Swimming with whales
We’re talking swimming fin-to-fin with whales on the humpback highway, breathing in that fresh mountain air on a rainforest hike, indulging in a hot chocolate (or two) and taking to the skies on a serene hot air balloon adventure.
To make sure you find your sunshine moment – you know, that feeling of sunshine from within – this winter, we’ve rounded up 30 of the best things to do on the Sunshine Coast this season.
So, what are you waiting for? Pack your swimmers (the water barely dips below 20 degrees here!), grab your bags, and get ready for an unforgettable winter adventure on the Sunshine Coast.
1. Swim with Whales
This winter meet the locals – whales that is – on Australia’s first swim with whales’ experience with Sunreef Mooloolaba. Find yourself fin to fin with these majestic mammals as you glide side by side along the humpback highway.
2. Take a horse ride on Rainbow Beach
Feel the salty breeze whip through your hair as you trot along the sand on horseback with Rainbow Beach Horse Rides. With the Pacific Ocean on one side and spectacular-coloured dunes on the other, it’s pure heaven.
3. Go hot air ballooning
Hot air ballooning over Glass House Mountains with Sunshine Coast Ballooning
If there’s one thing crisp winter mornings are perfect for its hot air ballooning, and you definitely won’t regret the early start when you see the pastel sunrise from above with Sunshine Coast Ballooning.
4. Treat yourself to High Tea
Here on the Sunshine Coast we’re fans of treating ourselves every now and then, and what better way to do it than by indulging in a luxurious high tea experience at Aimee Provence or Flaxton Gardens, complete with a seriously good selection of sweet and savoury treats.
5. Get creative at the Pottery Studio
Don’t be afraid to get your hands dirty and create a one-of-a-kind pottery masterpiece at The Pottery Studio, where you can learn to wheel throw like a pro or BYO wine for some clay time.
6. Take a Paint n Sip class
Unleash your inner artist while sipping on your favourite drink with a Paint n Sip class at Frida’s – who have studios in Noosa and Mooloolaba. With a vino in hand simply follow the step-by-step process of creating your own masterpiece, inspired by the iconic artist Frida Kahlo.
7. Kayak the Everglades with Kanu Kapers
Kanu Kapers, Noosa Everglades, Great Sandy National Park
Can you hear that sound? More than 40 per cent of Australia's bird species can be found living around the pristine waters of the Noosa Everglades – one of only two everglades systems found on earth – and one of the best ways to explore is a kayak with Kanu Kapers.
8. Learn to Surf
Coolum Learn to Surf School, Coolum Beach
Surf’s up year-round on the Sunshine Coast from the glassy waves of Noosa - a World Surf Reserve - to Australia’s longest wave at Double Island Point. You’ll be frothing to hit the waves, and a lesson with Coolum Surf School will have you hanging 10 in no time.
9. Hike the Glass House Mountains
Feel connected to country in the Glass House Mountains, a formation of 11 ancient volcanic peaks that formed more than 25 million years ago, with a hike around the base of Mount Tibrogargen or climb to the summit of Mount Ngungun.
10. Spot dolphins and turtles
There’s something special about spotting dolphins in the wild, and with Noosa Ocean Rider, you’ll be at one with the creatures of the big blue on their Dolphin Safari or Whale Watching Tour.
11. Fly high over the Sunshine Coast Hinterland
Strap yourself in for all the incredible scenes with a scenic helicopter flight over the coast and hinterland with Oceanview Helicopters – you can even choose a Fly ‘n’ Dine experience taking you to scenic destinations by air for epic eats.
12. Discover the Noosa Hinterland
Jump in the car and make tracks inland to the Noosa Hinterland - an enchanting region awash with natural beauty, country charm and culinary delights. Local tip: stop in at Pomona Distilling Co for some seriously good gin.
13. Journey to the Mary Valley
Filled with ancient forests, clear waterways, music and heritage towns, the Mary Valley is an unmissable destination in winter. Your first stop? Make tracks for the Mary Valley Rattler – a restored heritage steam train that takes you back in time on a rail journey.
14. Head to the Hinterland
The mercury starting to drop is a sure sign to turn the car west and head to the Hinterland hills for cosy cottage escapes, some of the best cheese you’ll find in Australia, fireside brews and paddock to plate food tours that will warm you from the inside out.
15. Get creative in Eumundi
From shopping at the original Eumundi Markets to finding your next page-turner at Berkelouw Book Barn - Eumundi is an absolute creative haven. Local tip: time your trip around the Eunmundi Markets held each Wednesday and Saturday and make sure to book a table at Bask for an epic long lunch.
