The best things to do on the Sunshine Coast are undoubtedly hard to top for any holiday makers keen to soak up the sun, absorb the healing qualities of nature, enjoy exquisite taste sensations, stimulate the body and re-energise the spirit, which are the ultimate goals for a holiday! The diversity of topography, unique attractions and cultured dining options make it hard to stay for just a week, however we have put together a seven day itinerary that will satisfy the whole family.
Day 1: Fly into Sunshine Coast Airport at Marcoola, or drive an hour-and-a-half north of Brisbane. Pick up hire car and drive north stopping at the base of Mount Coolum for an exhilarating hike to the top to appreciate a magnificent panorama that captures the sparkling coastline from Caloundra to Noosa heads – be prepared to work as this is a steep climb using a natural rock path and not recommended for people with health concerns. Once down, just a little further north, turn into Point Arkwright for a surf or to watch the locals surf the breaks. Depending on the time of your arrival, head to Peregian Beach village for lunch, coffee or dinner. There is a multitude of options from “the best pies on the Sunshine Coast” at the bakery, Almond croissants that melt in your mouth from the French Patisserie, gourmet Pizzas from Pizzami, Spicy Thai, scrumptious passionfruit roulade complete with Turkish delight ice- cream and Persian fairy floss from Pitchfork, Fish and chips at Wahoo and even deep fried Mars bars!!! That is just a few options. It is well worth a walk through the village square and investigating the boutique shops for beautiful designer outfits and home wares. The bottle shop is also reasonably priced to pick up a few supplies! Check in at The Retreat Beach Houses which offer large open plan living in free standing, fully self-contained beach houses. Make sure you pre-arrange online shopping, so that your groceries are in the cupboard and the fridge stacked when you arrive! The managers at The Retreat Beach Houses are more than happy to arrange for your groceries to be packed away and actually encourage this so as to promote total relaxation upon arrival. You will love natural ambience created by the high ceiling, large windows and native bush surrounds. Relax to the sounds of the sea!
Day 2: Rise with the whipbirds and laughing kookaburras that make their home in the coastal bushlands of the sand dunes and enjoy breakfast on the deck of your beach house. Head to the beach for a surf or if you are not already a skilled surfer consider taking a lesson. Surf lessons are available at many beaches on the Sunshine Coast, including nearby Coolum. Noosa offers a little more protection from the big sets that are renowned in the Peregian to Sunshine Beach open waters. Ask at reception to have your lessons booked, alternatively book online prior to arrival. Surf lessons are so much fun when taken as a family or group of friends. Spend the remainder of the morning on Main Beach in Noosa and set the tastebuds buzzing with an abundance of food choices on Hastings St. Apple pie ice-cream is yummy and ice-cream is important to have on a hot day! Hike the Coastal track along the edge of Noosa National Park, for breathtaking views and a high chance of seeing koalas, dolphins, sea turtles and whales (during May to September). Wear your swimmers for a splash in the fairy rock pools. There are many tracks to hike back through the National Park or you can walk right over the headlands, along Alexandria bay to Sunshine Beach. Sunshine Beach surf club is a great choice for a cold drink and the evening meal. On some nights they have a complimentary shuttle service. If you left your car at Noosa – they will drop you back to it or drive you home to The Retreat Beach Houses in time to catch a flick on Foxtel with more than 60 channels to choose from!
Day 3: An early start is essential to experience the best of the pristine wilderness in the Noosa Everglades. There are a few options to discover the river of mirrors that makes up part of the Cooloola National Park which is recognised as a “Wetland of International Importance”. A full-day cruise deep into the dark, tranquil mirrored waters of the Upper Noosa River with Discovery gives you the option to canoe through ancient landscapes with captivating reflections creating a sensation that you are paddling in the sky. An Aussie BBQ lunch and interactive boat cruise home with a keen eye for many of the bird species that reside within this spectacular region. A full day guided or self-guided kayak tour with Kanu Kapers is an awe inspiring adventure into the heart of the Noosa Biosphere. On guided tours, a scrumptious morning tea and lunch are provided. If you have your own Kayaks or Canoes – load them up, leave in the dark and drive to Harrys Hut, pack a picnic and paddle north through the mirrored waterway, hike to the Cooloola Sand Patch (with some cardboard for sand tobogganing) keeping an eye out for dingoes in their native habitat. Return home via the historic Apollonian Hotel which was constructed in the heyday of the 1870's at Boreen Point! Top the day by requesting a Beach House with a spa bath, although all The Retreat Beach Houses do have a rather nice bath for relaxing and locally made aromatherapy bath salts can be purchased from Essential Bodywork to uplift, balance and energize.
