Day one: flying high on water
Start your beachside vacay in Maroochydore – located in the heart of the Sunshine Coast.
For the ultimate in coastal views, take to the skies with Paradise Seaplanes who take off from the Maroochy River before jetting over the coastline for unobstructed views of the Sunshine Coast below.
Or you can fly on water. Kite surfing is a combination of wakeboarding, windsurfing, surfing, paragliding, and gymnastics all in one extreme sport. Harness wind power to propel across the water, or up and over waves, with Maroochydore Beach and the river mouth connecting to Cotton Tree is the perfect spot to give it a go.
SUP. It could be jargon for ‘what’s up’, but on the Sunshine Coast it stands for Stand Up Paddling Boarding, an ancient form of surfing that has taken the world by storm. Maroochydore River offers calm waters for first-timers and learners. Hire a stand-up paddleboard or take a lesson with Paddle Days.
If you prefer to be the captain, you can skim over the Maroochy River and around Chambers Island with your own craft from Swan Boat Hire, throw in a line to catch your own lunch or hire one of the barbecue cruisers for up to 12 people. They also rent a range of kayaks and canoes.
Splashing about can work up an appetite and we recommend lunch with a view at the iconic Maroochy Surf Club. At night, the vibrant Ocean Street is a hive of activity with a number of restaurants, bars and live music. The new Maroochy CBD is also home to a couple of hot new restaurants, open for lunch or dinner.
Maroochydore, Cotton Tree and surrounds has plenty of options to rest your head. There is hotels, self-contained apartments and caravan parks in enviable beachside positions. Top tip – check out retro throwback, Loea Boutique Hotel.
Day two: whale of a time
Whales travelling past the Sunshine Coast
More than 35,000 majestic humpback whales migrate through Sunshine Coast waters from June to October.
And Mooloolaba is the place to set out on your whale adventure, with the destination the first in Australia to offer a swim with whales experience. Book in this once-in-a-lifetime encounter with Sunreef Mooloolaba.
If you prefer whale watching there is a range of boats offering different tours to get up close with these curious creatures such as Sunshine Coast Afloat or Whale One.
The Sunshine Coast is also home to a new Cultural Whale Watching Tour! Two operators Saltwater Eco Tours and Adventure Rafting have joined forces so you can experience the magic of whale watching from an entirely new perspective.
The two-hour whale watching and wildlife tour is led by local Indigenous guides who share their ancient stories, and deep connections to these majestic ocean dwellers as they migrate along our beautiful coastline.
Whale watching vessel Coastal Express allows everyone to have a front row seat, while the state-of-the-art underwater HD cameras and hydrophone allows you to see and hear the whales sing and play.
Mooloolaba is also home to some of the best seafood in Australia, with trawlers carrying spanner crab, export grade tuna, Mooloolaba prawns and swordfish returning to Mooloolaba harbour each morning.
Enjoy takeaway fish and chips from The Spit Mooloolaba or head down to The Wharf Mooloolaba – a destination in itself with water views, eclectic retail, delicious restaurants, bars, entertainment and adventure tour experiences.
There are plenty of accommodation options to suit every budget but why not spoil yourself and stay in some luxury 5-star digs with incredible water views at Oceans Mooloolaba or Sea Pearl Resort Mooloolaba.
Day three: views and brews
Relaxing at Point Cartwright
It’s a beach-lover’s paradise! From Point Cartwright in the north to Currimundi Lake in the south, Kawana Beach at nine kilometres long is one of the Sunshine Coast’s longest stretches of sand. You will find lots of open space to relax, lap up the sun or surf like a local.
There’s no shortage of picturesque walking trails to explore, the pathways weaving around the coastline to offer picturesque views and plenty of options to stop for a swim or throw in a line.
Pack a picnic to enjoy at La Balsa Park on Mooloolah River, before following the path that winds through the nearby Point Cartwright Lighthouse Reserve. High cliffs in the coastal headland provide spectacular views of Mooloolaba, the Mooloolah River mouth, Mount Coolum to the north and Kawana Beach to the south.
These days, you’ll find the Sunshine Coast boasts just as many craft breweries as it does surf breaks. Beyond the beach, you can quench your thirst at popular hangouts in the area such as Kawana Waters Hotel or sip on local frothy creations at Your Mates Brewing Co or Malt Shovel Taphouse.
To really round out your visit and for the best in entertainment and eats; head to the street-food night market destination – NightQuarter. Located in Birtinya and open Friday and Saturday from 4pm to 10pm, this new attraction has food stalls galore, cultural festivals and live gigs.