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50 reasons to visit the Sunshine Coast

byLiz Tuckett-30 Mar 2017

As if you needed an excuse to enjoy year-round balmy weather, spectacular natural wonders and winning attractions.

1. 300 days of sunshine and friendly locals

The most distinctive thing about the Sunshine Coast is the people. It is a place where you will feel like a local from the moment you arrive. From sun-kissed surfers to bohemian artists, there is no shortage of friendly people with easy smiles. It’s no surprise they’re happy, as the region enjoys a subtropical climate with plenty of warmth – in fact an average of 300 days of sunshine per year. This guarantees a big sunny welcome!

2. Diversity

The Sunshine Coast is a region rich in diversity, and that is what makes it so special. Enviably positioned, the region is tucked between Brisbane and Fraser Island - a natural haven waiting to be explored. Wonders of nature, beachside culture, fresh local food, immersive encounters and world-class events are in abundance. From the majestic Glass House Mountains to Noosa and the coloured sands of Rainbow Beach, the region includes over 100 kilometres of pristine sandy beaches, surrounded by the quiet beauty of coastal and hinterland villages.

3. 50th Anniversary

The Sunshine Coast turns 50 in 2017. Celebrations are throughout 2017 - and you're invited to the party! Visit www.sunshinecoast.qld.gov.au/fifty for more information.

4. Exhilarating events

The region has become increasingly popular and adept at hosting a variety of major and regional events each year. Events include the Noosa and Mooloolaba Triathlons, Queensland Garden Expo, Wanderlust, Gympie Music Muster and the Noosa Festival of Surfing. New to the program in 2017 – the Velothon (biggest cycling event on the planet), Horizon Festival of Arts & Culture, Body Art Festival in Cooroy and the region welcomes our first national sporting team, the Lightning netball squad. 

5. Food trail

Create your own personalised food trail taking in the region’s best. With the Sunshine Coast’s ease of access and relatively compact space, the drive trails can be designed to suit anything from a half day ‘taste’ to a multi-day ‘buffet’.

6. Cook up a storm

Brought to you by the team behind the award winning Wasabi Restaurant and Bar, the Cooking School Noosa offers exclusive classes with Wasabi chefs, as well as guest chefs from around Australia. Classes include Japanese, French and South East Asian. The cooking school also doubles as a stylish, boutique event space and is located just minutes from Hastings Street.

7. Bespoke food experiences

A natural food bowl, the Sunshine Coast is rapidly becoming Australia’s favourite taste destination.  Whether it be a paddock-to-plate degustation, fresh-off-the-trawler seafood BBQ, chef-guided food trail or a spectacular market stall cocktail reception; the Sunshine Coast offers a bounty of foodie adventures, tasty attractions and gourmet experiences to wow delegates.

Experiences include:

•    Behind the scenes producers' tour
•    Noosa Hinterland paddock to plate trail
•    Long lunch in the macadamia groves
•    Farm shed paddock to plate long lunch
•    Camels and canapes
•    Free ranging chef bush food discovery
•    Aussie Surf Culture Beach Tour
 

8. Caloundra bar

26 Degrees Bar was opened late last year as part of Rumba Beach Resort in Caloundra. This white-washed poolside bar has had a complete makeover and split into several areas, there’s a lounge area with plenty of cane armchairs for those solo sessions, a sleek timber bar complete with Bentwood stools for those cosy date nights, and a beer garden with a stunning green wall, custom-built benches, and its very own fast bar which pours local Sunshine Coast brews like Your Mates. Open seven days, 8am-late. Drop by on a Sunday afternoon from 2pm for  vinyl beats of soul, funk  and jazz on the decks.

26 degrees bar
Winning cocktails and snappy service at 26 Degrees Bar, Caloundra.

9. Top restaurants

Rewarded for quality of reviews over the past 12 months, TripAdvisor’s 10 best Australian restaurants for 2016 included two Sunshine Coast gongs – Spirit House Restaurant in Yandina ranked sixth, while Spice Bar Restaurant in Mooloolaba polled seventh. In 2015, the Good Food Guide awarded Wasabi Two Chefs Hats, as well as Regional Restaurant of the Year.

spice bar
Spice Bar's Beef Tatiki.

