Explore the surreal coloured sands of pretty Rainbow Beach, or try paddle boarding or kayaking on the Caloundra or Noosa River. Explore the many national parks, including the volcanic peaks of Glass House Mountain National Park in the Hinterland and Noosa National Park, where you can spot koalas in their natural habitat. Or splash, swim and play on the beaches of the Great Sandy National Park.
Speaking of beaches, the Sunshine Coast is spoiled for choice. Swim or surf at the one of the many sunny, warm beaches along the coast. Coolum, Sunshine, Caloundra are all popular with families. Mooloolaba and Noosa Main Beach are our pick for younger kids, as the water is calm, safe and inviting year-round, and Kings beach offers an oceanfront saltwater swimming pool, child-friendly water park and patrolled beach break.
Get your thrills on rides, slides and more at Aussie World. Ride the rails and see how pineapples are grown at the iconic Big Pineapple. Enjoy close encounters of the feathered, furry and fearsome kind at world-famous Australia Zoo, and don’t miss seeing the Wildlife Warriors in action in the Crocoseum. Head under the sea in the 80-metre ocean tunnel at Sea Life Sunshine Coast, where you’ll find more than 10,000 marine animals, including Australia’s largest collection of jellyfish, seals, sharks, rays and more.
Sunshine Coast For Every Age
The Sunshine Coast is renowned for its beaches, from wild surfing beaches to patrolled family spots. Some of the most popular spots for kids are Coolum, Sunshine, Mooloolaba, Caloundra, Noosa and Kings Beach. You’ll find re plenty of surf schools that specialise in teaching kids how to surf. Noosa Main Beach is one of the most popular locations, due to its smaller waves and waist deep water. And the Pumicestone Passage, a narrow waterway between Bribie Island and Caloundra, is the perfect spot for keen kayakers and stand up paddle boarding. There’s plenty of fun to be found out of the water too at Aussie World, a family theme park on the Sunshine Coast with more than 30 different bumping, sliding, floating and squeal-inducing rides and attractions. Afterwards, head next door to Opals Down Under to get grubby fossicking for gems.
Send the kids on a medieval treasure hunt to hit the royal jackpot at Norman Bli Bli Castle. This awesome Norman-style castle, complete with moat, turrets, towers and drawbridge, will ignite little one’s fantasies of knights and dragons. A farm tour at Maleny Dairies to learn more about where their meat and milk comes from is always a hit with little visitors. And not because they watch a cow being milked and visit the factory, more because they can cuddle up with a few farmyard friends and feed the animals. At The Ginger Factory, kids can join the Gingerbread Man on a fantastic voyage on the Overboard boat ride through a world of animated puppetry, explore and play in the awesome playgrounds and fill up on some of the Sunshine Coast’s best ice-cream. And at the famous Big Pineapple, climb aboard the Pineapple Train for a journey through the rainforest and past zoo animals.
Of course, no family trip to the Sunshine Coast would be complete without a pilgrimage to the amazing Australia Zoo. The zoo’s focus is on conservation through exciting education and you’ll find ample opportunities to meet the resident wildlife including birds, possums, wombats, lizards, alligators and snakes with kids welcome to pat their new-found furry or scaly friends. Not to be missed is the famous Wildlife Warriors show in the Crocoseum where the resident Wildlife Warriors showcase awesome Australian wildlife including some snappy saltwater crocs. For fun of the fishy variety, Sea Life Sunshine Coast at Maloolabah boasts multiple zones where kids can walk amongst thousands of marine and freshwater animals without getting wet. Not to be missed is the chance for a smooch with a seal on a Seal Encounter Tour where kids aged over four can stroke their fur and even shake flippers with one of the super cute critters.
Join an eco-tour of the magnificent Moreton Bay Marine Park to see some marine life up close with the experienced guides from Blue Water Kayak Tours. Head to the Great Sandy National Park by four-wheel drive to explore the famous coloured sand cliffs of Rainbow Beach, learn to surf, kayak with dolphins and whales and try your hand at kitesurfing with Epic Ocean Adventures. For an even closer encounter, hit the waters off the Sunshine Coast with the experienced guides from Sun Reef to swim alongside migrating Humpback whales, one of the world’s largest and most gentle creatures. Or dive with sharks, turtles and stingrays at Sea Life Sunshine Coast’s shark Dive Xtreme. Back on dry land pit your wits against sweeping bends, challenging chicanes and hair rising hairpins at the Big Kart Track. And, for the ultimate thrill, take a leap at 10,000 feet with a tandem sky diving experience above the beautiful beaches of Caloundra.
