Noosa's gorgeous Main Beach. © Visit Sunshine Coast

Seven unbeatable experiences on Australia's Sunshine Coast


The Sunshine Coast is bathed in golden rays for more than 300 days each year, so the chance of your holiday being, well, sunny, is high. Eat. Sleep. Beach. Repeat. And then try some of these extra special experiences.

1. Explore cosmopolitan Brisbane 

While Brisbane might not have quite the same bravado as Sydney, this city is on the up and up, and South Bank, in particular, is having a moment.

Whether you choose to hang out at The Terrace, an all-white rooftop bar in Emporium Hotel, or The WET® Deck rooftop bar at the W – dressed in the hotel’s signature feisty style – you’re guaranteed glorious river views and cocktails to die for.

South Bank also boasts Streets Beach, a free human-made beach with sub-tropical sand and a sparkling lagoon, as well as four key dining precincts mixing casual eateries with high-end dining and slick bars.

2. Cruise to Fraser Island

So aerated is the pearly-white sand on Fraser Island, it actually squeaks beneath your feet. And that’s not the only unusual thing about this taster of pure Nirvana. It’s also the largest sand island in the world and the only place on earth where rainforests grow out of sand dunes. Boat tours departing Hervey Bay will deposit you on an empty stretch of talcum fine sand, where you can climb enormous dunes or paddle in water so blue it puts Tahiti to shame. Most tour operators sail east, so if you’re looking for total isolation, book one of the few that heads west. 

3. Fly over Lake McKenzie

Lake McKenzie, which is fed only by rainwater, is crystal clear, and that’s because its silica-rich sand bed acts as a filter. As well as swimming here, flying over this natural beauty is an absolute must-do. Depart from Hervey Bay Airport in a light plane and you’ll find your nose pressed against the window, transfixed by the island’s lush interior below. Alternatively, experience the exhilaration of taking off from the island itself. With the beach as your runway, you'll circle the sky for a full fifteen minutes before returning to the sand.  

4. Spend a lazy day in Noosa

With its clean, golden beach and seemingly endless sunshine, Noosa is good for the soul. Start your day absorbing the township’s bustling café scene, then wander down Hastings Street to admire boutique stores and elegant homewares.

Main Beach runs parallel to the street and is all but 20 metres away, but sandwiched in between is a glorious line of sea-front brasseries. Bistro C nudges the sand and serves a particularly good lunch. Come nightfall, head up the hill to View Restaurant at Peppers Noosa Resort & Villas. The spacious venue resembles a converted air hangar and specialises in fresh Sunshine Coast flavours.    

5. Drive along the beach 

Driving on the beach at 100km/h has to be one of the most exhilarating experiences in Australia. When travelling between Noosa and Rainbow Beach, better known as The Great Beach Drive, the sand becomes the state highway, with the Pacific Ocean glistening to your left and bushland to the right. A 4X4 vehicle is required and while there are some specialist rental companies who can accommodate this, a great option is to book a Great Beach Drive 4WD Tour. Hurtle along the beach with your experienced driver and just a handful of other passengers. Scour the sea for whales (when in season) and stop for balmy walks along platinum sand. 

6. Paint the sand red

The cliffs that frame The Great Beach Drive are really quite something. Huge swathes of fiery-coloured stone cascade towards the sand, marbled with an entire palette of orange hues. Do as the Aboriginals used to and pull a small chunk off. With the same consistency as artists’ pastels, simply adding a little seawater will create a paste, allowing you to vividly (and ecologically) paint on the sand in bold colours of gold, orange, yellow, brown and red. 

7. Sail into the sunset 

Queensland’s sunsets are notoriously coy – often blushing the sweetest shade of pink. Couple these dreamy vistas with the calm crystalline waters of Hervey Bay and you have the perfect combination for a sunset cruise. Catamarans departing the Great Sandy Straits Marina allow guests to lounge on the netting and bounce sedately with the waves. Crewmembers provide informative commentary as well as canapés and free-flowing champagne. If this isn’t the life, we don’t know what is. 

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