How to enjoy the national parks around Noosa.
Noosa is not just a private playground for the rich. Some of its best assets are free to enjoy, and that includes Noosa National Park. Here’s our guide to getting the best out of a visit, including information on how to get there (and where to park) and what to conquer – from walking trails and lookouts with ocean views to swimming and surfing spots.
Guide to hiking in Noosa National Park
CRUISE ALONG THE COASTAL WALK
When it comes to parks with stunning waterscapes, Noosa National Park comes to mind. Wrap yourself in nature along the Noosa Coastal Walk, which offers spectacular views to Noosa North Shore and rocky outlooks where, from June to October, you might be lucky enough to see whales. The beautiful blue-green waterways are also home to turtles and dolphins and there are often koalas curled up in the canopy above.
Tackle Noosa’s coastal walk.
TACKLE NOOSA HILL
Drive to the day-use area car park at the end of Park Road in Noosa Heads to gain access to the start of the Noosa Hill Walk on the Sunshine Coast. The peaceful walk pretzels around the northern face of Noosa Hill and around open groves of blue gums and black wattles. You can start and finish at the same point on the 2.8-kilometre walk or extend the walk and include the Tanglewood Track to Alexandria Bay and Sunshine Beach.
Views from the hill.
HELLS GATE WALK
Grab a coffee from one of Noosa’s best cafes and then wander through Noosa National Park along the boardwalk past several beaches that are good for a refreshing dip. There are lots of places to cool off along the one-hour walk, such as at Little Cove and Tea Tree Bay, but the bonus of reaching Hells Gates is you are likely to see wildlife such as ospreys, koalas and dolphins and whales (in season) below.
Hells Gates is located on the coastal track.
Guide to surfing in Noosa National Park
SURF WORLD-CLASS POINT BREAKS
Tune into the rhythm of the sea at the Noosa World Surfing Reserve which has a smattering of great breaks that hug the headland. The reserve stretches for five kilometres off the coast and is justifiably famous for its five world-class point breaks and three beach breaks where the waves are consistently good.
Hit the waves in Noosa.
LEARN TO SURF IN NOOSA
If there’s enough swell, and conditions allow, you might find WSL professional surfer and Noosa local Julian Wilson at First Point, which he professes is his favourite wave. Beginners can also bob around off Noosa Main Beach with Noosa Learn to Surf and Go Ride a Wave where they will be taught to spring to their feet during their first lesson.
Learn To Surf instructors doing what they do best.
THE LONG AND THE SHORT OF IT
While Little Cove is a described as a longboarders’ dream, Nationals at the start of the National Park is for experienced surfers only. The break known as Tea Tree is also a popular spot, though it’s a 15-minute trek on foot through the national park. The break is the first bay as you walk around the Noosa Coastal Walk. Again, only experienced surfers need apply when there’s swell hitting the coastline.
BEST WAVES FOR SHORTBOARDERS
You have to be committed to get to Granite Bay, too, as the right-hand break is another 20 minute walk along the Coastal Walk from Tea Tree. Call your mate, Big Wave Dave, when Granite Bay is firing as this is where you’ll find the biggest, gnarliest waves in Noosa. Everyone from learners to champions will find a wave to suit if they head into the National Park, which is an easy walk in with a shortboard.
Granite Bay pearlers.
Best swimming spots in Noosa National Park
SPOT DOLPHINS OFF THE COAST OF NOOSA
Slip into the calm waters of Noosa Main Beach and you’ll likely see dolphins frolicking off the coast as they are frequent visitors to the Sunshine Coast. Noosa Main Beach is heaven on earth with its pristine turquoise waters and deep green jungle surrounds. Start training now for the Noosa Summer Swim 2022, which is regarded as a bucket list event for ocean swimmers and starts and ends at Main Beach.
Summer swimmers at Noosa main beach.
PICNIC IN PARADISE AT FAMILY-FRIENDLY BEACH
Little Cove is just around the corner from Noosa Main Beach and is one of the prettiest beaches overlooking Laguna Bay. Picnic in paradise at the pretty beach which is just 100 metres long and popular with families who trolley in with their snorkels, boogie boards, kayaks and beach toys. Enjoy a dip and then wander down Noosa’s main street to find a top spot to nosh in Noosa.
Picnic at Little Cove.
Guide to more national parks near Noosa
A RIVER RUNS THROUGH IT
You can swim, surf, SUP, kayak, kite-surf, fish and jet ski along the Noosa River. Families enjoy swimming in the waterway, which flows south from the Great Sandy National Park into Laguna Bay. The river foreshore is also perfect for picnics and has free BBQs dotted along its banks. The river winds its way to Noosaville, which is another laidback Sunshine Coast holiday spot.
Take to a SUP on the Noosa river.
HEAD OUT ON A HIKE IN NOOSA
Explore the trails that make up the Noosa Trail Network with Outdoor Adventure Australia, which offers a range of stunning guided hiking tours from single-day hikes right up to multi-day hikes for committed explorers.
Explore the trails with Outdoor Adventure Australia.
VISIT THE NOOSA EVERGLADES
Known as the ‘River of Mirrors’ due to the still, glassy surface that reflects its electric-green surrounds, the Noosa Everglades – one of only two such systems on Earth – is located in the upper reaches of the Noosa River. Hire a canoe and navigate your way into ‘the Narrows’, embark on a guided kayak tour, enjoy a birdwatching expedition and enjoy a swim in the everglades.
The Noosa Everglades are one of only two such systems on Earth.
HIKE TO HISTORIC HARRYS HUT NEAR NOOSA
Head to Harrys Hut, located at the Cooloola Recreation Area, Great Sandy National Park. Accessible only by high-clearance 4WDs, the track to Harrys Hut pinballs through pine plantations, scribbly gum woodlands and cool rainforest in the upper reaches of the Noosa River. The 10-kilometre road ends at the camping ground near to the old timber-getters’ hut that dates back to the mid 1900s. Enjoy a swim in this next-level location.
Hike to Harrys hut.
A MULTI-DAY HIKE FOR HARDCORE HIKERS
Hard-core hikers will enjoy the challenge of the Outdoor Adventure Australia 88-kilometre long five-day, four-night Cooloola Great Walk which will take you through a variety of terrain from mountains, through everglades, past Noosa River and lake and onto Teewah Beach.
WHERE TO PARK TO ENJOY NATIONAL PARKS IN NOOSA
Drive to the council car parks located on Belmore Terrace or Seaview Drive in Noosa to access some of the region’s most popular trails. You can start the Noosa Coastal Track from Sunshine Beach where it’s easier to find parking. You can also use the free bus service which runs to and from Main Beach during school holidays. Walk along Park Road to the entrance of the national park. There’s parking everywhere near the Noosa River and, if you’re heading to Harrys Hut, parking is also a non-issue.