Sunshine Coast

Ultimate guide to things to do in Sunshine Coast with kids

Beautiful beaches, lush rainforest and abounding with adventure – the Sunshine Coast is a fantastic destination for families and already a favourite among Aussie kids. 

Renowned for its beach culture and year-round sunny weather, the Sunshine Coast is home to great family-friendly beaches – including Mooloolaba, Noosa and particularly Kings Beach – where toddlers can safely play in calm rock pools and oceanfront swimming pools.

Noosa National Park

At the Great Sandy National Park, families can learn to surf, paddle board and kitesurf; kayak with dolphins and swim with humpback whales off the coast of Mooloolaba; or can go tandem skydiving over the beaches of Caloundra.

Adventure activities include – Aussie World with rides, sideshow alley attractions, performances, mini golf and water park; the world-famous Australia Zoo for animal encounters and learning about their fantastic conservation programs; and Opals Down Under where kids can fossick for gems.

The beautiful Hinterland and Glass House Mountains, offer incredible tours of nature through rainforest, mountains and volcanic peaks. In the region there’s The Ginger Factory with playgrounds and a world of puppetry; Sunshine Castle Bli Bli with towers and turrets of a traditional Norman-style castle; and the famous Big Pineapple for family train rides through the rainforest.

Sunshine Coast family holiday
It's an a-star from the surf school. Picture: Supplied.

The kids will love

Beaches 

The Sunshine Coast has near-perfect weather at all times of the year. Popular beaches include Coolum, Sunshine, Mooloolaba, Caloundra, Noosa and Kings Beach (Noosa and Kings Beach are particularly great for young kids). At the Great Sandy National Park, families can take 4WD tours over the coloured sand cliffs of Rainbow Beach, learn to surf, kayak with marine life and try kite-surfing. Pumicestone Passageway between Bribie Island and Caloundra is great for paddle boarding and kayaking.

Aqua Fun Park. Credit: Tourism & Events Queensland

Theme parks and adventure activities

The Big Pineapple, Big Kart track, skydiving at Caloundra, Aussie World, Opals Down Under, The Ginger Factory, Sunshine Bli Bli Castle, marine life and eco-tours in Moreton Bay Marine Park, Aqua Park Coolum, Bellingham Maze, indoor trampolining, laser skirmish and more.

Sunset setting over mountains and grassland
The views are spectacular over the Glass House Mountains Picture: Peter Lik/Tourism Queensland

Nature in the Hinterland and surrounds

Full of national parks and wildlife, the region is a haven for nature lovers. There’s the iconic Glass House Mountains, Buderim National Park, Noosa National Park, Mount Coolum National Park, Conondale National Park, Kondalilla National Park – for bushwalking, waterfalls and volcanic peaks. Other activities include fishing along the foreshore, picnicking at Maroochy Regional Bushland Botanic Garden, Eumundi Markets and towns Maleny, Montville, Mapleton, Flaxton and heritage village Yandina.

Best time to travel

With mild winters and warm summers, the Sunshine Coast is an ideal destination year-round. Daytime temperatures along the coast average 20 °C during winter and 28 °C in summer. In the Hinterland, temperatures are generally a couple of degrees cooler throughout the year. 

Due to weather that allows travel year-round, other factors can be more important for families deciding when to travel. The Australian school holidays are always crowded and booking well in advance is a must. Periods outside the school holidays, particularly April to June when temperatures are cooler but mild, are a great time to score bargain accommodation prices.

Things to do in Sunshine Coast with...

Ranger holds lizard in front of crowd of kids at Australia Zoo
Meet the locals with ranger-led animal encounters at Australia Zoo Picture: Australia Zoo

Getting around Sunshine Coast

Bus: For getting to the Sunshine Coast, Greyhound Australia and Premier Motor Service run daily services from Brisbane to Caloundra, Maroochydore and Noosa from around $20-$25. Several bus companies run transfers from both Brisbane Airport (around $40-$60) and the Sunshine Coast Airport (around $25 -$35). Fares for children are around half price. For getting around the Sunshine Coast, local company Sunbus (run by Translink) provides frequent services to most destinations. Kangaroo Bus Lines offer group tours throughout the Sunshine Coast and the Hinterland (as well as other destinations across South East Queensland).

Train: Regular train services run between Brisbane and the Sunshine Coast (run by Translink). Nambour is the main train station as well as gateway to the Sunshine Coast Hinterland.

Car: Hiring a car in the Sunshine Coast allows for the most freedom and flexibility to explore the entire region. Choose from larger companies Avis and Hertz, or several local services including Budget, East Coast Car Rentals, Rad Car Hire most of which operate out of the Sunshine Coast Airport and Maroochydore Airport. A child restraint or booster seat is required for all children under 7. These are available for hire from most car rental agencies (book in advance during peak seasons) or baby rental companies (see What to Pack section).

