The Sunshine Coast is an aptly named 100km stretch of beachside cities stretching from Caloundra to Noosa Heads. Besides the odd patch of high-rises and commercialised resort attractions, the Sunshine Coast puts the brakes on the late-night hedonism of the Gold Coast and Brisbane. There are great beaches with golden sand and uncrowded surf all along the coast. Outdoor activities abound, from hiking to windsurfing, and everything in between.
Caloundra is an unexceptional city surrounded by good swimming and surfing beaches. Kitesurfing is popular just south at Bulcock Beach and Moffat Beach has good waves. About 30km north are Mooloolaba, Alexandra Headland and Maroochydore, a strip of towns known for fishing and surfing, as well as shopping and luxury resorts. North of that is the quieter expanse from Coolum to Peregian Beach, with beautiful and secluded shoreline. Noosa is more of a five star resort town, and has high prices and sizeable crowds. But it still boasts some lovely natural wonders at the coast and inland, including the Teewah Coloured Sands accessible by four-wheel-drive on the beach.
Buses run frequently between all of the towns on the Sunshine Coast so it’s easy to get around. In the hinterland are the Glass House Mountains and the Australia Zoo, Steve Irwin’s famous wildlife park. Many travellers use the Sunshine Coast as a home base when trekking through the hinterland or travelling to Fraser Island.
Sunshine Coast Airport (tel (07) 5453 1500) has flights to most major destinations in Australia making it a viable alternative to Brisbane Airport. The airport is about 10km north of Maroochydore on the way to Noosa. Airport shuttle buses run from the airport to destinations up and down the Sunshine Coast. Sun-Air Bus Services goes to areas of the Sunshine Coast south of the airport including Maroochydore ($21) and Caloundra ($28). Henry’s Airport Shuttle goes to Noosa ($22).
Sun-Air also run bus transfers between Brisbane Airport and the Sunshine Coast, which cost $32-33.
Some coaches run inland along the Bruce Highway, where it is possible to get off at either Nambour or Cooroy and get a connecting bus from there to the coast. However most coaches also call in at Maroochydore and Noosa. Both Greyhound (tel 1300 473 946) and Premier Motor Services (tel 13 34 10) serve the Sunshine Coast.
Frequent trains run between Brisbane and the Sunshine Coast hinterland. Take the train to Cooroy, Eumundi or Nambour and take a connecting bus to Noosa or Maroochydore on the coast. You can get to Noosa by bus 630 from Eumundi station or bus 631 from Cooroy; buses 602 or 610 run between Nambour and Maroochydore.
The Sunshine Coast has a reasonably good local bus service with buses running up and down the coast with connecting services to inland centres like Nambour, Cooroy and Eumundi.