Looking for things to do on the Sunshine Coast? You’ve come to the right place!

I’m so very lucky to live near the Sunshine Coast with its dramatic landscapes, epic golden surf beaches, family-friendly attractions and its laid-back lifestyle. Not to mention all of the yummy local produce, national parks and outdoor adventure opportunities. There are so many things to do on the Sunshine Coast for all ages and interests! 

Living around an hour from the Sunshine Coast, Qld, it’s a regular haunt for us for short breaks, holidays and Sunshine Coast day trips to hang out at the beach. It has such a different vibe to the Gold Coast – it is low rise, leafy and generally life runs at a slower pace. There’s an abundance of family activities on the Sunshine Coast too and you’ll find plenty of free things to do on the Sunshine Coast so you don’t need to put your hand in your pocket all the time to enjoy a great Sunshine Coast holiday. 

If you’re planning to visit the Sunshine Coast, read on to learn about the best Sunshine Coast tourist attractions and the best places to see on the Sunshine Coast!

Sunshine coast scenic beach view

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Things to do in the Sunshine Coast, Australia

I want to dive straight in and share with you some of our favourite things to do on the Sunshine Coast. Given that we have three kids, our Sunshine Coast activities are always family-friendly and lots of fun.
  
Find attractions, tours and fun things to do on the Sunshine Coast here

Check out accommodation on the Sunshine Coast on Booking.com

Best beaches on the Sunshine Coast

Obviously, the big drawcard for fun things to do on the Sunshine Coast is a visit to the incredible beaches! If you love beaches as much as I do you won’t be disappointed as there are so many beaches on the Sunshine Coast. Your only difficult decision is choosing which beach! 

 
 
 
 
 
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The Sunshine Coast beaches stretch from Noosa in the north right down towards Bribie Island. In between, you’ll find some epic expanses of sand including surf beaches, some hidden gems (like Point Cartwright in the Instagram picture above) and also calm family-friendly waters like Currimundi Lake pictured below (which is a firm favourite of my kids as they go off wading in the water exploring all of the fish and shells they can find!)  

The sand and water at Currimundi Lake Sunshine Coast
You can find a beach to suit your mood – whether you’re looking for dazzling white sand and surf waves (we love Alexandra Headland), or you want to choose a cosmopolitan beach where you can pop around the boutiques and sip a coffee in a pavement cafe in between swims (Noosa it is!) There’s no getting bored of the beaches on the Sunshine Coast. You could easily spend a couple of weeks on the Sunshine Coast and still not feel like you’ve fully explored all of the beaches enough. My only tip is to hop in your car and visit them all and find your favourites. 

You’ll find plenty of surf clubs offering fantastic family-friendly meals for after your day on the sand too (check them out at Noosa, Mooloolaba, Caloundra, Maroochydore, Alexandra Heads, , Coolum, Marcoola and Sunshine Beach). Surf clubs always serve a hearty meal and many of the Sunshine Coast surf clubs have the most incredible views of the sand and ocean.

Explore a range of Sunshine Coast activities on Experience Oz

Find fun things to do on the Sunshine Coast on Get Your Guide

Maleny Dairy

 
 
 
 
 
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Maleny Dairies is a fun attraction to add to your Sunshine Coast itinerary as it’s something the whole family will enjoy. The tour gives you a behind-the-scenes peek inside the family-owned working dairy farm, plus you get to taste lots of the produce too (and then buy it afterwards to take home!)

It’s fun to meet the Guernsey cows and see how the milk is processed and bottled or made into creamy yoghurts, deliciously thick custard and flavoured milks. All of the products are processed on-site and it’s fascinating to see this little dairy running as a self-sustaining operation where they make their own bottles and lids too. You even get to taste milk fresh from the udder with your cupped hands! (It’s a little warm and strange but definitely memorable!) Be prepared to spend a small fortune in the shop afterwards (and come armed with a cool bag filled with ice bricks to safely transport your goodies home). 

Tours cost $14 per person and under twos are free. The tour lasts 1.5 hours. 

Tours take place Monday to Saturday 10am, 11.30am, 1pm and 2.30pm (choose the 2.30pm to see the herd being milked in the dairy!)

Botanic Gardens and Birdworld

 
 
 
 
 
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My kids love going along to any Botanic Gardens as they really enjoy checking out the plant life, the wildlife and the views. Maleny Botanic Gardens is a real treat and is one of their favourites! There is so much to see and do with pretty waterfalls, stone sculptures and fragrant, colourful plants. You can also become a perch for colourful birds which happily sit on your outstretched arms in the area outside the cafe! 

