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The Top 10 Things to do on the Sunshine Coast and Surrounds


One of South East Queensland's favourite escape destinations due to an overall laid-back atmosphere, an array of wonderful beaches and some incredible weather, the Sunshine Coast is a popular choice for those looking to take the family to a lovely natural spot without the excessive crowds that are common in many other holiday hotspots in the state.

The Sunshine Coast is as diverse as it is beautiful – home to an array of man-made and natural attractions, it's a location that provides a great balance of things to see and do; those who love the water will be in their element here, however the coast is just one of the region's highlights. There's a great hinterland area, vibrant markets, winding inland waterways and animal attractions that cover the spectrum of tourist activities in order to truly provide “something for everyone”. Voted by the public as one of the finalists in our annual Australia's Top 10 Destinations to Experience poll, the “Sunny Coast” is a viable destination all year round.

But if you're travelling to the Sunshine Coast for the first time, with such a diverse range of offerings, how should you best spend your time there? To lend a hand, we've put together a detailed list of the Top 10 Things to do on the Sunshine Coast and surrounds to ensure you get the most out of your trip to this South East QLD oasis.

10

Go Karting at the Big Kart Track

Big Kart Track Sunshine Coast

Location: 2310 Steve Irwin Way, Landsborough, QLD

One of the easiest go-to recommendations for those travelling to the Sunshine Coast with kids along for the ride, the Sunshine Coast's Big Kart Track is the largest commercial track in the country and features 1.2km of asphalt-laden surface on which to put your driving skills to the test. Capable of running up to 50 go-karts at any one time, the Big Kart Track can be found inland from the main coastal hubs of the Sunshine Coast (roughly a 20 minute drive from Caloundra) and sits amongst some pleasant Aussie bushland.

After arriving and booking in your go on the track – there are a variety of minute-based options available including 15, 30, and 60 minutes to choose from - you'll be given a briefing on driving techniques and safety from the friendly and enthusiastic staff, who are always careful to go into detail without being overly complicated for the kids taking part to follow. The large and spacious nature of the track means that first-timers will have plenty of room to manouevre while still providing the ability for faster drivers to pass without fear of collisions, making it a truly “family-friendly” option ideal for beginners or nervous drivers. Kids looking to get in on the driving action need to be at least 12 years of age to drive, and as long as they meet this and the minimum height requirements (152cm), they'll be presented with a great way to spend half a day.

"The large and spacious nature of the track means that first-timers will have plenty of room to manouevre while still providing the ability for faster drivers to pass without fear of collisions, making it a truly “family-friendly” option."

Karts at the Big Kart Track are both safe and well-maintained while still retaining a decent sense of speed, and the track itself is both very well constructed and kept in tip-top condition. The track offers a solid balance of corners and longer straights with the occasional hairpin, which can make for some fun challenges when tackled at higher speeds for the more experienced or daring drivers.

While it's perhaps not the cheapest activity around – and it's definitely a good idea to go at a time either earlier or later than the middle of the day as it can get quite hot in the warmer seasons – the Big Kart Track is a must for racing enthusiasts and families alike visiting the Sunshine Coast, particularly those with young teenagers. If you've ever wanted to try go-karting, there are few better places in Australia to take the plunge and do so.

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9

Visit Fraser Island with Fraser Island Discovery

Fraser Island Tours Sunshine Coast

Location: 186 Gympie Terrace, Noosaville, QLD

While not technically “in” the Sunshine Coast, the ability to travel to the amazing World Heritage-protected Fraser Island within the timeframe of a day trip should not be overlooked. Sitting roughly 150km from the Sunshine Coast, this incredible spot is the world's largest sand island and is renowned for its wild blend of natural beauty featuring endless stretches of golden beaches, colourful sand cliffs, array of lakes and sections of untouched rainforest teeming with life. Local Sunshine Coast tour operator Fraser Island Discovery specialise in bringing guests from the coast to the island, with a core focus put on beach driving aboard their incredibly tough, purpose-built 4WD vehicles – it's a trip that provides the chance to experience what many believe is the best beach drive in the world.

