Whenever we have a whimsical long weekend at our disposal, one of our fave spots to escape is the laid-back Sunny Coast. And trust us when we say, the “other coast” has certainly found its cool these past few years.
So, if you’re headed north, let this be your bible of 24 epic things to do on the Sunshine Coast, brought to you by an in-the-know local. You’re welcome.
1. If you’ve done your research, you’ve probs already seen the likes of Mount Coolum splattered across the web or on postcards. So, surprise yourself with a jaunt (okay, a tough-ish hike) up Mt Cooroora instead. Affectionately called Mount Pomona, by those who don’t know its real name, this is one Sunshine Coast walk where your pluggers ain’t gonna cut it. #gobigorgohome
2. Sunshine Coast’s craft beer scene has exploded in 2016. Plan an afternoon of brewery hopping starting at Noosa Hinterland watering hole Bonsai Brewhouse, stellar Maleny bar slash restaurant Brouhaha Brewery, and ending with a pop-up pizza stall feed at Alex Headland’s 10 Toes. Fridays are your best bet, if you’re eager to hit all three. #handsupnotdriving
3. Want to discover the most breathtaking beachy precinct on the Coast? Our pick would be a splash in the shallows at Tea Tree Bay, with a front row seat to the wave-slaying action of the Noosa points. From here you’ll agree there’s soooo much more to the Sunshine Coast than retirees and epic coffee.
4. Speaking of coffee, we’d totally make it a priority to visit the roasteries slash cafés dotted across this fair land—think: Guru Life, Padre, Clandestino, and Costa Noosa. There’s so much to taste, that you’ll soon be raking together bucket list numero deaux for your next Sunny Coast stay.
5. Sure, this isn’t really something we need to tell you to do, but if stunning ocean views, good tucker, and cold beers mean anything to you, then take yourself to the nearest surf club. We have a whole lotta faves, and if you’ve already ticked off Noosa Surf Club, head south and try Coolum, Mooloolaba, and Kings. Those panoramic vistas will get you good.
6. Nothing says “we’re locals” like a weekly grocery shop at the local’s farmers market. If bigger is better, stick to Noosa or Kawana. Otherwise, we highly rate Yandina for fresh produce and some indoor plants for your room at home.
7. Then, take your market buys on a picnic. Need help deciding on the ultimate rug location? Here’s five spots that we totes love.
8. Friday nights are known for one thing on the northern side of the bridge—Marcoola Markets. Held every week, market stalls pop up on a vacant block in the centre of town and attract hungry locals ready to feast on some of the best cheap eats on the Sunshine Coast.
9. If you’ve got guests in tow who are visiting from afar then the first thing they’re probs going to think of—after sharks, huge spiders, crocodiles and how “brave” Australians are—is that we’re just about the beach. It’s true, we love it! But we also have a soft spot for the lush hills of the hinterland. Start your hinterland adventure with a coffee at Lamkin Lane in Caloundra, before snaking through Landsbourough and up to the mountain town of Maleny. From here, the Blackall Range is your oyster, but if you need inspo, here are the hinterland spots worth planning your trip around. Oh and don’t forget, you should probably go chasing some waterfalls.
10. SUP-ing was pretty much made for the Sunshine Coast. Seriously, have you seen the place? Rent some boards from Golden Beach and float along the protected Pumicestone Passage. With Caloundra on one side and Bribie Island on the other, this channel is teeming with underwater life, so keep those peepers peeled.
11. Realise the SC not just known for bright white, beachy restaurants with a looooong night at Dirty Moes. From melt-in-your-mouth brisket to sticky date martinis, this place raises the dining on the Sunny Coast to nek-level.
12. Hit the water in style with a sunset cruise aboard Catalina. This epic boat is photoshoot material, so dress to impress, and get snapping as this is without a doubt one of the best things to do on the Sunshine Coast.
13. No longer can city folk put down the food scene here. There’s so much shiz going on, that the only people whining are the ones who aren’t gettin’ out and tryin’ them. Our picks of late? Gainsbourg and Whisky Boy are doing all the right things.
14. For a fancy schmancy yum cha experience, see how cultured you can be with a visit to Sunshine Beach’s Embassy XO on a Friday, Saturday, or Sunday from 12pm to 2pm.
15. Hands down one of the best things to do on the Sunshine Coast, tackle the Happy Valley to Moffat Beach coastal walk, and then reward yourself with a super fruity acai bowl from Coco Loco Club. They’re a healthy bunch, those Sunny Coasters.
16. Magic hour—that wedge of time when the sun dips, the sky melts into pinks and purples, and the ocean surface radiates steal blue. This is the hour you want to be seated at one of the best restaurants on the Sunshine Coast with water views. So many choices, so little time.
17. Rent two wheels and peddle from Noosa all the way down to Coolum Beach. There’s an epic pathway that travels along the beach for the most part meaning you’ll get a side of wave-watching while working on those buns of steel. Booyah! When you’ve made it to the finish line, fill the tank with a feed at newbie Canteen Kitchen & Bar.
18. Celebrating something a bit spesh on your weekend away? Splurge a little (or let’s be honest, a lot) and book a seat at Wasabi, Spice Bar, or Spirit House. These babies get five stars errytime.
19. Visiting on the second Sunday of the month? Two words: Peregian Originals. Oh and BYO booze, cheese, crackers, and picnic rug.
20. Start an afternoon downing barrel-aged whisky at Rick’s Diner’s new whisky bar. Then, end it by sipping a few schooners in the beer garden complete with a plate full of smokey ribs or the tallest burger you ever did see.
21. Let’s not forget we’re in the Sunshine State so embrace the architecture-style that dominates the region, aka Queenslanders with an old-school pub hop. From Yandina to Eumundi and Kin Kin, this roundup will take you on a picture-perfect daytrip through the inland towns.
22. Dive head first into Sunshine Coast’s most adored coastal nature reserve with a stroll through the Noosa National Park. Keep going when you get to Hell’s Gates and trudge along Alexandria Beach. Now, we’re not suggesting you get your kit off, but if you wanted to, this is the beach to make it happen.
23. They might not be the glittery GC but Sunny Coasters still know how to party. Head out for a Saturday night along Ocean Street. Start with some Mexican tapas and beers at alleyway bar La Canteena, before hitting Hello Harry to munch some very, VERY good burgers. Then, stroll a little further towards the river for some live tunes at Sol Bar, before doing your best to not-look-so-drunk as you stumble across to Old Soul.
24. Despite not having wings, we have a fascination with getting a birdseye view of just about everything. And there’s really no better way to experience this patch of paradise with fresh eyes than by planting yourself at one of the best hidden lookouts on the Sunshine Coast. With views that go on forever, you won’t be the only one pointing out your dream bit of land.
Want more? Head to our sun-soaked sister site, Metropolist, for more costal content!
Image credit: Clare Plush