From lush rainforest landscapes to pristine coastlines, hinterlands and beyond, there’s no doubt that the humble road trip is one of the greatest ways to explore the beautiful Sunshine Coast.
Glass House Mountains
Armed with a loose itinerary, a cracking playlist and the freedom to stop and start whenever you please, road trips are our favourite way to travel and discover hidden gems. The only firm decision to be made is which direction you want to head. Which is where we come in.
So, if you’ve been dreaming of hitting the road and getting your adventure on, here’s four of the absolute best road trips to take on the Sunshine Coast.
If you’re looking for a road trip on the longer end of the scale, then the Great Beach Drive is for you—a 380km off-the-beaten-track adventure that starts from Noosa north shore. The clincher here is that you’ll need a 4WD for the ride but trust us, it’s worth the wrangling because this is absolutely one of the most beautiful road trips on the Sunshine Coast. The journey will take you through not one but two UNESCO Biospheres alongside the sparkling Pacific Ocean, where on any given day you can spot turtles, dolphins or even humpback whales during migration season.
Dive in along the Great Sandy highway
Kick it off in Noosa, before hitting the great sandy highway north to Rainbow Beach.
Along the way stop off at Teewah Beach—the entry point to the UNESCO Great Sandy biosphere—for the night for some of the best beachside camping you’ll ever experience, before continuing on to Double Island Point, perfect for surfing.
Next you’ll drive along the coloured sands of Rainbow Beach - which were stained over thousands of years by iron-rich minerals - to Inskip Point which is the gateway to K'gari (Fraser Island), home of the Butchulla people.
Great Sandy highway north to Rainbow Beach
Rainbow Beach Coloured Sands, Great Beach Drive, Rainbow Beach
For one of the most scenic and stunning road trips on the Sunshine Coast, put Blackall Range Tourist Drive to the top of your list. Spanning nearly 150km this trip will see you take in quaint country towns, wind through the mountains and score jaw-dropping views of the valleys and coast below. Kicking off in Mooloolaba, make tracks to the Glass House Mountains stopping at Mary Cairncross Scenic Reserve. Comprising of 55 hectares of subtropical rainforest, take a moment to zen out and take in mother nature in all her glory. Pro tip: pack a picnic for this special spot, you won’t regret it.
The Summit Of Mt Ngungun, Glass House Mountains
Next make your way to Maleny, an adorable dairy town home to some epic eats like Maleny Food Co., Brouhaha Brewery and Maleny Cheese. Post food coma, it is time to move on to Montville. Founded in 1887, this historic town is perched on the edge of the Blackall Range. Treat yourself to a night at Montville Oceanview Cottages and spend the rest of your time there exploring the town’s art galleries and boutiques.
Exploring The Streets Of Montville Outside The Montrose, Montville
Next up, head to Kondalilla Falls Lookout. Stretch your legs with the Kondalilla Falls Circuit (a 4.8km return walk) and cool off with a dip in the rockpools. Now it’s time for your final destination—Mapleton Falls National Park. Keen walkers will want to try the Wompoo Circuit—a 1.3km walk that boasts views of Mapleton Falls and Obi Obi Valley. Spend the night at The Lodge Mapleton Falls and the next morning it’s time to return to Mooloolaba. Or just extend your day—we don’t blame you.
Maleny Lane On Maple Street, Maleny
Boasting so much pristine coastline, it would be remiss not to load up your caravan and check out one of Queensland's most beautiful road trips—the coastal drive. Start at the base of the Sunshine Coast in the gorgeous Caloundra and take the Nicklin Way north. Cruise through Kawana Waters and stop at the surf club for a parmy and a stroll along the coastline. Next it’s time to head to Mooloolaba where you’ll park the caravan at Mooloolaba Beach Holiday Park. Cool off with a dip at the beach (the holiday park has direct access) then enjoy one of the best meals of your life at Riceboi at the Wharf Mooloolaba (the Kung Pao calamari is a must). The next morning, grab a pastry from Kenilworth Country Bakery’s new Mooloolaba digs and hit the road.
Stop off at Alexandra Headland for a swim and stroll to stretch the legs before following the banks of the South Maroochy River. The views are straight up breathtaking here so make sure your phone is charged for pics. Continue on the Sunshine Motorway north and take the Marcoola exit to discover one of the Sunshine Coast’s most stunning slices of beachside paradise. From there you can cruise to Coolum Beach and set up camp (or your caravan) at Coolum Beach Holiday Park located conveniently right next to the surf club.
First Bay, Coolum Beach
Get your body moving (and work off those pastries) by climbing Mt Coolum, a 25-million-year-old laccolith. From there, you’ll cruise through the seaside towns of Peregian and Castaways Beach before finishing up at Sunshine Beach. Spanning only 55km in total, you can enjoy this road trip in as little as a few hours or in our humble opinion, make the most of it by spreading it out over a few days.
So you want to fire up the playlists and explore some of the Sunshine Coast's lesser known back roads, but are short on time? Then this beautiful road trip from Yandina to Eumundi has your name written all over it.
Yandina Station, Yandina
Starting in Yandina, wander the postcard perfect Saturday morning markets, fuelling up on a cup of the good stuff from Lawn Espresso. Vintage lovers should also carve out some time (i.e lose hours) perusing the Collective Haus, home to vintage and mid-century furniture, rugs and clothing. Once you’ve given your credit card a run, it’s time to get behind the wheel and head down Old Gympie Road which will soon turn into Cooloolabin Road. Eventually you’ll turn onto Buckby Road which is unsealed so you’ll need to ensure your car can handle it. Follow this along and head to Point Glorious Lookout. Much like the name suggests, this lookout is straight up gorgeous boasting views of Mt Eewah. Trust us, the 3km return walk is absolutely worth it.
The Original Eumundi Markets, Eumundi
From there you’ll want to cruise back along Buckby Road and head north until you get to Eumundi-Kenilworth Road. Then it’s all about rolling the windows down, soaking up the scenery and fresh air until you arrive at Eumundi. This quirky town is full of epic eats and places to stay but we recommend checking out Bask for a long lunch, that will take you straight to Italy and stopping for a beer at the iconic Joe’s Waterhole Hotel. If you want to extend your stay (you do), head to the newly opened HOLA Eumundi or if you’ve got a caravan the Eumundi RV Stopover is the perfect spot to set up.