12 Best Beaches on the Sunshine Coast

Written by Karen Hastings
Dec 22, 2021
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Queensland's Sunshine Coast is home to some of Australia's best beaches. Powdery sand, clean water, and year-round sunny skies mean your ideal beach day is almost guaranteed.

Stretching from the golden beauties of Caloundra in the south to the bush-fringed bays of Noosa in the north, the Sunshine Coast is one of Australia's most popular holiday destinations, and its bevy of beautiful blonde beaches is a big part of its appeal. Swim in clean, clear waters; surf the swells; snorkel the shallows; or stroll for miles along dazzling shores – if you can dream it, you can do it at Sunshine Coast beaches.

Whether you're seeking a secluded cove for some cozy couple time, the best boogie-board waves for the kids, or the perfect picnic spot, you're sure to find it. Pick your perfect slice of coast with our list of the best beaches on the Sunshine Coast.

1. Main Beach, Noosa Heads

Noosa's Main Beach
Noosa's Main Beach | Photo Copyright: Karen Hastings

Soaked in sunshine, this alluring slice of north-facing coast is the crown jewel of Noosa Heads. Golden sands, sheltered shores, clear waters and an enviable location near some of Noosa's top attractions draw tourists and locals here year-round.

It's a perfect beach for families and one of the best swimming beaches on the Sunshine Coast. Young kids can paddle in the shallows, and mom and dad can bask on the soft-sand shores, or stake a shady spot under the casuarinas and pandanus trees fringing the beach.

Surfing is one of the top things to do on Main Beach. Beginner surfers try their hand at hanging five on the typically gentle swells, while seasoned surfers ride the waves at First Point, which parallels the headland. In March, when storms often bring larger swells, Main Beach hosts the popular Noosa Festival of Surfing.

Fancy a hike after all that beach basking? Scenic sea-view hiking trails weave through Noosa National Park on the headland at the eastern end of the beach. And if wallet workouts are more your style, Hastings Street sits steps from the sand, with chic shops, boutiques, and some of Noosa's best restaurants.

Main Beach is also one of the most coveted places to stay in Noosa Heads. Some of the Sunshine Coast's best luxury resorts line its golden shores and peek out from the bush-cloaked headland.

Insider's tip: Craving a quieter stretch of sand? Stroll around the headland to Little Cove, and enjoy one of the best beaches in Noosa with fewer people.

2. Mooloolaba Beach

Mooloolaba Beach
Mooloolaba Beach | Photo Copyright: Karen Hastings

Mooloolaba Beach is all about the vibe. Volleyballers bump and spike on the courts here, latte-loving beach lovers perch at picnic benches overlooking the sand, and when you're looking for a break from the beach, you'll find plenty of buzzy cafés, shops, and boutiques opposite the beach.

Not that this popular stretch of coast isn't pretty. You can still lay down your towel on powdery white sand; swim in clear, cobalt waters; and look for dolphins dipping and diving offshore.

Love to keep active? Locals and tourists jog and stroll along the scenic Mooloolaba boardwalk, which skirts the beach.

Mooloolaba boardwalk
Mooloolaba boardwalk | Photo Copyright: Karen Hastings

Mooloolaba Beach is also one of the Sunshine Coast's safest beaches. Point Cartwright shelters the shore, and the waves are typically gentle – it's the perfect spot for a refreshing swim, surf, or paddle. Mooloolaba Surf Life Saving Club overlooks the shore, and surf lifesavers patrol here year-round, giving peace of mind to parents and swimmers.

This is also a popular spot to learn how to surf. Robbie Sherwell's XL Surfing Academy and Maroochy Surf School both offer lessons here. During weekends and school holidays, you'll see gaggles of kids taking to the water with their boards.

If you're looking for a place to stay near this popular beach, you can stake a spot steps from the sand at Mooloolaba Beach Holiday Park, one of the best campgrounds near Mooloolaba.

3. Sunshine Beach

Sunshine Beach
Sunshine Beach | Photo Copyright: Karen Hastings

Sunshine Beach, just around the Noosa National Park headland from Noosa Heads is the wilder, less touristy cousin to Noosa's Main Beach. This beach marks the beginning of 15 kilometers of wide-open, surf-washed coast that stretches south to Castaways, Marcus Beach, and Peregian Beach. You'll find plenty of room to spread out and claim your own little patch of paradise.

Surfing is excellent, especially in the winter, with an open beach break that tends to be bigger than most others on the Sunshine Coast. But summer's cross and onshore winds can whip up some choppy surf.

Keep an eye out for wildlife. Humpback whales are often spotted offshore from June through October, and dolphins swim these waters year-round. If you brought your own wildlife of the four-legged variety, you can let them roam free in the off-leash area at the northern end of the beach.

Need a caffeine fix? Dog-friendly cafés and hip restaurants await across the road at the stylish little Sunshine Coast Village. Pick up everything from fresh-cooked fish and chips to cold-pressed juices and organic food. Alternatively, Sunshine Beach Surf Club is right on the beach with stunning ocean views.

Insider's Tip: If you're looking for a workout, try jogging up the steep flight of steps at the northern end of the beach. Stunning views of the entire coast are your reward once you reach the top.

