There’s nothing like ascending atop a vantage point to bask in the breadth and beauty of the landscape to appreciate your surroundings. With its undulating hills, dramatic mountains and rugged coastlines, the Sunshine Coast is abundant with spectacular lookouts to connect with and understand the landscape as you traverse throughout the region.
A major drawcard for visitors to the Sunshine Coast is its beautiful long, golden, windswept beaches. Stretching from Caloundra to Noosa, the region is famous for its laid back towns and relaxed vibes. A great way to get your chill on is to hit up the incredible lookouts that dot the coastline and watch the day dawn or descend into nightfall.
Ma & Pa Bendall Lookout
Closest to Brisbane, the Sunshine Coast’s southernmost seaside town, Caloundra, harbours a beautiful lookout to gaze upon the landscape. Drop in to see your parents at Ma and Pa Bendall Lookout to get breathtaking coastal views across the ocean and the pristine beaches that extend northward. It’s a beautiful place to watch the sun dip below the horizon in the west after a day of adventuring, but for a magical experience, nothing beats an oceanic sunrise.
Point Cartwright Lighthouse
Halfway up the coast at the bustling twin towns of Maroochydore and Mooloolaba is the quirky hexagonal lighthouse of Point Cartwright. And where there are lighthouses, there are exceptional views. (Well, except at Caloundra, where the lighthouses aren’t even near the ocean for some bizarre inconceivable reason. Heathens!)
Situated on a headland that concludes the southern beaches before the coast sweeps westwards and north, the lighthouse provides sweeping panoramic vistas of the northern beaches and extensive ocean views.
It’s one of the best places on the Sunshine Coast to capture the setting sun over the ocean (sort of) and to watch the whales breaching during whale watching season. As for sunrise, well, that’s a revelation around here.
Further up the coast into the northern section of the Sunshine Coast lies Point Arkwright. Situated on a small headland just south of the idyllic town of Coolum, the lookout is a quieter spot that has uninterrupted ocean views, which makes it another good place for on-shore whale watching. The main drawcard here, though, is the long stretch of golden sand that extends south. It’s a lovely spot to unravel the picnic blanket, gobble down some chow and spend a few hours.
At the town next over, what makes Coolum unique to the other Sunshine Coast beaches is that instead of long, sandy stretches of golden sand, it has some small, picturesque sheltered beaches surrounded by rocks and cliffs. It’s a nice change-up to the scenery and gives a lovely secluded feel. Whilst you can see them walking along the footpath that follows the cliff line, an even better place to view these stunning beaches is Point Perry.
Point Perry takes you closer to the ocean and offers a different perspective of the beautiful sheltered beach to the south and is the perfect place to “sit back, relax, enjoy it while you still have it” because if you miss it, you will look back on your time in Coolum and “only see tragic”. And you can be better than that. Alright, enough quoting the John Bulter Trio. “Do it. Just DO IT!” Okay, that was Shia Lebouf, sorry!
If you’re looking to combine an oceanic sunrise or sunset with a workout on your glutes, then Mt Coolum is an incredible walk that will get the buttcheeks burning. It’s only 800 metres to the top, but it’s all uphill, on steps, but what you and your hiney are rewarded with is a spectacular sweeping panoramic of the coastline to the south and plains, rivers and mountains to the east. Along the way, there are sections of open areas due to the nature of the mountain, so even while as ascending, you often have beautiful visuals as you make your way to the top.
Devils Gate & Hells Kitchen
Noosa National Park
At the very top of the Sunshine Coast lies a series of beautiful, scenic lookouts that you can knock off in a spectacular day of oceanside exploration. Taking the name from the idyllic town which it resides, Noosa National Park is a stunning rugged coastal heaven.
Of particular interest is the Coastal Walk, which follows the ocean and takes walkers to numerous scenic spots along the way. The prettiest and most dramatic are the ones with ominous names. Hells Gate and the Devil’s Kitchen are headlands that cap off the end of the national parks own secluded beach. They sound like a throwback to the sea-faring days when one-eyed, depth-perception affected pirates with spyglass telescope were trying to make land without dashing themselves to pieces.
