The beach town of Noosa is one of the most popular holiday destinations in Queensland. Its popularity is not a surprise with the number of awesome things to do in and around it. It’s packed with stunning beaches, plenty of day trip options, lots of breweries, good shopping and it has some beautiful hinterland drives to be had. It’s also famous for its incredible surf, amazing coastline and of course the winding Noosa River packed with ultra-fancy houses, owned by the rich and famous.
Located on the Sunshine Coast, Noosa is under two hours from Brisbane, the Queensland capital city. Luckily for us, we recently moved to the Sunshine Coast and we are now just a half hour drive from Noosa! Since we now spend way more time exploring our own backyard (thanks to Covid), we have spent a lot of time in and around the area.
So, if you are planning a trip to the Sunshine Coast, check out this list of 16 amazing things to do in and around Noosa.
1- Spend the morning exploring Noosa National Park
One of our favourite things to do in Noosa and a must-do is to visit the Noosa National Park.
You can spend the morning or even the whole day walking along the coastal route and along the many paths within the national park. There are lots of little bays to take a swim and cool down at so bring your bathers. There are also many benches to take a rest and enjoy the incredible views for a while.
If you visit between July and October, you might even spot some whales, as they do like to hang around the Sunshine Coast around that time of the year.
The entrance of the Noosa National Park is walking distance from the Main Beach. You get there by walking along a wooden boardwalk beside the ocean.
If you are not staying near Noosa’s Main Street and need to drive to the entrance, there is free parking at the entrance. However, it fills up very quickly. You’ll need to arrive very early to find a spot.
We normally park in Sunshine Beach instead and walk to the Sunshine Beach entrance to the national park that is located at the northern end of Sunshine Beach. There are quite a few steps to climb, so it a little harder but it’s much easier to park.
2- Take a sunset cruise along the river
There’s nothing quite like watching the transition from daylight to dusk over the Noosa River.
Join Noosa River & Canal Cruises for a sunset cruise and bring your own drinks and snacks to enjoy as you listen to the skipper’s commentary about the river, the town, and the stories of some of the houses along the river. You’ll be surprised to hear how much some of those houses recently sold for!
The two-hour cruise costs $33 for adults and $21 for children. We highly recommend it as a fantastic way to start the evening.
3- Learn to Surf
Noosa is a world-class surfing destination, so if you’re a surfer, you’ll have a great time surfing the waves here.
If you’re not a surfer but want to learn, consider taking surfing lessons at Noosa Main Beach. This stunning white-sand beach is a perfect place to relax after your lesson.
Be sure to choose a local instructor – there are many to choose from in Noosa Heads
4- Shop till you drop or people watch on Hasting Street
Hasting Street was voted the best main street in Australia. It’s the heart of Noosa and a great place to people-watch.
You’ll find plenty of shops, cafes, restaurants, tour operators, hotels, and everything else you might need. It’s also right next to the main beach.
Personally, I find it too fancy for my taste, and parking can be a hassle, but I know many people who love it. To each their own!
5- Take a canoeing trip to the Noosa Everglades
There are only two everglades in the world – one in Florida and one in Noosa. The Noosa Everglades, also known as the “river of mirrors” because of its stunning reflections, is home to 44% of native bird species found in Australia – more than you’ll find in Kakadu National Park in an area 25 times smaller.
The best way to experience the Noosa Everglades ecosystem is by canoe, and Everglades Eco Safari offers daily tours with hotel pick-up.
You can either stay on the vessel and enjoy the views or opt for the 5-kilometer canoe ride from Fig Tree Point to historic Harry’s hut. It’s a lot of fun and a unique way to see the Everglades.
6- Hike up Mount Coolum
As you approach the Sunshine Coast airport by air, you can’t miss the imposing view of Mount Coolum.
Standing 208 meters above sea level, this mountain offers breathtaking panoramic views of the Sunshine Coast from the top, which you can reach by hiking up a steep trail that traverses the rock face.
The first part of the track is a nice stroll through native bushland and forest. Be careful on the slippery, rocky section near the top, especially when it’s wet.
It takes about 45 minutes to climb up and about 30 minutes to hike down. The trailhead is about a 30-minute drive from Noosa, or you can take the No. 620 bus.
