20 cheap and free things to do on the Sunshine Coast

20 (almost) free things to do on the Sunshine Coast

The saying money can’t buy you happiness rings true when the list of free things to do on the Sunshine Coast is enough to power a whole holiday filled with it.

If you’re looking for an activity that goes beyond another day at the beach, you’ll find there’s a lot more than just good surf going down on the Sunshine Coast.

From mountain climbing and soaking up the sunshine in a kayak to devouring cheese platters in the hinterland, we’ve got 20 cheap things to do on the Sunshine Coast.

Go mountain climbing

Mount Coolum

The hills of the Sunshine Coast are alive with the sound of bushwalkers pacing.

If you’re new to bushwalking the Sunshine Coast, we’d recommend you start by climbing Mount Coolum. This mountain is somewhat of a Sunshine Coast rite of passage, with a line of active-wear clad bushwalkers taking the trail each weekend.

Heading inland you will find the Glass House Mountains whose tracks are varied to suit every age and fitness level. For an easy walk there’s Mount Beerwah, but for something a tad more challenging you’ve got Mount Ngungun and Mount Beerburrum.

More experienced climbers should set their sights on the Mount Tibrogargan summit route, with its steep and near-vertical exposed rock sections, which is reserved for people who are more accustomed to scaling than stepping. Don’t try this one without training, folks.

COST: Just the fuel to get you there.

Visit the Eumundi Markets

There’s plenty of markets dotted across Queensland, but few can say they’ve been in continual trade for over 40 years, but the Eumundi Markets can.

The Eumundi Markets is more than just an entrepreneurial success story – from humble roots turning over just $30/day to hosting more than 1.6million people each year – it’s a Sunshine Coast institution.

Visit the market every Wednesday or Saturday, rain, hail or shine for an array of homemade products and wares.

COST: Just $6 if you decide to park there, plus any trinkets you buy

PYO strawberries

Strawberry picking

Test the theory that everything tastes sweeter when you’ve picked it yourself, strawberry picking on the Sunshine Coast.

Each year from June to November you can head to Strawberry Fields in Palmview to collect your own strawberries fresh from the patches.

COST: Admission is free, however, the cost of your strawberries will depend on the weight and current wholesale market price.

Live music

Live music? Good. BYO beer? Great. All this by the beach? Where do you sign up?

End your weekend on the right note getting your groove on at Peregian Originals, held every second Sunday of the month from 1pm-5pm.

The open-air concert is 100% crowd-funded with headliners from folk and blues to soul and rock.

COST: Free, but do your bit to help out and keep some change spare for donations.

Walk the coastline

Caloundra Coastal Walk

Before you panic, we’re not asking you to take on the full 45km of coastline of the Sunshine Coast, but just a section of it along the Caloundra Coastal Walk.

Take a stroll or jog along the continuous coastal path that links Golden Beach in the south to Kings Beach on its way to Kawana to Mooloolaba.

COST: Nada.

Eat cheese

If we had you at cheese, pack your appetite and head to the hills to tuck into the delicacies found at the Maleny Cheese Factory.

It makes sense the cheese is good in these parts, Maleny has been a dairy region for over 115 years. This fromagerie, has been in the business of the good stuff since 2004, so you can trust they’ve got the gouda stuff.

COST: Cheese is sold by the wheel, but samples to help you decide won’t cost you a dime. Sample for yourself 7 days a week.

Visit one Hell of a National Park

Noosa National Park

The Sunshine Coast has an odd sense of humour given it called one of its most beautiful stretches of National Park Hell’s Gate.

Take the coastal track in Noosa National Park for sunshine, sea salt and sandy pocket beaches.

The walk starts at the information centre and will take you through several headlands past pandanus-lined beaches, the coastal rock formations known as Boiling Pot, Dolphin Point, Hell’s Gate (keep an eye out for dolphins, turtles and migrating whales at these stops), ending at the sweeping Alexandria Bay.

Set aside a couple of hours so you can have a few sneaky dips along the way.

COST: Free, though after all that walking you’ll want to have some pocket change handy for coffee on Hastings Street.

Go with paddle power

Permission to skip arm day at the gym, because you’re in for a workout by gliding across the Noosa River or Mooloolaba’s canals by kayak.

Pelican Boat Hire in Noosaville and Hire Hut in Mooloolaba will kit you up with all you need to kayak the canals.

COST: From $10 – $25 for up to two hours.

Hit the markets

Forget stocking the pantry from supermarket chains on the coast. From street food to local knick-knacks, the Sunshine Coast is bursting at the seams (of your basket) with farmers markets.