But you know what they say about beautiful things, they are always the most dangerous, and Hells Gate and the Devils Kitchen with their high cliffs and rocky bases are definitely both of those things.
The Glass House Mountains
The Glass House Mountains is a treasure trove of natural beauty. The jewel in the Sunshine Coast’s crown, the numerous rugged peaks never disappoint. Driving through the southern suburbs of the region, you can’t miss the dramatic mountains that rise dramatically amongst the fields. Between the 17 classified mountains, several of the distinct jagged peaks have incredible views of breathtaking scenery.
The most popular summit walk of all the Glass House Mountains is for sure Mt Ngungun and with good reason. Not only is it the easiest to ascend in terms of steepness, but the sweeping, panoramic views from the bare-faced top are also utterly spectacular. The other Glass House Mountains can be seen every which way, with the jagged peaks of Mt Coorowin and Mt Beerwah to the west and an array of the other distinct peaks, including Mt Tibrogargran dominating the skyline to the south. It’s a magnificent way to view the surrounding areas and appreciate the millions of years of erosion and change it look for the landscape to evolve to its current beauty.
Wild Horse Mountain
For a short walk with spectacular views of the Glass House Mountains, you can’t go past Wild Horse Mountain. Situated just off the Bruce Highway, this trail takes you up to a fire tower where you can not only view the iconic jagged peaks but also see across the landscape to Pumistone Passage, Bribie Island and beyond.
But if you thought that this was going to be an easy walk, you’re mistake. No, no, no, the Glass House Mountains doesn’t do easy walks. The track might be a concreted driveway, but it steep!!! Prepare to murder your glutes and calves, but the sweeping views are worthwhile, and the tower at the top is covered, so you needn’t fear getting burnt to a cinder as your body recuperates and your eyes gaze at the landscape.
Views Of The Glass House Mountains
While the Glass House Mountains provides excellent views combined with exercise, but for those who would like vantage points that are “Oh, let me down easy. Whoa!” there are also several drive-to lookouts where you can see the spectacular jagged peaks.
Glass House Mountains Lookout
While there are plenty of spots in and around the Glass House Mountains where you can stop and take photos of the dramatic mountains, there’s not a whole lot of places to just stop for a while and drink in the scenery.
That’s where the Glass House Mountains Lookout come into their own. There are viewing areas to get your photos at, but there’s also picnicking areas, so you can fill your belly and have a stretch whilst appreciating the stunning natural beauty you find yourself in.
McCarthys Lookout & Mary Cairncross Scenic Reserve
If you’re day-tripping a little north of the Glass House Mountains, there are still places you can see these iconic peaks. One of the more well-known places is from Mary Cairncross Scenic Reserve. It’s not a lookout per-se, but the view from the front of the serene reserve provides a lovely uninterrupted glance across to the jagged peaks. If you’re looking to have a sit-down and maybe dine at a picnic table, the nearby McCarthys Lookout just down the road provides similar views of the beautiful range.
Kondalilla National Park
For another walk on the Sunshine Coast that leads to a view, Baroon Lookout is another must. Situated in the southern section of Kondalilla National Park, the walk is an interesting one in itself. Not only are there beautiful views of Baroon Dam and the stunning Obi Obi Gorge that feeds it, but you also traverse past mini gorges, along a crystalline creek and to a hidden waterfall.
It’s a lovely way to spend a few hours in the cooling rainforest hinterland and with the beautiful view, culminates in a day well spent.
The Sunshine Coast has a plethora of peaceful, scenic lookouts for every type of adventurer to enjoy. From places that you drive into to mountains you have to hike, the region is brimming with places to visit that’ll allow you to appreciate its stunning landscapes and vistas in all their glory. Which ones will you be hitting up when you visit the beautiful Sunny Coast.
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