Noosa River Mouth surrounded by woods, Australia

Things to do in  Noosa & Sunshine Coast

Sunny by name, sunny by nature

The Sunshine Coast stretches out along southern Queensland and features long sandy beaches that overlook the Pacific Ocean—plus rustic wineries and quirky seaside towns. This is the region for nature lovers; things to do include kayaking in the Noosa Everglades, taking a surfing lesson at Noosa Heads, or whale watching in Mooloolaba. Wherever you explore, you’ll experience classic Australian warmth from the locals and a chance to unwind in the wild diversity of Australian nature.

Top 15 attractions in Noosa & Sunshine Coast

Noosa Everglades

Known as the “River of Mirrors,” the Noosa Everglades is one of Queensland’s most stunning natural landscapes and one of only two everglades systems on Earth. This stretch of wetlands, mangrove forests, and lakes is part of Cooloola National Park and harbors a rich diversity of flora and birdlife.More

Noosa National Park

This spectacular national park, covering an area of some 15 square miles (40 square kilometers), beckons visitors away from the surf and sunshine of Noosa Heads, offering miles of coastal walking trails, secluded beaches, a rugged coastline, and the chance to spot dolphins to one side and koalas to the other.More

Lake Cootharaba

The largest of Noosa’s six lakes—about 6 miles (10 kilometers) long—Lake Cootharaba sits on the southern cusp of the Noosa Everglades and the Great Sandy National Park. A popular vacation spot, the lake offers bushwalking trails, water sports, and other activities centered around the water.More

Noosa Main Beach

Unlike many other beaches on Australia’s eastern coast, Noosa Main Beach faces north—thereby protected from the surf. Granted, this is still the famous Sunshine Coast, the sandy mecca for surfers, and Noosa Main Beach still gets waves that are perfect for taking a surf lesson, but not the powerful, dangerous waves that pummel the nearby headlands. The gently rolling waves aside, Noosa Main Beach is also patrolled by a year-round team of lifeguards, and backed by a wooden, exceptionally clean boardwalk just steps from the Hastings Street shops. Hire an umbrella and relax in the shade, your toes in the sugary white sand, and cool off in cerulean waters that gently lap at the coast. Noosa Main Beach has repeatedly been voted as one of the best in Australia, which is easy to see from the moment you first lay eyes on the white stretch of sand.More

The Original Eumundi Markets

The Sunshine Coast’s famous The Original Eumundi Markets rank among the biggest arts and crafts markets in Australia. With more than 300 stalls including everything from fashion designers and jewelry makers to local art galleries and interior designers, from artisan foods to homemade beauty products—there’s something to suit all tastes and budgets.More

The Ginger Factory

The Ginger Factory sits amid 22 acres (9 hectares) of tropical grounds in the Sunshine Coast. Besides a factory, which offers tours and tastings, there are shops, a café, an ice-cream store, live bee shows, and a kids’ playground. Rides include the Ginger Train, an old sugarcane train, and Overboard, an adventure led by a gingerbread man.More

Mary Cairncross Scenic Reserve

A pocket of subtropical rainforest overlooking the misty peaks of the Glass House Mountains, Mary Cairncross Scenic Reserve proves that there’s more to Queensland’s Sunshine Coast than suntans, surfboards, and shoreline. A living museum of native flora and fauna, the reserve is ideal for walking, picnicking, and wildlife-watching.More

Australia Zoo

Formerly home to Steve Irwin, also known as “the Crocodile Hunter,” the Australia Zoo is one of Australia’s largest and most popular wildlife conservation facilities. Managed by the Irwin family, whose personalities are a major part of its continued success, the zoo has a huge collection of native Aussie animals as well as creatures from around the world.More


Surrounded by golden beaches, scenic waterways, and mountainous hinterlands, Mooloolaba enjoys a stunning setting along Queensland’s Sunshine Coast. Perched at the mouth of Mooloolaba River, the town has a reputation as one of the coolest on the Sunny Coast, known for its great surf, lively markets, and buzzing nightlife.More


The stretch of the Sunshine Coast that makes up Maroochydore is a surfer's heaven and a popular destination with those chasing waves. Over 15 miles (25 kilometers) of beach lends itself to surfing, swimming, jet-skiing, picnicking, or just relaxing. Surfing competitions are not uncommon, so be sure to keep your eye out for the pros.More

Sunshine Beach

Laidback Sunshine Beach attracts surfers and locals with its white-sand beaches, hip bars and cafes, and relaxed village vibe. Set between Noosa and Coolum on the Sunshine Coast, the town serves as a gateway to the coastal trails of Noosa National Park.More

Hastings Street

Hastings Street—the popular, posh and impossibly pretty Noosa Heads promenade—is one of Queensland’s best known spots. The coastal boulevard and its open air cafes, trendy boutiques, and high-end shopping attracts traveling celebrities and luxury-seekers to the sun-soaked sidewalks of this once strictly local surf spot. Visitors to Noosa and the Sunshine Coast can pop into Hastings' many restaurants and pubs for a night out on the town or visit the area as part of a day trip from Brisbane, exploring the street and neighboring beach towns.More
Lake Cooroibah

