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The Sunshine Coast, Queensland, Australia, is like the hip younger brother to its counterpart, The Gold Coast. We have all heard of Surfer’s Paradise, but I found the Sunshine Coast to be way more enjoyable and affordable. The Gold Coast is very touristy, and you are often paying premium prices. It is stunningly beautiful, but the Sunshine Coast is usually where the locals go, and it is just as spectacular.
The Sunshine Coast sits 100 km north of Brisbane along the shoreline. It offers travelers sunny beaches, lush mountain hikes in the hinterland, and the best local market, as it is made up of multiple towns and stunning landscapes. The Australian Zoo (you know Steve Irwin’s third child – Crikey!) is even situated along the drive from Brisbane. There are many options for trains, airport transfers, buses, and car rental options for you to get to the Sunshine Coast. We thankfully had friends who were living in Brisbane at the time with a car, so we drove to the area a couple of times. I have listed below some of my favorite things to do on the Sunshine Coast.
Glass House Mountains
Coming from western Canada, we are no strangers to mountains. We often would spend our days off in the Rocky Mountains. We were not expecting much from the Australian mountains, but boy, were we wrong. The 13 peaks are so fascinating to look at as they are the remaining cores of volcanoes from millions of years ago! They are not really mountains per se, but they still wear the title proudly.
To get a panoramic view of the mountains and coast, we decided to do the Wild House Mountain lookout. It is a steep 800 m paved climb to the lookout, but your breathlessness will be worth it with the views. The lookout itself is a working vantage point to help watch for any potential fires in the area. It is a pretty easy hike, and we did it first thing in the morning on our drive to the Sunshine Coast.
Hiking in the mountains can be quite risky, as there is a lot of scrambling, slippery rocks, and rugged terrain. So, make sure if you are going, have the proper equipment, and try booking with a company if you are not experienced. We were going to do the Mt. Beerwah hike but quickly realized that we were not prepared for it and decided on a different hike instead in the hinterland. If you find that you are prepared for one of these hikes, I would highly suggest taking the time to do it as the views can be spectacular.
Coolum Beach is a laid-back beach town with a pristine white sandy beach and an entertainment strip. The ocean that crashes upon the beach is a relatively safe beach with low dangers in the water. Since it is Australia, you always have to be prepared for jellyfish stings and whatever else is lurking in the blue waters. The beach itself is incredibly clean, with low amounts of rock and debris. The water is warm, and there is so much fun to be had. Coolum beach is also a great vantage point to head to other parts of the Sunshine Coast. You could do a hike in the morning, hit up the market, grab a bite to eat, and then spend the day soaking up the sun at the beach. A perfect way to spend the day.
In the last few years, I have really gotten more of an appreciation for locally handmade items. Especially while traveling. I hate getting some cheap souvenir that was often made in a third world country and buying those gifts for other people. When I bought/received local gifts with a purpose, I felt a lot happier and felt more sentimental value in the item. Eumundi Market is one of the most famous markets globally, filled with lots of local Australian companies. There is a massive selection of food, music, and different shops. When searching for a travel souvenir for yourself or someone else, try hitting up a local farmers market. If you are doing some cooking for yourself, you can also buy fresh foods full of local flavor. This market is usually only open on Wednesdays and Saturdays, so make sure to plan your trip accordingly!
Kondalilla Waterfall Hike
I loved the Kondalilla Waterfall hike so much that I wrote its own blog post and self-named it the Sunshine Coast’s best hike. This hike is a relatively short and easy hike that takes you by a rock swimming pool and up to the Kondalilla Waterfall. It was a hot day that we spent a decent amount of time in the rock pool swimming and jumping off the rocks. If you want to view more of it, the link to my post is here.
If you are looking for the Sunshine Coast’s touristy part, look no further than Noosa Heads. It is the farthest town from Brisbane that makes up the Sunshine Coast, but well worth it if you want to stay for a few days as there is so much to see and do here. Noosa Heads is a great place to take surfing lessons from, take a hike in the Noosa National Park, and hit up one of the local coffee shops. I suggest heading over to Providore on Hastings to grab a delicious latte and a quick bite before heading off for the day! There are also many places that you can stay in Noosa if you are planning to spend a few days here.
One of the things that we were not able to see was the infamous Noosa Fairy Pools. These fairy pools have been all over Instagram in recent years. Apparently, the National Park does not advertise for them, so it is easy to miss the trail. From doing a bit of research online, you should start at the carpark at Noosa Main Beach and then follow the Picnic Cove trail until you come across a park bench overlooking the water. From there, you head down until you get to the pools. It is said to be quite busy, so even if you are unsure of where to go, I imagine you will find other weary travelers along the way.
I hope you enjoyed my list of the five best things on the Sunshine Coast. To help you make the most out of your trip and not worry about whether or not you are doing the right activities. Time is money and experiences, so make sure to fit in all that you can!
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