10 Best Things to do on the Sunshine Coast

18 January 2016

Yes, there really is more to a Queensland holiday than the beach. Below, 10 great Sunshine Coast attractions – that don't require a swimsuit.

The Glasshouse Mountains, Sunshine Coast. Photo: iStock.com The Glasshouse Mountains, Sunshine Coast. Photo: iStock.com

 

  1. SEA LIFE MOOLOOLABA

As entertaining as it is educational, Sea Life is the ideal place to experience Queensland's fascinating underwater world. Every family that visits has their own favourite attraction, including the Shark Snorkel Adventure, the Jellyfish Kingdom and the daily seal shows. With multiple play zones, free talks and plenty of feedings to watch, this is a great place to escape the heat (or, heaven forbid, the rain).

  1. HINTERLAND WINE TASTING

It may not be as famous as its South Australia cousins, but the Sunshine Coast wine region is gaining increasing recognition for the quality of its wines. Most of the region's boutique wineries all offer cellar door tastings; Flame Hill in Montville also boasts a well-regarded restaurant. Don't miss the utterly unique Little Morgue Vineyard, housed in what was once a working morgue.

Eumundi Markets. Photo: sunriseOdyssey/flickr.com. Eumundi Markets. Photo: sunriseOdyssey/flickr.com.

 

  1. EUMUNDI MARKETS

Founded in 1979, the Eumundi Markets have grown into one the largest and most beloved artisan marketplaces in Australia. There are hours of exploring to do in this rabbit warren of outdoor stalls (including arts, crafts, clothing and food) but make sure you arrive early – the market closes around 1.30pm. Eumundi Market is located 20kms west of Noosa Heads. Open Wednesday and Saturday.

  1. MALENY

A small town in the Sunshine Coast Hinterland, Maleny found fame as a hippie hangout in the 1970s and is the home to many pioneering eco-tourism businesses. Today the craft stores and alternative health practitioners are still there, but have been joined by a new wave of stylish cafes, restaurants and retail stores. Cheese lovers should add Maleny Dairies and the Maleny Cheese store to their itineraries.

Rick Rick's Garage Diner, Palmwoods. Photo: facebook.com/ricksgaragediner

 

  1. RICK'S GARAGE DINER

Located in the small town of Palmwoods, west of Maroochydore, Rick's is an 1950s-style diner (think chrome bar, red vinyl seating and lots of memorabilia) which sells what many fans claim is the best burger on the Sunshine Coast. If you've got nowhere in particular you need to be, the large beer garden is a great place to while away a few hours.

  1. MOUNT COOLUM

You'll have to work for it, but the view of the Sunshine Coast from the top of Mount Coolum can't be beat. It takes around an hour to walk up the track to the summit, where you're rewarded with spectacular 360 degree views. If it's a hot day, go early or late in the day, and be sure to wear insect repellant.

The view from the Noosa Heads Coastal Track. Photo: iStock.com. The view from the Noosa Heads Coastal Track. Photo: iStock.com.

 

  1. NOOSA HEADS COASTAL TRACK

A spectacular walk through native bush and along the wild coast, this is one of the very best things to do in the Noosa area. The entire route to the Hell's Gate headland and back is around 6kms, but many visitors choose to walk only halfway. Along with stunning views, you've a good chance of spotting turtles and dolphins in the ocean below you and koalas in the gumtrees above.

  1. NOOSA DINING

Noosa, at the northern end of the Sunshine Coast, has such an amazing array of dining out options that it's near-impossible to pick favourites. But you can't go wrong at Locale (upscale Italian), Flux (casual small plates) or Little Humid (cosy waterfront dining with a diverse menu). Good brunch spots include Hard Coffee, Little Cove Coffee Co and 10 Hastings St Cafe.

A koala at Australia Zoo. Photo: Craigles75/flickr.com. A koala at Australia Zoo. Photo: Craigles75/flickr.com.

 

  1. AUSTRALIA ZOO

The world-famous Australia Zoo was founded by Steve Irwin, the Crocodile Hunter, and continues to be run by his family. Covering 1500 acres and home to more than 1200 animals, the zoo is an amazing introduction to wildlife from Australia and beyond, from Tasmanian devils, dingoes and kangaroos to African giraffes, tigers and monkeys.

  1. SPIRIT HOUSE

Set in a mini rainforest at the edge of an ornamental lake, this restaurant is almost worth the trip to Yandina in the Sunshine Coast Hinterland for the stunning location alone. But it's the delicately spiced Thai food – like coconut braised beef rib or the house speciality, whole crispy fish with tamarind chilli sauce – that tips it over into must-visit territory. Spirit House also offers daily Thai cooking classes.

Catherine McGregor

Catherine McGregor is the deputy editor of The Spinoff and a travel writer with a too-long travel wish list including Jordan, Mexico, Croatia and Taiwan.