Compared to Gold Coast, the neighboring Sunshine Coast has a more down-to-earth attitude and modest character. Despite the variety of activities and adventure there is at stake, the area doesn't show off. For water and ocean-loving folks Sunshine Coast is the perfect spot to be. You can sail, surf and dive, eat seafood as fresh as can be, or even swim with sharks at Sealife. Adapt the local, carefree lifestyle and take the most out of the clear skies.
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Maleny is a relaxed country town surrounded by the tropical version of English countryside. Hilly and romantic, the landscape is one of a kind, and driving on the meandering country roads beside Glass Mountains is nothing but a memorable experience.
With an excellent organic food scene, plenty of book shops, and lovely little cafés, it is easy to fall under the charm of Maleny. Treat yourself and polish up your stay with local cheese and wine, high tea or antique shopping.
The scenic drive along Caloundra Coastal Path is a promise of freedom, trek tracks and beaches - multiple beaches, yet each of them very different.
Starting off from Point Cartwright, you can discover national parks and encounter dolphins. You'll soon find yourself in Mooloolaba, where the visit to Sealife is a must-do. Another 20 minutes up north brings you to Mount Coolum, accessible via David Low Way. A steep climb up on top pays off with breath-taking panoramic views. And finally, 20 km later you'll be on Noosa Main Beach, where swimming in pools and ocean is equally pleasant.
The former conservationist and TV personality legend Steve Irwin (or the "Crocodile Hunter") and his parents established Australia Zoo in 80's and 90's. Their initiative started from the scratch and was motivated by their strong love for animals, especially reptiles and crocodiles.
Around 30 minutes south by car from the heart of Sunshine Coast, the place is among the most popular tourist destinations in Australia. It has little resemblance to what it was back in the old days, but remains a great alternative to see koalas, tigers, rare birds and more. The zoo offers animal encounters such as as wombat walks, giraffe snapshots an camel rides for kids.
Few things taste better than fresh mangoes, and during the season (from October to December) the people of East Coast get to enjoy local flavour of the juicy fruit. For backpackers it is recommended to find fruit picking jobs, whereas tourists can do a service in return and favor the neighbor agriculture and orchards around the corner by buying their products.
In Eumundi market, around 25 minutes away from Noosa Heads, you can find arts and crafts, fashion and jewellery, and food from German sausages, authentic pad thai and bean tempeh, to bananas, avocados and cherries straight from the farm. Apart from the stalls there is always something going on, especially during the Night Market. Live music and performances are awaiting to be heard and seen.
Being one of the best surfing locations in Australia, Noosa has an easy-going and leisured atmosphere. There are many surfing schools around, and since the sand is soft and water clear, learning to catch a wave is safe and convenient.
Apart from the surfboard business, maintaining active and healthy lifestyle in Noosa is no hassle: the surrounding national park is full of camping opportunities and bush walk trails. What's better, on Sundays the Farmer's Market kicks off with fresh vegetables, fruits and divine smoothies. If you long for a few days of detox, you know where to go.
While Rainbow Beach is rather unspoilt and wild, the wide range of activities guarantees as much thrill as there is beauty. The headland connects Tin Can Bay, Tuan State Forest and the popular, grove-covered Fraser Island together.
Light, white sand spreads out as far as the eye can see and parachutists soar casually every here and there. The lenient ocean breeze will prevent you from turning into a toast, and the very same wind enables extreme sports such as paragliding and skydiving. Even horse riding classes are being held at the beachfront. Pick your favourite activity and get carried away!