Tucked away on Southeast Queensland's shimmering Sunshine Coast, Noosa is undoubtedly one of the most sublime coastal retreats in the country. Marianne Diaz checks in with suggestions for ten top things to do in this piece of paradise…
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 top things to do in Noosa.
1. Learn to surf… and surf dance!
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 7 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 out on your surfboard!
2. Kayak the Noosa Everglades
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 of 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.
3. Explore Noosa National Park
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 breeding grounds.
4. Shop up a storm on Hastings Street
Hastings Street is the cosmopolitan centre of Noosa’s universe and a great spot to while away a couple of hours browsing the retail offering. The strip boasts a mix of high-end fashion boutiques and surf shops, first class restaurants, bustling sidewalk cafes and gorgeous art galleries.
5. Dine by the water
Noosa offers no end of chic eateries and culinary styles to choose from. Dining by the water is a must, so book a table at the Noosa Waterfront Restaurant & Bar. Their modern Italian menu features dishes like pan-fried scallops adorned with squid ink wafers, along with an array of pastas and pizzas. Right on the Noosa River, you’ll find Rickys River Bar and Restaurant. With a focus on local produce, Rickys is the place to go for an unforgettable seafood experience. They also have their own pontoon, so you can arrive in style by boat, water-taxi or ferry!
6. Take a country drive
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. Here you’ll find Mount Cooroora — a 439-metre-high volcanic rock. Those up for a challenge are welcome to climb it. The exhilarating views from the top across Noosa’s coastal lakes and the Great Sandy National Park are worth the climb. Pomona is also home to the world’s longest running silent movie theatre — The Majestic Theatre. Classic silent films are still being shown here. Check online for screening times.
If you’re after beautiful views but the trek up Mount Cooroora sounds a bit too tough, head for Mount Tinbeerwah instead. Once you’re there, it’s a short 130-metre walk to the lookout for fantastic view of the coast. Another 300 metres on, you’ll be rewarded with a full 360-degree view of the region.
7. Browse the Eumundi Markets
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 Eumundi Markets are open every Wednesday and Saturday.
8. Visit majestic Fraser Island
Renowned as the world’s largest sand island, the southern tip of Fraser Island is roughly an hour and half’s drive from Noosa. The World Heritage-listed island, which is part of the Great Sandy National Park, can be explored on a full day adventure tour by 4WD.
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!
Do you have any suggestions to add to our list of ten top things to do in Noosa? We would love to hear from you. Please leave a comment below.
Cover image courtesy of Tourism and Events Queensland. Additional images: Bigstock
About the writer
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.