10. Microbrewery scene

The Sunshine Coast now has a thriving microbrewery scene! From well-established Sunshine Coast Brewery at Kunda Park to newcomers Brouhaha (Maleny), 10 Toes Brewery (Alexandra Headland), Your Mates (Nambour), to Moffat Beach Brewing (Caloundra). A novel way to get around and sample the ales is with new tour, Sunshine Coast Craft Beer Tours. Also to come online April/May 2017 is Eumundi’s Imperial Hotel facility with Eumundi Lager to be recreated by Chuck Hahn of Lion Nathan.

Brouhaha
Wet your whistle at Brouhahah.

11. Fresh seafood

Mooloolaba is the biggest swordfish port in Australia and is one of the busiest ports on the eastern seaboard. The wharf is a hive of daily activity – with trawlers bringing in boatloads of fish, Mooloolaba prawns, lobsters and spanner crabs. The Sunshine Coast is also home to strong aquaculture industries – with Red Claw Crayfish, barramundi and various species of prawns farmed in the region. The best place to grab the catch of the day is on Parkyn Parade in Mooloolaba, where you’ll find a range of fish markets and takeaway shops, all offering fresh local seafood.

Parkyn Parade Seafood Precinct
They don't get much fresher than straight off the trawler.

12. You must try ...

*Formerly The Edge Mooloolaba has relocated and opened as The Orangery Maleny. Located at Mary Cairncross Corner and Mountain View Road, the café/restaurant will be open for tapas, drinks, high tea and available for functions.

* Established in 1999, Ryan MacLeod is the third owner of the vineyard and winery, which includes The Big Barrel in Maleny. Ryan worked in a whiskey distillery in Tasmania prior to taking over the winery in March 2016. He has been revamping the labels and plans to expand to a brewery and further down the track a spirits distillery. Under the sub umbrella of Macleod Brewing Company he will next week release his first hand signed brew – the Imperial Scotch Ale.

13. Maleny Food Co

For the connoisseur, Maleny Food Co stocks a wide variety of award winning gelati and more than 200 gourmet cheeses in their walk in fromagerie. 

Enjoy award-winning gelati and sorbet at Maleny Food Co
Enjoy award-winning gelati and sorbet at Maleny Food Co

14. Beachside culture

Sunshine Coast beaches are, quite simply, some of the best in the world. They are rimmed with wide stretches of clean, white sand, with a choice of surf or calm bays sparkling with warm water. Whether you’re searching for a secluded patch of sand to sink your toes into and soak up the sunshine, a family-friendly spot where the kids can make friends with other sandcastle-makers or the best dog-friendly spots, the Sunshine Coast has dozens of safe and picturesque beaches to choose from. See our Beach menu on page 15 of the 2017 Official Visitor and Event Guide.

15. Best beaches

Kings Beach was voted the state’s best beach by Surf Life Saving Queensland, while Mooloolaba Beach ranked sixth and Noosa Main Beach polled ninth in TripAdvisor’s top 25 beaches in Australia. Mooloolaba and Noosa are also two of very few northern facing beaches on the east coast of Australia, where the water is calm and enticing year-round.

Kings Beach
The king of beaches, Kings Beach, Caloundra.

16. Epic adventures

Epic Ocean Adventures offer Great Beach drive tours combined with learn to surf lessons and dolphin kayak tours. They are now operating transfers from Noosa as well as Rainbow Beach.

17. Surf culture

Groups can get involved in our iconic Aussie surf lifesaving culture as Live It Tours take you behind the scenes at a local Sunshine Coast Surf Club. Enjoy hands on experiences while learning about the history of surf lifesaving and the skills and dedication required by our volunteer lifesavers in keeping our communities safe at the beach. You will participate in a range of team activities such as beach flag races, surf ski skills, visiting the rescue tower or participating in a mock rescue. All activities are tailored to the levels of individuals and you don’t even have to get wet!

18. Tropical Treks

The Sunshine Coast and Noosa Hinterlands are now more accessible with Tropical Treks offering guided bushwalks, birdwatching and wildlife experiences. Just 30 minutes from Sunshine Coast Airport, nature lovers can be totally immersed in one of Australia’s most spectacular rainforest experiences. Tropical Treks specialise in small groups and offer half-day, full-day and night tours.  

- The Bushwalkers’ Adventure is a full-day experience designed for the keen walker to discover rainforests, tall eucalypt forests, view waterfalls and overlooks only accessible on foot.