Lake Cooroibah

Located 2.7 miles (4.4 kilometers) north of Richard Branson’s Makepeace Island is Lake Cooroibah. It sits at the heart of Noosa North Shore and is popular with locals thanks to its swimming beach and picnic area.More
SEA LIFE® Sunshine Coast

SEA LIFE® Sunshine Coast

Coastal Queensland is home to an amazing array of sea life and ecosystems, and the SEA LIFE® Sunshine Coast aquarium is the perfect place learn more about it. The aquarium features penguins, seals, sharks, turtles, and much more. It even has one of Australia’s largest collections of jellyfish.More
Snakes Downunder Reptile Park & Zoo

Snakes Downunder Reptile Park & Zoo

Animal-loving visitors to Queensland’s Central Coast don’t need to go in search of every native Australian animal in the wild—you can see many favorites at the Snakes Downunder Reptile Park & Zoo. The park is home to around 45 species and subspecies of Australian reptiles, amphibians, and marsupials, including koalas, kangaroos, and crocodiles.More

Top activities in Noosa & Sunshine Coast

Epic Kayak With Dolphins & Wildlife - 4WD Beach Adventure Noosa
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Noosa Oceanrider - Adventure Tour
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Noosa Thriller Ocean Adventure Ride
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Surf Lesson, Noosa: Australia's Longest Wave 4x4 Day Adventure
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Merrick's Noosa Learn to Surf: 2 Hour group surfing lesson
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Noosa Whale Watching

Noosa Whale Watching

Stand Up Paddle 4WD Day Trip from Noosa Including Great Beach Drive Experience
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All about Noosa & Sunshine Coast

When to visit

The winter to spring months (July-September) bring cooler temperatures and sunny skies. While the locals might get chilly, most visitors are happy to bask in the still-balmy weather. This is also when waves in Noosa will be smaller—ideal if you’re learning to surf—and when the weather will be warm enough for swimming and snorkeling. Spend your days hiking and exploring without overheating, and enjoy far lower chances of rain.

Getting around

The Sunshine Coast region reaches from Caloundra to Noosa Heads, and it’s easy to reach by bus, car, or plane (flights arrive at the Sunshine Coast Airport in Marcoola, a 30-minute drive from Noosa Heads.) Once there, having your own car is helpful when it comes to exploring the region. If you’re not comfortable with driving on the left side of the road, you opt for tours that cover the main points of interest in the area.

Traveler tips

Don’t miss out on the Noosa Everglades—this unique environment is one of only two everglades regions on Earth and is the only one you can swim in, as the one in Florida is less hospitable. Kayak or cruise through the winding channels and look out for biodiverse bird life, as the region is home to 40% of Australia’s bird species. Known as the River of Mirrors thanks to the calmness of the waters, it's also a photographer’s dream.


People Also Ask

What is the Sunshine Coast best known for?

The Sunshine Coast is known for its natural diversity, with its hinterlands, everglades, and long beaches. It’s also famous for its wealth of wildlife, and for being home to almost half of Australia’s bird species. Thanks to its charming beach towns and friendly locals, it’s a perfectly peaceful vacation destination.

How many days is enough in Noosa?

The more days the better, but aim for at least two. You’ll have a chance to unwind and bask in the sun, and explore some of the many excellent restaurants, wineries, and breweries in the region. Make time to trek through Noosa National Park with its many dramatic viewpoints—Fairy Pools and Hell’s Gates are must-sees.

What is the main town on the Sunshine Coast?

Coolum might be the largest town on the Sunshine Coast, but it has a much quieter environment than busy Mooloolaba or chic Noosa. Instead, it’s popular with families looking for calm beaches and a sunny place to enjoy a seaside vacation.

Is it better to stay in Noosa or Mooloolaba?

Both Noosa and Mooloolaba have beautiful beaches and stunning nature, but they each appeal to a different group. Noosa typically attracts those in search of luxurious options for food and accommodation, while Mooloolaba is a centrally located, affordable choice. Mooloolaba is a favorite for family trips thanks to all the activities on offer.

Can you swim in the ocean in Noosa?

Yes, you can swim in the ocean. Noosa Heads Main Beach has a lovely blend of calm sections and areas to surf, with plenty of nearby restaurants, cafés, and ice cream shops. However, jellyfish season runs from November to May, so be sure to wear a full-body suit during those months.

Can you do a day trip to Fraser Island from Noosa?

Yes, you can visit Fraser Island (K’gari) from Noosa, either on a tour or by driving yourself. It’s a 2.5-hour drive from Noosa to the ferry terminal in River Heads that takes you to the island. If you want more time to explore, there are camping and other accommodation options available on the island.

Frequently Asked Questions
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