4. Peregian Beach

Peregian Beach
Peregian Beach | Photo Copyright: Karen Hastings

Pining for your very own patch of sand and sea? You might find it at long and lovely Peregian Beach. This typically wind-whipped stretch of sand and sea stretches north from Stumers Creek at Coolum Beach. It's a lovely spot to bask on the powder-soft shores and paddle in the ocean – but only between the flags. Rips can be an issue here.

Cute shops, cafés, and popular restaurants await steps from the sand in the salty little village of Peregian Beach. Grab a surfside coffee, a fresh-squeezed juice, or a tasty meal when you feel like a snack. Kids love the large playground and skate park behind the beach.

And if you happen to be in town at the right time, you can browse the stalls at popular Peregian Beach Markets. You'll find them on the first and third Sunday morning of every month, as well as the fifth Sunday in December and January.

5. Coolum Beach

Coolum Beach
Coolum Beach | Photo Copyright: Karen Hastings

Long and wide, Coolum Beach has something for everyone. Surfing is one of the top things to do at Coolum Beach, and it's an ideal place to try it for the first time. Take your pick of surf breaks, and book a lesson with one of Coolum's expert instructors.

Coolum Beach is also an excellent spot to take a dip. Locals take pride in the excellent surf club here, so you can swim knowing the beach is patrolled 365 days a year, but make sure you stay between the flags. You'll usually find enough surf to give you a workout, whether you're bodysurfing, diving under breakers, or boogie boarding.

On land, you'll find plenty of things to do, too. Bask on the white sands or take a long stroll on the soft-sand shore. If you have your pooch in tow, you can walk all the way to Stumers Creek for some off-leash doggie fun.

When hunger pangs strike, you can head across the road for some Aussie fish and chips or take a break and browse the beachy boutiques. And if you want to linger here for a few days, book a spot at Coolum Beach Holiday Park, one of the best places to camp near Coolum Beach.

Seeking a bit more solitude? From Coolum Beach, stroll south along the Point Arkwright Trail coastal walk and dip down to some relatively secret beaches on the Sunshine Coast. These peaceful little pandanus-fringed bays are appropriately named: First Beach, Second Beach, and Third Beach. As you head south along the trail, the bays become less crowded, but take care if you plan to swim, as none of these beauties are patrolled.

6. Tea Tree Bay, Noosa National Park

Tea Tree Bay
Tea Tree Bay | Photo Copyright: Karen Hastings

Tea Tree Bay is the perfect back-to-nature getaway. You have to hike up the coastal track in the Noosa Headlands section at Noosa National Park to reach this hidden gem, but that's part of its appeal. Plonk down a blanket amid the rocks, let the kids peer into the rock pools, and soak up pandanus-framed views of the unspoiled coast.

Tea Tree Bay is also a favorite surf spot. You'll see salt-laced surfers lugging their boards up the trail to this secret spot. Continue along this trail, and you'll find a jewel-box of sparkling surf-lapped coves, perfect for a refreshing swim or surf, all the way to the super secluded Alexandria Bay (A-Bay).

Insider's tip: Bring your own snacks and drinks. You are truly immersed in nature here.

7. Mudjimba Beach

Mudjimba Beach
Mudjimba Beach | Photo Copyright: Karen Hastings

When it comes to water sports, Mudjimba Beach offers the best of both worlds. The Pacific Ocean and the Maroochy River both lap its three-plus-kilometers of soft-sand shores. On the ocean side, you can swim in the waves, surf some swells, ride a boogie board, and bask on the shores to the soundtrack of crashing surf.

If you prefer calmer waters, or want to escape the wind, take a long, lazy stroll past the picture-perfect outcrop of Pincushion Island to the sheltered river mouth. Here, you can swan about in the crystal-clear water or paddle a kayak on glassy water.

Mudjimba offers plenty of uncrowded stretches of sand and sea, As always, swimmers should stay between the flags near Mudjimba Surf Club's watch tower. Rips and strong currents can sweep unsuspecting swimmers away here.

View from atop Pincushion Island
View from atop Pincushion Island | Photo Copyright: Karen Hastings

Gaze out across the ocean from the beach, and you'll see the beach's most famous landmark on the horizon: Mudjimba Island, one of the best spots for snorkeling on the Sunshine Coast. Marine life thrives around its rocky shores.

Anglers will also find some decent fishing spots up and down the beach and in the mangrove-fringed river.

Planning some pooch time on the beach? Mudjimba Beach ticks this box, too. Rover can run wild and romp in the river on the popular off-leash North Shore Dog Beach. It's one of the best dog-friendly beaches on the Sunshine Coast.

Families will also love Mudjimba. Steeped in vintage Aussie beach town charm, the little village of Mudjimba sits on the back streets of the Sunshine Coast, about a 15-minute drive from Maroochydore. Behind the beach, near Mudjimba Surf Life Saving Club, you'll find a shaded kids' playground and a large park with picnic tables and barbecues. And if you want to purchase some food for a picnic, you'll find a good ol' Aussie fish and chips shop, a popular bakery, and some mom-and-pop cafés opposite the beach.