7-Relax on the beach
The Sunshine Coast is known for its beautiful beaches, and Noosa has some of the best. With white sand and crystal-clear water, you’ll want to lay your towel down and relax.
Some beaches, like Noosa Main Beach, Alexandria Bay, and Sunshine Beach, are great for surfing, while others, like those at Noosa Spit, are perfect for swimming because the water is protected and calm.
All of Noosa’s beaches are worth a visit for all you beach bums out there!
8- Browse through the Eumundi Market
Eumundi Market is a must-see attraction, drawing visitors from all over every Wednesday and Saturday.
With over 600 stalls offering handmade furniture, homewares, art, ceramics, fashion, food, health products, and jewellery, there’s so much to see and explore as you wander through the rows of this fascinating market.
Starting with just 3 stalls in 1979, it has grown to become Australia’s largest and best artisan market. All items sold at the market are locally made.
Whether you love artisan wares or simply want some good food, the Eumundi Market is the perfect place to buy souvenirs of the region.
It runs from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. every Wednesday and from 7 a.m. to 2 p.m. every Saturday, rain, or shine.
9- Check out the views at Mt Tinbeerwah Lookout
Mt. Tinbeerwah lookout trail is just a 15-minute drive from Noosa Heads and perfect for those who want breathtaking views without a strenuous hike. The 1-kilometer return trail is easy, and the stunning views from the top include both the hinterland and the coast.
The walk is wheelchair and stroller accessible to the first lookout point, which offers views of the coast.
If you continue past the first lookout to the fire tower lookout (an additional 300 meters), you’ll be treated to panoramic 360-degree views of Noosa and the Pacific Ocean.
Don’t miss this opportunity to take in the magnificent vistas.
10- Visit the Noosa Botanic Gardens
The Noosa Botanic Gardens are in the hinterland near Cooroy, on the shores of Lake Macdonald.
Comprising eight hectares of native and exotic plant species, these gardens are home to an abundance of wildlife and a great place for a leisurely stroll or picnic with friends.
There are picnic tables, as well as many benches scattered throughout the gardens, providing a peaceful spot to sit and enjoy the surroundings. The outdoor stone amphitheatre overlooking Lake MacDonald is a beautiful location for photos.
The gardens are open 24/7 and are free to enter. You can get there by car or taxi, which takes about 25 minutes from Noosa.
11- Hire a BBQ boat on the Noosa River
The beautiful Noosa River winds its way around small inland islands before emptying into the sea at the River mouth.
A great way to spend a magical day on the river is by hiring a small boat and cruising along, taking in the stunning mansions along the way and stopping whenever you feel like it. You can anchor the boat wherever you want and jump in for a refreshing swim or find a secluded beach to enjoy with friends.
There are many boat rental companies along the Esplanade in Noosaville. We recently used O-Boat-Hire and were very happy with their boat and service. Most of their boats come with an esky, and some even have BBQs onboard, so bring some snags and have a full Aussie day on the water.
Note: You don’t need a license to hire a BBQ pontoon boat, as they are easy to drive and operate. Prices will vary depending on the size of the boat and how long you want to rent it for.
12- Go paddleboarding
After moving to the Sunshine Coast, we finally discovered the joy of paddle boarding and bought our own board. We absolutely love it now!
There are many amazing places to paddle board on the Sunshine Coast, and Noosa is no exception. In Noosaville, you can rent a paddle board starting at $20 per hour, hop on and start paddling. There are many rental locations along the river to choose from.
13- Check out some of Noosa’s many breweries
As a beer lover, you’ll be in for a treat on the Sunshine Coast, which is home to 21 breweries!
Even if you’re not a big beer drinker, a cold brew can be the perfect way to cool down on a hot summer day.
There are a few breweries a short drive from Noosa, like Land & Sea Brewery (the Sunshine Coast’s first brewery), Heads of Noosa, and Boiling Pot Brewery.
If you don’t have a designated driver, consider going on a craft beer tour so everyone can enjoy a taste.
14- Go 4WD driving along the Great Beach Drive to Rainbow Beach
One of the best day trips is to drive up to Rainbow Beach or K’Gari Island (formerly known as Fraser Island) along the Great Beach Drive.
