A local’s guide to the Sunshine Coast’s best beaches
Here in Queensland, we’re proud that our beaches live up to the hype. A measly two hours from Brisbane sits a concentration of these coastal beauties on the Sunshine Coast, a 100km stretch of sand, reaching from Caloundra in the south right up to the rainbow sands of the Cooloola Coast. With 100 different beaches to choose from, our below guide will help you navigate your way through the best beaches of the Sunshine Coast.
For the families
Armed with more than its fair share of playgrounds, Bulcock Beach is nirvana for the young and young at heart. Let the kids loose on the wooden pirate ship and castle that sit within the grassy parkland bordering the beach, while you spread out on the nearby sand.
Expect calm and patrolled water conditions here, with the chance for tiny tots to splash about in the paddling pools that form at low tide. The energetic are also in luck; a beginner’s surf break sits nearby at Happy Valley for those who want to try their luck on a board.
KINGS BEACH, CALOUNDRA
Arriving at this Sunshine Coast gem you’ll find it easy to see why it’s become a go-to for those with kids in tow. The jewel in this beach’s crown is the foreshore swimming pool, which boasts a 25-metre lap pool, and space to paddle for the tykes.
Follow your swim with a barbecue at one of the many scattered across the foreshore. On Caloundra’s main drag a bevy of cafes also await you; stop for a latte (or babycino) at iconic Beau’s before you head to Seafood Market Caloundra to pick up that all-important bucket of prawns.
Far more relaxed than its Esplanade is the Mooloolaba Spit on Parkyn Parade, away from the hustle and bustle of the main drag.
This peaceful pocket comes complete with protected waters courtesy of the neighbouring rock wall, which offers plenty of fishing potential so pack your rods and reels.
A seafood feast post-swim is a non-negotiable here, as Mooloolaba is a hub for Queensland’s fishing fleets. Procure your favourites straight from the trawler at local favourites Mooloolaba Fish Market and Fisheries on The Spit.
For the surfers
Sitting pretty between Maroochydore and Noosa is Coolum, home to sand, rock pools, and a collection of surf breaks. With bare feet and boardies the local’s uniform, this is a suburb passionate about its swell, with its bevy of different wave types catering to everyone from beginners to seasoned pros.
Post-surf snacks abound nearby; healthy bites are the majority, with Raw Energy and New Earth Cafe holistically-focused favourites for a bite to eat, but nothing quite beats the Coolum Surf Club for pub grub and a beer.
NOOSA NATIONAL PARK
The most famous Sunshine Coast resident Noosa has more to offer than just Main Beach, particularly for surfers. Meander along the track into Noosa National Park, and you’ll find a collection of the best swim spots and surf breaks, like Nationals, Boiling Pot, Tea Tree Bay, Granite Bay, and Alexandria Bay. Your board will thank you.
Just be warned, Noosa National Park doesn’t offer anything in terms of food, aside from a quaint kiosk at the park entrance, so don’t forget to pack a hamper.
For the best of both worlds
Lively year-round, Noosa Heads is the most popular Sunshine Coast destination for good reason. The best of city and beach mingle here; the north-facing Main Beach offers calm waters for a paddle, with Hastings Street on its fringe a haven of boutiques, restaurants, cafes and specialty stores.
It’s not just the beach itself which is considered an iconic part of town, but a number of Noosa’s eateries; follow a lazy day spent on the sand with a memorable meal at beachside fine diner Sails Restaurant, and a scoop of gelato from Massimo’s Gelateria, where crowds gather daily.
As recognised for its Esplanade as it is the sandy stretch out front is Sunshine Coast hub Mooloolaba. Take a dip in one of the number of patrolled beaches strewn throughout its length, or take the board out for a spin at nearby Alexandra Headland.
Once hunger pangs arise, make your way to the main drag, where countless bars, restaurants and eateries call home, including some of the region’s best cafes: The Velo Project and CK Cafe Bar and Wholefoods included.
