9 Top-Rated Tourist Attractions & Things to Do in Noosa Heads
Stylish and sophisticated, Noosa Heads is a favorite Aussie beach resort and vacation destination on the Sunshine Coast in southeast Queensland. Its subtropical climate and beautiful, bush-fringed beaches are two of the area's top draws. Noosa comes from an aboriginal word meaning "shade" or "shadows," possibly a reference to the dense eucalyptus forests in the area. Today, vast tracts of bushland still bristle along the headland here in Noosa National Park, where snoozy koalas cling to the eucalyptus trees, and walking tracks offer gorgeous views of the glistening sea. A short stroll from the park, the golden sands and surf breaks of Noosa Main Beach lure swimmers, surfers, and sunbathers. Other popular things to do here include shopping along chic Hastings Street, boating on the Noosa River, and feasting on fresh local produce at the area's farmers markets and gourmet restaurants. Noosa Heads also hosts a fun line-up of festivals, including events for sports lovers and foodies.
1 Noosa National Park
Stretching from Noosa Heads south to Coolum, Noosa National Park is one of the Sunshine Coast's top natural treasures. The park covers more than 9,800 acres of paperbark forests, rainforest, coastal dunes, and heathlands and serves as a spectacular setting for a range of outdoor adventures. Apart from its natural beauty, one of the park's best features is its accessibility. You can walk up the hill from Noosa Main Beach and Hastings Street to the Noosa Headland section, where 15 kilometers of hiking trails thread through the wilderness.
Fringed by pandanus, banksia, and eucalyptus trees, the coastal track here is a great way for first-timers to experience the park. It's also a favorite with locals and tourists, who love to walk and jog along the edge of the sea cliffs and admire the spectacular views. Along the way, you can look for sleepy koalas in the trees, enjoy a picnic, paddle in the rock pools at Tea Tree Bay and Granite Bay, or stop by Dolphin Point lookout for panoramic coastal views and possible glimpses of dolphins and whales. Farther along the track is Hell's Gates (5.2 kilometers round-trip), with breathtaking views of the thrashing surf and Alexandria Bay beyond.
Before you enter the park, stop by the information center near the entrance and ask about recent animal sightings. Besides bushwalking, outdoor activities here include surfing, fishing, and swimming. Note that the track offers access for strollers and wheelchairs right up to Dolphin Point.
2 Editor's Choice Noosa Main Beach
Sparkling clean and soaked in sunshine, the north-facing strip of blond sand at Main Beach is the pride of Noosa Heads. Pandanus, pines, and palm trees fringe the boardwalk, where locals and visitors love to stroll - especially at sunset. Noosa National Park beckons on the headland at the eastern end of the beach, with forests of fragrant gum trees. The surf tends to be gentle at Main Beach, making it a perfect spot for children as well as beginner boardriders. More experienced surfers love to ride the waves at First Point, which parallels the headland, and in March, the Noosa Festival of Surfing takes place here.
Right on the beach, Sails Restaurant Noosa, next to the luxury Netanya Noosa resort, offers gorgeous pandanus-framed views of the beach. When you've had your fill of sun, sand, and surf, you can pop across the road to Hastings Street to browse the boutiques and shops or grab a snack at one of the alfresco cafes.
3 Hastings Street
Hastings Street is the heart of Noosa Heads. Skirting beautiful Noosa Main Beach, this hip and happening street is home to chic designer stores, cute boutiques, art galleries, and gourmet restaurants and cafes. This is the best place to head for shopping in Noosa Heads or to relax with a coffee at one of the cafes and watch the parade of people strolling past. The Noosa Heads Surf Life Saving Club anchors one end of the street and Noosa Spit Recreation Reserve anchors the other, with beautiful picnic spots and beach access. Due to this area's popularity, parking can be a problem, but you can find plenty of paid spaces at Bay Village. At night, the trees lining the street glitter with fairy lights, adding a magical feel to the area. If you want to stay in a convenient location to explore this famous street, both The Sebel Noosa and Sofitel Noosa Pacific Resort sit smack dab in the middle of Hastings Street.
