9 things to do in winter on the Sunshine Coast

9 things to do in winter on the Sunshine Coast

With an average winter temperature of 22ºC, you won't need a scarf and overcoat to appreciate the cool charms of the Sunshine Coast.

9 things to do in winter on the Sunshine Coast

1. Close encounters of the humpback kind

Between June and November, more than thirteen thousand humpback whales make their annual journey to warmer climes - with many stopping to enjoy the waters just off Mooloolaba. Winter is the ideal time for an unforgettable close encounter of the humpback kind. Sunreef’s four hour Whale Swim tours depart daily from Mooloolaba from July.  It’s just a lickety-split 10 minute ride from the marina on the Easy 2 to pods of breaching, fin slapping and water spouting whale action. Pull on that wetsuit and dive right in! If you’d rather keep your toes dry, admire these magnificent creatures from a boat deck -  Sunshine Coast Afloat and Whale One are your go-to whale watching cruise experts.

3.  Come on in, the water’s fine and heated all year round

Yes, the bubbles are hot and the champagne is cold. From roof top spas with spectacular ocean and hinterland views to riverside jacuzzis fringed with palm trees and exotic flowers, the Sunshine Coast boasts an enviable selection of heated pools and spas with epic views. Don't forget to pack your swimmers and sunscreen. 

4. Hinterland hiking

With an average beach winter temperature of 20°C on the Sunshine Coast, you’ll need to head to the cooler climes of the Sunshine Coast Hinterland if you want to rock that beanie you picked up at Eumundi Markets. Whatever your level of fitness, there’s an easy trail or next-level hike for you in the Sunshine Coast Hinterland. Breathe deep on that crisp mountain air while rambling along trails of native forest, waterfalls and scenic lookouts. If you feel like an easy stroll, head to Mary Cairncross Scenic Reserve, in Maleny or Fig Tree Walk at Kenilworth and wander the boardwalk and bush track through the sub-tropical rainforest. Or explore Mapleton Falls National Park, where the walk to the lookout with its panoramic view of the waterfall, rainforest valley and Obi Obi Valley, is just a short walk from the car park. Something more challenging? Lace up your walking boots and turn your wheel towards Kondalilla National Park, celebrated for its stunning waterfall, rock pools and freshwater creeks, Conondale National Park, renowned for its magnificent forests, deep gorges and spectacular scenery, or climb Mount Ngungun at sunrise in the Glass House Mountains. 

5. Cook up a storm

The wonderful local produce available on the Sunshine Coast attracts top chefs, so it’s no surprise you'll find brilliant cooking schools and classes across the region. A holiday is the perfect time to don your apron and learn the tricks of the trade from the best - so book a class at one of the highly-acclaimed cooking schools. The award-winning Spirit House in Yandina holds regular classes where you can hone your Asian food skills in a seafood banquet or ‘one bowl wonder’ group class. The Cooking School in Noosa offers both private and group cooking classes taught leading chefs including a ‘pasta masterclass’ and a ‘Noosa regional food’ menu. If you really feel the cold, then warm up at Red Hot Chilli Pepper in Caloundra, which specialises in super spicy Mediterranean and Moroccan cuisines. 

6. Pick your own strawberries

Pick your own in-season produce and enjoy straight from the paddock – it doesn’t get much fresher than that! Strawberries become ripe for the picking in May and you’ll find plenty of places to sample this delicious fruit on the Sunshine Coast.  Bring the whole family to McMartins Farm and Ice Creamery, a family farm in Bli Bli where you can pick fresh strawberries and then relax with a Devonshire tea served with scrumptious home-made strawberry jam or traditional strawberries and ice cream. You can also pick from the patch at Strawberry Fields in Palmview, famed for their juicy and extra large strawberries, or venture to the award-winning Cooloola Berries in Gympie to enjoy freshly picked strawberries and blueberries as well as jams, balsamic vinegars and berry ice creams.

7. Wine tasting

The cooler weather lends itself to a glass (or two) of red, which always goes down a treat when paired with a local cheese. So, leave the coastline in your rear view and mosey up to Flame Hill Vineyard in Montville where you can sip and sample the estate-grown Shiraz and other varietals in the tasting lounge, settle in for a paddock-to-plate long lunch in front of a wood-burning fire, or stroll the grounds with a picnic and be warmed by the winter sun. (TIP: Flame Hill also does an awesome Sunday brunch). Also in the Hinterland is Maleny Mountain Wines, where you can taste and purchase quality vino from the inside of an 8 metre high barrel-style showroom. The ‘Big Barrel’ also serves up a cracking selection of hearty winter fare with everything from generous platters of local cheese, chutneys and pickles to big, house-made beef burgers that’ll hit your hungry spot into next week.

