Your guide to unforgettable up-close wildlife experiences on the Sunshine Coast

Swim with the whales - Sunreef Credit: Tourism Australia

Just an hour north of Brisbane, find a a unique blend of ocean, rainforest and mountain environments, the region offers unparalleled opportunities to get to know these creatures through hands-on, up close and personal experiences.

Australia Zoo

The home of the Steve Irwin, the Crocodile Hunter offers up not one but an array of animal encounters for the adventurous visitor. Included in the price of the ticket you can hand feed kangaroos and watch the crocs, birds of prey and more at the daily wildlife shows.

For that extra-special animal encounter, book in a personal session with a koala, wombats, echidnas, lemurs or even a giraffe. Be careful though, you are guaranteed to fall in love with at least one of them!  

Koala's at Australia Zoo

Koala's at Australia Zoo

The zoo also offers a behind-the-scenes look at the inspiring work they do for animal conservation at their Wildlife Hospital.

Swimming with humpback whales

Did you know that the Sunshine Coast was the first place in Australia where you could go swimming with humpback whales?

Swim with whales

Swim with whales

Watching these majestic creatures from afar is special enough, but from July to October each year, Sunreef Mooloolaba gives you the chance to be IN the water alongside the whales. Nothing can compare you for the size and grace of these incredible marine mammals and sharing their environment is an experience you won’t quickly forget.

Wildlife HQ

Located right next to the Big Pineapple at Woombye on the Sunshine Coast you will find Wildlife HQ. The wonderful thing about WHQ Zoo is that they offer 18 different animal encounters. This means you’ll be spoiled for choice whether you want a native cuddle or to just hang out with a group of friendly lemurs or meerkats. Just don’t forget the camera to capture and share your David Attenborough-esque animal encounter.


Maleny Botanic Gardens

Tucked inside Maleny Botanic Gardens you will find the gem that is Maleny Bird World.

The Bird Aviaries are a haven for colourful birds from around the world. Interact and get "up close and personal" with birds from finches to macaws via daily guided tours. Stand still inside the aviary and one of these incredible creatures may land on your arms and shoulders.

Finish your visit off by enjoying the spectacular views over the Glass House Mountains, out towards the coastline.

SEA LIFE Sunshine Coast

From their interactive touch-pool display to ducking under huge stingrays and sharks in the underwater tunnel, SEA LIFE in Mooloolaba immerses you in the underwater magic of the ocean at every turn.


After walking the tunnel and seeing all the sea creatures at play, visit the local Little Blue Penguins- For Real! The zone has been designed to closely resemble the natural habitat. The colony will be ambassadors for their species, playing a significant role in communicating SEA LIFE Sunshine Coast’s conservation values. Guests can learn about the lifecycle of a Little Penguin, what they eat, and how and why we can help protect them in the wild. 

Rainbow Beach Horse Ride

Combine a love of nature with a love of horses and you have the Beach Ride!

Ride on the soft white sands of Rainbow Beach with a stretch of pristine World Heritage listed National Park on one side and open coastline on the other.

Along the way, trot along the shoreline while enjoying views of heritage listed Fraser Island and the iconic coloured sands of Double Island Point.

All rides include riding instruction prior, as well as photos of the experience to take home with you.

Sunshine Coast Insiders Guide

If you'd prefer to take your Sunshine Coast trip planning offline and are looking for the inside scoop on what to see and do here, then look no further!

With inspiring imagery, bite-sized info and local recommendations, you'll be beaming from the inside out as you plan your trip.

View the Insiders Guide

Sunshine Coast Insiders Guide