The island's iconic 75 Mile Beach – an absolutely beautiful stretch of beachfront that serves as a virtual “sand highway” (there are no true roads on Fraser Island) – is an expansive and impressive coastal offering that forms the backbone of the exploratory experience on Fraser. As you might guess from its name, this 75-mile-long expanse of sand is a standout and was named one of our Top 10 Beaches in Australia; 4WD vehicles take advantage of its length to whisk travellers from one natural highlight to the next, while those stopping to enjoy its offerings can take part in some world-class beach fishing, head inland for a dip in its iconic Champagne Pools, or grab a jar of multi-coloured sand from its bordering many-hued cliffs.

"Sitting roughly 150km from the Sunshine Coast, this incredible spot is the world's largest sand island and is renowned for its wild blend of natural beauty featuring endless stretches of golden beaches, colourful sand cliffs, array of lakes and sections of untouched rainforest."

The trip from the Sunshine Coast to Fraser Island is a long but rewarding one – morning departure times are bright and early, and they're a full and comprehensive “day tour” in every sense of the term. The standard 1 day tour itinerary will see you departing from one of the popular accommodation spots and heading across the Noosa River for a dose of National Park style scenery at Cooloola, receiving some detailed commentary on the local landmarks and highlights along the way. The trip then heads across to Fraser Island via ferry – a scenic little voyage that offers the chance to spot dolphins and various other marine life – before landing on the island proper and commencing a journey along 75 Mile and into the heart of the island's rainforest.

The opportunity to take a dip in the beautiful blue waters of freshwater-filled Lake Mackenzie is a welcome one, while Fraser Island's native wildlife also serves as an undoubted highlight. It's one of the only places in the country where travellers will be able to see dingoes in the wild, and when coupled with the stunning backdrop of the sand, comprehensive itinerary and host of inclusions (morning and afternoon tea, BBQ lunch, refreshments, accommodation transfers et al), it's one of the best bang-for-the-buck day tours that the greater Sunshine Coast region has to offer.
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8

Take a Cruise with Coastal Cruises Mooloolaba

Mooloolaba Cruises

Location: 123 Parkyn Parade, Mooloolaba, QLD

While the coastline is perhaps the most obvious star drawcard for visitors to the Sunshine Coast, be sure not to turn a blind eye to its inner waterways – the region boasts a wide network of rivers and canals that serve to provide an entirely new perspective that simply exploring the beach can't. It's in this regard that hopping aboard a vessel for a journey into its inner reaches truly shines, and few offer a better dose of this than Coastal Cruises Mooloolaba who provide water-borne adventures through a blend of harbour, river and canal environments aimed to showcase the best of two of the Sunshine Coast's major highlights - its sunsets and fresh local seafood.

Based out of the suburb of Mooloolaba's central wharf, the trips head out along the river mouth and out along the waterways with views reaching all the way down to Noosa's headland. During the cruise, the vessel winds its way on a leisurely course and features comprehensive commentary on the local bodies of water including prominent residents, marine life and more that strikes an ideal balance between being entertaining and informative. Along the way, the cruise stops at the fish markets at Mooloolaba's Spit to pick up a bevy of fresh seafood – those taking the lunch cruise option here will have the option of choosing between four different adult lunch meals (fish and chips, calamari, king prawns or a burger with sides), and also have the option to upgrade to a fully-fledged seafood platter featuring this aforementioned fresh catch.

"Few offer a better dose of relaxation than Coastal Cruises Mooloolaba who provide water-borne adventures through a blend of harbour, river and canal environments aimed to showcase the best of the Sunshine Coast's major highlights."

Along the way you'll travel along more man-made canals and get a firsthand look at some of the exclusive and gaudily ostentatious waterfront properties belonging to the rich and famous – some of the pricing figures paid for these pieces of real estate are truly staggering and some of the ritziest the Sunshine Coast has to offer. Add to this the chance to see marine life (dolphins can occasionally be seen jumping in the bay at the mouth of the river) and get some great snapshots of the glowing sun on the water if taking their sunset cruise option, and its a variety of spectacles on offer that prevents the trip from getting boring.

The ability to grab yourself a wine or other drinks on board from the licensed bar while watching this spectacle pass by is a welcome one, and the entire atmosphere of the cruise is made warm due to the attitudes of the friendly, helpful and jovial staff. Given that it's also great value to money – lunch cruises are priced at $35 with your choice of mains while sunset cruises are a mere $25, with both options lasting 90 minutes – there are few better and more relaxing ways to do a bit of Sunshine Coast sightseeing without having to tire your legs than this.

