Sitting pretty at the northern end of the Sunshine Coast and encircled by surf beaches, a meandering river and luscious hinterland, the Noosa shire is a top choice of destination for an idyllic getaway.
Well known for being the ‘upmarket’ end of the Sunshine Coast, Noosa oozes charm and sophistication. Recognised by UNESCO as a Biosphere Reserve, the region’s commitment to nature conservation and sustainable development means you won’t see any high-rise buildings typical of many coastal cities. That gives Noosa its distinct village feel, and ensures your visit will be one of relaxation, revitalisation and, if you’re after it, a bit of adventure.
Here are ten of the best things to do in Noosa.
With at least eight different surf beaches to enjoy, including Tea Tree Bay and Little Cove, Noosa is a surfer’s dream. If your dream is just to have a go at surfing, then head to Merrick’s Learn to Surf and book yourself some lessons. They offer tuition for age seven and up, so the family can learn to ‘hang ten’ together.
If standing upright on a board doesn’t sound challenging enough, how about a little surf dancing to spice things up? The gang at Surfdancer Academy of Surf will teach you how to bust a move on your surfboard!
There’s no shortage of ways to hit the water in Noosa. Kayak along the Noosa Everglades (known as the River of Mirrors for the amazingly reflective surface of the water), swim at the calm beaches of Laguna Bay and Noosa Main Beach (perfect for the littlies), fish in the open waters off Sunrise Beach, or kite surf at Lake Cootharaba. Pop in to Jetty 17 Boat and Kayak Hire on the foreshore of the Noosa River, and hire a poly boat, water bike, or even a BBQ pontoon for a meal with a difference — all without needing a boating licence.
Without a doubt, a visit to Noosa National Park should be on your holiday to-do list. Most walks through the park take in the stunning coastline, cliffs and surrounding tropical forest. If you’re visiting the region between June and November, follow the walks up to Dolphin Point and Hell’s Gates for the chance to catch sight of the humpback whales heading to their northern feeding and breeding grounds.
Hastings Street is the cosmopolitan centre of Noosa’s universe and a great spot to while away a couple of hours browsing the retail offerings. The strip boasts a mix of high-end fashion boutiques and surf shops, first class restaurants, bustling sidewalk cafes and gorgeous art galleries.
Waterfront dining is de rigueur in this part of the world and there are plenty of chic eateries to choose from along Noosa Main Beach and on the Noosa River. On the riverfront, Noosa Waterfront Restaurant and Bar offers a modern Italian six-course degustation menu and array of a la carte choices (try the pan-fried scallops adorned with squid ink wafers). Also located by the river, Rickys River Bar and Restaurant utilises top quality, locally sourced produce and ingredients to create an unforgettable dining experience. They also have their own pontoon, so you can arrive by private boat, water-taxi or ferry.
A stay in Noosa isn’t all about the water. Pack a picnic basket of goodies and head off on one of the Noosa country drives already mapped out for you by Visit Noosa. You’ll wind your way through the Hinterland’s lush green hills and cool subtropical forests. Be sure to head to Cooroy — regarded as the heart of the Hinterland. Visit Lake Macdonald and the Noosa Botanic Gardens, and stroll to the Fearnley Bird Hide for some native bird spotting.
Another historic town not to miss is Pomona. It has a great pub, a community art gallery housed in the old railway station, and a number of cafes and eateries (including the excellent Pomona Distilling Company bar and bistro). Pomona is also home to the world’s longest running silent movie theatre — The Majestic Theatre. Check their website for details of upcoming classic silent film screenings — some of which are accompanied by a live organist.
Behind the town, you’ll no doubt clock Mount Cooroora — a 439-metre-high volcanic rock. Those up for a challenge can climb it, and the exhilarating views from the top across Noosa’s coastal lakes and the Great Sandy National Park are worth the effort.
If the trek up Mount Cooroora sounds a bit too tough, head for Mount Tinbeerwah instead. It’s a short 130-metre walk from the carpark to a lookout that offers a fantastic view of the coast. Another 300 metres on, you’ll be rewarded with a full 360-degree vista of the region.
The iconic Eumundi Markets are located within easy reach of Noosa and shouldn’t be missed. Here you’ll find stallholders selling their homemade, home-sewn, home-baked and home-grown wares. It’s the biggest artisan market in Queensland. The kids will love the street performers and musicians, while you can grab yourself a massage or have your cards read (for something a little different, have your eyes read instead!). The markets operate every Wednesday and Saturday.
Recognised as the world’s largest sand island, the southern tip of Fraser Island is roughly an hour and half’s drive from Noosa. The UNESCO World Heritage-listed island, which is part of the Great Sandy National Park, can be explored on a full day adventure tour by 4WD.
Noosa stages some amazing annual festivals. If you’re visiting in March, check out the Noosa Festival of Surfing, or dine in style at the famous Noosa Eat and Drink Festival in May. For something a bit ‘out there’, the Australian Body Art Festival is held in Cooroy in April. You can even volunteer to be a body model!
Treat the kids with a visit to Noosa Amore Gelato at the Noosa Marina. Owned by graduates of the Gelato University in Italy (yes, there is such an institution!), the range of gelato includes dairy and sugar-free options. If neither is high on your list of priorities, go crazy at the Belgian chocolate fountain!
For more information, please visit www.visitnoosa.com.au.
Do you have any suggestions to add to our list of the best things to do in Noosa? We would love to hear from you. Please leave a comment below.
Cover image: Tourism and Events Queensland. Additional images: Bigstock
Marianne Diaz is a research scientist by day and a freelance travel writer by night! She has travelled to Sri Lanka to explore her children’s part-heritage, and enjoyed research trips to Japan, and Bloomington, Chicago and Boston in the USA. Marianne’s main travel goal is to get to the Italian Aeolian Islands to check out the other half of her children’s background. She also loves exploring history-laden Australian country towns.