8. Take a tour

The Sunshine Coast has a fleet of designated drivers just waiting to whisk you off on a tour of the region. Like beer? Enjoy views, brews and a behind the scenes tours of the thriving craft beer scene with Sunshine Coast Craft Beer Tours. Want to feel like a local?  Contact Freedom Trail and they’ll take you hiking in the Glass House Mountains or to a local music events such as ‘Peregian Originals’. Something different? Buckle up for a scenic tour in a Kombi with Kombi Celebrations, or get up close to nature on a tour with Experientia take off from the Maroochy River and enjoy jaw-dropping views of the Sunshine Coast from the air in a Paradise Seaplane, or join a 4WD tour up to Double Island Point with Great Beach Drive 4WD Tours.

9. Retail therapy

The largest shopping centre on the Sunshine Coast is Sunshine Plaza in Maroochydore. Flex your credit card at some of the centre's 220 specialty stores, which include leading fashion chains, bookshops, giftshops and a Myer department store. Built across Cornmeal Creek, the centre’s ‘riverwalk’ is lined with eateries serving up delicious nosh from breakfast ‘til late in the evening – the perfect place for late-night hangs after catching a movie at the centre’s Event Cinemas.

Fans of luxury shopping are spoiled for choice when visiting the Sunshine Coast. Enjoy a premium shopping experience in Hastings Street in Noosa Heads, a renowned retail (and restaurant) strip specialising in local and international fashion labels, high-end leisurewear and quality gift shops. Peregian Beach Village (15 minutes south of Noosa) is a tree-lined retail delight that’s big on coastal charm and features a range of specialty shops that are proudly non-mainstream. Lovers of antique and fine jewellery will be smitten with the exquisite range of vintage style baubles at Avenue J Couture in Mooloolaba (underneath Mantra Zanzibar). From Edwardian diamond and pearl ‘bow’ rings to art deco diamond ear rings, Avenue J is THE place to source some timeless bling.

In need of a little retail therapy that doesn’t involve chain stores and shopping malls?  You’ll find a myriad of up-and-coming designer fashions, funky jewellery, one-off ceramic creations and unique gift ideas for that impossible-to-buy-for friend at markets right across the Sunshine Coast. The Original Eumundi Markets are held each Wednesday and Saturday under the shade of a magnificent Oak in the centre of Eumundi village. Spend a morning on a stroll through the quirky stalls, sample the delicious food and relax in the sunshine to the sounds of the talented buskers – it’s truly a cultural experience.   Cotton Tree Markets (Sundays 7 am to 12 pm) feature local artisans, designers and inventors selling one-of-a-kind wares. Soak up the friendly atmosphere, grab yourself a freshly brewed coffee and head to Cotton Tree beach post-shop for some relaxing beach time. The Caloundra Street Fair (Sundays 8 am to 1 pm) is held under the canopy of the tree-lined main street, surrounded by cafés, boutiques and speciality shops. There are more than 200 stalls to explore featuring handcrafted goods, arts and crafts as well as delicious food and fresh flowers. 

Eumundi markets family walking hero

Eumundi markets family walking hero

If you’re a fan of vintage, then put Nambour on your shopping list to discover original items and treasures from times past. Nambour has a flourishing retro scene with more than 22 op shops and vintage fashion stores, as well as collectable vinyl and comic book retailers. There are also cafés serving delicious, locally sourced fare and fair trade coffee. When beer o’clock strikes, pull up a bar stool at The Basement and sample winning craft ales and ciders from brew masters, Your Mates Brewing Co.

10. Bliss out with a spa session

After all that touring, feasting and shopping (poor you!) - you may be in need of a little extra pampering. Get thee to a day spa, recline on the therapist’s table and let those magic fingers and treatments hydrate your winter skin back to its sparkly best, or, jump into a heated spa for a hydrotherapy session and let the bubbles soak away the cares of the world.

If those “I’ve just climbed Mount Ngungun” muscles need some TLC, book a session with a recommended massage therapist, for a remedial, Swedish or Thai massage - and if you can’t make it to the studio they’ll come to you.  

Spa Anise in Spicer's Tamarind Retreat's treatment room.

11. Winning attractions

You’re guaranteed hours of endless fun at Sunshine Coast attractions. Visit Australia Zoo to get up close to cheeky wombats, cuddly koalas or rascally lemurs – don’t miss the midday Wildlife Warriors show in the Crocoseum featuring some of the zoo’s favourite animal stars. SEA LIFE Sunshine Coast has thousands of fascinating marine creatures to discover and you can take swim with a seal or a shark dive. During school holidays, have a family sleep over in the underwater tunnel and see what the marine critters get up to when the sun goes down. Head to Aussie World for bird’s eye view of the Sunshine Coast from atop the Ferris wheel or practise your circle work on the dodgem cars. If you'd rather keep your feet on the ground, then stroll the stunningly landscaped gardens at the Ginger Factory and enjoy a meal made from locally-sourced produce in the fully licenced Ginger Café. 

Take a turn in Aussie World's Ferris wheel