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7

The Ginger Factory

Ginger Factory Sunshine Coast

Location: 50 Pioneer Rd, Yandina, QLD

One of the Sunshine Coast's longest-running family attractions, the Ginger Factory at Yandina is actually far more interesting and upbeat than its name suggests. Far more than just a conveyor belt that cranks out ginger-related goods, the Ginger Factory is a veritable theme park of sorts in its own right – it's a complex that features tours, relaxed rides, good food and some lovely gardens all wrapped up in a decidedly ginger-y package. Obviously, this should all be prefaced with the disclaimer that if you don't like the taste of ginger, then you likely won't get the most out of your experience here, however there's enough non-taste-based entertainment so that even anti-ginger crusaders should find enough to keep them busy within the facility's increasingly-growing grounds.

The Ginger Factory sits along the Bruce Highway (the “main vein” road of the inner Sunshine Coast) and can be entered completely free of charge, with enough things to see and do within that can be enjoyed without paying a cent if you so choose. Kids will obviously get the most out of this – there's a decked-out playground that little ones will love, while simply exploring the expansive and exotic gardens is pleasantly enjoyable for all ages. The gardens are kept in great condition and are immaculately kept, and feature a range of tropical plant life and spacious grassed areas ideal for relaxing in the sun. There's a great range of food and ice cream on offer (featuring a variety of unique flavours made from seasonal Sunshine Coast produce), as well as a range of smaller stores which offer various trinkets and souvenirs.

"Far more than just a conveyor belt that cranks out ginger-related goods, the Ginger Factory is a veritable theme park of sorts in its own right – it's a complex that features tours, relaxed rides, good food and some lovely gardens."

To get the most out of your time at the Ginger Factory however, you'll likely have to reach into your wallet at least a little – the main “stars” of the show here are its two rides and its excellent ginger tour. At the bare minimum, it's highly recommended to hop aboard “Moreton”, the 100-year-old cane train that takes guests on a leisurely tour around the perimeter of the facility to a relaxed look at the grounds and gardens; this can be purchased standalone or as part of a package. Meanwhile the “Overboard” boat ride takes passengers on a miniature 'around the world' adventure as the vessel chases the gingerbread man that's sure to be a hit with younger kids. Likewise, the attraction's ginger factory tour is both interesting and detailed, providing a closer look at how ginger is made and packaged before culminating in some taste-testing, while the beekeeping and production show details the process behind that sweetest of syrups.

While each of these can be purchased individually, there's also the option to buy a combined pass that includes all of the above for a reduced price, and thus comes highly recommended if you're looking to spend a solid amount of time here. Far more than just your standard “tourist trap”, the Ginger Factory is a highway-stop style family attraction done right – even minor elements such as its cafe are surprisingly good, and the chance to buy all kinds of ginger-related sweets, powders and other goods makes for a day out that's sure to at least be a break from the norm for most families.

6

Top Shots Fun Park

Top Shots Fun Park Sunshine Coast

Location: 2 Allora Dr, Maroochydore, QLD

Another family-focused attraction in the Sunshine Coast's repertoire that provides great variety is Maroochydore's Top Shots Fun Park – it's a smallish park that's exceedingly clean and well organised which originally started as simple mini-golf yet has expanded over the years to become what is basically a small-scale theme park. Overall, Top Shots fills the balance between a mini-golf course, water park and outdoor activity centre quite nicely and as such offers good variety for a reasonable price, particularly when purchasing the unlimited ride pass which can be had for $30 (while there's no entrance fee, given that rides are the main focus you'll likely end up paying for this). Given that the rides typically have little to no waiting times except in the busiest of seasons, the kids will be able to spend the majority of their time actually enjoying the rides rather than waiting in queues that other large theme parks typically end up containing.

