Backpacking the Sunshine Coast

translate website
  • sunshine-coast-100828
  • sunshine-coast-004065
    YOU WILL FIND LOTS OF EXCELLENT SURFING LOCATIONS: Photo courtesy of Tourism Queensland
  • sunshine-coast-029028
  • sunshine-coast-103524
Destination quick search
Australian destinationsQuickly find information about over 200 Australian destinations.
Select destination
Sunshine Coast location map
Backpacker hostels and budget accommodation
Finding work in Australia

Sunshine Coast Highlights

  • Excellent destination for surfers, with many great surfing locations all along the coast.

  • Endless white sandy beaches, perfect for swimming, surfing, chilling out in the sun and other water activities.

  • Good place to learn to surf at one of the many surf schools.

  • Go canoeing and kayaking through the many waterways and lakes

  • Popular for other water sports such as jetskiing, kite surfing and sea kayaking.

  • Head to Noosa Heads for great cafes, restaurants and bars.

  • Explore some of the stunning scenery in the national parks.

  • Visit the charming and quaint towns in the Sunshine Coast Hinterland and admire the surrounding beautiful and lush scenery.

  • Head to the Eumundi Markets with over 350 stalls to choose from.

  • Visit Australia Zoo, home of the Crocodile Hunter! Here you can cuddle a koala, hand-feed Asian Elephants, walk with a Sumatran Tiger and watch a crocodile launch from the waters edge.

  • Walk amongst thousands of marine and freshwater animals including giant sharks, stingrays, sawfish and tropical reef fish in the 80 metre transparent tunnel in the 2.5 million litre Oceanarium at Underwater World.

  • Take a skydive over the coast and land on the beach.

About the Sunshine Coast

Population 260,000

Located about an hour's drive north of Brisbane, the Sunshine Coast is one of Australia's premier holiday destinations. Here you will find a combination of pristine sandy surf beaches, lush hinterland, cosmopolitan cities, charming villages and towns and plenty of things to see and do.

The Sunshine Coast begins at Caloundra in the South and extends to Cooloola, the gateway to World Heritage Listed Fraser Island in the north. In between the main centres include Maroochydore and Mooloolaba in the centre and Noosa Heads towards the northern end. The region also includes the lush hinterland areas of the Glass House Mountains, Blackall Range, Noosa Hinterland and the Mary Valley.

If you are heading north, then this is definitely a place to stop along the way and spend some time. It is not as developed, or as commercial as the Gold Coast.  It is just a great place to chill, or seek out some excellent adventures.

Main centres on the Sunshine Coast



This is probably the best-known area on the coast and one of the nicest places to visit. The main spot is Noosa Heads. Here you will find beautiful beaches, stunning Noosa National park with its abundant wildlife and stylish Hastings Street with its great cafes, restaurants, shops and resorts.

If you are looking for a more chilled out experience take a canoe, kayak or river cruise up the Noosa River, which extends through a series of lakes up to the stunning and pristine Noosa Everglades.

The area is also next to the southern end of the spectacular Cooloola section of the Great Sandy National Park. Here you can discover long beaches backed by high sand dunes, wildflower heaths, freshwater lakes, woodlands, forests and plenty of wildlife.

The natural beauty of Noosa and its surrounds has been recognised by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) as an official Biosphere Reserve.


Located about half way along the coast, Maroochydore is the most developed area and the commercial hub of the Sunshine Coast.

Here you will find high-rise apartments and resort complexes, the Sunshine Coast's largest shopping centre, Sunshine Plaza and plenty of good places to eat and grab a drink.

Like everywhere else on the coast, there are great beaches for surfing and swimming. The Maroochy River is good for other water sports such as fishing, canoeing, kayaking and boating and around the river mouth is very popular for kite-surfing.

A nice way to explore the area is to take the walk from Cotton Tree to Alexandra Headland and along the way you will see some stunning ocean views.


Mooloolaba is one of the more vibrant areas on the coast. There is the esplanade, which is full of great cafes, restaurants, shops and luxury resorts. There are plenty of nice beaches for swimming and surfing.

At Underwater World, you can see some amazing ocean creatures, including giant sharks and manta rays in the 80-metre transparent Oceanarium tunnel.

Alternatively, just north of Mooloolaba, east of Mudjimba Island, you can explore the ex-HMAS Brisbane, a world-class diving site, which boasts over 80 different marine species. 

The Mooloolaba River and surrounding canals are also popular places for other water sports such as boating, canoeing, kayaking and fishing.


Located at the southern end of the coast, Caloundra is better known as a family holiday destination. There are plenty of nice beaches here for swimming and surfing and there is also the Pumicestone Passage along the southern foreshore of the city, which is popular for boating, canoeing, kayaking, windsurfing and fishing.

A great way to explore the area and take in some excellent views of the coast, is along the Caloundra Coastal Path walking trail. This stretches from Golden Beach to Point Cartwright.

If you are in the area, some of the main nearby attractions include Australia Zoo, Ettamogah Pub and Aussie World, the Big Kart Track and the Queensland Air Museum.


The hinterland includes the areas of the Glass House Mountains, Blackall Range, Noosa Hinterland, Eumundi and the Mary Valley.

The 20 million year old Glass House Mountains are 16 spectacular volcanic plugs that emerge dramatically from the lush green surrounds. They were named when Australia was first discovered by Captain Cook, as they reminded him of the glass-making furnaces from his home town in Yorkshire, England. You can explore these mountains by taking a scenic drive around them, stopping off at one of the many lookouts, or taking a bushwalk to get up closer. For those who want to get really close, why not climb them and then abseil back down. Drop into the Visitor Information Centre in the small township of Glass House Mountains to get more information.

If you want to visit some charming and quaint little towns and villages with great cafes, restaurants, galleries and shops, head to the Blackall Range. The drive from Maleny to Mapleton, through Montville and Flaxton, is one of the most scenic on the Sunshine Coast. Along the way there are some amazing views of the coast and surrounding lush hinterland.

If you after a bit more adventure, you could go bushwalking in Mapleton National Park where you find the spectacular Mapleton Falls, or take one of the walking trails through the lush rainforests of the Mary Cairncross Scenic Reserve in Maleny.

The Noosa Hinterland and Eumundi are good places to explore if you like to find out about local history and culture. Eumundi is also home to probably the most popular markets on the coast. Open every Wednesday and Saturday, there are over 350 stalls selling everything from local produce, crafts, arts, fashion and so much more.

If you want to experience some great local produce and country hospitality, the Mary Valley is a good place to visit. You will find some nice little country towns with traditional Aussie pubs and great cafes. If you want to see some picturesque scenery, you could hike the Conondale Range with its rainforests, plantation forests, lookouts and waterfalls, go horse-riding, or take a ride on the Mary Valley Heritage Railway.

Orientation Map for the Sunshine Coast

View map of the Sunshine Coast in a larger map

Sunshine Coast Visitor Information Centre

Melrose Parade, Corner of Sixth Avenue
Maroochydore, Queensland
Phone 1800 644 969