*Disclaimer: Due to the ongoing effects of COVID-19, some of the activities listed may be closed or have changed hours. Follow the latest health advice and contact individual businesses for information about their operations.*
The Sunshine Coast might seem like a holiday destination that’s all about days in the ocean and nights at the bar, but there’s so much more on offer than simple relaxation.
This stunning part of Queensland is packed from hinterland to shoreline with awesome family activities, and is the perfect place to visit during the next round of school holidays.
Wondering what you and the kids can get up to? Wonder no more – we’ve created a comprehensive list of 20 free and paid activities across the Sunshine Coast, covering everywhere from Caloundra to Noosa Heads.
Keep reading to find out what you and your family can get up to on your next Sunny Coast holiday.
South Sunshine Coast
Perfect for families staying near Caloundra or at our Golden Beach resort.
Wondering where the locals go? Here’s what Damien Larkin, Resort Manager at Ramada Resort by Wyndham Golden Beach, recommends:
“A private beach experience should be on everyone’s bucket-list. You can hire our kayaks or paddleboards before driving to Bribie Island, with beautiful coastal scenery and boating and fishing areas. There’s also a secret spot which is half an hour from the resort – Gardner’s Falls in Maleny, a hidden gem in the Sunshine Coast hinterland. There’s shallow pools for children and a larger pool for adults underneath the falls. It’s an ideal spot for a picnic or an afternoon nap under a water gum.”
Explore Glass House Mountains National Park
Outdoors? Tick. Exciting? Tick. Away from technology? Tick.
Bushwalks have all the prerequisites for an awesome holiday activity, and there’s no better place to go for a hike than the Glass House Mountains National Park.
These iconic mountains dominate the surrounding landscape; their craggy summits jut from a vast plain of eucalypt forests and farmland, creating a striking aesthetic that’s captivated Queenslanders for decades.
The most popular walks are Mount Ngungun, Mount Beerburrum, Mount Tiborgargan, Wild Horse Mountain and Mount Beerwah – each offers spectacular views, but range in difficulty from the relatively easy (Mount Ngungun) to the downright difficult (Mount Tiborgargan).
The Glass House Mountains are deeply sacred for local First Nations peoples, so it’s important that you behave respectfully when visiting. If you choose to hike, leave nothing behind but footprints.
Learn more about the Glass House Mountains here.
Visit Caloundra Street Fair
Do you regularly experience Sunday morning caffeine cravings? Satisfy them at Caloundra Street Fair, a weekly congregation of the south Sunshine Coast’s best cooks, performers and craftspeople.
This sprawling street market stretches along Bulcock Street every Sunday, with 120 different stalls and enough exciting activities to keep kids of all ages entertained.
Find out what’s on offer at Caloundra Street Fair here.
Pick fruit in the Strawberry Fields
It’s okay, we’re not recommending you send your kids to work on fruit farms while you relax with a mojito – you’ll all be doing this one together.
The premise is simple: visit the Strawberry Fields farm during strawberry season (which runs from mid-June to mid-December), explore the fields in your own time, and pay for what you pick.
The result is a delicious experience that’s perfect for kids of all ages (just keep in mind that stains, stickiness and red clothes are a strong possibility). If you’d prefer to let the little ones roam freely, you can relax at the on-site Strawberry Fields Café and pick up the tab when they’re finished.
Explore the Strawberry Fields here.
It’s called the Sunshine Coast. How can you pass up the chance to soak up those rays while taking a dip?
Although there’s plenty of amazing beaches near Caloundra, our favourites are Bulcock Beach, Kings Beach, Dicky Beach and, of course, Pumicestone Passage. Each is family-friendly and suitable for kids, with relatively tame surf and dedicated surf lifesavers.
Pumicestone Passage is particularly great for young kids. Because it’s sheltered from the Pacific Ocean by Bribie Island, the waters are calm and still, with the nearby Glass House Mountains providing the perfect backdrop for family photos.
Burn energy at Bells Reach Playground
It might not be as exciting as hiking or picking strawberries, but visiting Bells Reach Playground is a great way for young children to blow off some steam.
Located about 10 minutes from the heart of Caloundra, this recently built adventure playground is designed to accommodate kids of all abilities; features include slides, tunnels, climbing walls, spider nets and tight ropes.