It's also an attraction that shines in summer, as its expansive lagoon pool featuring unique “blaster boats” offer the chance to get slightly wet and wild, with a nice setup that includes a man-made waterfall and on-board water cannons for additional friend-dousing power. Fun to drive and great for cooling off, they're one of the surefire highlights of Top Shots. Add to this the inflatable waterslide and you've got a small-scale substitute for a water park that provides opportunities for other activities as well. Other unique outdoor activities include the “Extreme Trampoline” that somehow walks the line between standard trampolining and abseiling, as guests are attached via a harness from above and given the freedom to spring as high as they are possibly able, and an outdoor rock climbing wall that is a good – yet tiring – exercise for the competitive visitor.

"Overall, Top Shots fills the balance between a mini-golf course, water park and outdoor activity centre quite nicely and as such offers good variety for a reasonable price."

The mini-golf courses are a standout as well, with two separate golfing courses that are both interestingly designed and well-maintained, with a number of challenging holes that will put your putting skills to the test. Each of these courses is covered to protect from both heat or drizzle, which is a nice touch and makes Top Shots Fun Park a viable destination on those rare Sunshine Coast days when it's not “beach weather”. Each of these courses are long enough that they take a fairly substantial amount of time to get through – particularly when playing with a decently sized group – so you never feel rushed or short-changed when playing a round, and of course you're free to repeat them as many times as you wish with the unlimited pass.

A tip of the cap must also go towards the park's staff, who are very friendly and helpful despite having the unenviable task of having to manage groups of raucous kids – as Top Shots is a popular destination for birthday parties, this could otherwise get out of hand. Other smaller features such as an arcade featuring a range of games as well as a cafe offering a decent amount of adequate food round out the offerings here. In the end, if you've got younger kids along for the ride they'll no doubt enjoy their time here, as there's enough variety to fill half a day or more depending on how willing you are to repeat certain rides or activities.

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5

Go Horse Riding with Equathon

Equathon Horse Riding

Location: Esplanade, Noosa North Shore, QLD

Exploring the Sunshine Coast can be done in a variety of ways, but there are few that exemplify the “natural” side of things than escaping the city or the sound of car engines and hopping on horseback. With both an expansive amount of beach and bushland to be had within its borders, the Sunshine Coast thus offers plenty of quality tracks and tails that are ideal for horse riding, and much-acclaimed local horse riding operator Equathon based out of Noosa are experts in providing this experience to both beginning and veteran riders alike. Horses are available to cater to for all levels of riding ability here, with temperaments selected to match their rider's degree of confidence.

Of course, the pleasant natural surrounds of the Sunshine Coast go a long way to making the experience enjoyable, but it's the friendly and warm attitudes of the staff that make the ride truly something to remember – a supportive atmosphere while surrounded by the wide open spaces and spectacle of both sand and sea makes for a top-notch horse ride. Couple this with the continuous conversation and banter from the hosts throughout, and it's as much a comprehensive tour of the Sunshine Coast as it is a simply enjoyable activity. Riding trips with Equathon start from introductory 1 hour beach rides and range all the way up to longer and extended multi-day riding experiences that also head into the Sunshine Coast hinterland, and which include delicious, freshly-prepared food.

"The pleasant natural surrounds of the Sunshine Coast go a long way to making the riding experience enjoyable, but it's the friendly and warm attitudes of the staff that make the ride truly something to remember."

The rides themselves can also be as upbeat or relaxed as you so choose; the goal here is always personalisation of the experience, and whether you prefer a simple leisurely walk along the coast or to kick things up a notch by hitting a trot or a canter, you're given the opportunity to do so upon request. The horses' attitudes and demeanours play a big part in this as well – they're incredibly compliant and responsive to the commands of their riders, and generally have passive dispositions so that very few things phase or startle them. This is an important factor as kids as young as 10 years old are able to take part in the beach rides, and more wild or temperamental horses could make things unsettling for little ones.

Horse riding lessons are also available with Equathon that are great for helping kids get the hang of the basic skills necessary for horse riding, or perhaps giving those adults who haven't ridden since they were children a refresher course on the finer points of saddlery. In all, the course along the Noosa North Shore (and into the hinterland and National Park should you choose a more extended option) is quite impressive in and of itself, but it's the blend of customer care, friendly attitudes, well-behaved horses and opportunities to customise the journey that make a horse ride here all the more special. Take your time, enjoy the beachfront, snap or pose for a few pictures along the way, and you'll come away from an Equathon ride with a huge smile on your face.

