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Caloundra to Noosa scenic drive tour

15 Nov 2016

A scenic drive taking in amazing coastal and mountain-top views. Bring your camera!

Overview

Starting at the Caloundra Coastal Path, begin with a walk or cycle along the spectacular shoreline. Drive to Point Cartwright for views north and south of the region before heading to Mount Coolum National Park and then on to Noosa National Park. Beaches, crystal clear water, dolphins and in season, humpback whales, and the most fantastic fresh air are on the agenda here. While this tour is only 73 km in total, you could do it in under an hour, but why rush? Stroll, smile, unwind and maybe stay a night or two. You’re on the Sunshine Coast, after all.

Journey details

Duration: one to three days | Distance: 73 km | Itineary type: one way | Mode of travel: car | Degree of difficulty: 2/5

Activities

  • Walking
  • Food, wine and fresh produce
  • National parks
  • Swimming
  • Beaches

Itinerary

Caloundra to Point Cartwright

Take time to breathe in the scent of the ocean with a 3.4 km walk which starts at the Esplanade at Golden Beach. Stroll along the Caloundra Coastal Path as you walk (or cycle) past some of the most scenic shorelines you could ever wish to see. The path (a purpose built boardwalk) is a continuous coastal link from Golden Beach in the south, around Caloundra Headland then Moffat Headland. If you feel like a long-distance walk, continue on the path and head north to Point Cartwright. Along the way you’ll pass historic sites including the Military Jetty used for military operations in World War Two, and the heritage listed Kings Beach Bathing Pavilion constructed in 1937.

If you're feeling peckish on your return walk, pop into Stormie D's for an indulgent cupcake or grab some fish 'n' chips Sandbar and enjoy an alfresco meal at one of the many picnic tables that line the foreshore of Bulcock Beach.

Breathe in that fresh sea air on a boardwalk shoreline stroll.
Breathe in that fresh sea air on a boardwalk shoreline stroll.
 

Regardless of whether you choose to drive to Port Cartwright, or walk, you’ll find a piece of paradise here. There’s an unpatrolled beach at the base of the headland at the very northern end of Kawana Beach along Point Cartwright Drive. High cliffs in the coastal headland reserve provide spectacular views of Mooloolaba and across the water to Mount Coolum. It's possible to spot migratory humpback whales between July and November as well as ships entering and leaving the Port of Brisbane.

Looking across the water from Point Cartwright to Old Woman Island and Mount Coolum.
Looking across the water from Point Cartwright towards Old Woman Island and Mount Coolum.

Continue on your journey or pick up some fresh seafood at the Parkyn Parade Seafood Precinct, stroll down to the shoreline and watch the sun set over Mooloolaba Beach. If fine dining is more your cup of jasmine tea, savour award winning Asian cuisine and ocean views at Spice Bar,  just listed as one of Australia's top 10 restaurants by Trip Advisor.

Overnight accommodation

Mantra Mooloolaba
Oceans Mooloolaba Beach
Mantra Sirroco

Mooloolaba to Mount Coolum

David Low Way offers a more scenic journey to Mount Coolum than the alternative route of the Sunshine Motorway. Head up the coastline towards Coolum Beach and take a left on Tanah Street towards this magnificent mountain that towers like a giant over the landscape. Off road parking is available on the corner of Jarnahill Drive and Tanan Street West. Park the car and swap those flip-flops for some sturdy climbing shoes and follow the National Parks and Wildlife signs and directions to the walking track - and don't forget to bring some bottled water, sunscreen and a good hat.

Panoramic views from the top of Mount Coolum. Panoramic views from the top of Mount Coolum.

The first part of the track is a pleasant stroll through native bushland and forest. The path then becomes quite steep as it traverses the rock face, so pause for a while to catch your breath and snap a photo of the breathtaking coastal views.  Take care when the rocky part of the track towards the top of the mountain - it can be very slippery when wet. Stay on the designated tracks and stay clear of the cliff edges.

At 208 m, the summit of Mount Coolum offers panoramic views of the Sunshine Coast. To the east, coastal views stretch from Double Island Point all the way to Caloundra. The short tracks at the top of the mountain offer the best views to the south and showcase a patchwork of flat cane land, river valleys and the rolling hills of the Blackall Range.

Allow 1½ hours for the return walk. It will take 45 minutes to reach the summit and 30 minutes to get back down to the car park.

Continue on your journey or spend the afternoon and evening at Coolum Beach. Take a beach stroll and then wander up to Coolum Surf Club to enjoy hearty, high quality pub fare or, for an intimate dining experience, book in at Harvest for exquisite  Mediterranean cuisine.

Overnight accommodation

Clubb Coolum Beach Resort
Coolum Caprice
The Point Coolum Beach

Coolum Beach to Noosa

Continue north along David Low Way through Peregian Beach, Sunshine Beach to arrive at Noosa Heads. Park the car at Noosa Parade car park, head to Hastings Street and follow the signs to Noosa National Park. This spectacular park boasts numerous walking tracks ranging from 1 km to 8 km which wrap around the coastline offering wonderful ocean views at every turn. Set a relaxing pace as you make your way through the pockets of hoop and kauri pine and rich flora, and keep an eye out for koalas and the rare glossy black-cockatoo. The national park has a number of beaches that are ideal for swimming, so don't forget to take your towel, togs and sunscreen - there's plenty of time for a dip in the clear, blue waters and a lazy snooze under a pandanus tree.

Noosa National Park, a chunk of wild coastline jutting into the ocean, is understandably one of Australia's most visited parks.
Noosa National Park, a chunk of wild coastline jutting into the ocean, is understandably one of Australia's most visited parks.

You could spend the whole day discovering the many delights and natural wonders that abound here, or simply stay a few hours and then head back to Noosa Heads to enjoy a meal at one of the region's fine-dining restaurants or casual eateries or a cold craft beer at the Noosa Reef Hotel. If you'd like to extend your stay there are wonderful accommodation options in this coastal paradise - you may never want to leave!

Overnight accommodation

Mantra French Quarter Resort
Sofitel Noosa Pacific Resort

On The Beach Noosa


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