mostly extremely clear and has a gentle surf, which makes it extremely popular with families. Consequently it can also be incredibly busy, especially during peak travel times. If you want something where surfing is an option, than Alexandra Headlands is always great to check out. Relatively quieter, Alexandra Headlands gets some great waves and it’s close to a number of cafes, shops and restaurants. For something completely different, head to the rock pools in Mooloolaba. They’re very nice, but be careful when climbing over the rocks!
One thing the Sunshine Coast has in abundance is national parks and walking trails. With something for everyone from first time strollers to experienced climbers, the Sunshine Coast will not disappoint. One of the best places to check out is Hell’s Gate, located inside the Noosa National Park. It might sound terrifying, but the Hell’s Gate stretch of the parklands is considered to be one of the best due to the incredible views and easiness of access. Something a little different can be found in the Glasshouse Mountains, which sit inland. Famous for hickinga nd climbing, the Mountains offer multiple levels of climbing difficulty with some walks takes days. The terrain is considered some of the most beautiful in Australia for good reason.
If you’ve got a bit of anger, frustration or maybe you are just stresess and need to let of steam, The Smash Pit is the place to head to. The first of its kind in Queensland, The Smash Pit is for everyone who ever felt irritated by their coworkers, felt a bit annoyed by their siblings, or just wanted to know what happened when you smashed a plate with a baseball bat. A session in the pit involves safety gear for you, plus a baseball bat, and a lot of crockery for you to destroy. If you want to make it extra fun, you can head over with friends, coworkers or for hens/bucks parties. To play, you’ll need to be over 18.
Designed to highlight some of the best galleries and artists along the Sunshine Coast, the Hinterland Art Trail also takes you into the hills and mountains behind the coastline, giving you a completely new perspective on the area. The Hinterland Art trail will take you roughly two days to work your way through, although many find that they stretch it out a little more and stay a few nights in each destination. Everything from watercolour and oil paintings to silk art and to bronze statues can be found along the trail, with the chance to take art classes also an option at some stops. You’ll have to plan ahead if you want to take any of the classes, but most stops can be accessed anytime during opening hours.
Each year from June to November, residents of the Sunshine Coast head to Palmview to pick their own strawberries fresh from the patches. Popular with foodies looking for the freshest fruit and couples on dates alike, the Strawberry Fields is something you have to check out. Admission to the farm is free, but if you want to take your strawberries home you’ll be paying the current wholesale market price (based on weight).
There are a number of markets on the Sunshine Coast. Perhaps the most famous, the Eumundi Markets have been operating for over 40 years and are well worth the drive. More than 1.6 million people visit these markets every year, and they are a much-loved Sunshine Coast institution. The markets are open every Wednesday and Sunday, rail, hail or shine.
Of course, if you want to head to something a little more local, then there are a number of other markets throughout the coast. Some of the best fruit and vegetables can be found at the Noosa Farmers Markets or the Fishermans Road Markets in Maroochydore. Both occur on Sunday mornings, but if you would prefer to sleep in then there’s definitely some places you can check out! Try the Marcoola Markets (on every Friday night) or the Nights on Ocean markets in Maroochydore (second Friday of each month). If art is more up your valley, then the Twilight Markets Caloundra and the Caloundra Street Fair are where you should be. Both occur on the last Friday of the month.
You might have to head inland a bit to get to it, but we promise that the Maleny Cheese Factory is worth the drive. Situated in a region that have been producing dairy for over 115 years, this fromagerie has been in the business of cheese since 2004. You can organise tours of the cheese factory (or just keep sampling the cheese, we won’t judge at all) or at some of the surrounding dairy farms, and we think it’s well worth doing so. It’s incredibly interesting, and getting to taste test dairy products throughout is a massive bonus!
A round-trip through the rainforest valley to the falls themselves, this is one hike you don’t want to pass up on. You can go swimming at the falls or the rock pool along the path, and trust us, it’s a great way to cool down after you’ve made it down from the lookout! This is definitely a hike, but the full distance is less than 5 kilometres. There is a large grassed picnic area with BBQs, toilets and picnic areas just 100 meters away from the car park, which is the best spot for a snack pre- or post-hike. This is the most liked hike along this coastal region, so strap on your shoes and get walking! Don’t worry, there are no croc’s this far south so the rock pool and falls are safe to swim in.
The Sunshine Coast is home to the world’s largest operational ginger factory. Sitting in the hinterland, The Ginger Factory in Yandina is a massively popular tourist attraction for good reason. Home to shopping facilities, restaurants, tours, rides, entertainment (on the school holidays), a playground, and several sub-tropical gardens and walks, the Ginger Factory is a full day trip. You can also ride of the historic Moreton train, which is now 118 years old. Of course, make sure you check out all of the ginger food offerings, because you won’t be able to figure out what to take home with you otherwise.
What do you think? Is there something we’ve missed, or something on this list you love to do? Let us know in the comments below.