4

UnderWater World SEA LIFE Aquarium

UnderWater World Sunshine Coast

Location: Parkyn Parade, Mooloolaba, QLD

As mentioned in our introduction, the Sunshine Coast shines when it comes to animal attractions considering its relatively small population, with one of the prime examples of this being expansive aquarium UnderWater World SEA LIFE Mooloolaba. Having been in existence since back in 1989, it's been a staple attraction of the Sunshine Coast for a substantial amount of time yet has been continually revamped and renewed to stay fresh and modern while adding a number of exhibits and new sea creatures to form a comprehensive marine-viewing experience. The attraction is of a surprisingly high quality that competes – and even exceeds – that of similar aquariums in bigger cities around Australia, and puts an emphasis on interaction and education that ends up being great for both adults and kids alike.

Located in the Sunshine Coast suburb of Mooloolaba on the waterfront, UnderWater World provides the chance to look at numerous different facets of the underwater kingdom while hopefully learning something in the process – there are plenty of facts and opportunities to acquire some new knowledge dotted throughout, combined with a range of informative talks and demonstrations. There's a touch pool with the ability to get hands-on with some reef creatures, an otter presentation that goes into detail about these fun aquatic mammals, a detailed look at jellyfish and more. The undisputed highlight, however, is the wonderful seal show that's always a hit with the kids – it's great to see these intelligent creatures interact and perform, and the staff manage to stay enthusiastic and upbeat despite no doubt having repeated the same performance and jokes hundreds of times.

"The aquarium is of a surprisingly high quality that competes – and even exceeds – that of similar aquariums in bigger cities around Australia, with an emphasis on interaction and education."

Once arriving at the Isles you'll have them basically to yourselves other than your fellow travellers, and then be able to take part in your choice of two guided snorkelling tours – one beginner, another more advanced – and head straight into the highly accessible water for some reef exploration just off the island. Plentiful soft corals, clams, turtles and, of course, fish can be found immediately off shore, and those who would prefer to avoid getting wet can instead choose to laze in the sunshine and then take part in one of the offered glass bottom boat tours that provide not only great views but a guided, interpretive commentary on the reef as a whole.

On the exhibit side of things, the aquarium also shines – its key drawcard is its great walk-through tunnel that follows a path underneath the multi-million litre oceanarium that gives an up-close look at the likes of grey nurse and Wobbegong sharks, massive yet graceful stingrays, large turtles and numerous kinds of fish of varying colours and species. Couple this with some lovely displays of coral reef environments and sixteen different themed “zones” in total each highlighting a different part of the marine world, and there's more than enough to keep even those with the shortest attention spans occupied for several hours.

In addition, UnderWater World offers a range of optional animal experiences for those looking to directly interact with various animals – visitors have the chance to do a variety of experiences with the seals (including face-to-face encounters, swims and even a full-blown “trainer for a day” behind-the-scenes tour), while there are also shark snorkel and dive adventures for those brave enough to come face to face with these oceanic predators. Given the quality of the facility and the reasonable ticket prices given the quantity of things to see and do (tickets are cheaper when purchasing online rather than at the counter), plus the ability to receive a pass out to exit and enjoy lunch in one of the surrounding restaurants before returning, it's a solid all-round animal attraction that's one of the key items on any itinerary for Sunshine Coast first-timers.

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3

Maleny Botanic Gardens

Maleny Botanic Gardens Sunshine Coast

Location: 233 Maleny-Stanley River Rd, Maleny, QLD

The Maleny area of the Sunshine Coast's hinterland is perhaps the best overall showcase of the region's non-beach nature, and its lovely Botanic Gardens are a microcosm of this all contained within a single delightful hub. Set out over a spacious 14 hectare area, the gardens are nestled amongst some wonderfully lush rainforest surrounds and provide a stunning outlook towards the iconic Glasshouse Mountains range – with their host of unique and unusual formations – in the distance. The gardens boast an incredibly diverse array of plant and floral life and emits an undeniable aura of peace, while the sections featuring mass-planted flowers help to add a dazzling amount of vivid colours to the grounds.