Day 4: Wednesday or Saturday. A quick bite for breakfast and an invigorating swim in the surf at the front of The Retreat Beach Houses then Head for the hills! First stop the enchanting Eumundi markets where you will find a plenitude of locally crafted artisan treasures and entertainment. The Hinterland is renowned for the Great Walk (a total of 58 km through a diverse landscape), however can be broken up into smaller walks that are achievable in a limited time frame. Mapleton falls, Kondalilla falls, and various lookouts are perfect for picnics and cooling off in the refreshing water. Lunch at Mapleton, Montville or Maleny is a wonderful culturally rich experience. The Maleny Dairy tour provides an insight into the milking process and up close experiences with livestock which is ideal for family groups. The view from The Edge Cafe in Montville is picture perfect. A visit to organic fruit and vegetable producing farms and vineyards always results in flavoursome home cooked meals, which are simple to prepare in the large open plan kitchen at The Retreat Beach Houses. Return through the Glasshouse mountains for inspiring views of the volcanic icons that have a very interesting cultural story of significance.
Day 5: Watch the sky streaked with gold and the ocean ripples of amber as the sun rises from your deck or as you walk along the almost deserted beach into Peregian Village for breakfast and coffee! Hire bikes for the whole family (chariots, tagalongs and baby seats are available) and experience the thrill of varying challenges across a number of bike pathways throughout the Sunshine Coast. Pre-book an in house massage with the best therapist in the region. Take the boogie boards, cricket gear and beach chairs from ‘The shed” at The Retreat Beach Houses and spend the remainder of the day at the beach, building castles, watching for whales, swimming, floating, surfing, playing beach cricket, soccer or volleyball... A game of tennis to intensify the family love is a perfect end to the perfect day, although a swim in the lagoon pool and a BBQ will top it right off!
Day 6: A full day trip to world heritage listed Fraser Island is breathtaking. Morning tea, and lunch are included. “Throughout the day you will appreciate nature’s magnificent paradox; seemingly endless golden beaches encompass towering hardwood forests, barren heathland, pristine rainforests, huge creeping sandblow deserts, crystal clear freshwater lakes, gurgling blood red streams, prehistoric ferns and mosaic coloured sands” (Fraser Island Adventure Tours). The day includes, beach driving at its best, plenty of photo opportunities throughout the diverse ecosystem that is home to many native flora and fauna and lifetime memories of a swim at Lake McKenzie. If you have your own 4WD an alternative is to take the ferry at Tewantin across to Noosa North Shore and head to Rainbow Beach along the sand (you will need to check tide times for beach driving at low tide). For the horsy visitors – experience the exhilaration of horse riding at Noosa North Shore. The Great Sandy Bar is a superb choice for lunch, dinner or a cold drink, complete with a jumping pillow for the kids! Pick up a DVD from reception at The Retreat Beach Houses for a quiet evening in, you will find the sleep quality close to the top shelf, with crisp linen, soft top firm bamboo filled mattresses and comfy pillows – total relaxation!
Day 7: Last swim or surf at the Beach. Ask The Retreat Beach Houses reception staff to book Attraction tickets. Spend the day at the iconic Crocodile Hunter Steve Irwin’s beloved Australia Zoo at Landsborough near the Glasshouse Mountains, with over 1200 animals and interactive wildlife shows. The Zoo is wonderfully set on large acreage which provides a positive habitat for many endangered species from various regions of the world and our endearing natives, with a Kangaroo sanctuary where you will find it irresistible to feed and pat our national emblems! Australia Zoo contributes significantly to conservation efforts around the world. Purchase of tickets and additional hands-on animal encounters with koalas, tigers, snakes, giraffes... contribute to saving and protecting wildlife from the estuaries of far north Queensland to the jungles of Sumatra. The Koala encounter is almost overwhelming for overseas visitors, who describe the experience as amazing. If you have an adrenalin junky in the family, call in at The Big Kart Track for a few high speed laps. This is a little scary as a spectator, so it is best that the whole family are on the track! Alternatively for younger families Sea Life Aquarium at Mooloolaba is certainly worthwhile. It is also possible to arrange a dive with the sharks or a swim with the seals. There is the option to book a package tour with Australia Zoo and Sea Life combo or Sea Life and Whale Watching (June to October). Winter is unbelievable on the Sunshine Coast with daytime temperatures averaging 23 degrees Celsius and humpback whales migrating past on their journey north to calve in the warm waters and south with their young. A cruise is the ultimate way to experience these majestic creatures that give the impression of putting on a show for their human fans with amazing displays of aquatic acrobatics that seem impossible for an animal of such massive proportion. A cruise which incorporates a swim with these gigantic mammals in their open ocean environment is also now available. Before returning home, fresh prawns direct from the trawlers at the wharf is hard to beat for dinner although there is an assortment of choice for dining in Mooloolaba. Live life and love your Sunshine Coast holiday!