If you read my blog post last week about things to do on the Gold Coast – one of Australia’s most popular holiday destinations – you may be interested to know there is another popular but lesser known coastal destination just two hours north of the Gold Coast. It’s called the Sunshine Coast and it’s less commercialized and more laid back than the Gold Coast. But that doesn’t mean there’s not much to do there. As the Gold Coast, there is a lot to do on the Sunshine Coast aside from just enjoying its golden beaches and fabulous surfing. And if you’re looking for the top rated hotels with the best prices, I’ve added my Trip Advisor affiliate link to the top 10 hotels on the Sunshine Coast at no cost to you.
Things to Do on the Sunshine Coast Besides Sun and Sand
The Sunshine Coast is a very eco-friendly region and includes a hinterland that’s full of low key but interesting attractions that will appeal to families and travelers who want a break from the ‘Miami Beach feel’ of the Gold Coast and all its high rise apartments. Here are some great things to do on the Sunshine Coast.
Go Shopping in Brisbane’s Queen Street Mall and Maroochydore’s Sunshine Plaza
Queensland’s sub-tropical capital city, Brisbane, is the gateway to the Sunshine Coast, so before you head north on the Bruce Highway, a freeway that will take you to the Sunshine Coast in just under an hour, check out the shopping in downtown Brisbane. The once main street of Queen Street is now a pedestrian mall that offers a relaxing shopping experience at any time of the year.
If you need any new travel bags for your trip up to the Sunshine Coast, you can check out one of the four Luggage Direct superstores which are all located not far from the city center. In fact, the Kedron superstore is located right on the highway heading north to the Sunshine Coast.
And when you reach the Sunshine Coast, you can continue shopping at the Sunshine Plaza which is a part-enclosed part-open air shopping mall that’s just a short walk back from the beach at Maroochydore. It has a great tropical feel and holiday vibe to it – a shopping experience quite unlike visiting other malls.
Enjoy 5-star Food in Noosa’s Hastings Street
Hastings Street which runs along the beach at Noosa Heads is famous for its boutiques, bistros, coffee shops and fine food restaurants. You’ll find some of the best food and wines on the Sunshine Coast on this street, and not all of the restaurants will break the budget. Several low key bistros offer wagyu beef burgers with fresh salads at prices that are comparable to the city.
For another outstanding food experience, head to the Spirit House Thai restaurant in Yandina. It’s in a beautiful garden location with tranquil fishponds and has been receiving great reviews for decades. Another very highly rated Thai restaurant that’s nearby is called the Thai Tong. Both restaurants have limited seating, so it’s essential to make reservations in advance.
Take a Drive Along the Picturesque Blackall Range
The Blackall Range is a line of green hills – some would even call them mountains – that form an inland backdrop to the Sunshine Coast. They are home to quaint villages like Montville, Mapleton and Maleny where you’ll find English-style teashops, potteries and rolling green countryside with dairy cattle and bunya pine trees.
The area is great for hiking, bird watching, picnics by a waterfall or just getting close to nature. The round-trip drive takes only half a day from any location on the Sunshine Coast, but it’s better to make a day trip out of it so you can spend time exploring the villages and relaxing in the National Park.
Visit the World Famous Ginger Factory
The Ginger Factory at Yandina is not only one of the world’s largest suppliers of raw ginger, it’s one of the few places where kids can eat a real gingerbread man. Learn how ginger is grown, harvested and processed, and sample some of the many healthy ginger products.
There’s also a live bee show, a kid’s play area with rides that will delight the younger ones, and a great café for lunch where you can enjoy delicious meals (including vegan and gluten-free) and wash them down with either alcoholic or non-alcoholic ginger beer.
Stroll the Iconic Eumundi Markets
The outdoor markets at Eumundi started as a Saturday morning market many years ago but is now open on Wednesday mornings as well every week of the year. It has become one of the most iconic markets in Australia. It’s a must visit for anybody staying on the Sunshine Coast who would like to sample locally produced foods, handicrafts and clothes, or to buy Australiana type souvenirs to take home.
The Eumundi Markets describe themselves as Australia’s premier artisan markets, and there would be few who would disagree with that claim. The markets are now 40 years old and you’ll find local music and entertainment on Saturdays when the markets are open until 2pm.
Get Lost in the Bellingham Maze
If you are traveling with kids, don’t miss the experience of the Bellingham Maze at Tanawha. It’s an 80 meters x 80 meters living hedge maze that is laid out in a star pattern that’s sure to confuse even the most practiced maze explorers. There are also several smaller mazes for younger kids, a mini-golf course and a garden café serving locally roasted coffee.
You’ll have plenty of things to do on the Sunshine Coast. Whether you’re shopping in the markets, wining and dining, or just enjoying a drive through the green hinterland there’s much to enjoy in this laid-back part of the world. For more travel tips, or if you’re looking for great budget flights tips, be sure to subscribe so you never miss a post.