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Top 5 Incredible Day Trips You Can Take from the Sunshine Coast

5 Awesome Day Trips from the Sunshine Coast

Want to know our Top 5 Incredible Day Trips You Can Take from the Sunshine Coast?

The Sunshine Coast stretches from the coastal city Caloundra, near Brisbane, northwards towards Noosa, and the Great Sandy National Park. The whole coastal area is teeming with adventures to suit anyone. You can try everything from four-wheel driving, exploring waterfalls, becoming a zookeeper for a day, or dining in rainforest.

Make sure to get yourself a car to experience the South East Queensland atmosphere. Whether you are with your family, or on a solo adventure holiday you will have a hard time choosing between these top 5 incredible day trips. So here are our Top 5 Incredible Day Trips You Can Take from the Sunshine Coast.

1. Fraser Island

For anyone who lives nature, visiting the biggest sand island in the world is a worthwhile way to spend one, or even several days. It has been listed as a World Heritage Site for its unique biodiversity, native dingoes, and marine filled waters. The island stretches 123 km along the southern coast of Queensland and features freshwater springs, crystal clear water swimming, impressive coastline views, abundant fishing, and no paved roads. To get around you need your 4wd, or maybe one of the planes which land on the beach.

What to see on Fraser Island

  • Lake McKenzie is a stunning clear lake where visitors can enjoy a swim or picnic.
  • Champagne Pools are a picturesque spot for swimming. They are naturally created Jacuzzis with the crashing waves and shallow rocky pools.
  • The Cathedrals rocky outcrop on the Easternmost tip with stunning ribbons of coloured sand.
  • Eli Creek is a slow moving, cold, freshwater stream. Families enjoy bringing floaties and spending the day floating down the river through the shaded forest.

How to Get to Fraser Island

If you have your own four-wheel drive, you can either drive onto the ferry from the northern end of Rainbow beach (1 hour and 40 minutes north of the Sunshine Coast) or River Heads (2 hours and 30 minutes north of the Sunshine Coast. These ferries deposit you and your car on the soft sand beaches on the Western side of Fraser Island. It is encouraged to have some experience with off-road four-wheel driving, as it is easy to get bogged and stuck in the sand. Keep an eye on tide times, bring a shovel, and a few spare beers for volunteers who might have to dig you out.
Otherwise you can opt for a four-wheel driving tour. These pick you up between 5:30am and 6:30am on the sunshine coast for a full day on Fraser Island. An upside of these tours is that they eliminate any driving worries. The tour guides are very knowledgeable and will bring you to 75-mile beach, 4wd Sandy Forest Tracks, Lake McKenzie, and a forest walk at Wanggoolba Creek.

2. Australia Zoo

There is no way you can visit the Sunshine Coast without heading over to the home of the Crocodile hunter. The Irwin family is holding up conservation values, animal welfare, and education in their incredible zoo. Get ready to cuddle a koala, feed some kangaroo, and explore the extensive African Safari Park. Your whole family will enjoy the crocodile feeding shows, animal encounters, and viewing animals in their massive enclosures. Bindi and her family are keeping Steve Irwin’s legacy alive by focusing on conservation, research, and preserving endangered species. Make to stop by and learn about this legendary man and his mission to save wildlife!

What to see in Australia Zoo

  • Stop by the Australian Wildlife Hospital to see sick animals and how vets and passionate volunteers are working to help save them.
  • Sign up to be a zookeeper for a day. This full day program is designed for young naturalists. They will have the chance to see behind the scenes to many animals and learn from the best.
  • Learn about Crocodile conservation which Steve Irwin spearheaded through his research beginning in the 1980s. Now Australia Zoo partners with University of Queensland to conduct the most extensive and largest crocodile research project in the world.

How to get to Australia Zoo

Australia Zoo is located an easy 30-minute drive from the coast on the aptly named Steve Irwin Way. There are many tours which depart from the Sunshine Coast, so if you do not wish to rent a car, it is still easy to get there.

Other Incredible Day Trips You Can Take from the Sunshine Coast

3. The Sunshine Coast Hinterland

While most people immediately think of the Sunshine Coast as long stretches of beach town, the Sunshine Coast Hinterland towns attract almost as many visitors. The hinterlands rise above the coast and are covered in lush greenery, farmland, dense rainforests, waterfalls, with quaint towns beloved by artists and nature lovers.

What to see in the Sunshine Coast Hinterland

  • Maleny, Montville, and Mapleton are three cozy towns nestled amongst the high trees. They have many art galleries, little cafes, delicious food, local produce, and a lovely atmosphere.
  • Gardens Fall is an easy 800m walk from the parking area and gives you a glimpse into the astonishing power of water after the wet season. It does get quite busy, so head over early!
  • Lake Baroon pocket dam is a lake hidden away between Montville and Maleny. There are picnic tables, free barbecues, playgrounds, and an option to kayak the calm waters.

How to Get to the Hinterland

While Maleny is only a 40-minute drive from the Sunshine Coast, if starting near Mooloolaba, there are no public transport options. The best thing to do is to rent a car for the day to allow you for greater flexibility in your travel.

4. Noosa Everglades

This 60 km stretch of river and lake system is a unique and rare biological system hidden away in the Sunshine Coast wilderness. A large section of it is protected by the Great Sandy National Park, and visitors marvel at the extensive river systems. The best way to explore this area is with a kayak, so you can paddle at your own pace while admiring the endemic flora and fauna.

What to see in the Noosa Everglades

  • Paddle through the pristine waters of the Noosa Everglades.
  • Bring a windsurf or yacht onto the Lake Cootharaba which is located near Boreen Point.
  • Consider booking yourself a holiday home or camping option to maximise the experience in this untouched part of the coast.

How to get to the Noosa Everglades

They are conveniently located a mere 40-minute drive from Noosa Heads. You can visit the area in half a day easily, however many people opt for overnight adventures. There are places where you can rent a kayak for a self-guided tour of the narrow waterways.

5. Double Island Point

This part of the coast got its name from the rocky section of headland which appears to be a double, hilled island stretching out into the sea. While it is not an island, it is a picturesque paradise. If you only have a day, then heading out to Double Island may be a more financially and time wise option for you. Visitors head over to the white sand beaches for surfing, kayaking, 4wd adventures, and relaxing on the sand. Grab your car, awning, esky, surfboard and sunscreen to maximise your double island point adventure.

What to see in Double Island Point

  • The best spot for beginner surfers is the calm bay on the Western side of Double Island. Typically, this spot is sheltered from the wind and provides consistent, small waves for new surfers.
  • Coloured Sands can be found all around the coast near Rainbow Beach. The colourful ribbons are a beautiful sight to see and a great challenge to nature photographers.
  • Head on over to Rainbow Beach or Fraser Island Just allow for tidal changes.

How to get to Double Island Point

You will need a four-wheel drive and a vehicle access permit to head over to the beach sitting between Rainbow Beach and Noosa North Shore. If you are heading up from the Sunshine Coast, you can take your car on the Noosa North Shore Ferry at Tewantin which departs every 10 minutes until dark. Make sure to double check the seasonal times for the ferry, to not get stuck on your return south.

If you are heading down south from Hervey Bay, you can reach Double Island Point and the Great Sandy National Park with a sealed road. If you do not have a four-wheel drive consider taking the motorway to Rainbow Beach and get a day tour.

Let us know what your favourite day trip is from the Sunshine Coast, and if we missed any on our list! The team at Explore the Sunshine Coast welcome your comments. What are your Top 5 Incredible Day Trips You Can Take from the Sunshine Coast. Maybe we can visit you and tell your story and re-write the Top 5 for 2020!

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