Make the most of the coast: Sunshine Coast on a budget
From beaches and sunsets to rainforests and mountains, here on the Sunshine Coast some of the best things in life are free.
- August 2021
With a coastline of sublime beaches that back onto forested hinterland, the Sunshine Coast is a destination famous for its stunning outdoor scenery and near-perfect weather. And the best thing about nature – other than its beauty and fresh air – is it's all free! So put away that credit card and hit the beach to settle in for blissful, carefree days by the water. Alternate that with rainforest walks, picnic lunches and magnificent views. Head back to the waterfront for unmissable sunsets before easing into relaxed evenings chatting by the campfire, and you'll soon realise just how good life is here.
Kick back and settle into beach life
Whether you’re digging into fish ‘n’ chips on the foreshore, dipping in and out of the azure waters or lazing on the sand with a good book, life’s a beach here on the Sunshine Coast. And true to its name, there's plenty of sunshine and coastline to choose from – 100km worth to be precise. At one end of the scale is Noosa, a resort town of white-sand beaches and a mix of sheltered swimming and surf spots. At the other end is the Great Sandy National Park, perfect for getting away from it all with beach camping and ocean fishing.
Lace up your hiking boots and head into the hills
If you reckon packing just a pair of thongs will do it, think again. Nature walks through rainforest hinterland and volcanic landscapes are a highlight of any visit to the Sunshine Coast. The Glass House Mountains are a standout for its summit trails that lead you up to viewpoints overlooking volcanic plugs rising dramatically from the plains. Just back from the beach, Mount Coolum is another ancient volcano you can climb for panoramic views of the coastal hinterland. Noosa National Park is likewise popular with walkers for its beach-side trails with a backdrop of lush rainforest.
Pitch a tent with prime ocean views
Nights spent gazing up at the stars, sitting around the fire, and falling asleep to the lull of waves. Camping on the Sunshine Coast is an inspired choice. And whether you're seeking bush sites, beach camping or full campground amenities, there are plenty of scenic sites to pitch a tent. For a more remote experience, try Cooloola’s Teewah Beach – here, you can camp overlooking an uncrowded stretch of coastline and spend your days swimming, fishing and exploring the dunes. Closer to civilisation, but still among nature and wildlife, Noosa North Shore also offers some ripper beach frontage. As does Boreen Point, where you'll zip your tent directly open on to blissful Lake Cootharaba.
Stock up on fresh and local ingredients
Here's a destination where you don't need a reservation at the hottest, new restaurant to enjoy the region's finest, freshest ingredients. Instead do as the chefs do and buy direct from the producers. From Noosa and Caloundra to Yandina and Malena, you'll find a bounty of local produce at the farmers markets. Make up gourmet picnics of local fruits, cheeses, olives and sourdough. Alternatively hit Eumundi Markets for a delicious array of street food stalls. And with that whopping, long coastline, there are plenty of options to cast a line, throw another shrimp on the barbie, or dive into good old beachside fish and chips.
Find some inner calm on a rainforest walk at Mary Cairncross Scenic Reserve
Of Sunshine Coast's hinterland retreats, few are more captivating than this tranquil expanse of rainforest. Set amid the rolling Blackall Range, the Mary Cairncross Scenic Reserve is a wonderful spot to enjoy some forest bathing. As you stop to soak up its clean, cool air, take in the sounds of the forest and admire the abundance of birdlife and resident marsupials. And with the Glass House Mountains looming in the distance, the views here are tremendous. It's just outside the charming township of Maleny, which has a farmers market, cheesemaker and a microbrewery for stocking up on all the essentials!