The Sunshine Coast, a sublime 70km stretch of pristine coastline north of Brisbane, is a brilliant place to explore on a self-drive day trip from the Gold Coast. As opposed to the latter, the former is a region rather than a bona-fide town, and comprises over 20 incredibly picturesque and enticing towns and villages. Pack your bags for the day, hop into your rental car (which you can easily and conveniently pick up from the Gold Coast Airport when you arrive) and come discover this most delightful, and stylish, part of Queensland.
How to reach the Sunshine Coast
To reach Noosa, the unofficial ‘capital’ of the Sunshine Coast, you’ll need to drive 150kms north of the Gold Coast Airport. As the road conditions are perfect and scenery spectacular, the 2.5 hour drive feels surprisingly swift, however we do recommend a one-night stopover anywhere on the Sunshine Coast, if getting the most out of tour visit is your prime intention. Noosa Head is signposted for the entire duration of your drive.
What to see and do in the Sunshine Coast
Noosa – The most upmarket and stylish address on the Sunshine Coast, Noosa has gained a healthy reputation as THE Queensland playground of Australia’s rich and famous. Peruse the designer boutiques along Hastings St., splurge on haute-cuisine or enjoy a dip on Main Beach, often considered the most beautiful and pristine stretch in the whole Sunshine Coast. Kite surfing is insanely popular here due to favourable wind conditions, so if you’re keen to give it a go, simply head to Noosa Kiteboarding and book a private lesson as soon as you arrive.
Noosa National Park – One of the most spectacular and easy to access NPs in the area, the Noosa National Park is a must-see destination for anyone who treasures invigorating walks in splendid Aussie wilderness. Enjoy a 2 hour return walk to Hells Gate and keep your eyes peeled to the tree line so you won’t miss the chance to spot a koala or two. If you’re visiting on a week-end, make this your first port of call…finding a spot for your rental car in the car park can be a challenge then!
Australia Zoo – This animal sanctuary, set up by the late Steve Irwin, is by far one of the most revered in the whole country. The Crocodile Hunter may have put this zoo on the international tourist map initially, yet it’s the fantastic, world-class enclosures and wildlife variety which continue to ensure its popularity both at home and abroad. Get up, close and personal with crocodiles, snakes, marsupials, elephants, tigers…and more! The zoo guarantees an absolutely unbeatable and fun experience for the whole family and is especially recommended for anyone travelling with overseas visitors.
SEA LIFE – For all those who need a further wildlife fix, then a visit to the newly renamed Underwater World in Mooloolaba should definitely do the trick. Home to thousands of underwater creatures, this incredibly beautiful aquarium gifts you unprecedented chances to admire dozens of different species of sharks, rays and an abundance of other endemic sea life. Walks, shows, behind the scenes tours and presentations are offered all day long, so make sure you have plenty of time at your disposal. Don’t miss the seal show, especially if travelling with kids and, for those who want a safe adrenalin thrill, a chance to scuba dive with sharks!
Hike up Mt Coolum – For incredibly magical views of the coast and wilderness of the Sunshine Coast Hinterland, head up on an invigorating hike in Mt Coolum. The walk is not immensely strenuous yet good walking shoes and a moderate level of fitness is definitely required. A return hike ought to take about an hour and a half; this will give you plenty of time to stop for photo ops and to catch your breath.
Yandina Historic House – In a small country town nested deep in the Sunshine Coast Hinterland is where you’ll find this charming 150 year old homestead. It’s right here that you can enjoy a dose of local history served alongside one of the best Devonshire Teas you’re ever likely to savour in Australia. Learn all about the early pioneering families who settled here and enjoy an hour relaxing in the natural surroundings.
Gorge at the foodie markets – The Sunshine and Gold Coasts are by far some of the most fertile regions in Australia, so it is right here that you can have the chance to savour some of the country’s most mouth-watering, organic produce. If visiting a brilliant foodie market is a priority, then make sure you visit during a week-end, when most are held. The Noosa Farmers Market is on every Sunday morning and held in the Aussie Rules Football Club. Here you’ll find freshly squeezed juices and home-made jams, sauces, marinades and plenty of baked and cured goodies. Equally impressive are the Eumundi Farmers’ Markets, which you’ll find about 20kms south-east of Noosa Heads. Famous for not only fresh produce but also an eclectic mix of crafty wares and unique souvenirs, Eumundi markets operate on Saturdays from 7am to 2pm.