For a week’s worth of fruit and veg head to the Kawana Farmers Market on a Saturday morning, or the Noosa Farmers Markets and Fishermans Road Markets in Maroochydore on a Sunday morning.

If you’d prefer to sleep in on weekends, make markets a night-time activity and check out the Marcoola Markets held every Friday night or Nights On Ocean in Maroochydore on the second Friday of every month.

For artisan wares, the Caloundra Street Fair has a night-time showing, the Twilight Markets Caloundra, which run the last Friday of the month.

COST: Entry is free but fresh fruit and veg will cost you gold coins.

Picture perfect picnic

Alfresco dining isn’t just reserved for fancy restaurants – stock up on tasty treats and make your way to the Maleny Botanical Gardens for a picnic.

Work up a bit of an appetite before tossing down a rug among its 14 acres, by taking to their walking tracks.

There are over six kilometres of strolling to be done – passing by ponds, lakes, waterfalls and their many colourful plant varieties (you’ll find there’s just a mere thousand or so to admire).

You can also bring your pooch along to enjoy the day, but make sure they are kept on a leash!

COST: A whole day’s entry to the gardens is $16 for adults, children can go on in for free.

Dinner dates

Going out for dinner on the Sunshine Coast doesn’t have to cost you your day’s work; you just need to know where and when to go. Let us hook you up with the best (and most reasonably priced) dinner deals going:

  • Wednesday wings at Alex Bar and Grill
  • Happy hour pizzas at the Nook & Cranny in Nambour every day between 6-7pm
  • The famous Chicken Parma Night at The Beach Bar and Grill Mooloolaba on Thursday
  • Pizza and pasta night at the Brightwater Tavern on Wednesdays
  • Steak nights at Your Place Espresso in Mooloolaba on Tuesdays

COST: These bad boys range from $5 to $16, so get feasting.

Go on a Sunshine Coast beer crawl

What do you do when it’s too hot to go to the beach? Sip a few cold ones, of course.

The Sunshine Coast has craft breweries on tap, so much so, we filled a whole post with them.

Quench your thirst at a beachside brewery like Moffat Beach Brewing Co. working your way across their six taps for research purposes, of course.

COST: Depends how many pints we’re talking about

Chase waterfalls

Kondalilla Falls | free things to do Sunshine Coast

There’s more to the Sunshine Coast than sun, salt water and sand. Go waterfall chasing in the hinterland to discover the Sunshine Coast’s other aqua playground.

Start by setting your GPS for Gardeners Falls, pointing your bonnet to Maleny. From the car park, it’s a short walk on a sealed path to the falls.

If you’re after more of an adventure, the Kondalilla Falls Circuit  will take you on a round-trip through the rainforest valley to the actual falls itself, then back to the rock pool and lookout where you can cool off.

COST: Zilch

Time warp

Step back in time with a visit to Ricks Garage in Palmwoods, American-style diner.

Originally a petrol station and mechanical workshop (it actually still functions as a workshop), the retro diner has got ’50s American style down pat, with pop coloured interiors, comfy booths and old-school memorabilia.

COST: Depends what you order

Discover the home of ginger

The Ginger Factory | free things to do Sunshine Coast

Did you know the Sunshine Coast harbours the world’s largest ginger operating factory in its hinterland?

Check it out for yourself with a visit to the Ginger Factory in Yandina, where everything is giner-themed (and lightly spiced).

Be sure to hop aboard ‘Moreton’ the historic cane train that takes you through the sub-tropical gardens or take a factory tour to see how ginger is grown and turned into a range of products.

For a little retail therapy, Ginger Town has got your needs sorted from souvenirs to sweet treats. Just don’t fill up before you get the chance to order up one of their famous parfaits at the Ice Creamery.

COST: Admission is free, however, if you want to take part in any tours or rides, tickets will cost you from $10-15 per tour/ride.

Go off road

Beach driving

The Sunshine Coast isn’t all cocktail sipping and fine dining – it’s got an adventurous side you can find at Noosa North Shore.

Five minutes aboard  Noosa North Shore Ferries at Tewantin will make the rest of Noosa seem worlds away.

Once on north-shore sand, hit the coastline for some beach driving (best suited to within three hours either side of low tide) to eyeball the coloured sands along the Great Sandy National Park.

Alternatively take the rainforest circuit from the Freshwater Track travelling to Rainbow Beach and Tin Can Bay or do some kayaking and fishing at Lake Cooroibah.

If you want to stay overnight, Noosa North Shore is ripe with freshwater and beach camping spots that are yours for the pitching.

COST: A trip over with a 2WD or 4WD with cost you $7 each way. You’ll also need a vehicle access permit to drive through the national park and beaches and camping permit (both of which will set you back less than the price of a movie ticket per person, per night).