However, you’ll need to either rent a 4WD or book a tour to do this. The Great Beach Drive connects the Sunshine Coast with the World Heritage-listed K’Gari Island. It’s a road trip like no other, taking you along some of the world’s most stunning beaches through idyllic national parks and heritage-listed areas.
It’s one of the longest beach drives in the world and is breathtaking, with the sparkling blue ocean on one side and colourful sand dunes and natural Australian bushland on the other.
If you don’t have much time, you can just drive from Noosa’s north shore to Double Island Point or Rainbow Beach and back in a day. If you have more time you can do the entire drive and cross to K’Gari Island. Either way, you’ll have an amazing time with views to die for that you’ll remember forever.
Note: If you’re driving yourself, be sure to check the tides before starting your beach drive, as it can be stressful for a first-time beach driver when the water gets too close to your car! For more information on Rainbow Beach, click here.
15- Take a trip to K’Gari Island (Fraser Island)
K’Gari Island, also known as Fraser Island, is famous for being the largest sand island in the world. It’s only a two-hour drive from Noosa.
While you can visit as a day trip, we recommend spending a couple of days to properly explore this natural wonder. Daily tours leave from Noosa to Fraser Island, and this is a must-do if you have some extra time.
Some highlights of the island include 4×4 safaris on off-road tracks, beach driving, swimming in the sparkling blue Lake MacKenzie, floating down Eli Creek, and spotting wild dingoes.
Read more about K’Gari here.
16- Take a trip to the hinterland
One of the best things about the Sunshine Coast is that it’s not just the coastal towns that are worth a visit. The hinterland is full of charming towns that are worth exploring, like Maleny, Montville, Flaxton, Kenilworth, and more.
Our clear favorite is Maleny, which boasts stunning botanic gardens, Birdworld, and incredible views. But don’t miss the opportunity to explore at least one of these hidden gems during your visit to the Sunshine Coast.
Where to stay in Noosa?
On The Beach Noosa Resort
On The Beach Noosa Resort is located on Hastings Street and right across from the Main Beach. The area offers many shopping and dining options. These self-contained apartments include a spa bath and private balcony with ocean views. Guests enjoy an outdoor pool, a spa pool, and a fitness centre. Find their latest prices here.
Noosa Boutique Apartments
This small boutique resort is just 600 metres from Noosa Main Beach and Hastings Street. It offers individually decorated apartments with air conditioning, plus a heated outdoor pool and spa pool.
Culgoa Point Beach Resort
Situated on the Noosa River and offering private beach access and marina berths, these self-contained apartments feature a balcony or patio offering lovely beach, marina, or river views. The resort features a pool, sauna, and tennis court.
Noosa Outrigger Beach Resort
Set overlooking the beautiful Noosa River, Noosa Outrigger Beach Resort is less than 1 minute walk from cafes and restaurants. Each apartment has its own private balcony or courtyard.
These luxury 4.5-star apartments feature an open-plan lounge and dining area, plus a fully equipped kitchen. Guests can enjoy views of the Noosa River, the pools, or the gardens. Find their latest prices here.
If you are on a budget, Noosa Flashpackers is your place to go. Guests of Noosa Flashpackers enjoy free WiFi, free breakfast, a free bus shuttle and a swimming pool. It offers dormitory rooms and private accommodation, only 5 minutes’ walk from Noosa National Park. Find their latest prices here.
If you prefer to camp or glamp, we highly recommend the Habitat Noosa. Habitat Noosa Everglades Eco Camp was awarded “Australia’s Best New Tourism Business”. It is located 25 minutes from Noosa and is set amongst 65 acres of National Park. It is perched on the edge of picturesque Lake Cootharaba and has its own beach, its own restaurant, and its own brewery!
Accommodation options range from campsites (powered and unpowered) to Glamping tents there is a something to suit all guest comfort levels. Stand up paddle boards, canoes, wave skis, kayaks and tinnies are available for hire. The Everglades Eco Safaris start from here. Find their latest prices here.
If none of those are suitable, use the search box below to search across all available accommodation websites: