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Eternal sunshine: splash into Queensland's aquatic playground

Snorkelling with turtles at Mudjimba Island. Picture Visit Sunshine Coast.
Snorkelling with turtles at Mudjimba Island. Picture Visit Sunshine Coast.

In partnership with Visit Sunshine Coast.

Life's a beach on the Sunshine Coast where the biggest daily stress is which breathtaking stretch of sand or waterway to choose from.

AUSTRALIA has some 12,000 beaches along its 60,000 kilometre coastline, so to nominate one small strip as 'the best' is quite a call. But champion Ironman, Jett Kenny, has no doubts.

"We're so spoilt on the Sunshine Coast," he said recently. "We've got the best beaches on Earth and there's no one on them. How many destinations can you say that about?"

It's hard to argue against his assertion once you traverse the Sunshine Coast's 100 kilometre coastline from the Pumicestone Passage in the south through to Rainbow Beach in the north.

In between there is a rich list of beaches, from north facing, more sheltered beaches such as Noosa and Mooloolaba through to epic surf beaches like Coolum and Alexandra Headland, which will be one of the main venues for water sports in the 2032 Olympic Games.

And it's not just the coast where you can find sparkling waters. You can head inland to explore refreshing freshwater lakes, picturesque waterfalls and cool off in secluded swimming holes.

Mooloolaba Beach. Picture Visit Sunshine Coast
Mooloolaba Beach. Picture Visit Sunshine Coast

Snorkel with turtles

Sunreef's 'Snorkel with Turtles' at Mudjimba Island is the ultimate experience to swim alongside the island's marine locals. Glide amongst turtles, dolphins, stingrays, crayfish, wobbegongs, eels, starfish, and cowrie shells.

The tour includes an in-water snorkel guide to both assist with snorkelling skills, and to point out some of the reef's residents along with the stunning Mooloolaba reef corals. For a deeper dive, Sunreef also operate a range of scuba diving trips including to one of the best dive wreck sites in Australia, the ex-HMAS Brisbane.

Rainbow Beach horse rides

Striking in beauty and rippled with colourful ancient sand dunes, the coastal town of Rainbow Beach is nestled between K'gari (formerly Fraser Island) and Cooloola National Park. For an unforgettable horse-riding experience, combine the pristine sands, crystal clear waters and brilliant blue skies with friendly, well-trained horses and knowledgeable guides.

For experienced riders, guests can ride bare-back in the ocean amongst the waves. The team also offer full moon beach rides, half day country rides and even multi day rides.

Horse riding on Rainbow Beach. Picture Visit Sunshine Coast.
Horse riding on Rainbow Beach. Picture Visit Sunshine Coast.

One of only two everglades systems on Earth

Known as the River of Mirrors because of the amazing reflections in the water, the Noosa Everglades is a 60 kilometre stretch of sparkling waterways and magnificent flora and fauna fringed by ancient tea tree forests.

This spectacular natural environment and wetlands are abundant with wildlife boasting 44 per cent of Australia's bird species.

You can experience the breathtaking beauty and tranquility of the everglades in guided and self-guided kayak tours, wilderness cruises, in your own boat, and even on foot. See evergladesecosafaris.com.au and kanukapersaustralia.com

Kayaking the Noosa Everglades. Picture Visit Sunshine Coast.
Kayaking the Noosa Everglades. Picture Visit Sunshine Coast.

Learn to surf

With a sunny laidback vibe and quality waves, the Sunshine Coast is a worldclass surfers' playground. Learn to surf with one of Coolum Surfing School's local and professional instructors whose passion is passing on the "stoke" of surfing. The team specialise in private surf lessons with a maximum of eight surfers to one instructor. All equipment including wetsuits is supplied so all you need is a towel, swimmers and a smile. For many, standing up on a surfboard and catching a wave to the shore is the thrill of a lifetime.

Coolum Surf School. Picture Visit Sunshine Coast
Coolum Surf School. Picture Visit Sunshine Coast

Saltwater Eco Tours

To keep your feet dry but still take to the waters, Saltwater Eco Tours offers a one-of-a-kind experience on board a beautifully restored heritage-listed timber sailing vessel "Spray of the Coral Coast". Operating on the peaceful waterways of the Mooloolah River, the sustainability-driven company is the first of its kind in the region combining Indigenous culture, maritime history, and live music; while feasting on native canapes, seafood and signature cocktails truly capturing the essence of the Sunshine Coast.

Saltwater Eco Tours' heritage-listed timber sailing vessel Spray of the Coral Coast..
Saltwater Eco Tours' heritage-listed timber sailing vessel Spray of the Coral Coast..

Kondalilla Falls

Kondalilla Falls is one of the Sunshine Coast's most popular swimming holes because of its beautiful setting in the heart of Kondalilla Falls National Park, near Montville. From the top of Kondalilla Falls, Skene Creek drops 90 metres into the lush rainforest valley below. The cool waters are even more welcome in summer when the falls flourish and the weather is steamy.

The falls are 20 minutes' walk through rainforest from the carpark or, for a longer walk, there is an attractive 4.6 kilometre circuit.

Kondalilla Falls. Picture Visit Sunshine Coast
Kondalilla Falls. Picture Visit Sunshine Coast


A new boutique hotel is offering a fresh take on coastal resort luxury - just 15 minutes from Noosa. Essence Peregian Beach is a 32-room boutique hotel comprising studios and two-bedroom apartments along with 20 luxury three, four and five bedroom houses, three of which have private pools.

Landmark Resort and Spa is situated on the beachfront amongst Mooloolaba's finest restaurants, cafes and exclusive boutiques. Step across the road to the magnificent year-round patrolled Mooloolaba beach. All apartments and suites are self-contained, and facilities include a gym, outdoor spa, sauna, rooftop spa, BBQ entertaining area and day spa.


Bonza has established a base on the Sunshine Coast, with direct flights into Sunshine Coast Airport from Melbourne Tullamarine and nine regional cities including Avalon, Mildura, Albury, and Newcastle.

There are also direct flights by other carriers from Sydney, Melbourne and Adelaide.

What are you waiting for? For more information, head to visitsunshinecoast.com

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