One of our favourite family holiday destinations in Australia is Noosa on Queensland’s Sunshine Coast. We love the laid back feel, the beautiful sandy beaches and lush green hinterland. It’s also the home of some very special friends of ours, so we’re fortunate enough to visit this beautiful region frequently. The area around Noosa and Eumundi are our favourite spots as there are no shortage of family activities there and nearby, and the coastline and scenery are simply beautiful.
The Noosa Heads main beach is an excellent beach for family swimming as it is patrolled by life guards and quite protected, so there is rarely large swell or rip tides to worry about. The sand is squeeky clean and there is a board walk along the coast to stroll along or sit and watch the sunset. Nearby (at the end of Hastings Street) there is also the Noosa Spit, which is where the Noosa River empties into the sea. Again it is an excellent place for swimming in calm shallow water and there are plenty of picnic spots and walks through the forest. Our kids also love to see the wild Bush Turkey’s that wander along the paths and on the sand. If you fancy a bit of driving along the sand in a 4WD for something different, this is also possible just North of the Noosa Spit. Noosa also has many wonderful restaurants and cafes to spend an evening indulging and watching the world go by on the famous boutique shopping strip, Hasting Street.
Our friends live in nearby Eumundi, so we are lucky enough to stay in this picturesque village, full or charm with a relaxed vibe. I love Eumundi’s colonial Queensland architecture, the wide leafy green streets, and of course the extremely popular Eumundi Markets that are on every Wednesday and Saturday. The markets are full of entertainment, with a bit of a hippy feel, and sell everything from delicious food to handmade trinkets and works of art. It can get very crowded and hot in summer on Saturdays though, so wear comfortable cool clothing and shoes, and bring a drink bottle and plenty of patience. Prepare to slow down like a local and you’ll have a lovely morning out. Eumundi is also home to a Strawberry farm which offers Strawberry picking from June to October, Yum!
From just about anywhere along the Sunshine Coast you can see one the region’s peaks, Mount Coolum. The mountain rises 208 m above the Sunshine Coast lowlands, and provides awesome 360 degree views of the coast and hinterland. It’s an easy hike to the top of mountain with paths and steps, suitable for families with young children that are good walkers. You’ll feel on top of the world from the peak and the opportunities for great photographs are endless. Remember to wear suitable footwear a hat and take a water bottle though!
Nearby at Beerwah is the famous Australia Zoo which was founded by the late Australian ‘Crocodile Hunter’ Steve Irwin and his wife Terri. Our children have been to this zoo a few times and never tire of the excellent animal exhibits, shows and opportunities to get up close to animals. On our visits they hand fed Elephants, Giraffes and Kangaroos, and held Snakes and Koalas. You will need an entire day at the zoo, as there is so much to see and do, and we think it is well worth the family admission cost of $189. All shows and feeding are included in the price, but professional photographs holding animals are extra. You are also permitted to bring in your own food, snacks and drinks to keep costs down for the day if you are on budget.
Another easy day trip in the region is to Tin Can Bay, north of Noosa. Each morning, a pod of Dolphins make there way into the Bay for a free meal. Dolphin feeding at Tin Can Bay started back in the 1950’s when an injured dolphin beached himself on the sand at Barnacles Cafe. The locals took pity on him and started to feed him. This dolphin was well battle scarred and became known as ‘Old Scarry’. Once he was well enough, Old Scarry returned to the wild but regularly returned to the bay (eventually bringing others) to visit the locals and enjoy a free meal. There are volunteers who do a fabulous job of coordinating the feeding and they keep an eye on the health and safety of the dolphins. Feeding costs $10, and is always one of the highlights for our children, even though they don’t like having to dip their hands in stinky fishy water first! But this is important for keeping the dolphins safe and a minor sacrifice for such a great experience 🙂
Other great spots for a day out and a swim are Moolooaba, Marochydore and Coolum. Each of these beaches have been tried and tested by our kids and have been given a big thumbs up 🙂 Simon, who is not a beach lover, has also found excellent coffee stops at each of these locations, whilst I’ve loved the great restaurants, cafes and shopping strips full of seaside boutiques. We think you’ll need at least 10 days to enjoy the Sunshine Coast, longer if you plan on visiting Fraser Island as well. The Sunshine Coast is like the Gold Coast’s chilled out cousin, with a relaxed vibe that shouldn’t be rushed. Take your time, and you’ll love Noosa and the Sunshine Coast as much as we do!