Flanked by thriving Maroochydore on one side, and surfing paradise Alexandra Headland on the other, sits Cotton Tree. A meeting point of ocean and river inlet, the resulting calm waters here welcome leisurely dips, as well as a bevy of water-borne activities, from stand-up paddle boarding to kayaking downstream. Once you’ve exerted all your energy, treat your tastebuds to a sample of the suburb’s burgeoning cafe culture at local favourite Harvest Breads.
For dog owners
POINT CARTWRIGHT RESERVE
Boasting natural beauty in spades, Point Cartwright Reserve is one of the more picturesque places to take your pooch for a walk.
From the high cliffs of the coastal headland neighbouring the unpatrolled beach you can look out onto surrounding Mooloolaba and Mount Coolum, and more often than not spot both surfers and humpback whales in the swell. The rolling lawns in this reserve make it ideal for picnics; stop off at the weekly Kawana Waters Farmers Market first to stock up on gourmet goodies.
Adventure seekers will find a friend in Sunshine Beach. While it’s exposure means its tide can turn rather wild and wooly, the picturesque stretch remains a favourite for swimmers and surfers alike.
More importantly, it provides ample running space for dogs, who have access from Access point 27 and running all the way up to Noosa National Park’s southern headland.
While small in size, the district is big in foodie potential. Dog-friendly cafes like Costa Noosa Espresso mingle with burgeoning fine diner Sum Yung Guys, and local institution the Sunshine Beach Surf Club.
TWIN WATERS NORTH SHORE
This place is a dream for those with dogs in tow; from Access point 132 to the Maroochy River mouth sits a sandy playground for dogs to frolic.
Meander your way along the rolling hills and wade in the water with your four-legged friend, adventuring to Pincushion Island at low tide. Overrun with dogs morning through night, this precinct is not particularly foodie-friendly, but it is conveniently close to Mudjimba for a well-deserved coffee and sweet treat after your stroll.
For calm waters
CURRIMUNDI LAKE, CALOUNDRA
Get back in touch with nature at this Sunshine Coast conservation park not far from Maroochydore.
After a day spent exploring the bounty of native flora and fauna on offer, cool off with a dip in Currimundi Lake, a mass of shallow waters that has become a haven for kayaking, fishing, and swimming alike, or stroll over the dunes to reach the just as popular Currimundi Surf Beach.
GOLDEN BEACH, CALOUNDRA
Easy swims are an everyday occurrence at this beach sitting at the southernmost tip of the 25km Caloundra Coastal Walk.
Neighbouring Bribie Island protects the waters here, leaving mellow conditions ideal for a wallow, or a stand-up paddle board for those sick of sitting idle.
Ambitious fisherman can cast a line at nearby Fraser Park Jetty. Cook up your catch for a feed at the public barbecues that line the Esplanade and nearby Andrew’s Way Park.
For fans of a surf town
MOFFAT BEACH, CALOUNDRA
Nestled in Caloundra you’ll find Moffat Headland, a community favourite for its consistent swell, and the home to Australia’s longest running surf competition, The Ma and Pa Bendall Classic.
Moffat also boasts a protected inlet ideal for a dip, but the beach isn’t patrolled so be wary of the waves. Alternatively, turn towards neighbouring Tooway Creek for a stress-free splash in the shallows.
While watching surfers make the most of the right-handers, sip on a coffee from one of the many cafes that flank Moffat’s main strip, or a local beer from the beachside Moffat Beach Brewing Co.
The saying good things come in small packages is especially true of Peregian Beach. A collective of residents and a handful of holiday makers make up the population of this seaside village, that while a mere 10 minutes from Noosa’s thoroughfare, is remarkably more relaxed.
Community-driven, twice a month the suburb is home to the Peregian Beach Market, but year-round you can drop in to town for some of the region’s best coffee and breakfast on offer: Hand of Fatima, Skal and Raw Energy are a trio of stand-outs.
For those seeking serenity
Mosey on down the Caloundra Coastal Walk and you’ll greet this hidden gem. A local secret, Wurtulla Beach is 1km of patrolled sand and sea, that remains a haven of peace and quiet for those hankering for a swim in solitude.
Surfers will also be tempted to visit; the offshore winds mean that surf swell remains consistent year-round.