Noosa on Queensland's Sunshine Coast is a little pocket of utopian beauty. Situated 90 minutes north of Brisbane, the former sleepy fishing village is home to one of Australia's few north-facing beaches on the East Coast, which protects it from onshore winds and instils a sense of calm to all who visit. Noosa's main beach and buzzy central strip, Hastings Street, are bordered by the National Park and tranquil river, which connect the seaside escape to neighbouring towns.
There's no 'on' button in Noosa - just exquisite beaches, superb food and wine, boutique shopping and active pursuits if the mood takes you. Here's our guide to one of Australia's most alluring destinations, Noosa.
One of the best spots to capture the morning sun dancing on the waves of Noosa's main beach is Berardo's Bistro on The Beach. The sibling of Berardo's Restaurant and Bar offers a more relaxed dining experience, ideal for the first meal of the day. The Farmer's Market Plate has become a staple on the menu and combines fresh 'Noosa Reds' tomato with avocado, buffalo mozzarella, a soft poached egg, prosciutto and basil, expertly arranged on an earthy wooden board.
The latest restaurant to grace Hastings Street is Italian eatery, Locale. The sleek restaurant and bar presents a cotemporary Italian menu with its handmade pasta the undisputed highlight. Adjacent to the sophisticated dining room is Locale's equally stylish bar, where you can perch yourself and enjoy a pre dinner cocktail or dine from the bar menu which includes a selection of gourmet wood-fired pizzas.
Noosa Beach House is the latest venture from celebrity chef Peter Kuruvita and will celebrate its first birthday in May. Located in the Sheraton Noosa Resort and Spa, the Noosa Beach House Bar opens out onto Hastings Street and is perfect for people watching while making your way through the signature cocktail list. The Restaurant on the other hand offers a more sedate, relaxed vibe where Kuravita's menu effortlessly blends local and international flavours with an emphasis on local seafood.
With a prime position overlooking Laguna Bay at the top end of Hastings Street, Sails is the patriarch of Noosa's dining scene. Paul Leete has been at the kitchen's helm for over 15 years, which has ensured the quality of food has remained consistent. Leete's seasonal modern Australian menus are innovative yet uncomplicated and curated utilising the region's freshest sustainable produce. Sails may just have the best wine list in town too; it's been awarded with '3 Goblets' in the coveted Gourmet Traveller Australian Wine List of the Year awards.
About a half hour drive from Noosa tucked in the hinterland town of Yandina is a Thai sanctuary. The Spirit House doubles as a restaurant and cooking school, and upon entering you'll feel like you've stepped into the lush tropical gardens of a Thai villa. The restaurant menu has been designed for sharing and combines authentic Thai ingredients to create punchy contemporary dishes.
Also not to be missed:
The Sunshine Coast's best Japanese at Wasabi
The best steak in town at Wood Fire Grill
Fine dining in gorgeous surrounds at Berardo's
Lunch with a sweeping view of the beach at everyone's favourite, Bistro C
Beachside fine dining at the acclaimed Season
Delicious Modern Australian fare in the super cute River Cottage
Gelato that rivals Messina at Hastings Street stalwart, Massimo's Gelateria (75 Hastings Street)
Signature on Hastings. Image Credit: Facebook
New kid on the block Bowery opened just in time for the Easter crowds in April and stocks a myriad of national and international designer threads. Swimwear by Prism and yoga-inspired active wear by TOYoga are just a sample of the eclectic mix on offer in the boutique, which you'll be hard pressed leaving without making a purchase.
From humble beginnings as a small gift shop some 20 years ago, Signature is now well established as a haven for homewares. From decorative lamps and commanding art to neutral throws and Missoni towels, Signature has just about everything you need to deck out your entire pad with a distinct Noosa feel.
Bow and Arrow in Bay Village is the product of 22-year-old local entrepreneur, Samuel Johnson. The part-time lifeguard sources 90 per cent of the clothes and accessories in stock from university design students. Johnson constructed the entire fit out for the shop with his bare hands, and to cater for impatient children and partners he installed a fish tank into his handcrafted wooden sales desk, along with a coffee cart at the front of the store. Very clever indeed.
If you're in the market for a surfboard then Noosa Longboards is where to head. They've got a team of 'master shapers' who can craft you a custom made board or help you choose from their selection in store. And if you're not into surfing, you'll find a quirky collection of new and used vinyl records, vintage aloha shirts and cute collectables to spend your pennies on.
You'll also be seriously tempted to drop a few quid at:
Belmondos Fresh Food Market | Your one stop shop for all things gourmet food and quality fruit and veg.
D'Albo (62-64 Hastings Street) | For upmarket womenswear up the Paris end of Hastings.
Noosa Classics | Here you'll find a cheerful mix of fashion and homewares.
Noosa Farmers Markets | Head here on a Sunday morning for the freshest of produce, perfect for a beach picnic.
Noosa National Park
With its inviting open plan, cosy couches and striking stone feature walls, Miss Moneypenny's is a welcome addition to Noosa's fine hospitality. The vibey venue's cocktail compendium features page after page of boozy concoctions including a few of their very own – Miss Moneypenny's Mango and Passionfruit Zombie anyone? You can even learn the art of mixology here by taking a cocktail-making class with their team of talented mixologists.
In 2013, the Noosa Surf Club was the deserved recipient of the Australian Surf Life Saving Club of the Year and is simply the best spot in Noosa to watch the sun go down while sipping on a tipple of your choice. With unrivalled vistas of Noosa beach, securing a seat on the balcony can be tough so be sure to get in early.
One of Noosa's longest running restaurants and bars, Café Le Monde has recently reinvented itself with a funky refurb and has become increasingly popular as a watering hole. On Friday and Saturday nights and Sunday afternoons the alfresco venue features a line up of DJs and bands and transforms the back section of the restaurant into a D-Floor.
See & Do
NOOSA NATIONAL PARK
Noosa's spectacular National Park spans an almighty 4000 hectares and is easily reached on foot from Hastings Street. A run or walk along the Coastal Track is guaranteed to revitalise the mind as you wind your way through the lush rainforest while gazing out to sea. The beach bridging Noosa and Sunshine Beach at the end of the Coastal Track, Alexandria Bay, is famed for its nudity so you can either embrace it or avert your eyes!
KAYAKING / STAND UP PADDLE BOARDING
The serene waters of Laguna Bay present the ideal conditions for kayaking and stand-up paddle boarding. Go Ride A Wave is located just outside the Noosa Surf Club and hires out non-motorised sea equipment by the hour. It doesn't take too long to get the hang of either sport, which will allow you to experience Noosa from a whole new perspective.
HIRE A BOAT
The best way to experience Noosa beyond Hastings Street is by boat. Dotted along Gympie Terrace in Noosaville you'll find an abundance of hire companies such as O Boat and Pelican Boat Hire where you can choose your vessel and set sail. Heading back towards Hastings Street, be sure to meander your way through the canals to take a sticky beak at the multi-million dollar residential properties and holiday houses.
There's no shortage of beachfront accommodation in Noosa with Tingirana, Fairshore and Seahaven – which has recently undergone a $16 million renovation – the pick of the bunch. Across the road you'll find hotel chains Sheraton and The Sebel, while Mantra is represented by The French Quarter, also on Hastings Street. Noosa Crest, perched on the hill between Hastings Street and Noosa Junction, boasts 360-degree views of Noosa and is currently undergoing a refurb, while directly opposite, Outrigger Little Hastings Street Resort and Spa provides the ultimate hideaway.