Looking for a place to stay? One of the best caravan parks on the Sunshine Coast, Mudjimba Beach Holiday Park, is a five-minute walk from the beach.

8. Kings Beach, Caloundra

Kings Beach
Kings Beach | Photo Copyright: Karen Hastings

Kings Beach is one of the best beaches in Caloundra. And that's saying a lot in a town that brims with beautiful beaches. Families, especially, love spending a day here. Kids can paddle in the gentle beach break, potter in the rock pools, and run wild at the water park behind the beach.

If a refreshing dip in cool, salty waters sounds like heaven to you, Kings Beach won't disappoint. Plus you can swim some laps in the oceanfront saltwater pool. Protected from the predominant nor'easters, Kings Beach is also a great spot to learn how to surf.

Hankering for a snack? No problem! You'll find plenty of cafés and restaurants steps from the sand.

Read More: Top-Rated Things to Do in Caloundra

9. Marcoola Beach

Marcoola Beach
Marcoola Beach | Photo Copyright: Karen Hastings

Marcoola Beach is the pride and joy of yet another sleepy beach town with plenty of old-time Aussie charm. You hit this hidden gem heading north from Mudjimba, and you'll find the same soft white sands, surf-worthy swells, and beautiful blue-green water.

Like Mudjimba, swimming can be dangerous here due to rips. Always swim between the flags. But this is the perfect beach for a long stroll along the shore.

Marcoola is also a prime picnic territory. Grassy parkland skirts the beach with shady trees, a children's playground, and BBQ facilities. If you're hungry, you can grab a snack at a Marcoola Surf Club or one of the nearby cafés. Better still, if you're here on a Friday afternoon, stop by Marcoola Market. Food stalls and live music draw crowds of locals and visitors alike from 4 to 8pm.

10. Cotton Tree & Maroochydore Beach

Maroochydore Beach
Maroochydore Beach | Photo Copyright: Brian Hastings

Pretty, palm-lined Cotton Tree beach is perfect for kids. Skirting the point where the river mingles with the sea, this sheltered stretch of powdery sand is ideal for a family day out or a picnic. Bring the kids, tow the kayaks, launch your stand up paddleboard, or plonk your picnic blanket on the soft white sand, and enjoy!

If you want a little surf action, just wander around the point to Maroochydore Beach. Here, you can surf, swim in the waves, stroll all the way to Alexandra Headland, and feel the salty breeze on your face. Restaurants, cafés, and shops abound in this area, so you can stake a spot and stay here all day.

Want to spend a few nights? Cotton Tree is home to one of the Sunshine Coast's best caravan parks: Cotton Tree Holiday Park.

11. Alexandra Headland

Alexandra Headland beach
Alexandra Headland beach

Popular and picturesque, Alexandra Headland is one of the Sunshine Coast's more high-profile beaches. You drive right by it on the main coastal road between Mooloolaba and Maroochydore, but despite the area being a little more developed, it still manages to impress.

Crisp, clean surf crashes on shore, and the soft white sands are still perfect for sunbathing. Plus you can soak up breathtaking views up and down the coast from the scenic coastal trail, which threads along the headland. What's not to love?

Top things to do at Alexandra Headland Beach include surfing the point and beach breaks, dipping and diving in the salty waves, pottering in the rock pools, and basking along the shore.

With its sweeping sea views, Alexandra Headland is also a popular picnic spot – especially on weekends. Families and groups of friends gather on the headland with a cool beverage and some snacks to watch the sunset each evening.

Just off the beach, kids can practice their tricks at the skate park or get their wiggles out on the playground, and parents will find plenty of cafés, restaurants, and shops along this stretch. When hunger strikes, you can nab an ocean-view table at the popular Alex Beach Surf Club.

Planning to stay awhile? Alexandra Headlands is home to one of the Sunshine Coast's top caravan parks: Alex Beach Cabins & Tourist Park. And if you're seeking luxury digs, book a room at one of the high-rise resorts or apartments across the road; Oaks Sunshine Coast Seaforth Resort is a popular choice.

12. Bulcock Beach

Bulcock Beach
Bulcock Beach | Photo Copyright: Karen Hastings

Beautiful Bulcock Beach is one of the best beaches in Caloundra for a picnic. Rimming the calm waters of the Pumicestone Passage, this petite little pocket of sand offers views out across the water to Bribie Island. Keep your eyes peeled for dolphins, and you're almost sure to see Jet Skis zipping up and down the passage.

One of the favorite things to do at Bulcock Beach is float along the shore and ride the ocean current. Then you can wander back up the beach and do it all again. It's like a natural lazy river.

Spread out your towel, stake a spot to build some sandcastles, and settle in for a relaxing day by the sea. Picnic tables and benches overlook the shore, and the Caloundra Coastal Walk weaves right along the beach.

Another bonus of Bulcock Beach are the shops and cafés across the street. Feeling hungry? Stumble across here, and pick up some gelato, or order a feast at one of the alfresco cafés. And if you're looking for a luxe base near the beach, Rumba Beach Resort is right across the street.

Map of Beaches on the Sunshine Coast