Are you heading up to Sunshine Coast in Queensland but not sure where to stay? We’ve decided to write a Noosa vs Mooloolaba vs Glass House Mountains blog to highlight the good and maybe not so good parts to staying in these three popular Sunshine Coast areas (a bit like the one we did about Northern Queensland below).
So if you’re deciding between Noosa or Mooloolaba and not sure which is the best option for you, here we let you in on what we really thought of Noosa, Mooloolaba as well as the Glass House Mountains.
We too were wondering which place would have been best for our getaway so we’re pleased we can bring you this post thanks to Visit Sunshine Coast for hosting our stay.
Distances between Noosa, Mooloolaba and Glass House Mountains
In the below map, we show you how to find Noosa, Mooloolaba and Glass House Mountains.
⇒ Mooloolaba to Noosa: 40 minute drive
⇒ Mooloolaba to Glass House Mountains: 35 minute drive
⇒ Noosa to Glass House Mountains: 1 hour drive
If you’re driving up to Sunshine Coast like we did, it takes 12 hours from Sydney to Noosa. We suggest breaking up the trip by staying in the totally awesome Bellingen for a couple of nights and also the favourite amongst most; Byron Bay.
Need to rent a car for your trip?
Looking for a tour up to Sunshine Coast?
Noosa is probably the most famous of the three areas to stay on the Sunshine Coast, if not one of the most popular holiday destinations in Australia.
But what makes it so great? Here’s our reasons why you should stay in Noosa.
Reasons to visit Noosa
Noosa’s got a brilliant holiday vibe, if not the best holiday vibe we’ve seen in Australia. The main street called Hastings Street is lined with cafes and restaurants spilling out onto the street and the main beach over the road is fantastic.
There are some absolutely amazing restaurants in Noosa and it’s got our pick out of the three options for food by a mile.
Talking about food, we loved the Noosa Farmer’s Markets which had so many amazing organic food options that we could have easily spent a small fortune here. We didn’t get a chance to go to Eumundi Markets but I have heard they are brilliant.
We also loved Noosa National Park which is just up the road from Hastings Street. It’s actually quite mind blowing to see a national park so close to a busy holiday destination. Here you’ll be able to go surfing and find one of the many beaches to relax in to get away from the crowds, hopefully.
There’s quite a few things to do in Noosa and we recommend going to visit their first (and very hip) brewery called Land & Sea Brewery, go horse riding or do yoga on the beach and probably best of all, tick The Great Beach Drive off your bucket list.
Book a tour below to make the most of your trip to Noosa!
The not so good about Noosa
Noosa is very busy and Hastings Street can be a bit overwhelming if you’re after a relaxed holiday.
Although there’s a great vibe along Hastings Street, there’s something that feels quite manufactured abut it. When you go back up the hill into Noosa Heads, it’s like you’ve returned to a standard Aussie beach town. Some might not like this about Noosa if you’re after an authentic Aussie holiday.
Although Noosa attracts all types of people from backpackers to well to do people, some people might find it a bit too posh and slightly pretentious. Expect to see people driving around in convertible cars and dressed to the nines. Noosa is definitely more a luxurious getaway mixed in with backpackers. It’s a bit random but it works.
Looking for Noosa accommodation?
Find the best deals for our favourite Noosa accommodation below!
For high end: Luxury Rainforest Retreat
For a Noosa family resort: Sofitel Noosa
For budget travellers: Noosa YHA
Mooloolaba is a great Aussie beach town which packs a punch as an all rounder holiday destination in Queensland. Here’s our reasons to stay in Mooloolaba.
Reasons to visit Mooloolaba
Mooloolaba is a great family option for a Sunshine Coast holiday and much more affordable than Noosa. Restaurants are cheaper and you’ll easily be able to find a decent affordable apartment with ocean views like we did here.
Mooloolaba is a great place to base yourself during your trip to Sunshine Coast. It’s close to Glass House Mountains and Noosa and feels like it’s in the middle of the two. If you’re after more of a budget option holiday, Mooloolaba is a great place to stay.
There’s also a lot going on in Mooloolaba and loads of things to do in the area. Firstly Mooloolaba is the only area out of the three places you can go swimming with humpback whales. Yep, you certainly can.
There is also a lot to do indoors in Mooloolaba so if it’s raining, you’ll be saved with loads of activities on offer like visiting Big Boing trampoline park, and you can swim with seals at the Sea Life centre. You can also spend the day in the Salt Caves and also go strawberry picking so there’s something to cater for literally everyone.
The not so good about Mooloolaba
Although restaurants are cheaper, don’t expect anything flash. Most restaurants are serving food like fish & chips and burgers and unfortunately we struggled to find healthy food. We’re sure there probably is some great restaurants but we couldn’t find anything on the main strip so we cooked in our apartment instead.