Don’t worry, you don’t have to stand around, constantly checking your watch. The park’s on-site café, Izba Espresso, offers both takeaway and dine-in options suitable for adults and children, so you can get your morning caffeine hit while the kids keep themselves entertained.
Visit Aussie World
Aussie World is one of the Sunshine Coast’s biggest family attractions. Packed with an eclectic line-up of over 30 different attractions, it’s a theme park cast in the image of its home region – quirky, unique and a whole lot of fun.
Explore walk-through attractions like Mayhem Maze and Professor Boggleworth’s Illusionarium, get soaked on water rides like the Plunge and Leak’n Logs, or watch the kids scream their lungs out with adrenaline hits like The Wasp and Redback.
The most recent addition to their arsenal of activities is the SX360, set to debut sometime late 2020. If you’re visiting over the December school holidays, keep your eye out for this one – it looks absolutely terrifying!
Discover Aussie World’s full list of rides here.
Discover Australia Zoo
Is there anyone as quintessentially Aussie as Steve Irwin? The blond-haired Crocodile Hunter quickly became a national icon as he wrestled reptiles and spread awareness about wildlife through television documentaries.
Immortalised after his passing in the Great Barrier Reef, his legacy lives on in Australia Zoo, the massive sanctuary founded by his parents and maintained by his wife and children.
A focus on conservation sets Australia Zoo apart from other animal parks. Enjoy intimate animal encounters, marvel at conservation shows and wander between sprawling enclosures designed to mimic real-world habitats.
It doesn’t matter whether your kids are big or small – Australia Zoo is one Sunshine Coast attraction you can’t afford to miss.
Learn more here.
Marvel at the Queensland Air Museum
Queensland’s largest aviation museum doesn’t sound like the best place to visit on a family holiday (you’re probably already envisioning complaints from the kids about how ‘boring’ museums are).
Well, we beg to differ. Your kids won’t be bored – they’ll be enthralled. The Museum is home to almost a hundred different aircraft that have been meticulously restored to their original conditions.
Get up close with tiny WWII bi-planes, modern fighter jets, massive bombers and a Bell UH-1 Iroquois, the first model of the famous ‘Huey’ helicopter family. It was aircraft like these that shaped the course of the twentieth century, and seeing them in person is a powerful experience that you and your family won’t forget.
Explore the QAM’s full collection here.
Get lost in Bellingham Maze
Everyone likes mazes (it’s okay to admit that you do too). They’re intriguing, clever and a whole bunch of fun, which is exactly why Bellingham Maze should be on your Sunny Coast family itinerary.
With an 80m by 80m hedge maze, a timber maze, a rope maze, mini golf and a variety of other mind-bending challenges, visiting this quirky attraction will keep the kids enthralled for hours.
If you’re worried about getting lost, you can skip the activities and relax at the Maze Café instead. Locally roasted coffee, Devonshire cakes and seasonal lunches are all up for grabs while you wait for the kids to puzzle their way to freedom.
Get tickets to the Maze here.
Kayak the Pumicestone Passage
The Pumicestone Passage is technically free to visit, but this stunning natural attraction is best enjoyed with a paddle in hand. Kayaking and stand-up paddle-boarding are great ways to experience the beauty of the Passage in a fun, leisurely manner (assuming you’ve got good balance).
You can rent both kayaks and SUPs from Ramada Golden Beach. If you’re after something fancier, some local vendors even offer catamarans and sailboards!
North Sunshine Coast
Perfect for families staying near Noosa or at our Marcoola Beach resort.
Here’s what Luke Saunder, Resort Manager at Ramada by Wyndham Marcoola Beach, recommends to his guests:
“Mount Coolum is one of the Sunshine Coast’s ancient volcanic domes and climbing – or walking – to its summit is a must. When you reach the top, you will be greeted with brilliant sunrise views in the hinterland.”
Explore Noosa National Park
Noosa might be famous for its laidback vibe and coterie of delicious eateries, but Noosa National Park is, indisputably, its crown jewel.
This sprawl of rocky coastline, wallum heathland and eucalypt forest is one of the best places for you and your family to soak up the beauty of the northern Sunshine Coast. Populated with hiking trails and panoramic lookouts, Noosa NP also boasts wave-lashed outcrops and quiet beaches – the perfect ingredients for a whole-day hike.
