Australia’s Sunshine Coast is a stunning piece of coastline north of Brisbane. It is more than 60 km of beautiful white sand beaches and pristine waterways. The Sunshine Coast is a great place for families to visit. It is quieter than the Gold Coast but still with plenty to do. There are lots of fun family attractions in the Sunshine Coast from visiting aquariums, taking a boat trip to just chilling on the beach. The Sunshine Coast is a gem of a destination for family holidays.
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Sunshine Coast Itinerary for families
Check out the stunning Glass House Mountains
Day 1: Drive up from Brisbane, just over an hour’s journey. Break up the journey with a stop-off at Wild Horse Mountain Scenic Lookout to take in some stunning views of the Glass House Mountains. The car park is a five-minute detour from the highway. You park at the bottom of the hill and then walk up the hill for about 15-20 minutes. It’s uphill all the way so bear that in mind with littlies. My five-year-old managed but not without some whinging! But once we got to the top it was well worth it for the magnificent 360 views.
Check in to your accommodation and settle in. We stayed at ULTIQA Shearwater Resort in Caloundra. It had a great location right on the beach and we had a stunning sea view. At the time the rooms were a bit tired but they are gradually refurbishing them. A bonus was that a delicious breakfast was included.
Beach hop along the Sunshine Coast
Day 2: You are spoiled for choice when it comes to beaches on the Sunshine Coast. Many of the best beaches on the Sunshine Coast are in Caloundra. Kings Beach is a great place to spend the day with kids. While the main stretch of the beach has big waves there is a beach break further along by Happy Valley which provides a gentle area for kids to swim.
You can also find an oceanfront salt-water swimming pool, fountains for the kids to play in, a bungee trampoline, and plenty of cafes and restaurants. There are also some great sections of rockpools for the kids to check out. Just be careful on the slippery rocks as I almost broke my wrist there!
Then head over to Kings Beach Bar for a bite to eat and some sundowners. It is right on the beach and has a great vibe. The food is fresh and delicious, and they have a kid’s menu. They also have an extensive cocktail menu. I highly recommend the Sunshine Parfait Martini.
Spend the day in Mooloolaba and check out the marine life at the SeaLife Centre
Day 3: Mooloolaba is a must-visit when on the Sunshine Coast. Mooloolaba beach is one of the best beaches in Australia and was recently named among the Top 10 beaches in the South Pacific in the TripAdvisor traveller’s Choice Awards. So you definitely want to check it out!
One of the best things to do in Mooloolaba with kids is to visit the SeaLife Centre. There is so much to see, from jellyfish to turtles, rays and starfish. The aquariums’ Australian fur seals and sea lions are a highlight with the entertaining seal presentations providing great entertainment for the whole family.
You can then end the day with a relaxing sunset cruise along the Mooloolaba River. This is a great way to take in the stunning scenery and enjoy some fresh seafood. The cruise picks you up from Wharf Mooloolaba, and takes you out to the river mouth first to enjoy scenic views right down to the Noosa headland. A great way to end the day in Mooloolaba.
Meet the crocs at Australia Zoo
Day 4: A day out at Australia Zoo is a must visit when on the Sunshine Coast. The world-famous zoo, established by the late Steve Irwin, offers an up-close and personal wildlife experience. The zoo is really well maintained and there is a huge range of animals to see.
The crocodile show is, of course, the highlight of the zoo. There is a great display from the birds before the main show, and I was thoroughly impressed by it. When it came to the crocodiles, I was on the edge of my seat. I know the crocodile show gets mixed reviews but my whole family really enjoyed it and it was the highlight of our visit to the zoo.
The zoo’s conservation efforts and dedication to animal welfare are evident in every corner, from the spacious enclosures to the educational signage. The passionate zookeepers share their knowledge and love for animals, making it a truly educational and immersive experience. You can add on a visit to the animal hospital to see how they look after sick and injured animals.
A day out at Australia Zoo is not tp be missed when on the Sunshine Coast.
Look for koalas on a family-friendly hike in Noosa National Park
Day 5: Noosa is a gem on the Sunshine Coast, and a day spent there definitely needs to be on your Sunshine Coast itinerary.
Noosa National Park is ideal for a family-friendly hike amongst the beauty of the Australian wilderness. The first section of the trail is easy terrain for children of all ages. We followed scenic trails lined with lush foliage and stunning coastal vistas, looking for koalas and dolphins along the way. We weren’t luck enough to see any but we did see some cheeky kookaburas. The highlight was reaching the breathtaking Laguna Lookout, where we savored panoramic ocean views.
Following a hike, you can enjoy walking around Noosa where there are lots of lovely shops and boutiques. Then enjoy lunch in one of the cafes or restaurants, many of which have pretty outside seating areas.
After lunch you can enjoy an afternoon on the golden sand beach with the luscious views of the national park in the background.
How to get to the Sunshine Coast
Depending on where you are coming from you can fly into Brisbane and drive up, just over an hour by car. Or fly into Sunshine Coast Airport which is located in Marcoola, in the middle of the Sunshine Coast.
You can get a bus from Brisbane with comanies such as Greyhound running regular services.
If you’re planning to explore the Sunshine Coast then I would really recommend hiring a car to make the most of your time.
Accommodation on the Sunshine Coast
Wondering where to stay in the Sunshine Coast, here is my top list of the best family friendly accommodation on the Sunshine Coast:
The Sunshine Coast is a beautiful place for a family holiday. Enjoy your trip and make magical memories!