Beyond the Beaches: the Sunshine Coast gems awaiting discovery.
A serene hideaway just north of Brisbane, Queensland’s Sunshine Coast offers more than what first meets its visitors’ eyes (those iconic pristine beaches).
With its hinterland’s abundant natural beauty, its flourishing culinary scene and its bounty of attractive accommodation offerings, the Sunshine Coast straddles an idyllic line between tranquil retreat and lively holiday destination brimming with nature-fuelled activity.
We take a deep dive and scenic drive into the Sunshine Coast and unearth a host of incredible experiences awaiting discovery – choose your style of adventure:
A gourmand’s getaway, discover the Sunshine Coast’s must-try food and drink experiences
1. Feast around the Weekend Fire Pit at Kenilworth Homestead
A rural town settled within the sprawling Sunshine Coast, Kenilworth is home to a rustic homestead that’s fast becoming a gastronomic hub.
Of a weekend, Terra Firma Dining presents its Weekend Fire Pit at Kenilworth Homestead, offering a feast of local produce slow-cooked over an open flame. This Argentinian-inspired tradition invites guests to wander through vegetable gardens, meet farmyard animals and feast on fire-cooked fare with a backdrop of live music.
2. Step up your cookery skills at Spicers Tamarind Retreat
In its serene, private rainforest setting, the Tamarind Cooking School at Spicers Tamarind Retreat presents a unique opportunity to hone your cooking skills – whether your preferred cuisine is Thai, French, South-East Asian or Italian – while looking out over the estate’s gardens.
Better yet, book yourself a stay in this relaxation-inducing Maleny retreat for a well-earned rest following your best cooking efforts. And, connoisseurs can mark their travel calendars because from 19–20 March 2022, Spicers Tamarind Retreat will host the flavourful Sunshine Coast Asian Food Festival.
3. Traverse the craft beer circuit
It may surprise visitors to learn that the Sunshine Coast is now home to more than 21 craft breweries and distilleries, earning the region the title of Australia’s Craft Beer Capital. From Blackflag Brewing in Mooloolaba to Land & Sea Brewery in Noosaville, to Your Mates Brewing in Warana and hinterland-based Brouhaha Brewery, the greatest challenge is choosing where to start.
Fortunately, Sunshine Coast Craft Beer Tours can guide beer lovers to a selection of the coast’s finest. Choose from a variety of tours, including the Hinterland ExBeerience and the Coastal Hop to begin your Sunshine Coast beer education.
An active escape, where restless travellers flock to burn off energy
4. Take a trek with Narrows Escape Rainforest Retreat
Hike well, eat well and rest well with a luxurious five-night, four-day guided trek along the Sunshine Coast Hinterland Great Walk.
Get up close with verdant rainforest and discover the Blackall Ranges with a personal guide, then rest your weary head at Narrows Escape Rainforest Retreat. And, if you’ve worked up an appetite, never fear: cheese, chocolate and croissants are all part of the package, as are your meals and satisfying snacks.
5. Kayak with platypuses on the Mary River
Be it dusk or dawn, professionally guided or self-guided, leisurely, or more athletic in style, a kayak from Ride on Mary takes you on a journey down the quiet Mary River and puts you directly in touch with nature. You’re likely to spot some friendly platypuses at play, but you’re guaranteed to witness the Sunshine Coast’s natural beauty in all its wild splendour.
6.Snorkel with turtles on Mudjimba Island
Don your wetsuit and hop aboard a Sunreef vessel to snorkel in the clear, blue waters surrounding Mudjimba Island where turtles have been known to hang out. The area is frequented by wobbegongs, rays, nudibranchs, reef fish, crayfish and more. There’s also the vibrant coral and shells of the Mooloolaba reefs that draw snorkellers to the region.
A return to nature, unearth the natural beauty of the Sunshine Coast with these adventures
7. Glide along the Mooloolah River and taste bush tucker
On a traditional wooden sailing vessel named, Spray of the Coral Coast, Saltwater Eco Tours sets sail on a two-hour, immersive Saltwater Cultural Tour of the Mooloolah River.
Aboard the boat, guests learn about Indigenous connections to the river, listen to storytelling and music, and devour a bush-tucker-inspired lunch while Traditional Owner Bridgette Chilli Davis leads an interactive experience.
Expect to taste the likes of lemon myrtle cocktails, fresh Mooloolaba prawns and oysters topped with finger lime pearls, and ingredients sourced from the rainforest – all with a view over the resplendent river.
8. Wander through Mary Cairncross Scenic Reserve
Known as a living museum of wildlife and plant life, Mary Cairncross Scenic Reserve’s unspoiled, subtropical rainforest spans 55 hectares. Looking out over the Glass House Mountains, the reserve is home to a diverse array of animals including 141 species of birds alone.
Step into the Rainforest Discovery Centre, which includes a viewing platform to take in the majestic Glass House Mountains, pop into the Mountain View Cafe, enjoy a barbecue picnic on site, and learn more about the Jinibara people whose land the reserve resides on.
9. Dip your toes in Booloumba Creek
For an immersive nature experience, set up camp at Booloumba Creek – an oasis accessible only by four-wheel drive in the heart of Conondale National Park. Also in the park is striking artwork The Strangler Cairn. Made by world-renowned English artist Andy Goldsworthy, the sculpture has become an attraction that draws in nature and art lovers alike.
A wellness wonderland, where to reach a state of Zen on the Sunshine Coast.
10. Indulge at iconic Ikatan Balinese Day Spa
A sustainability centred, regenerative retreat set among beautifully designed gardens, Ikatan Balinese Day Spa is an award-winning haven where a generous dose of self-care is the order of the day. Here, guests can enjoy singular treatment bookings, or stay for a full day and join in on mindful activities (yoga and meditation), multiple spa treatments and nourishing meals.
11. Follow your bliss to Chenrezig Institute
Live as the Buddhist monks do (at least for a little while) at Chenrezig Institute.
This hidden sanctuary presents the ultimate remedy to a hurried life. Not only an educational institute, this Eudlo-based hinterland hideaway gives visitors the opportunity to wander through extensive gardens and grounds, take yoga and meditation classes, learn Buddhist philosophies, peruse the library and Dharma Shop, and book a seat at the relaxed Big Love Cafe, for chai tea and vegetarian meals.
12. Soak in the Salt Caves of Mooloolaba
Follow the warm, red glow into Mooloolaba’s Salt Caves, touted for their health benefits and calming qualities. Those seeking a unique wellness experience can book in for meditation in the Himalayan salt-clad caves. Then, linger longer for massages, sauna sessions and beauty treatments in a studio that neighbours the beach.