Plus there is the addition of Birdworld there where you can go into the four large aviaries and learn all about the exotic birds that live there (don’t forget to remove all jewellery and earrings as macaws love sparkly things!). From tiny finches to cheeky parrots, it’s a colourful display. Keep an eye on your shoelaces too!  

The attraction is open 9am – 4.30pm daily every day apart from Christmas Day. 

Shop for tickets for Maleny Botanic Gardens and Birdworld on Experience Oz

SEALIFE Sunshine Coast

 
 
 
 
 
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Discover an amazing underwater world at SEALIFE Sunshine Coast Mooloolaba. With touch pools where the kids can hold sea cucumbers, sea urchins and starfish; a fabulously funny seal show with a bit of panto humour thrown in for good measure; and plenty of jaw-dropping glowing jellyfish, it’s one of the best indoor activities on the Sunshine Coast for rainy days (although it’s equally fun on a hot day too!) Top tip: Make sure your kids put their hands up to volunteer during the seal show as they just might get picked to help like my son did! 

It’s fun, educational and your kids will be amazed walking through the glass ocean tunnel – an 80-metre glass tunnel where sharks, rays and swordfish swim above your head. 

Attraction is open 9am – 3pm (last entry at 2pm)

Book discounted entry tickets through Experience Oz here

Book to swim with seals at Sealife here

Eumundi Markets

My kids have never been fond of markets that are all about shops, but Eumundi is a place they LOVE as there is so much food to enjoy! We get to bribe them with delicious doughnuts and sweet and salty satay chicken skewers while we get to enjoy browsing the lanes of artisan treasures. It’s a win, win (although it does usually cost us a small fortune to keep them fed for a few hours while we browse and enjoy the atmosphere!) It’s definitely worth it though!

Eumundi Markets are open Wednesdays 8am – 2pm and Saturdays 7am – 2pm. 

Find out more about Eumundi Markets here

The Ginger Factory

 
 
 
 
 
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My kids have loved every visit to The Ginger Factory and it makes me sad that we might only get one more out of them before the youngest is too grown up for it. It’s a really fun attraction best suited to little kids (I’d say it’s perfect for 0 – 8 and still fun for kids up to 10/12 depending on how cool they think they are!) The first time we took our three they were about 2 and 5 and they had the best time ever. We’ve been back a few times since and they’ve loved it every time although I think my now 12-yos will think they’re a bit too grown up for it all (although secretly they’ll still likely enjoy it).

You can go on site to the shop and cafe and playground for free, but to enjoy the various attractions within the attraction there are fees. There is the Ginger Train where you’re transported through 9 hectares of sub-tropical gardens in a historic train, a gentle little boat ride called Overboard that is all about following the gingerbread man around the world as he escapes the hungry chefs (here you can buy a photo which is a great memento and we bought the book with CD which got so much use when my kids were little!) plus there is a live bee show and factory tour and tasting which are well worth doing.

Go at lunchtime so you can enjoy eating in their cafe which showcases some divine Sunshine Coast produce, and make sure you stop off in the Ginger shop on your way out to pick up some local specials like honey and nuts.  

Attraction is open 9am – 5pm daily. 

The best value is to get the bundle of tickets that includes everything. 

Buy Ginger Factory Tickets through Experience Oz here

Australia Zoo, Sunshine Coast

 
 
 
 
 
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Australia Zoo is a place we go back to again and again and again and again – it’s one of the best things to do on the Sunshine Coast for families. We’ve had annual Australia Zoo passes pretty much every year since we arrived and the kids never get bored of it. It’s such a huge, sprawling attraction that it’s really impossible to see it all in one day.

There is a little train you can hop on to save your legs (it’s handy to get the train to Africa and then walk back so you get to see as much as possible) but if you’re just visiting the area for a short holiday it’s best to either go along for two days on a multi-day pass or be ruthless in choosing how to spend your time. The highlight of the day is the Wildlife Warrior show in the Crocoseum. This takes place daily at 1.15pm and is a lot of fun (make sure you choose a seat in the shade as it’s way too hot to sit in the full sun for the whole show). If you want to eat in the cafe, try to eat before the show as once it finishes the cafe really fills up. 

There are a range of animal talks through the day for you to check out, as well as keepers roaming around with different animals for you to get your photo take with (in addition to the main photo area in the undercover area where you can line up to meet different animals for a professional photo). Don’t forget to check the photo area at the end of the day to buy any prints. There are also a range of animal encounters you can do, and Zoo Keeper for the Day events during the school holidays. We’ve done the echidna experience and it was awesome and well worth the money. 

In addition to the animals, you’ll also find a jumping pillow and a waterpark so if you’re coming with kids, bring their swimmers and towels (there are lockers so you can leave your things if you don’t want to cart them around with you all day). During the school holidays, there is usually a special treasure hunt of some kind to follow too with a little prize at the end. 

