Here, on the Sunshine Coast, our swimming days are numbered to about 360 per year.
If you want a waterfall to swim under, we’ve got it. If you want picture-perfect rock pools to plunge into, we can do that too. If you want beaches to go au naturale at, the Coast has it covered. But along with our stunning natural attractions (hey, it ain’t cocky if it’s true), come the crowds.
So, we’ve hunted down the top secret swimming spots on the Sunshine Coast that only a local* would know. For those days when your metre-by-a-metre patch of sand is inundated with tent-toting, sand-kicking beach invaders.
Doesn’t it just sound secret? And creative? And like it totally cascades down some rocks? So much meaning in one little name. Hidden in the lush Conondale National Park near Kenilworth, Artists Cascades deep-in-nature location means that to reach it you’ve got to trek a total of about 5km each way. Which means a whole lot of people just bailed out of ever seeing this one of the best secret swimming spots on the Sunshine Coast. For those who are still keen for a mission, park up at Booloumba Creek Day Use Area and get your walk on—the picturesque waterhole that awaits you is worth a bit of a hard slog.
Thanks to the motorway that zooms from Maroochydore to Noosa, the long stretch of beach in between is often THE place to laze and swim, if your idea of a secret spot is only sharing the water with a few other bodies. Yaroomba is one of our fave spots to park up for the day, minus the crowds of nearby Coolum Beach. With a headland at the northern end of the beach and padanus separating the coastline from RL, you’ll only find this patch of paradise on purpose or by the most well-timed accident.
Sounding more like a bush pub then a swimming spot, Harry’s Hut is tucked up the Noosa Everglades. One of the only places you can drive to by car along this special waterway. Yes, you will be sharing your swimming time, but only with people who know their stuff. If you hunt down this spot on four wheels, kayak, or canoe (which you totally can, FYI), then you totally deserve to do a “go big or go home” bomb off the wharf. We should probably point out that “some” people say there’s bull sharks up these ways, but who knows if that’s actually true or not. How ‘bout you let us know, okay?
So we all know, A-Bay, right? The nudist beach wedged between Noosa Heads and Sunshine Beach. Where all those naked men stroll carefree along the sand a little too close to where you’re sitting. Yeah, well, we’re not talking about there, that’s common knowledge nowadays. And because we’d prefer to stay alive then shot, there’s absolutely no way we’re going to spill where these rock pools are. So instead, we’ll tell you about another place you can “unofficially” get your kit off on the Coast—Third Bay at Coolum. Driving from Point Perry to Point Arkwright, turn off at the third car park on the beachside and wander down to this hidden paradise for a bare-all swim. We should probably mention that the cops are on a bit of a rampage when it comes to nudity on the Coast, so keep those clothes handy. And get ready to run. Just kidding. (No, we’re not.)
Mountain folk don’t have to come down from their tower, even in the heat of summer, because they’ve got dibs on a waterhole you might not know about. Gardners is tucked down Obi Lane South, before you get to Maleny. This local favourite is complete with a waterfall when it rains, and a rope swing for those who want to bring out their inner Tarzan. From the car park it’s a super short walk, so bring a picnic and make a day of it.
Probably our fave beach of the south, purely because it’s small and undiscovered compared to neighbouring Kings and Moffat Beach, Shelly Beach is easily one of the top secret swimming spots on the Sunshine Coast. It’s exposed, so don’t expect super calm waters, but it’s ruggedness is what makes it beautiful. Screw perfection! For super seclusion, enter the beach at the north end by parking on Beachside Court.
There’s a few reasons people might not swim at Noosa National Park’s Winch Cove, just short of A-Bay. There’s no flags. There’s not many people bar the surfers at Granites. And it’s kinda rough. But with roughness comes diamonds, and this is a jewel among Noosa’s packed-out beaches.
Mothar Rock Pools
Splitting hairs is something we’ve never been good at, so while Mothar Mountain is actually considered Gympie region we’re happy to push the “Noosa Hinterland” boundary a little further, just for these rock pools. Connecting to the Noosa Trail Network, you can work up a sweat exploring the bush before plunging into these cold pools. Hot tip: This secret Sunshine Coast swimming spots is Best visited after it’s been bucketing down rain, so the water is flowing.
Buderim’s best but not-so-well-kept secret swimming spot has got to be Serenity Falls. Explore Buderim Forest Park—make sure you wear swimmers under that active wear—and finish off with a dip in the rock pool. Best bit? You can re-enact those Decore shampoo commercials under a waterfall. Insta-famous video right there!
*Who is a “local”? Let’s be honest though, the term “local” on the Coast is a broad one—covering the rare born-and-bred kind along with the peeps who left Sydney/Melbourne/Brisbane and more recently, Byron Bay, for our tropical paradise, within the last 1-20 years.
Image credit: Amy Higg for The Urban List