The Sunshine Coast’s largest urban area encompasses the towns of Alexandra Headland, Maroochydore and Mooloolaba. This part of the coast has been overcome by high rise apartments and family-oriented resorts, but it still has great beaches and is a good place for fishing, surfing and swimming.
Maroochydore is the busiest spot on the Sunshine Coast with a commercial feel. Although it has some good water sports and nightlife, Maroochydore seems dull when compared to prettier Mooloolaba and the lusher beach towns on the Fraser Coast. Many backpackers use Maroochydore as a base for work during fruit picking season. The business centre here is a succession of shops along Aerodrome Road although the large Sunshine Plaza is the main shopping centre. Families come to Maroochydore to play on the protected beaches, while backpackers come for the skydiving and kayaking.
Mooloolaba is nice beach town with a lively atmosphere, despite several medium-rise oceanfront apartment towers. There are loads of eateries on the Esplanade where backpackers rub elbows with wealthy holiday-makers. The nightlife is good here as well and most backpackers choose to stay here for the combination of fun bars and sunny beaches. Mooloolaba’s big attraction is UnderWater World, an oceanarium and marine park where you can walk through a huge glass tunnel surrounded by sharks, rays and tropical fish.
Corner First Avenue & Brisbane Road, Mooloolaba
Tel (07) 5444 5755
Open Mon-Fri 8am-5.30pm, Sat-Sun 8am-5pm
Corner Sixth Avenue & Melrose Place, Maroochydore
Tel (07) 5479 1566
Open Mon-Fri 9am-5pm, Sat-Sun 9am-4pm
Friendship Drive, Marcoola
Tel (07) 5448 9088
Open 8.30am-3.45/4pm daily
19 The Esplanade, Cotton Tree, Maroochydore
Tel (07) 5443 4440
Open 9am-8pm daily
Translink bus routes 600, 601, 602, 619 and 622 run between Maroochydore and Mooloolaba. Buses 602 and 610 go to Nambour and bus 620 goes to Noosa.
Greyhound (tel 1300 473 946) and Premier Motor Service buses stop in Maroochydore and Mooloolaba on their Brisbane to Cairns route. Greyhound stops at the tourist information centre on 6th Avenue in Maroochydore and Premier Motor Service stops at Scotlyn Fair on 1st Avenue in Maroochydore and the intercity stop at the Bowling Green in Mooloolaba.
75 Brisbane Road, Mooloolaba
Bus 600, 619
Tel (07) 5444 3399 or 1800 210 120
15 The Esplanade, Cotton Tree
Bus 600, 610, 615, 622
Tel (07) 5443 1755
24 Schirrmann Drive, Maroochydore
Bus 602, 620, 622
Tel (07) 5443 3151 or 1800 302 855
50 Parker Street, Maroochydore
Bus 600, 610, 615, 622
Tel (07) 5443 7544
There are loads of fast food options both in Maroochydore and Mooloolaba, and some stay open late for the party crowd. Most of the big fast food chains can be found along Aerodrome Road in Maroochydore although the food court in the Sunshine Plaza is a better bet. There are also some cheap sandwich and wrap shops for travellers looking for a healthier option.
If you’re preparing your own food there is a good choice of supermarkets along the coast. In Maroochydore there is are Coles and Woolworths supermarkets in the Sunshine Plaza and another Woolworths at the Big Top (corner Ocean Street & Horton Parade). In Mooloolaba there is a Coles on the corner of Venning and Walan Streets.
The largest aquarium in the southern hemisphere is worth a look. It is home to a wide variety of marine life ranging from crocodiles to colourful tropical fish, turtles and seals. You also have the opportunity to dive with sharks and stingrays.
The Wharf, Parkyn Parade, Mooloolaba
Bus 600, 601, 605
Tel (07) 5444 2255
Open 9am-5pm daily