While the southern states shiver through the winter, the Sunshine Coast is basking in the sun. Forget your knits and mitts, here we have your winter break sorted.

Indulge in an aquatic menu

While the only people braving the beaches of the south during winter are usually surfers donning thick wetsuits, the Sunshine Coast’s coastline is frequented by swimmers year-round.

It’s no wonder, with an average of seven hours of sunshine a day! The Sunshine Coast has myriad beaches to choose from including many family-friendly spots where the kids can make friends with other sandcastle makers.

There are 17 patrolled beaches to choose from including classics such as Noosa Main Beach, Mooloolaba Beach, Kings Beach and the coloured sands of Rainbow Beach.

For those who want to retreat and relax, try less crowded beaches such as Ballinger, Mudjimba, Marcus and Yaroomba.

Surfers won’t be disappointed with excellent surfing beaches including Mudjimba Beach, Bulcock Beach, Double Island Point, Little Cove and Kawana.

And those with furry friends will find the perfect place to let them off the leash at Moffat Beach, Coolum, Noosa Heads, Peregian Beach and Sunshine Beach. Indeed, it’s not just about sand and surf when it comes to splashing about.

Take one of the many Hinterland walks to see waterfalls, such as Booloumba Falls and Mapleton Falls; kayak down the peaceful Pumicestone Passage; take a sunset cruise from Noosa; or go diving at the ex-HMAS Brisbane dive site.

Swim with a giant

You’re not the only one hanging around the Sunshine Coast in the cooler months.

With more than 22,000 whales expected to migrate north for the winter, 2016 is shaping up to be a successful year for whale watching, a spectacular activity at this time of year.

While whale watching is spectacular, Sunreef Mooloolaba offers something even more special: swimming with humpbacks, Australia’s first experience of its kind.

“Swimming with these gentle giants of the deep is an almost indescribable privilege and something you will remember forever,” says Sunreef Mooloolaba’s Dan Hart.

Every day is different and every encounter is unique.

Once a whale is sighted, the boat is put into neutral 100 metres away and swimmers are allowed into the water, holding on to the floating line attached to the boat.

Then it’s time to be patient: everything from here on in is up to the whales!

These graceful mammals are often intrigued by humans and will glide effortlessly around the boat, but sometimes they will keep their distance.

This is certainly a look-don’t-touch experience, but one that has also been described as life-changing.

Sunreef Mooloolaba runs these spectacular tours between July and October.

Be sure to book in advance, as there is just 20 spots per tour. sunreef.com.au

Dates for your diary

Gympie Music Muster, 26–29 August, Gympie

If you love music, food and camping the Muster is a must, with the likes of Kasey Chambers and John Williamson performing.

IRONMAN 70.3 World Championship 4 September, Mooloolaba

Watch athletes take on a challenging 1.9 kilometre swim, epic 90-kilometre cycle and a 21.1-kilometre run to finish.

Caloundra Music Festival, 30 September–3 October, Caloundra

It’s all about soul at this Kings Beach festival, with a diverse line-up of entertainment for the whole family.

Wanderlust Sunshine Coast, 13-16 October, Twin Waters

A four-day celebration of mindful living including yoga, music and art.

Noosa Triathlon Multi Sport Festival, 26–30 October, Noosa

Five days celebrating sports, healthy lifestyles, fitness and fun in the world’s largest triathlon.

How To Get Here

Fly direct from Sydney, Melbourne, Adelaide and Auckland, or drive one hour north of Brisbane.

For more information go to Visit Sunshine Coast