Check out the park’s three sections – Noosa Headland, Emu Mountain and Peregian – and keep your eyes open for wildlife like sea turtles, koalas and dolphins.
Find out more about Noosa National Park here.
Climb Mount Coolum
Rising dramatically from the surrounding landscape, the dome of Mount Coolum is a spectacular platform for viewing both the coastline and the hinterland.
This massive volcanic mountain is crowned by montane heath, a rare type of plant, but it’s the views that you’re really coming for. It doesn’t matter whether you love a good Instagram selfie or prefer a family photo – the amazing, 360-degree views will leave you breathless.
The hike to the summit is short (1.5 hours return) but reasonably difficult. If you’re travelling with young children, Noosa National Park might be a better option for bushwalking.
Discover Mount Coolum National Park here.
Swim in the Fairy Pools
Warning: if you attempt to visit the Fairy Pools, there’s a high chance you’ll run into legions of snap-happy visitors. Yes, this is one photogenic attraction.
The Fairy Pools are two side-by-side rockpools that fill up with seawater when the tide comes in; when the waves recede, clear water remains, framed by jagged stone and bottomed by white sand.
They’re the perfect place for a relaxing dip, and make for an awesome photo opp – try standing on the taller rocks nearby (carefully, please) for top-down pics of your kids floating serenely on their backs.
Learn how to find the Fairy Pools here.
Walk around Point Cartwright Lighthouse
Affectionately labelled ‘Carties’ by the locals, Point Cartwright is big with surfers, but even if you’re not comfortable on a board, it’s still worth a visit.
Why? It’s home to Point Cartwright Light, an operational and pretty impressive lighthouse that dominates the headland.
You can access it via a pair of walking tracks; one travels through bushland, while the other passes the Unitywater Reservoir (not as boring as it sounds – it features a pretty cool mural). Once you get to the top, the kids can explore while you and your partner take in the spectacular ocean views.
Find more details about Point Cartwright Light here.
Spend a day at Lake Weyba
This shallow, saltwater lake is one of the Sunshine Coast’s more unusual natural attractions. With water averaging just a metre deep, it’s the perfect breeding ground for all sorts of fish species – and it also happens to be a perfect half-day adventure.
Relax in the calm, still waters, go for a kayak, or hike in the nearby bushland. Whatever outdoor activity your family enjoys, you can probably do it at Lake Weyba.
You also can’t go past a picnic lunch – the atmosphere is so perfectly tranquil that you’ll want to spend as long as possible there. Just remember that places like Weyba depend on visitors being responsible, so please ensure that you take all your rubbish with you when you leave.
Visit The Big Pineapple
For decades, pineapple farms have been a staple of North Queensland’s agricultural industry, and the Big Pineapple is 16-metre homage to them. This titanic fibreglass fruit is pretty cool in its own right, but it’s also surrounded by a bunch of awesome activities that will keep the kids entertained all day.
Strap on a harness and go climbing at TreeTop Challenge, or take a ride on the heritage-listed Big Pineapple Train, which meanders through rainforest, bamboo thickets and orchid gardens.
The train also stops at Koala Station, the entrance to another Big Pineapple attraction – Wildlife HQ. This awesome little zoo houses over 200 species from around the world, and features one of the largest collections of primates in Queensland.
For more information about the Big Pineapple, go to bigpineapple.com.au.
Experience SEA Life Sunshine Coast Aquarium
There’s a bunch of different wildlife sanctuaries on the Sunshine Coast, but SEA Life is definitely worth a visit.
Divided between 11 different zones, it’s an aquarium that introduces you to some of the world’s most elusive marine life in displays that mimic their natural habitats.
Wander through the glass-domed Ocean Tunnel, laugh at the antics of Seal Island’s denizens, get hands-on at the Tidal Touchpool, and keep the little ones engaged with an interactive Finding Dory experience.
Head over to SEA Life’s website to book your tickets and seal the deal (we couldn’t help it, sorry).
Explore The Ginger Factory
If you’re not an Aussie, it might surprise you to learn that ginger is actually popular here. Really popular. So popular, in fact, that there’s an entire tourist-friendly factory dedicated to it.
The Ginger Factory is the home of Buderim Ginger, The World’s Finest Ginger™, and is designed to entertain everyone, from the smallest to the biggest members of your family.