- Wildlife and Birdwatching is designed for dedicated and novice bird observer, fauna and flora enthusiast and photographer who ask the burning question: “Where do I go to get the shot?”

19. Wonders of nature

Live like a local and enjoy a guided tour of Noosa. Whether it’s discovering the Noosa National Park, surfing, stand-up paddling, yoga outdoors or enjoying the vibrant music scene at the Peregian Originals, the team from Freedom Trail will provide a personalised experience where you live like a local.

20. Natural highlight

The Pumicestone Passage Marine Park consists of 24 islands and 240 kilometres of shoreline, and with 80 percent of the waterway measuring less than two metres deep, it is the perfect place to explore on a stand up paddle board, kayak or escorted jet ski tour.

21. Waterfall way

Don’t miss a visit to one of the many picturesque waterfalls in the area including:

Gardners Falls
Kondalilla Falls
Mapleton Falls
• Booloumba Falls
• Wappa Falls
Serenity Falls
• Nambour Falls
 

22. Follow in the footsteps of Matthew Flinders

Retrace Flinders discovery of the Pumicestone Passage and then into the atmospheric Glass House Mountains, named by Captain James Cook after the glass furnaces of Yorkshire. First explored by a European in 1799, when Captain Matthew Flinders called into the region during his circumnavigation of the continent, you can follow in his footsteps with MAB Personal Adventures.

23. Great Walks

Perhaps you have a few days to spare? The 58 kilometre Sunshine Coast Hinterland Great Walk and the 102 kilometre Cooloola Great Walk, recognised as part of the Great Walks of Queensland, will take you through some of the area’s most scenic and little known locations. And even if you’re staying in the heart of chic-ville in Hastings Street Noosa, the Great Noosa Trail Walk is on your doorstep offering a three day guided walk through the natural and cultural landscape of the Noosa hinterland.

24. There’s something about Mary (Valley)

Move aside Montville and Maleny, Mary Valley - a hill or two (or three) north of the reigning hinterland towns and 35 minutes west of Noosa -  is home to a handful of tiny places with fancy names like Imbil and Amamoor, a towering Hoop Pine state forest with trees that cast a fairy tale quality over bush walkers below, a river made for platypus spotting and a sprinkling of country quaint B&Bs.

Kayaking in Imbil
Kayaking in Imbil.

25. Shop 'til you drop

With talented buskers sawing away on their violins and pavement artists creating their next masterpiece, if you wander through the bustle and buzz of a market in this corner of Queensland, it won’t take you long to realise why the Sunshine Coast ranks as one of the top market destinations in Australia. From the famous Original Eumundi Markets, the largest artisan markets in the southern hemisphere, to the tasty treats at Noosa Farmer’s Market, a stroll around the stalls is a great way to glean a sense of the Sunshine Coast’s character and meet the real locals behind the goods.

26. Culture vulture

The Sunshine Coast Hinterland in particular claims a heavy concentration of arty folk. It is the hub for talented visual artists, renowned galleries, studios and theatres that spans out across the Sunshine Coast. Venture along the Art Gallery Trail and you will soon discover a world of oil and water colour paintings, sandstone and marble sculptures, porcelain and hand-blown glass, wood and textiles, jewellery and photography and much more.

27. Swim with whales

You can swim alongside the humpback whale, the world’s largest and most majestic animal! Whale watching tours are also available and the region has some stellar viewing platforms and lookouts to watch these regal creatures frolic from July to late October.

Swim with whales
Enjoy close encounters of the whale kind with Sunreef Mooloolaba.

28. Quintessentially Sunshine Coast

The Sunshine Coast is brimming with surprising, enchanting and delightful activities and natural wonders that you won’t find anywhere else in the world.

Encounters include:    
•    Noosa beach tipi surf village
•    Self-drive Great Beach Drive adventure
•    Kombi surf safari
•    Noosa fresh air experience
•    Golf with a pro
•    Explore the Noosa Everglades by kayak
•    Fraser Island discovery by private plane
•    From the beach to the outback

29. Immersive encounters

SEA LIFE Sunshine Coast has opened a new exhibit, Jurassic Seas. Designed as an education on evolution and conservation issues, people can encounter mysterious marine creatures such as the fascinating nautilus, dragon-like mudskippers and more. Featuring innovative digital technology, visitors will have a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to feed a digital 3D Plesiosaurus, marvel at the giant teeth of the Megalodon and test their bravery in the face of an angry Liopleurodon.