Simply put, the grounds here are immaculate – given its expansive size, nothing is overgrown or unkempt, and the modest entry fee that visitors pay goes directly towards keeping the gardens in this degree of tip-top shape. Bodies of water such as water features, waterfalls and ponds dotted throughout are an additional lovely touch that helps add to the relaxing atmosphere, while winding pathways that span an impressive 6km in total take you on a lovely on-foot journey involving everything from scenic lookout points to treks into the heart of the rainforest greenery. Upon entering you'll be given a map of the grounds that helps point out various highlights and ensures you won't get lost along the way, and tour guides are also available to take you on a informative journey into one of the best surprises of the gardens.

"Set out over a spacious 14 hectare area, the gardens are nestled amongst some wonderfully lush rainforest surrounds and provide a stunning outlook towards the iconic Glasshouse Mountains range."

This surprise would be the sub-section featuring the “Bird World” walk-in aviary that's well worth the price of admission and an impressive showcase of a huge number of species of different colours, sizes and shapes. Everything from huge and colourful Macaws to various parrots and smaller species such as quails are here, and many of them are quite tame and friendly, allowing kids and interested adults to get hands-on with some of the more social birds. Tours of the aviary last roughly 40 minutes, and the guides are available to explain and curate all the bird species for you along the way – they're extremely knowledgeable and obviously passionate about what they do, and you'll no doubt come away from the walk having acquired some new avian knowledge.

In terms of other ways to spend time here, in general it's a wonderful spot to enjoy a cup of fresh tea and perhaps some scones in one of the gazebos while soaking in the view overlooking the mountains, and there are also plenty of benches and picnic tables to enjoy a BYO lunch and help keep costs down. While it takes a substantial amount of effort to get out there – expect around a 45 minute drive from most central Sunshine Coast suburbs – the Maleny Botanic Gardens are a great, budget-conscientious option for enjoying a day on the Sunshine Coast that can be combined with other highlights of the Maleny area (such as wineries) for a full and relaxing day out.

2

Australia Zoo

Australia Zoo Sunshine Coast

Location: 1638 Steve Irwin Way, Beerwah, QLD

There are few wildlife parks in the country more famous than the Sunshine Coast's iconic Australia Zoo, given a worldwide spotlight in large part due to the efforts of deceased Aussie icon Steve Irwin and carried on by the continued efforts of the Irwin family. As such, it's an attraction that isn't just an essential stop on any Sunshine Coast itinerary – in many cases, it's the main reason for families making the trip to the Sunshine Coast in the first place. While it's become more and more commercialised throughout the years, it's never lost touch with the its original messages and core values of conservation and respect for the animal world that were established from the beginning, and this is obvious throughout the facility from staff enthusiasm through to animal care and welfare.

Australia Zoo boasts an incredibly diverse array of animals from all parts of both the animal kingdom and the globe – all the typical Aussie favourites such as kangaroos, koalas, wombats and, of course, crocodiles are here in full, but it's the likes of the massive and comprehensive African exhibit that truly make this feel like a world-class wildlife attraction. It's also continually growing, with its massive grounds still featuring plenty of opportunity for expansion, and it's due in large part to this scale of grounds that the animals are treated to large and spacious enclosures that give them enough freedom to enjoy their lives while still offering quality viewing angles for visitors. The animal's habitats are also impeccably clean, and all the animals look both happy and well taken care of – a testament to the efforts of the staff and management.

"Given the scale of the zoo, the number of shows and presentations, and the sheer variety on offer, Australia Zoo is a place that can be properly considered an all-day attraction rather than just a few hours, offering considerable “bang for your buck”."

Given the scale of the zoo, the number of shows and presentations, and the sheer variety on offer, Australia Zoo is a place that can be properly considered an all-day attraction rather than just a few hours, which means despite the price you end up getting considerable “bang for your buck”. The zoo's crocodile show is one of its most iconic daily presentations, and it's got a well-deserved reputation as the experienced staff aren't shy about getting up close to feed these massive reptiles. Other interesting shows provide an emphasis on individual animals – koalas, otters, tortoises and the impressive birds of prey are all given their own moment to shine, and help round out the day as well as providing the chance to rest your legs from walking through the large grounds of the zoo. For those feeling a little worn out, the zoo also offers a shuttle bus to travel from one major section to the next, which is a nice touch.

