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The ultimate Sunshine Coast family road trip

The ultimate Sunshine Coast family road trip

There’s nothing like hitting the open road and exploring places you’ve never been before with those you love the most.

The ultimate Sunshine Coast family road trip
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Ice cream at The Wharf, Mooloolaba

With the arrival of spring bringing the warmer weather and mother nature at her finest, now is the perfect time to grab some yummy snacks, pile into the car, crank the playlist and take a family road trip on the Sunshine Coast.

To steer you in the right direction, we’ve put together an itinerary to make sure you see and experience the very best the Sunshine Coast has to offer.

Day 1: Caloundra to Mooloolaba

Kick off your road trip in Caloundra – the Sunshine Coast’s southern belle - with a dip at Golden Beach or hang ten in the surf at Kings Beach.

Kings Beach pool, Caloundra
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Kings Beach pool, Caloundra

If the littlies are looking to let off some steam, Kings has an impressive beachside water park where the kids can splash around while you ease into your day with a coffee in hand.

Stock up on pastries from The Pastry Lab, before taking to the water on a BBQ Pontoon with Bills Boat Hire, an awesome way to check out the pristine waters of the Pumicestone Passage and the natural wonders of Bribie Island National Park.

Pumicestone Passage at Caloundra
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Pumicestone Passage at Caloundra

Caloundra’s Queensland Air Museum will keep you entertained for hours – as will NightQuarter where you can indulge in street eats and festival vibes from Friday to Saturdays – before piling into the car and heading north to Mooloolaba and SEA LIFE Sunshine Coast.

This much-loved aquarium is a hit with kids and adults alike and boasts an 80m Ocean Tunnel and a delightful colony of Little Blue Penguins.

SEA LIFE Sunshine Coast, Mooloolaba
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SEA LIFE Sunshine Coast, Mooloolaba

After a busy day, it’s time to sit down with the family and tuck into some seriously delicious local food- think fresh Mooloolaba prawns, Hinterland dairy and organic produce.

The revamped The Wharf Mooloolaba is teeming with lively eateries, restaurants and bars – making it the perfect place to tuck in and soak up the waterside views.

Lunch at The Wharf, Mooloolaba
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Lunch at The Wharf, Mooloolaba

Rest your head after a jam-packed first day at Newport Mooloolaba, a chic seaside stay with the option of one, two and three-bedroom self-contained apartments.

Day 2. Maleny & Montville

The Sunshine Coast might be known for its soft white beaches, surfing and fishing, but no holiday here is complete without checking out the region’s leafy backyard.

The stunningly green Sunshine Coast Hinterland is packed with charming towns just waiting to be explored.

So today, turn up the tunes and head 40 minutes west for a truly enchanting day out. Your first stop? Montville and Maleny.

Explore Montville town - including a cheeky visit to Fudgyboombahs for some decadent homemade fudge – before heading out for a peaceful paddle on a kayak at the tranquil Baroon Pocket Dam.

Feeling peckish? The Hinterland is known for its award-winning dairy so make sure to stop in for the ultimate cheese fix at Maleny Cheese,before takinga hike around Mary Cairncross Scenic Reserve , a  lush 55-hectare National Estate-listed subtropical rainforest overlooking the Glass House Mountains. Finish the day by meeting the birds and soaking up the natural beauty at Maleny Botanic Gardens & Bird World.

Maleny Botanic Gardens & Bird World
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Maleny Botanic Gardens & Bird World

If you’re looking to stay the night, Altitude on Montville offer one-, two-, and three-bedroom apartments – perfect for the family.

Day 3: Coolum to Noosa

For some seriously Insta-worthy family snaps, head back to the coastline and kick off Day Three with a hike to the summit of the awe-inspiring volcanic dome that is  Mount Coolum.

Take in the views, which stretch from Double Island Point all the way to Caloundra (yep, it’s as magic as it sounds), and keep an eye out for the abundance of wildlife that call this place home.

Views of Coolum Beach
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Views of Coolum Beach

From there, live like a local and hit the waves at Coolum Beach.

Not Mick Fanning just yet? Don’t fear – the legends at Coolum Surf School will have your family shredding in the surf in no time.

After lunch at one of the bustling eateries on Coolum esplanade, hop in the car and head north toNoosa National Park, where on any given day you can spot turtles and dolphins off the coastline, or if you’re lucky, a sleepy koala nestled high in the trees.

Walk along clifftops with unbelievable coastal views and wind through lush rainforest and woodlands.

Kids not into walking? Bribe them with a scenic ride on Noosa Ferry before a feast of fish and chips by Noosa River.

After a cracking day of exploring, you’ll deserve a blissful night’s sleep atRACV Noosa Resort. which has its very own heated lagoon pool – trust us, the kids will love it.

Day 4: Gympie & Rainbow Beach

Last but certainly not least, is the final leg of your epic Sunshine Coast road trip.

Head north to Gympie for a ride on the Mary Valley Rattler, an adventure on a beautifully restores C17 steam train from the Historic Gympie Station through the rolling green hills of the Mary Valley and quaint town of Dagun.

The Mary Valley Rattler rolling through the Mary Valley
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The Mary Valley Rattler rolling through the Mary Valley

Make the kids’ year with a visit to Tin Can Bay, where you can hand-feed rare wild Australian humpback dolphins at the Barnacles Dolphin Centre.

Finish your ultimate family road trip on a high with a visit to Rainbow Beach where you can live out your bucket list dreams on horseback n this veritable outdoor playground.

Double Island Point
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Double Island Point

Surf, fish, 4WD and watch the sunset at Carlo Sandblow. before heading to the Big 4 at Rainbow Beach to check into one of their brand-new cabins.

As you fall asleep to the gentle lap of the nearby water, you’ll no doubt already be dreaming of your next Sunshine Coast road trip.