16. Explore Buderim Forest Park
Couple above Serenity Falls
It’s hard to believe you’re just 10 minutes’ drive from the beach as you walk through pockets of sub-tropical rainforest and pass cascading waterfalls in Buderim Forest Park.
17. Go paddock to plate at Mapleton Public House
Mapleton Public House
Dig into fermented potato flatbread served with macadamia butter and work your way through the paddock-to-plate inspired menu featuring black angus striploin or the confit suckling pig covered with actual cheese broth at the historic Mapleton Public House.
18. Do a wine tasting at Flame Hill Vineyard
Perched on one of the highest points in Montville, Flame Hill Vineyard is the perfect place to kick back with a vino (or two) and dig into a local cheese platter while you soak in the views over the estate’s vines.
19. Go farm to fork with Creative Tours
This hinterland ‘farm-to-fork’ tour takes you behind the scenes of private farms to meet local producers, hear their stories and sample amazing local produce, before tucking into a hearty lunch featuring the produce you just saw.
20. Spirit House Cooking School
Regardless of whether you’re a seasoned pro in the kitchen or not, Spirit House Cooking School will give you a complete understanding of Asian ingredients and cooking methods. It also includes a feed and wine—win!
21. Stock up on cheese at Maleny
Maleny Cheese Picnic
In the late 1800s, Maleny was a hub of dairy production, with small farmers and creameries dotting the countryside. Maleny's first cheese factory was established in 190[KR1] , and today, Maleny and cheese go hand-in-hand. Taste your way through some of the best with visits to Maleny Cheese and Maleny Food Co.
22. Go gin tasting
No trip to the Sunshine Coast is complete without a visit to some of our local distilleries, including Sunshine and Sons who craft their gin using a blend of locally sourced botanicals like lemon myrtle and finger lime. BeachTree Distilling Co whose Organic Koala Gin won gold in the 2022 World Gin Awards.
23. Explore Australia’s Craft Beer Capital
Brouhaha tasting paddle
Fun fact, the Sunshine Coast is home to more craft breweries per capita than any state or territory in Australia, earning us the official title of Australia’s Craft Beer Capital. From hoppy IPAs to crisp lagers, the region's breweries are producing some of the country’s best craft beer so jump on a tour or follow our craft beer map to get a proper taste.
24. Channel your green thumb at Queensland Garden Expo
Stilt walkers at the Queensland Garden Expo, Nambour
The Queensland Garden Expo – held from 7-9 July - is the must-see event for gardeners and outdoor enthusiasts from all over Australia. Held annually in the Sunshine Coast hinterland, this three-day event is a celebration of all things green and growing, with more than 360 exhibitors showcasing the latest in gardening tools, plants, and outdoor living products.
25. Discover Noosa Alive Festival
With outdoor stages and multiple pop-up installations, there's always something new and exciting to discover at Noosa Alive Festival (21-30 July). Discover the unique blend of creativity and natural beauty that Noosa offers, whether you're a seasoned culture vulture or a first-time festival-goer, Noosa Alive is an unforgettable experience.
26. Eat your way through The Curated Plate
The Curated Plate
The Curated Plate is the Sunshine Coast’s leading food festival that brings together some of the world's most talented chefs and local producers. The festival – which runs from 28 July – 6 August - offers a series of culinary events, from intimate masterclasses to epic food and craft beer experiences, all set against the stunning backdrop of the region's beaches, forests and farms.
27. Watch intimate performances at Horizon Festival
Horizon Festival: credit Nic Morley and Horizon Festival
At its core Horizon Festival is deeply connected to place, looking to share the stories and artwork of the First Nations people of the Sunshine Coast through visual arts and theatre, music and dance. Featuring both established and emerging artists, Horizon Festival (25 August – 3 September) showcases the best local talent alongside internationally acclaimed acts including everything from large-scale installations to intimate performances, workshops and talks.
28. Dust off your cowboy boots and head to Gympie Music Muster
Held annually in the rolling hills of the Mary Valley, this four-day festival (24-27 August) is a true celebration of all things country. With multiple stages hosting the best in local and international country music, as well as a packed program of workshops, markets and other activities, there's something for everyone at the Gympie Music Muster.
29. Celebrate diversity at The Rangebow Festival
This glitter-filled carnival (10-13 August) boasts drag workshops, drag runways, drag pageants and hey, even drag story time for the little ones. Under the themes of diversity, inclusiveness, sustainability and reconciliation, The Rangebow Festival celebrates the creative life and spirit of the Blackall Range communities.
30. Sip ice cold brews at Sunshine Sounds
At Sunshine Sounds music festival (2-3 September) you’ll find performances of all-ages with plenty of local flair and community injected into every aspect of the event, making it a perfect day out run for the whole family.