Forget feeling the sand between your toes and discover the best spots to dive, snorkel and paddle around the coast. No matter your skill level, the Sunshine Coast really does have it all - with pristine beaches and warm sub-tropical waters to boot.
Dive: Ex-HMAS Brisbane
Arguably one of the world’s best wreck sites, the Ex-HMAS Brisbane, a decommissioned guided missile destroyer, is located just 2.9 nautical miles off the coast of Mooloolaba.
The ship was scuttled in July 2005 and the 133-metre wreck is sitting upright on her keel, lodged in sand 27 metres below sea level. The main decks sit at a depth of 15 metres with the ship's funnel only three metres below the surface making it accessible for both beginner divers and offering something for those more experienced as well.
The artificial reef is part of the HMAS Brisbane Conservation Park, managed by the Queensland Parks and Wildlife Service, and is teeming with sea life like clown fish, colourful wrasse, octopi, lionfish and turtles.
Photo: @pressureproject @adamsellarsfreediver
SUP: Pumicestone Passage
The body of water that separates Bribie Island from the mainland – Pumicestone Passage - is a hidden gem for Stand-Up Paddle Boarding. Stretching for 35kms from the southern end of the Caloundra bar to Deception Bay this marine park is a narrow, shallow estuary, encompassing a meandering system of channels, sand banks and islands.
The best part or a nice paddle here? The beautiful Glasshouse Mountains are your backdrop in the distance as you explore the passage.
Deck yourself out with a Stand-Up Paddle Board from Bill’s Boat and Bike Hire or Golden Beach Hire and enjoy! If you want to go a bit faster - why not try a jetski tour?
Snorkel: Mudjimba Island
Also known as Old Woman Island, this spot just offshore is home to an abundance of marine life including dolphins, turtles, stingrays, crayfish, wobbegongs, eels, and starfish. The best snorkelling is on the western side of the island where there’s a massive ledge of vibrant coral, and where large schools of fish reside. We challenge to you to find Nemo!
The reef is only 3-5 metres below the surface – perfect for snorkelling - and you can find beautiful hard and soft corals.
If you can’t make your own way out there, Sunreef run snorkelling trips out to the island that include all the gear hire.
SUP: Cotton Tree
Paddleboard at Cotton Tree
Flanked by the sandy banks of the Maroochy River to the north and the beaches of the Pacific Ocean to the west, Cotton Tree is a protected oasis made for SUPing.
You can park at the Cotton Tree swimming pool and just in front of the caravan park you will find paddle boarding heaven - the flat water and the stunning surrounds rank Cotton Tree as one of the best SUP locations on the Sunshine Coast.
For the more advanced SUP'er, you might be able to catch a few waves at the river mouth.
Dive: Jew Shoal
A short boat trip along the beautiful Noosa River and then a one-minute boat ride out into the Laguna Bay brings you to Jew Shoal. Here you will find hiding under the surface a large reef complex of ridges, canyons and bommies.
As you meander through the caves, expect to see reef fish including angelfish, butterflyfish, surgeonfish, globefish, rabbitfish, soapfish, morwong, sweetlip and bream. There are plenty of ledges, walls, and crevices to explore.
Here is a good place to find as many nudibranchs as you can!
SUP: Lake Baroon
Tucked between Maleny and Montville in the Sunshine Coast hinterland, Baroon Pocket Dam is hidden in a private valley and is a beautiful spot for a freshwater paddle.
SUP along surrounded by rainforests packed full of wildlife and uninterrupted by the sound and swell from jet skis and powerboats - Lake Baroon only permits electric powered boats and paddle craft. We can’t imagine a more serene spot for some peaceful time on the water.
This one is a snorkel with a difference. Sunreef takes you up close and personal with humpback whales just 20 minutes off Mooloolaba from June to October.
Once the whales are spotted, you get to pop on your snorkel, jump off the boat and take a leap into the deep ocean water to meet with these beautiful giants face to face.
Every day is different on the water, and every encounter is unique. The experience is unparalleled and definitely one you will never forget.
SUP: Currimundi Lake
Currimundi Lake is doubly blessed with spectacular beaches and the natural lake connected to a long, unspoilt stretch of surf beach. At high tide, the lake here meets the ocean and no motorised watercraft are permitted on the lake, which makes the calm, flat waters of the area, perfect for SUP'ing.
Once up on your board you can follow the Currimundi Lake Trail on a safe, sheltered 6km paddle through urban and bushland areas fringed with paperbarks and she-oaks.
SUP: Noosa River
For the flat water SUP'er, Noosa River is your go-to spot, with pristine crystal-clear water, sandy beaches and wildlife.
You can stay close to shore or take off for an adventure in either direction, either upriver or towards the ocean. Are you keen on a romantic sunset SUP? Then simply venture off to Gympie Terrace in Noosaville, pick any spot and paddle the Noosa River with the stunning sunset over Mt Cooroy.