There are loads of high rises in Mooloolaba and it’s completely set up for tourism so don’t expect it to be a quiet Aussie beach town, especially in high season.
Looking for Mooloolaba accommodation?
Find the best deals for our favourite Mooloolaba accommodation below!
Luxury Mooloolaba accommodation: Parkyn Place >
Mid range Mooloolaba accommodation: Mantra Mooloolaba >
Budget Mooloolaba accommodation: Mooloolaba Backpackers >
Glass House Mountains
In our opinion, Glass House Mountains is the best part of the Sunshine Coast. Here’s our reasons why.
Reasons to visit Glass House Mountains
If you’re looking for adventure or equally peace and quiet, then Glass House Mountains is for you.
Glass House Mountains has an absolutely mind blowing beauty about it that’s totally indescribable. The 13 mountains dotted near each other give off an energy that’s completely awe-inspiring.
Make sure you stay for more than one night as most people only stay as a stop over which is nuts because it’s the best part of the Sunshine Coast. It’s actually somewhere that’s often overlooked by a lot of holiday makers and travellers which actually makes it even better. When you visit here, you’ll know what we mean by this as you’ll feel like you’ve found one of the best places in Australia.
There are loads of things to do in Glass House Mountains like visit the Maleny Botanic Gardens which is absolutely amazing and has probably the world’s most chatty parrot, something you have to see for yourself.
There’s a lot of things to do in Glass House Mountains like the brilliant hikes to do that aren’t too long (2 hours return max), plenty of Insta-worthy spots, wild swimming spots, a cow’s milk farm, even a camel’s milk farm (complete with hugs), an awesome brewery, one of the world’s biggest Western Buddhist centres and of course not forgetting Australia Zoo. You see, there’s so much going on in Glass House Mountains, you can be as busy as you like.
We also LOVED staying at the Glass House Mountains Eco Lodge, a unique Sunshine Coast accommodation option that has pristine train carriages as rooms and even a church to stay in like we did. The owner even makes his own coffee, beer and jam purely just for his guests (which are awesome). I don’t think you’ll find hospitality like this anywhere else in Australia.
There’s just something amazing about Glass House Mountains that for us, we’ll be staying there next time when we visit Sunshine Coast. It like if you had to start a list of the best natural wonders in Australia such as the pink lakes, and Uluru, then the Glass House Mountains would be towards the top of that list.
The not so good about Glass House Mountains
We don’t really have any cons about staying in Glass House Mountains but if we did, we’d probably say the food isn’t as good as Noosa. That’s probably because Noosa has A LOT of food options which vary in budgets.
Saying that, we did stop off at a fruit farm near Australia Zoo and it was the BEST fruit we’ve ever had anywhere in the world. Queensland fruit is seriously on another level. Say bye bye to Woolies and Coles frozen bananas because the fruit in Queensland is incredible!
Also an obvious one but there’s no beach nearby, so you’ll need to drive 30 minutes to get to Mooloolaba. There are wild swimming spots dotted around like Gardners Falls to take a dip in if you need to cool off.
If you’re coming by public transport, I don’t think Glass House Mountains is very public transport friendly, so we recommend you hiring a car from here.
Looking for Glass House Mountains accommodation?
Find the best deals for our favourite Glass House Mountains accommodation below!
Luxury Glass House Mountains accommodation: Spicers Tamarind Retreat >
For unique Glass House Mountains accommodation: Glass House Mountains Eco Lodge >
Mid range Glass House Mountains accommodation (good for families): Puddleduck Cottage >
Budget Glass House Mountains accommodation: Jen’s Getaway >
Still unsure whether to stay in Noosa, Mooloolaba or Glass House Mountains? Read our quick summary to help you make your decision. Whichever you choose, you’ll have a great time because Sunshine Coast is a fantastic getaway and holiday destination in Australia.
Noosa is the holiday for you if you want to have all the holiday beach vibes, awesome food and prepared you could easily spend a lot on eating out.
Mooloolaba is the holiday for you if you want to have an affordable holiday that includes easily staying in an apartment with ocean views, loads of kid friendly activities on your doorstep and it’s the best location in the middle of both Noosa and Glass House Mountains.
Glass House Mountains is the holiday for you if you want to really get away from everything, enjoy nature and the mind blowing natural wonder of the mountains with swimming spots and an awesome Botanic Gardens and Australia’s best zoo to visit.
Have you read our Sunshine Coast blogs yet?
Things to do in Sunshine Coast
Accommodation in Sunshine Coast
Your Sunshine Coast itinerary road trip
And… where should you go on Sunshine Coast
A big thanks to Visit Sunshine Coast for hosting us on this trip so we could bring you this content.
Noosa vs Mooloolaba vs Glass House Mountains
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