4 Noosaville and the Noosa River
About a five-minute drive from Hastings Street, Noosaville is a fun place for families and a great way to experience the beautiful Noosa River. Locals and visitors love to stroll, bike, and jog along the riverfront walking paths here with views of boats plowing the calm waters. Plenty of picnic areas beckon under shady trees, and fitness enthusiasts can make frequent stops to tone on the outdoor exercise equipment. A day along the river is a popular thing to do with kids. They love to burn off steam at the children's playground, paddle along the sandy shores, cast a fishing line off the beaches, or pose for a photo in front of the giant pelican statue. This is also a great spot for stand up paddleboarding, kayaking, and boating. You can rent pontoon boats and dinghies at boat rental outlets along the river or sign up for a jet boat or jet ski ride. Another great way to explore the river is to hop aboard the Noosa Ferry, with several stops along the river. When you want a break from all the water-based fun, stroll across the street to the cafes, restaurants, and small boutiques along Gympie Terrace and Thomas Street.
5 Sunshine Beach
Chilled-out Sunshine Beach, about a five-minute drive from Hastings Street, is a suburb of Noosa set on its namesake stretch of beach. It's a more peaceful alternative to the buzz of downtown and Main Beach. A classic Aussie seaside suburb, Sunshine Beach has a small shopping village with a sprinkling of cute boutiques, a bakery, and trendy cafes and restaurants with wide outdoor decks. It's a beautiful spot to sit back and relax with a coffee or dine on fresh seafood in the salt-laced air. The wide stretch of golden sand and blue-green sea here is fairly exposed, with typically strong waves, but the area in front of the surf club is patrolled year-round. When the conditions are right, surfers ride the beach breaks. For spectacular sea views, grab a bite to eat on the sun-soaked deck overlooking the beach at Sunshine Beach Surf Life Saving Club.
6 Noosa North Shore
Wild and windswept, Noosa North Shore is an 80-kilometer stretch of white-sand beach just across the river from Noosa Heads and Noosaville. This is the gateway to the World Heritage-listed wonderland of Fraser Island and all its popular natural attractions. When the tide is low, you can drive along the beach to Rainbow Beach and Double Island Point, where the car ferry departs for Fraser Island. Along the way, you'll pass the multi-hued cliffs of Teewah Coloured Sands. Due to its easy access for vehicles, Noosa North Shore is popular with 4WD enthusiasts, anglers, and beachfront campers, who often see kangaroos around the camping areas. To access Noosa North Shore, head to Moorindil Street in Tewantin, where a daily car ferry travels across the river. Be sure to obtain a vehicle permit before you drive along the beach.
7 Noosa Farmers Market
Every Sunday morning from 7am to 12pm, locals and visitors alike flock to the brimming stalls at Noosa Farmers Market. Fresh local produce and artisan foods, such as jams, dips, marinades, and sauces are the most popular items here, and you'll also find plenty of native plants; fresh-cut flowers; natural skin-care products; fresh-caught seafood; and home-baked goods such as pies, breads, and cakes. Live music adds to the fun atmosphere. If you miss the morning markets, the Noosa Marina markets run a little later (8am until 2pm) and are set along the deck overlooking the Noosa River.
About a 20-minute drive from Noosa, the Original Eumundi Markets are the biggest markets on the Sunshine Coast. They're a Wednesday- and Saturday-morning institution for Sunshine Coast locals and visitors, with hundreds of stalls featuring arts and crafts, jewelry, clothing, fresh produce, natural healthcare, and artisan foods.
Address: 155 Weyba Rd, Noosaville, Queensland
8 Noosa Everglade Tours
Gliding through the peaceful wetlands and waterways of the Noosa Everglades in a sea kayak or canoe is a serene experience. It's also a great way to see some of the region's prolific plant and bird life - more than 44 percent of all Australia's bird species live in this area. This pristine wilderness in the Cooloola section of Great Sandy National Park is part of the UNESCO Noosa Biosphere Reserve, and it is the only river system in Australia with its entire upper catchment preserved within a national park. Half-day, full-day, and multi-day guided kayak and canoe tours explore areas such as Lake Cootharaba, the Upper Noosa River, Fig Tree Lake, and Kinaba. You can also cruise across Lake Cooroibah and Lake Cootharaba in a boat, with either lunch or afternoon tea included. Many tours also include a stop at Harry's Hut, a historic loggers' camp.
9 Laguna Lookout
At the end of Viewland Drive atop Noosa Hill, Laguna Lookout offers a great overview of the area. From here, you can enjoy panoramic views across Noosa National Park, Noosa Heads, the beautiful blue bay, and the distant Glass House Mountains, all framed by eucalyptus trees. An interpretative sign helps you identify the different landforms. This is also a wonderful spot to watch the sunset.