30. Fly high or pedal low

Helitec Australia is offering new scenic flights of the Sunshine Coast including Mooloolaba and Point Cartwright, Coolum to Point Cartwright, Noosa, Visit a Vineyard, Noosa Everglades, Rainbow Beach, and you can even take the controls with a flight instructor. Departures daily from Sunshine Coast Airport.

Take off from the Maroochy River and enjoy jaw-dropping views of the Sunshine Coast from the air. Paradise Seaplanes’ "Wilga Warbird" will take you on a joyride over some of the most picturesque parts of the Sunshine Coast. You’ll cruise low and slow at around 500 feet, taking in magnificent views of the Maroochy River, Noosa and Mount Coolum, Caloundra and Pumicestone Passage, or up to Double Island Point in Gympie. For extra wow, upgrade to a ‘Touch the Sky - Doors Off’ tour.

With 300+ bikes, Bike On based in Noosa is expanding across the Coast and can deliver to accommodation from Noosa, through to Peregian, Coolum, Mooloolaba and as far south as Caloundra. They also offer self or fully guided mountain bike tours through Wooroi Forest – Tewantin National Park with pick up and drop off.

31. Get up close and personal with animals

Australia Zoo
Epic Ocean Adventures
Maleny Botanic Gardens & Bird World
Mary River Kayak
Noosa Horse Riding
Noosa Horses
QCamel with Live It Tours
Rainbow Beach Horse Rides
SEA LIFE Sunshine Coast
Swim with Whales with Sunreef Mooloolaba
Wildlife HQ

32. See your own reflection

The Noosa Everglades is one of only two everglade systems in the world. For the ultimate in serene tranquility, the area is best explored on an eco-cruise or in a kayak. There are banksias, tea trees, melaleucas, reeds and water lilies along the water’s edge. Marvel at the reflections of the flora on the banks of the water that appear like a mirage; it’s no surprise that the upper reaches of the Noosa River is often referred to as the River of Mirrors.

The Noosa Everglades - also known as the 'River of Mirrors'.
The Noosa Everglades.

33. Nambour vintage and retro trail

Nambour has a flourishing retro and vintage scene with many curio and collectable stores, op shops and retro fashion. Discover a bounty of unique cafes and quirky bars including a craft brewery while exploring the trail.

Hit rewind and shake to the backbeat on Nambour's Vintage and Retro Trail.
Hit rewind and shake to the backbeat on Nambour's vintage and retro Trail.

34. Ride of a different kind

Take a carriage ride with Billy and Larry of Noosa Horses. This experience is definitely a head turner, the Maserati of the horse world. There is nothing in the world like rolling down Hastings Street, with heads craned and all eyes on you. Just smile and practice the Royal wave! Billy, Larry and the carriage are available for all occasions, weddings, parties, joyrides and special events. Tours running through summer Noosaville and Noosa.

Noosa Horses
Get your Royal wave ready when you take a carriage tour of Noosaville.

35. Downunder Drive

Sunshine Coast theme park Aussie World has launched a new precinct destination brand  Downunder Drive as the area launches into an exciting 5 year plan which aims to catapult the family owned precinct into one of Australia’s largest tourist destinations. Plans will encompass the expansion and modernising of the Aussie World theme park as well as The Shed function and events venue, the sites existing retail village and a total redevelopment of the sites iconic Pub. As the first addition, the Bombora Bounce is the latest ‘surf style’ ride to open at Aussie World on Boxing Day and getting to a full height of 10 metres, then dropping and twisting repeatedly to provide an awesome bounce effect.

36. It’s a Breeze

The first new luxury resort accommodation in Mooloolaba on the Sunshine Coast in over a decade opened just prior to Christmas. Breeze occupies a prime position on The Esplanade, overlooking Mooloolaba’s north facing beach. Developed by the Aria Property Group, the building incorporates 57 luxury apartments over 10 levels with pool, spa and recreational area. The unique architecture by Tony Owen Partners is like a fluid sculpture and offers 57 one, two and three bedroom apartments, most with ocean and coastal views. The apartment complex is close to a vast range of restaurants, cafes and retail outlets.