Ferry: The Manta Ray Fraser Island Barge service departs from Inskip Point Rainbow Beach, allowing families and visitors to visit Fraser Island for affordable prices.

large group holidays activities
The Sunshine Coast is great for families. Credit: Shutterstock.

More about Sunshine Coast for families

Accommodation 

  • Family-friendly resorts and hotels are ubiquitous in all destinations across the Sunshine Coast. Most are very family oriented offering adjoining or family rooms and fantastic activities for kids (it’s harder to come by a resort/hotel without a pool, than with).
  • Holiday parks are full of activities and great for those on a budget. There are parks in several locations run by Sunshine Coast Holiday Parks and BIG4 Holiday Parks, with option of caravan, camping, glamping, villas and family suites.
  • Cabins, cottages and farmstays are good to get away from crowds and the bustling resort atmosphere. In the Hinterland there’s beautiful scenery, plenty of outdoor and animal activities to be had. 
  • VisitSunshineCoast.com is a fantastic resource for accommodation.

What to pack

  • Renowned for its spectacular beaches and year-round weather, beach gear and quality sun protection is a must. 
  • Being a wonderfully family-friendly location, all baby essentials left at home are available for purchase from supermarkets and pharmacies.

Planning 

  • Book well advance during peak seasons (school holidays and summer), to avoid exorbitant prices. Families looking for a budget holiday or wanting to avoid crowds are advised to holiday outside these dates – April to June is a good time for bargain accommodation deals.
Caloundra, Queensland
Caloundra, Queensland

Travel Time: 1½ hour drive from Brisbane, Flights: 1½ hours from Sydney, 2½ hours from Melbourne, 7 hours from Perth (with stop-over)

Weather: With mild winters and warm summers, the Sunshine Coast is an ideal destination year-round. Daytime temperatures along the coast average 20 °C during winter and 28 °C in summer. While in the Hinterland, temperatures are generally a couple of degrees cooler throughout the year.

Language: English

Currency: AUD (Australian Dollar)

Major destinations/attractions: Mooloolaba, Caloundra, Noosa and Kings Beach, Great Sandy National Park, Sunshine Coast Hinterland & Glass House Mountains National Park

Holiday types: Beach/resort, nature, city break, theme park & active adventure for all ages

Opals are Australia's national gemstone. You can learn all about them at Opals Down Under. Credit: Bound Round

Beautiful beaches, lush rainforest and abounding with adventure – the Sunshine Coast is a fantastic destination for families and already a favourite among Aussie kids. 

Renowned for its beach culture and year-round sunny weather, the Sunshine Coast is home to great family-friendly beaches – including Mooloolaba, Noosa and Kings Beach – where toddlers can safely play in calm rock pools and oceanfront swimming pools.

At the Great Sandy National Park, families can learn to surf, paddle board and kitesurf; animal lovers can kayak with dolphins and take a unique encounter swimming with humpback whales just off the coast of Mooloolaba, while thrill seekers can go tandem skydiving over the beaches of Caloundra.

There’s adventure activities galore for kids around the Sunshine Coast – Aussie World with rides, sideshow alley attractions, performances, mini golf, kid’s water park and regular events; the world-famous Australia Zoo for animal encounters and learning about their fantastic conservation programs; and Opals Down Under where kids can fossick for gems.

The beautiful Hinterland and Glass House Mountains, offer incredible tours of nature through lush rainforest, mountains and volcanic peaks. Kids will be enthralled at The Ginger Factory with children’s playgrounds, boat rides with the Gingerbread Man and a world of puppetry; Sunshine Castle Bli Bli where kids can wander the towers and turrets of a traditional Norman-style castle; and the famous Big Pineapple where families aboard a Pineapple Train through the rainforest.

What’s on?

The best annual events for families in Adelaide

Feb/March – Adelaide Fringe

You’ll find family and kid friendly shows at Adelaide’s wild and wonderful Fringe festival.

March - Adelaide Festival

Australia’s premier Arts festival showcases theatre, world-class musicians, dance, writers and visual art.

March – Adelaide 500

This motorsport spectacular is packed with action and entertainment for families. The 2021 Superloop Adelaide 500 will occur on revised dates in 2021.

March – South Australia History Festival

Enjoy hundreds of events such as talks to workshops exploring the local history.

March – WOMADelaide

Enjoy family friendly performances and workshops by the world’s best traditional and contemporary musicians, dancers and DJs.

May – DreamBig Children’s Festival

This arts festival for schools and families is the largest of its kind in the world.

September – Royal Adelaide Show

Experience animals, rides, food and entertainment as the country comes to the city.

October – OzAsia Festival

Australia’s biggest Asian arts festival.

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