Noosa Heads is one of the few places we’ve actually been to in Australia that actually has a proper beach holiday vibe. Most places we’ve been to tend to feel like another beach town in Australia (not like that’s a bad thing), but there’s something different about Noosa.
To be honest, the beach holiday vibe we’re talking about is mainly around Hastings Street which is the main street next to Noosa’s Main Beach. It’s like you enter into holiday mode along this street, but as for the rest of Noosa goes, it’s like a normal Aussie beach town, but a beautiful one at that. There’s plenty of restaurants spilling out onto the pavement for al-fresco dining and loads of tourist shops selling everything you need for the beach making Hastings Street the kind of place you actually don’t need to leave for your entire holiday.
We noticed a mixture of people around from backpackers to high-end fashion couples driving their convertible down the street. The point is, it doesn’t really matter as there’s something for everyone on this street from cheap eats to fine dining.
We only ate at one place mentioned in this post due to timing but there looked to be some awesome restaurants that weren’t too badly priced.
If you’re looking to get straight into holiday mode, come to Hastings Street and stay here.
2. Visit Australia’s Most Popular National Park
Turns out Noosa is home to Australia’s most popular National Park, aptly named Noosa National Park.
With over 1 million visitors coming here every single year, it’s a well maintained national park with easy walking tracks.
It’s also the first time I’ve been to a National Park in Australia that actually has toilet stops throughout the park which were super clean too. There are plenty of walking tracks to go on in this park that you can wear trainers as most of it is paved up until Dolphin Point.
Our tip is, if you struggle to find parking at the main carpark because you probably will, then go to the other end at Sunshine Beach to park which will be much quieter. We were also told by a local that the Sunshine Beach end of Noosa National Park is absolutely stunning and worth visiting.
Although we went on a cloudy day, we could easily see how beautiful Noosa National Park would be in the Sunshine. It was busy but not hectic and it didn’t feel like a conga line during our hike. We can easily say Noosa National Park is one of the best things to do at Noosa. If you’re staying out of town in Glass House Mountains or in Mooloolaba, make the effort to come here even if it’s just for the national park.
We couldn’t believe how beautiful Noosa National Park is and how accessible it is being just a stones throw from the busyness of Hastings Street.
3. Get your Insta photo at Fairy Pools
When we visited Noosa National Park, we specifically went to find the Insta famous Fairy Pools. I know we’ve all seen those photos of the girl floating effortlessly in the crystal clear turquoise rock pool that has probably seen more people flocking to this park because of it.To get to the pools, it takes 1 hour to walk to there from the main car park. We timed it on our Garmin 235 watch and whilst we did walk slowly, we stopped to take photos and film footage. It could therefore take a lot quicker to get there.
Make sure you time it with the tides like you need to with the Figure 8 Pool in Sydney if you actually want to swim in it.
When we visited, it was cloudy so when we got there, we couldn’t see what the fuss was all about and unfortunately it didn’t look as romantic as we’d seen in the photos. I’m sure on a sunny day, it would look totally different. The walk though is beautiful and absolutely worth going on.
We loved all of the beaches we came across on the walk and loved watching all of the surfers catching the waves.Make sure you look up when walking in Noosa National Park as you might get lucky and spot some Koalas like we did hanging out in the eucalyptus trees.
5. Eat at Coconut Head
Even though there are so many amazing restaurants in Noosa, if we went back, we would spend the majority of our time eating out and trying out as many restaurants as possible.
This time round because we were on a short trip, we decided to keep it low key and went straight for the poke bowl stand at Coconut Head.
Our poke bowl was delicious and healthy and we LOVED the raw cake for dessert. You can also get smoothies and burritos here too.
6. Visit the Noosa Farmers Markets
A famous Noosa things to do highlight is visiting the Noosa Farmers Market which take place every Sunday from 7am-12pm. Based on the edge of town, we have to admit we were really impressed with the Noosa Farmers Markets.
We loved how it was full of local people selling their own organic produce from the nearby areas around Sunshine Coast. It’s the kind of markets we could have spent a long time at buying everything from raw honey, to kombucha, and acai bowls.
This is not the kind of market you might find bric-a-brac or second hand clothes, it’s purely a foodies market with flower stalls. I’m mentioning this because sometimes I wonder if a farmers market might be a bit more than just food.
7. Visit Noosa’s first brewery & gin distillery
Land & Sea Brewery isn’t a boring brewery, it’s an awesome modern industrial style brewery, restaurant and bar complete with arcade games and live music. Only opened in March 2019, Land & Sea Brewery is the Sunshine Coast’s first brewery and it’s been getting rave reviews.
The best part is they offer a free shuttle bus to take you back into Noosa so you can take your time to enjoy their speciality beers.
Land & Sea Brewery is open from Mon – Fri 11am-late and Sat-Sun 10am-late.
And if beer isn’t your thing, then head over to their gin distillery in the same venue called Fortune.
8. Visit the Eumundi Markets
Hailed as the biggest markets on the Sunshine Coast, it would be wrong if you missed out on the Eumundi Markets. Held on Wednesday and Saturday mornings, this is THE market you’ll find everything from second hand clothing to bric-a-brac, fresh produce and more.
9. Horse riding in Noosa
Ever wanted to ride a horse along a beautiful, beach and into the ocean? As romantic as it sounds, a trip to Noosa wouldn’t be complete without going on a horse ride along the beach. Thanks to Noosa Horses, you can make that dream a reality. We recommend taking the sunset trip for an extra special experience.
It costs $195 pp and takes 2 hours. You also must be under 100kg to take part in this experience.
I remember Rainbow Beach being a highlight when I visited the East Coast of Australia years ago as a backpacker. The small town packs a punch for having one of the most beautiful beaches in Australia, that you should make the effort to drive 1h30m just to go there.
There’s a reason why it’s called Rainbow Beach too, expect to see jaw-dropping multicoloured cliffs which make up a rainbow effect and protect the beach.
If you’re coming by car or bus, stay the night here before either going onto Fraser Island or heading back to Noosa via The Great Beach Drive.
12. Visit the world’s largest sand island
It still blows my mind to think of how many jaw dropping natural places exist in Australia. Home to the world’s largest sand island, and just a two hour drive from Noosa to the ferry port at Hervey Bay.
We recommend staying the night at Rainbow Beach before heading over to explore Fraser Island either by tour or by hiring a 4×4 and driving yourself.
Stuck for time? You can go on a day tour to Fraser Island but it’s recommended to spend three days to get a better understanding of it.
Make sure you visit Lake McKenzie when visiting Fraser Island. You’ll wonder if you’ve entered The Beach in the Leonardo DiCaprio movie.
It’s been a long time since I did this tour and something I hope to do again soon to explain in more detail about this magical adventure to go on.
Finishing with what’s known as one of the best drives in Australia is a 280km long stretch of sand to drive from Noosa to Rainbow Beach. If you don’t have time to explore Fraser Island, hire a 4×4 and take a few days driving up through Great Sandy National Park on the beautiful beach.
If driving yourself is out of the question, jump onto a tour and experience one of the most beautiful drives in Australia. If you’re visiting during May-November, you’ll probably see a lot of whales as they pass by during their migration.