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3 of the best day trips to take on the Sunshine Coast

3 of the best day trips to take on the Sunshine Coast

So you’ve got a whole glorious day stretching out in front of you—but you’re not sure what to do with it.

3 of the best day trips to take on the Sunshine Coast
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Kings Beach pool, Caloundra

It’s time to jump in the car, fire up the playlist and head off on a day trip to one of Sunshine Coast’s gorgeous towns.

With so many stunning spots to see, it can be hard to nail down the perfect road trip, but that’s where we come in. From the Hinterland to the beach, we’ve curated the ultimate day trip for you, complete with epic eats, sights to see and things to do.

What are you waiting for? It’s time to check out three of our favourite day trips on the Sunshine Coast.

Caloundra

If you haven’t spent much time at the southern end of the Sunshine Coast, consider this your sign to make tracks there stat! The coastal town of Caloundra was just voted the second-best town in Australia in the 2022 Aussie Town of the Year awards by Wotif and has everything you need for the perfect day out.

Think: long stretches of golden sand beaches, stunning marine parks and an epic cafe culture. Think of it as Noosa’s quieter, lesser known but equally awesome little sister.

Kick off your visit here with a stroll along Caloundra’s beautiful coastline on the boardwalk. Starting at Golden Beach, you’ll make your way through Happy Valley and up the hill to Kings Beach—where you can have a dip in the Sunshine Coast’s only ocean pool.

Pumicestone Passage, Caloundra
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Pumicestone Passage, Caloundra

Keep the active vibes going with a visit to pumicestone passage, a 35-kilometre channel of sparking azure water stretching from Caloundra all the way to Deception Bay in the south. The narrow estuary is the perfect place to stand-up paddle, kayak or even jet ski. Keep your eyes peeled for the dolphins, turtles and dugongs that call these waters home.

And if that’s still not enough water activity for you, check out nearby Lake Currimundi. BYO floatie and zen out. It’s pure bliss.

After all that adventure you’ll surely have worked up an appetite and this is where Caloundra's burgeoning foodie scene comes into play. First up head to the Pocket Espresso bar in Moffat Beach where you’ll devour towering ricotta hotcakes topped with lashings of mascarpone and honeycomb. And you’ll never regret ordering their bacon and egg brioche roll. For cocktails, ocean views and live music, make your way to local’s favourite drift bar, or stop in for a tasting at beachtree distilling co, whose organic quokka gin was recently awarded the best contemporary style gin in Australia at the 2022 World Gin Awards. And you have to pay a visit to Moffat Beach Brewing Co. For their range of epic craft beers. Just 50 metres from the beach you can sip your ipa while watching the surfers do their thing. And finally, if you’re there on a Sunday, take a stroll down Bulcock st to the Caloundra Street Fair to shop artisan wares, threads and feeds.

Nambour

TreeTop Challenge, Woombye
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TreeTop Challenge, Woombye

Packed with endless charm put the rural town of Nambour on your must visit list. Nestled in the foothills of the Blackall Range, this postcard perfect town is home to a booming art scene, full of creatives, vintage stores, excellent cafes and hidden gems galore. First things first, it’s time to get your shop on. Check out Mr Beesley’s vintage clothing where you’ll find a treasure trove of shirts, suits, shoes and dresses. Regarded as one of the best vintage shops on the Sunshine Coast, a visit here is a must. Located right next door, music lovers will want to step inside Backbeat Records. A total institution in Nambour, they’ve got more than 5,000 records, cds, dvds and books for you to pour over. Next, check out the growing art scene on the Nambour art trail. The loop is just over 2km long with 13 incredible works to discover along the way, showcasing the town's colourful stories and history expressed by local and national street artists. If you’re inspired to get your creativity on, head to the pottery studio where you can partake in a clay and wine or wheel throwing art class.

Wildlife HQ, Woombye
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Wildlife HQ, Woombye

Being the gateway to the Sunshine Coast Hinterland, a visit to Nambour is not complete without stretching your legs in nature. Check out the dulong lookout for sweeping views of the rainforest, and stroll the 1km loop to magical robinsons falls nestled in the Cilento Bushland Conservation Reserve. If you’re after more adventure, make the short trip to nearby Woombye which has both the Treetop Challenge and Wildlife HQ. Finally, be sure to fuel up at one of Nambour's best restaurants and cafes. Must-dos include Nambour Social for super smooth coffee; Mill st kitchen & pantry for ridiculously tasty seasonal produce and Husk & Honey for their incredible sweet treats.

Maleny

Hiking in Sunshine Coast Hinterland
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Hiking in Sunshine Coast Hinterland

Drenched in natural beauty, this dairy town located high in the hinterland has to be seen to be believed—it’s that dreamy. Full of natural wonder, delicious local produce and quirky boutiques, a trip here is a day well spent.

Now you can’t go to maleny and not take in the majestic sight of the Glass House Mountains. The best place to do this is from Mary Cairncross Scenic Reserve, so pull up, grab the camera and try to keep your jaw off the floor as you marvel at mother nature’s finest. From there a 5-minute drive will take you to Gardners Falls for a walk-through lush rainforest and secluded swimming hole. Other places to check out include the Maleny Botanic Gardens & Bird World for pure fairytale vibes, Baroon Pocket Dam and Gardners Falls.

The Barrel at Clouds vineyard
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The Barrel at Clouds vineyard

Back in town it’s time to enjoy the tasty food scene. Get started at Shotgun Espresso, for yep, you guessed it, an excellent cup of coffee and drool-worthy all day brunch. Pro tip: order the salty aunt—hard poached eggs, anchovy fillets, salsa verde and hollandaise on sourdough. A visit to the famous Maleny Cheese Factory is a must-do. Operating since 2004, this beauty is slinging drool-worthy cheeses and yoghurts so bring a chill bag with you because you’ll absolutely want to take some of them home. Need more cheese? (the answer is always yes). Pop into Maleny Food Co. And indulge in more than 200 cheeses from around the world. Lastly, quench your thirst at Brouhaha Brewery with a chilled ipa while taking in views of Obi Obi creek. Prefer vino? Then the Barrel at Clouds vineyard and their range of red and white tipples, is for you.