The Sunshine Coast region of South East Queensland is the idyllic destination for nature lovers. From the long, sandy beaches Australia is famous for, to the iconic Glass House Mountains, the Sunshine Coast has a lot to offer, but that’s not all it has.
Gushing waterfalls, glassy creeks and jagged cliffs are just a few of the incredible offerings that this spectacular region has to offer, and best of all, all of these options come without a price tag.
So put some gas in the tank and discover some of the Sunshine Coast‘s best attractions without putting a hole in your budget.
Get To The Point (Cartwright)
Lighthouses usually have some of the best views in town, and Point Cartwright Light at Beacon Lighthouse Reserve is no exception.
The elevated lookout provides sweeping views to the north, and is an excellent place for the spot of whale watching, assuming you can stay still enough to get a close look at them through the binoculars because it gets windy up here!
There’s also access to the beach below for some isolation and a water tower that’s beautifully painted to enjoy here as well.
Drop In And Visit Ma & Pa (Lookout)
Hidden away at the top of a headland at Caloundra lies Ma and Pa Lookout. This small, barely noticeable lookout on the northern side of the hill provides spectacular views of Moffatt Beach and all that lies to the north of it.
You can see Mt Coolum way off in the distance, and if you pull your binoculars out, the lighthouse at Point Cartwright too. At Moffatt Beach, you can see not only the beach but the delightfully quaint township of Dicky Beach, and the small Swamp Creek that attempts to make its way out to the ocean but falls after not being able to make it over the sand.
It’s a great place to watch the sunset or do a bit of whale watching or shark spotting. You can be the one who screams “SHARK” to the surfers in the waters below and save them all from a limb spitting, body dismembering death. Hahaha, don’t do that. Unless there really is a shark…
Experience The Land Of Rushing Waters – Kondalila Falls
If you have time to visit only one waterfall on the Sunshine Coast, make it Kondalilla Falls. This national park isn’t named Kondalilla for nothing. In Aboriginal, it means Land Of The Rushing Waters, and it lives up to that name in every way rather spectacularly
The 4.7km return walk takes you past two beautiful small waterfalls, one cascade and one single drop waterfall where you can swim, and a lookout with views into the Obi Obi Valley before a steep descent that takes you to the showstopper: Kondalilla Falls.
Ninety metres of glorious water cascading down pitch-black bedrock. It’s glorious after weeks of heavy rain, and with multiple places to view it, along with the aforementioned lookout and waterfalls as well as frogs galore, makes this one of the most beautifully scenic walks in South East Queensland.
Swim At Gardners Falls
Hidden in the back streets of the quirky town of Maleny is a pretty little waterfall called Gardners Falls.
Being so close to town it’s a popular haunt for swimming in the summer months, so be prepared for an onslaught of for people in varying degrees of swimwear. It’s such a lovely spot to stop by even if you aren’t interested in dipping into its frigid waters.
Explore The Glass House Mountains
The Glass House Mountains are a set of incredible, dominating shard-like mountains spread out across the landscape around Beerburrum. You can see them from as far away as Mt Coolum and in the north, Mt Mee in the west and Woodford in the south.
Numerous lookouts and drives will allow you to see these iconic mountains from every which way, and you can hike several mountains but for a short walk that gives your buns an epic workout, head over to Wild Horse Mountain.
It’s one of the lesser-known Glass House Mountains, but it’s one of the best places to see all the well known Glass House Mountains.
- For where to view the Glass House Mountains and which ones you can walk, see my Stalking The Glass House Mountains post.
Drop into the Banana Bender Pub.
What’s that you say? The Banana Bender Pub? That’s a weird name. (Yup, that’s what I thought when I heard the beloved Ettamogerah Pub received a renovation.)
It turns out that there’s a little known factoid that Queenslanders are “Banana Benders”. Attributed to this great states banana-growing region in the north, which grows 90% of the country’s elongated yellow fruit, “Banana Bender” is a tongue-in-cheek reference to farmer folks who spend their days “putting” the iconic “bends” in their bananas.
Considering the Banana Bender Pub is, well, a pub, that correlation was probably the furthest thing from your mind. Images of folks consuming copious amounts of banana-flavoured alcohol or with a banana-adjacent theme is what comes to mind when I hear the term considering the Sunshine Coast is a long-ass way from banana country or even the township Banana.
Regardless of its seldom known and slightly misdirected shoutout to the banana growers in the tropics, the Banana Bender Pub is a delightful, jam-packed assortment of iconic Australiana on steroids, and it doesn’t get any more Aussie than that.
From anthropomorphic Australian animals to caricatures of the country’s most famous faces themed to our enviable laid-back beach lifestyle, the Banana Bender Pub is an exquisite homage to all things Australian, done in typical Aussie fashion, with a tongue-in-cheek side serving of humour.
It’s also a completely functional pub, so while you’re free to peruse through the assortment of beautifully rendered delights, you can also stay for a while and grab some grub or down some beers too
Either way, detouring slightly off the Bruce Highway to visit the Banana Bender Pub is a must-do while you’re travelling throughout the Sunshine Coast. Yes, it’s touristy as all hell, but it’s also endlessly endearing and iconically Australian.
Kayak The Noosa Everglades
Hiding out in the Cooloola National Park north of Noosa is a pristine natural river wonderland. Best explored by kayak or canoe, these incredibly still and reflective waters make you feel as though you are moving through clouds rather than water.
As one of only two everglades in the world, the experience you get from wading these incredibly peaceful waters is unique, unmatched and unforgettable.
Explore Noosa National Park
Noosa National Park in the heart of Noosa and is an absolute gem. Dramatic cliffs, a rocky coastline, lookouts and a secluded beach, this place has everything you could want in a coastal nature hike right next to each other right next to the town.
It’s a spectacular place to visit any time of the day, but the Devil’s Kitchen and Hell’s Gate are the highlights of this incredibly beautiful seaside national park and are even more breathtaking during golden hour.
You could easily spend a whole day in this magical place, yeah, you probably just should. It’s a day well spent.
Ascend Mt Coolum
In the stunning coastal paradise that is Coolum, you can’t help but notice the massive mountain that rises out from the landscape like a zit on a teenagers face.
This massive 206m laccolith that leaves the town in its shadow has a challenging but scenic short 800m walk that takes you up its cliff face to the top and proves stunning panoramic views of the vast ocean and surrounding plainlands.
The views extend past Peregian Beach to the north, Mooloolaba to the south and Mt Ninderry in the west and is an absolute must when visiting this incredible seaside town.
Even if you aren’t able to do this walk or don’t have the time, this stunning, paradisical town has got you covered. Point Arkwright and Point Perry are two phenomenal easy access lookouts that overlook beautiful sandy beaches, but one place that may not be on your radar is Lows Lookout.
It’s a couple of streets behind the main strip, but it provides fantastic views that look north towards Peregian Beach and Noosa. You’re incredibly spoilt for choice when it comes to lookouts here and seeing the lay of the land. It’s one of the most beautiful towns in South East Queensland.
More Sunshine Coast:
The Sunshine Coast is part of the South East Queensland region. Click here to see what South East Queensland has to offer.
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