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With temperate winters and warm summers, the Sunshine Coast is a region that draws visitors all year round. Being just over an hour’s drive north from Brisbane, and with plenty of beaches to choose from, the Sunny Coast is very popular with families. September to November is when the Sunshine Coast is at its best as the days are usually balmy, there’s little rain, and the nights are the perfect temperature for a barbecue dinner by the beach. Summer is warm but also when the most rain falls, with the first four months of the year more likely to be wet. It’s worth remembering that the Hinterland receives more rain than the coast. School holidays are busy and you will need to book well in advance. If you are on a budget, consider periods outside of school holidays, especially from April until June, when temperatures are cooler, which is a great time to bag a bargain.
From beaches and bays to bushwalks and theme parks and animals there’s a little of everything on the Sunshine Coast. Here are ten of the best activities for families. 1. Take a swim with Humpback whales. 2. Enjoy handmade ice cream, rides and more at The Ginger Factory. 3. Enjoy a tour around the coast in a tricked-out Kombi. 4. Explore the Octonauts realm at Sea Life Sunshine Coast. 5. Unleash your inner wildlife warrior at Australia Zoo. 6. Enjoy all the thrills and spills of Aussie World. 7. Paddle about in the Rock Pools of Caloundra or Mooloolaba. 8. Learn the process of pineapple farming from planting to factory at The Big Pineapple. 9. Explore the pretty coloured sands of Rainbow Beach 10. Kayak or paddle board along the Pumicestone Passage.
One thing the Sunshine Coast is known for is its bounty of attractions, and many are free. A day at the beach will wear everyone out. Our favourite beaches for children are Kings, Bullock, Golden, Mooloolaba, Coolum, Alexandra Headland and Noosa. But always make sure you swim between the flags. There is also no shortage of parks and playgrounds with many beaches having picnic areas and free BBQ’s. Take a scenic drive into the hinterland and visit Maleny, Montville, and Buderim to the pretty Buderim Forest Park. Then there’s the Ginger Factory which has free admission (though prices apply for tours and rides and their famously delicious ice-cream) and across the road is Nutworks and the Chocolate Factory. Go bushwalking through the Glasshouse Mountains, fishing along the foreshore, enjoy a picnic at the Maroochy Regional Bushland Botanic Garden or a stroll around the colourful and famous Eumundi Markets.
Whether you prefer your food from the sea or from the land – the Sunshine Coast has you covered with some of the best produce in Australia. From cafes and restaurants overlooking marinas harbouring million dollar yachts to secluded eateries tucked away in the rainforest, there are plenty of special dining opportunities available. Or follow one of the Sunshine coast’s gourmet foodie trails for farm gates and roadside stalls that provide plenty to taste and sample straight away including fresh juicy pineapples. The markets are fabulous for family dining as all tastes are sure to be satisfied. Our favourite markets for the munchies are the Sunday Caloundra Street Markets and the Saturday and Wednesday Eumundi Markets. And there’s something about the name Sunshine Coast that says ice-cream is on the order. We can recommend trying House of Gelato in the Sunshine Plaza and Massimo’s in Noosa.
JANUARY Ginger Food & Flower Festival – A free family event celebrating the power of ginger in food, flowers, medicine. MAY Noosa Food and Wine Festival – Taste your way through the Sunshine Coast at this celebration of local food and wine. MAY Goomeri Pumpkin Festival – Have a smashing good time at this fun family festival. JULY Queensland Garden Expo – Three days of everything botanical, with great food, entertainment and a range of free children’s activities. AUGUST Gympie Music Muster – Enjoy four days of music and fun held in Amamoor Creek State Forest Park. SEPTEMBER Caloundra Music Festival – This four-day festival of music, food, arts and local culture at Kings Beach is packed with fun for families. AUGUST/SEPTEMBER – Horizon Festival of Arts & Culture From the Hinterland to the sea, the Sunshine Coast shows off its artistic side with dance, music, art, film, comedy and food. OCTOBER Mary Valley Scarecrow Festival – A fun day out discovering all the creative scarecrows in the pretty Mary Valley. NOVEMBER Noosa Triathlon Multi Sport Festival – Get your running shoes on for this five-day event with events for all ages and abilities. DECEMBER Woodford Folk Festival – A legendary festival that celebrates great music, comedy, dance and community with a dedicated mini-festival for children.