37. High in the hills

Altitude on Montville has luxury studio suites, two bedroom and three bedroom apartments with a stunningly picturesque hinterland backdrop. Celebrity Chef, Matt Golinski is providing the inspiration for the restaurant, bar and function mezzanine which is the centre point for the innovative building design. Boasting breathtaking views across the coast, luxury accommodation and an eclectic wine offering, Matt will add to the five-star experience of Altitude by creating seasonally inspired, produce driven menus for both a la carte diners and those wanting an individually tailored wedding or function package.

38. Tops for accommodation

Travellers using Trivago rated the destination of Montville the number one Queensland destination for accommodation and number two in Australia following Stanley in Tasmania. Maleny also made the made the top 10 list in the Trivago Awards 2017, as the fourth most popular place to stay in Queensland and ninth in Australia.

39. Camping in style

South-east Queensland’s first new-build camping and caravanning resort in 40 years has upgraded the image for the sector with luxury glamping and conference options. Rivershore Resort opened on the Maroochy River front in mid-2016. The resort offers 15 premium safari tents equipped with ensuite and kitchens, providing guests with a luxurious 5 start experience. Other facilities include café/restaurant, bar, playground, pool, onsite pontoon and boat ramp for water sports activities.

40. New facilities

Conference and Camping Centres (QCCC) Mapleton is creating a third accommodation block of fully ensuited rooms, a renovation of existing amenities blocks and a new storage area for QCCC’s growing expeditions programs due to be completed for first term 2017. Other improvements include a transformation for the climbing wall that is 10 metres tall, 18 metres wide and has 50 different climbing routes on a double-belay system.

41. Bonjour

The Sheraton Noosa Resort & Spa rebranded to Sofitel Noosa Pacific Resort in June 2016, introducing the French influence, style and design of Accor’s five star brand to beautiful Noosa.

42. Bring the pets

Looking for quality accommodation where you can bring your furry friends? Coolum Holidays has a range of holiday houses that allow you to travel with your pets.

43. Country hospitality

The Dales Boutique B&B is new to the accommodation sector and offers private, peaceful and personal hospitality for guests in the Noosa Hinterland.

44. Verve on Cotton Tree

Verve on Cotton Tree a newly constructed modern hotel located right by the ocean in Maroochydore.  Managed by Direct Hotels and consisting of 45 apartments, Verve on Cotton Tree is an eight level beach side residential development. There is spectacular ocean and hinterland views from most apartment levels. With stunning landscaping, beautiful resort-style facilities and first class architecture, apartments consist of 1 bedroom and 2 bedroom apartments.

45. Sunshine Coast Airport

Sunshine Coast Airport is set to undergo its biggest transformation in its history. The expansion will include a new 2450-metre-long and 45-metre-wide runway, which will cater for large aircraft including the Airbus A330 and Boeing 777 and 787. The terminal will also be upgraded. The extension follows the official recognition of Sunshine Coast Airport as an ‘International Airport’ in 2016. Construction will get underway this year and is scheduled for completion by 2020.

46. 5-star plans

Two new 5-star hotel developments were announced in 2016. Starwood’s Westin brand was announced as part of a proposed new integrated development at Yaroomba Beach; while a 5-star hotel was also mooted as part of a major redevelopment project in Mooloolaba.

47. Sleep at Australia Zoo

World-renowned Australia Zoo is planning to expand onto its adjoining Beerwah site, providing a dedicated 'live in' experience for zoo patrons. The nature based tourism project will consist of eight cabins, 32 recreational vehicle sites and 68 bush camp sites, a reception area and amenities.

48. Glass House new outlook

A new Discovery Centre has been developed as part of an upgrade of tourist facilities at Mary Cairncross Scenic Reserve in the Hinterland. The Reserve comprises 55 hectares of National Estate listed subtropical rainforest overlooking the Glass House Mountains with a wide variety of walking tracks for visitors. The new Discovery Centre includes an elevated viewing platform and boardwalk, cafe, theatre, and a conservation research area. The centre opened in early March with café due to open in April.

49. New adventure park

A themed water park will be built on Steve Irwin Drive. The water park will feature a wave pool capable of producing waves of up to three metres in height, as well as an interactive aqua play area.

50. Maroochydore and Mooloolaba get a make-over

Two popular holiday hubs, Mooloolaba and Maroochydore, will enjoy a significant makeover in the next few years. Look forward to upgraded facilities and stunning streetscapes! 

 


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