As far as design and facilities go, Australia Zoo also scores high marks here; it's got a huge sheltered food court with a great variety of food – this isn't your typical small attraction's cafe. In addition, the zoo's open and wide design makes visiting in crowded time periods of the year less of a hassle than other similar facilities, and there's also ample parking that can help reduce the typical headaches associated with finding a spot. There are also plenty of optional extras – such as animal encounters with otters, zebras, giraffes and more – as well as feeding, photos and tours which are all enjoyable and only limited by how deep you're willing to reach into your wallet.

There's a reason Australia Zoo has such a strong reputation on both the global and international stages - as one of Australia's premier wildlife facilities, there's no reason a first-timer to the Sunshine Coast should miss visiting here unless they have absolutely no interest in wildlife. A definite Sunshine Coast must for all ages.

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Noosa Main Beach

Noosa Main Beach Sunshine Coast

Location: Noosa, QLD

Of all places on the Sunshine Coast you'll likely see used in promotional material touting its beauty, there's one that stands out among the rest. While it's home to many quality beaches and breaks throughout its 70+ kilometres worth of coastline, Noosa's Main Beach is a picture-perfect example of a quality beachfront area while still offering convenient facilities – simply put, it's an example of a wonderful natural stretch of sand coupled with quality city planning done right. Picture-perfect sand, pristine water, waves that are ideal for swimming, easy access and well-patrolled are all contributing factors as to what makes this spot (and its surrounding suburb as a whole) such a desirable place to visit. Boasting a relatively rare north-facing aspect that provides outstanding sheltered conditions as compared to many other beaches in similar circumstances, it's a spot that's as ideal for enjoying watersports as it is for pure relaxation.

The lack of surrounding highrises adjacent to the beach also serves to give an open, spacious feel without feeling overcommercialised that is uncommon so close to development and holiday accommodation. All the staples of a perfect beach are there – vivid turquoise water contrasts against clean, white sand that's generally free of litter, a reflection of the fact that taking care of their beaches is a point of pride for Sunshine Coast locals. Pods of dolphins can also often be found just off the beach's main strip, with the ability to spot whales during their annual migratory season also an added bonus for beachgoers.

"All the staples of a perfect beach are there – vivid turquoise water contrasts against clean, white sand that's generally free of litter, a reflection of the fact that taking care of their beaches is a point of pride for Sunshine Coast locals."

Introductory surfers will likewise be in their element here, as the beach boasts some great conditions with gentle breaks that pick up some around the Noosa Park Headland – there's a reason why this spot serves as the home of the annual Noosa Festival of Surfing. Fisherman and enthusiasts looking to drop a line also tend to be big fans of Noosa Main Beach as it's possible to come away with a decent haul of flathead, bream, dart, whiting and many other popular species without having to venture offshore. Those sticking to the land can enjoy a nicely laid-out boardwalk that offers a meandering route along the shorefront and into the surrounding National Park, while an array of restaurants lie just across from the sand that provide the ability to enjoy some lovely seaside dining with a great view – particularly when the moon is at its fullest.

An added bonus that Noosa Main beach has over many other popular Aussie beach destinations is its large, free all-day carpark that makes getting a decent spot without having to pay through the nose a viable option – assuming you arrive early enough. Due to its popularity, the beach can often become exceedingly busy, particularly during school holiday times, and while this doesn't detract from the beauty of the beach it can make fighting for a parking space somewhat of a chore. Once you've successfully parked, however, you'll be presented with plenty of activities both on the beach and in the surrounding area which offer enough variety to enjoy a full day in the sunshine.

Lastly, the local Surf Life Saving Club do an admirable job of ensuring the beach is regularly patrolled and provides numerous dedicated lifeguards to oversee the proceedings. The club even has the added benefit of offering relatively cheap lunches for those looking for a good value meal. Good quality public restrooms and showers round out the facilities, while local wildlife and exotic birds only help serve to add to the ambience. One of Australia's top beaches, Noosa Main Beach is the top dog when it comes to attractions on the Sunshine Coast, and living proof that when it comes down to it, nature often trumps all.

 
In addition, if you're looking for all the top things to see and do in and around the Sunshine Coast including activities, attractions and more, be sure to check out our main region section to browse and book online!

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