If you’re moving to the area, an annual pass is the best way to save as you can go back time and time again and get a discount on all purchases in the shops and cafe. Believe the hype – Australia Zoo is an amazing attraction and one that we never get bored of. 

Australia Zoo is open daily 9am – 5pm. 

Buy Australia Zoo tickets through Experience Oz here

Sunshine Castle

The Sunshine Coast Castle is a fun, slightly quirky attraction. Australia isn’t known for its ancient heritage buildings, so it feels odd having a Norman castle plonked on the Sunshine Coast like this but I promise you it’s a fun thing to do with kids on the Sunshine Coast. It was actually only built in 1972 by a Scottish couple (even though it looks much older!) and it has turned from a place to display a doll collection into a medieval museum. There is a self-guided treasure hunt which takes you through the atmospheric castle and the great hall. Unfortunately parts of the castle are now closed for safety reasons but it’s still a fun way to spend an hr or two. 

Castle is open 9.30am – 4.30pm Monday – Saturday and 10am – 3pm Sundays. General admission is $8 per person. 

Mary Cairncross Scenic Reserve

Mary Cairncross Scenic Reserve is a fabulous free thing to do on the Sunshine Coast. Here you’ll find a Discovery Centre filled with interactive, multi-sensory displays to learn all about the rainforest, its wildlife and its history. It’s a great indoor activity for rainy days, although if you come on a dry day there is also a large playground outside and 55 hectares of subtropical rainforest to explore with tranquil walking trails. It’s an awe-inspiring place to explore, with so much wildlife to see and rainforest sounds to enjoy. 

The Discovery Centre is open 10am – 2pm faily. The rainforest walks are open 7am – 6pm daily. It is closed during various public holidays. There is a cafe and toilets on site along with BBQs and picnic tables so you can make a day of it. 

Discover Mary Cairncross Scenic Reserve here

Best places to stay on Sunshine Coast

There’s lots of accommodation on the Sunshine Coast, so you won’t be stuck for places to stay. 

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Some of my personal favourites are: 

Ivory Palms, Noosa

Ivory Palms Noosa has great pools and a jumping pillow. It’s leafy and relaxed and a fun place to unwind after a day exploring. It’s also great for families as you get large self-catering villas rather than small hotel rooms or pokey apartments. Noosa is a great base for your Sunshine Coast holiday. 
Check prices at Ivory Palms Noosa here

Breakfree Alexandra Beach Resort

 
 
 
 
 
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Breakfree Alexandra Beach at Alexandra Headlands has the best sprawling pools (my kids can happily spend all day in them!) and it’s a walking distance from the incredible beach and across the road from the local surf club. I originally stayed here on a hosted travel writing trip but now we pay to go back as we love it. 

Check prices at Breakfree Alexandra Beach here

Shop for accommodation deals Sunshine Coast here on Booking.com

Things to do on the Sunshine Coast: Sunshine Coast information to plan your stay

The Sunshine Coast is located in southeast Queensland, just over an hour north of Brisbane. If you’re flying in internationally for a trip to the Sunshine Coast, Brisbane Airport is the place to land. From there, you can hire a car or take a transfer. If you live elsewhere in Australia, the Sunshine Coast Airport connects the region with the rest of the country. 

If you’re looking to head to the Sunshine Coast from the Gold Coast (as I know lots of people are who are in search of Australia’s best beaches!), again hiring a car or hiring a motorhome is the best option although there are transfers and shuttles available if you prefer not to drive. Lots of the attractions on the Sunshine Coast are far apart and public transport can be limited so if you don’t have your own transport you’re going to be relying on tours that collect you from your accommodation on the Sunshine Coast. 

Shop for hire cars on the Sunshine Coast with DriveAway

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You’ll find public transport on the Sunshine Coast provided mainly by Sunbus, with some services by Glasshouse Country Coaches and Hinterland Connect. 

Temperatures on the Sunshine Coast are comfortable year-round, although it does get much cooler in the hinterland (definitely pack some warm things if you’re heading inland during late autumn, winter and early spring). Average beach temperatures range from 20 degrees in July to 28 degrees in summer. Being a lush, green location, expect downpours throughout the year so be sure to pack a rain mac and umbrella. Check out Bom for a 7 day weather Sunshine Coast report here. 

For Sunshine Coast Tourism hop over to the Visit Sunshine Coast website. 

Plan your stay on the Sunshine Coast

I do lots of planning online, but I still prefer to carry a guide book with me while travelling. 

 
 

Sunshine Coast: Things to do

There are so many fun things to do at the Sunshine Coast! I hope this post about these Sunshine Coast activities helps you plan your upcoming trip!

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