From Moreton the Ginger Train and interactive bee shows to ice creams and factory tours, visiting isn’t just about the ginger (although there’s plenty of that too) – it’s a delightful experience that will firmly embed itself in your holiday memories.
Check out The Ginger Factory here.
Visit Bli Bli Watersports Complex
The beach getting too boring? Kids keep picking their iPhones over the water? Snap them out of it with a trip to Bli Bli Watersports Complex.
Comprised of three different parks, Bli Bli has options for literally everyone.
If your kids are at the age where they think water slides are childish, they’ll love the adrenaline rush of high-speed wakeboarding.
For something more lowkey, the Aqua Park’s interconnected inflatable slides are awesome fun, while the Barra Fishing Park is perfect for teaching the family how to hook a catch.
Discover what’s on offer at Bli Bli Watersports Complex here.
Ride with Noosa Horse Riding
Okay, we admit it – horse riding isn’t suitable for everyone. There’s an age limit of ten years old, and climbing on the back of a living, breathing animal can be a bit disconcerting, even for adults.
Once you overcome your initial hesitation, though, you’ll open yourself up to a truly rewarding experience. There’s something primal about exploring the land without technology – just you and your equine companion, trekking across sand and through bushland, absorbing the beauty of nature.
Noosa Horse Riding offer five different pricing options, with rides around Lake Weyba and along nearby beaches. To find out which rides match your family’s ability, click here.
|Wyndham Golden Beach|
|Address||Phone||Website||Cost per person||Time From Resort|
|Glass House Mountains||Varies||–||Click here||Free||From 37 minutes|
|Caloundra Street Fair||Bulcock St, Caloundra QLD 4551||(07) 5492 5977||Click here||Free||9 minutes|
|Strawberry Fields||133 Laxton Rd, Palmview QLD 4553||(07) 5494 5146||Click here||Free||25 minutes|
|Bells Reach Playground||25 Bells Reach Dr, Caloundra West QLD 4551||–||–||Free||12 minutes|
|Aussie World||1 Downunder Drive, Palmview QLD 4553||(07) 5494 5444||Click here||From Free||24 minutes|
|Australia Zoo||1638 Steve Irwin Way, Beerwah QLD 4519||(07) 5436 2000||Click here||From $35||27 minutes|
|Queensland Air Museum||7 Pathfinder Dr, Caloundra West QLD 4551||(07) 5492 5930||Click here||From $10||9 minutes|
|Bellingham Maze||274 Tanawha Tourist Dr, Tanawha QLD 4556||(07) 5445 2979||Click here||From $15||28 minutes|
|Kayak the Pumicestone Passage||–||–||–||Varies||From 35 minutes|
|Wyndham Marcoola Beach|
|Address||Phone||Website||Cost per person||Time From Resort|
|Noosa National Park||Palm Grove Cct, Noosa Heads QLD 4567||13 74 68||Click here||Free||39 minutes|
|Mount Coolum||Carpark at Jarnahill Dr-Tanah St W junction, Marcoola QLD 4573||–||Click here||Free||7 minutes|
|Fairy Pools||Palm Grove Cct, Noosa Heads QLD 4567||13 74 68||Click here||Free||39 minutes|
|Point Cartwright Lighthouse||LOT 577 Pacific Blvd, Buddina QLD 4575||1300 847 481||–||Free||20 minutes|
|Lake Weyba||Varies||–||–||Free||From 24 minutes|
|The Big Pineapple||76 Nambour Connection Rd, Woombye QLD 4559||(07) 5442 3102||Click here||From Free||20 minutes|
|SEA Life Sunshine Coast Aquarium||Parkyn Parade, Mooloolaba QLD 4557||–||Click here||From $24.80||17 minutes|
|The Ginger Factory||50 Pioneer Rd, Yandina QLD 4561||(07) 5447 8431||Click here||From Free||23 minutes|
|Bli Bli Watersports Complex||367 David Low Way, Bli Bli QLD 4560||(07) 5448 7555||Click here||From $26||8 minutes|
|Noosa Horse Riding||22 Wills Rd, Weyba Downs QLD 4562||0438 710 530||Click here||From $95||23 minutes|
Feeling ready for your Sunshine Coast adventure? Book your family holiday now.