When I was travelling up the East Coast of Australia I met a lot of other backpackers who had skipped Noosa as a stopping point, going straight from Brisbane to Fraser Island. It’s not a place advertised with a lot of activities and so I think a lot of people assume there’s nothing much to do there. I’m not sure I would’ve planned to stop at Noosa myself but as circumstances had it I had to use it as a base for another trip and what I discovered was a laid-back, beautiful area of Australia with the beach, river and National Park all right at your fingertips.
Noosa without a doubt turned out to be my favourite place on the East Coast and I’m determined to spread my enthusiasm about it to others. So if you think there’s nothing to do in Noosa, here are 5 things that are absolute musts to get you started. I guarantee that after these you’ll be so enamoured with Noosa you can discover the rest of its delights on your own.
Walk to Laguna Lookout
Laguna Lookout is a viewpoint in Noosa National Park offering a stunning view over the river and town below. On a clear day you can even see the tops of the Glasshouse Mountains in the distance.
The lookout is easily accessible and doesn’t involve a long steep hike to the top like you’d usually have for this kind of view. In fact if you want to be super lazy there is a road leading right up to the top and a car park. However I recommend taking the walking trail that starts just off Hastings Street and takes you through a beautiful wooded area and some of the National Park. It‘s only a couple of kilometres and has a paved walkway so is super easy and well worth it!
Visit the National Park
This one is obvious but you can’t talk about Noosa without giving a nod to its National Park. An additional plus point is that there’s no long drive involved out to the middle of nowhere to reach it. It is, quite literally in some cases, right on your doorstep. From Noosa Heads you can reach the National Park in 5-10 minutes. Some accommodation even overlooks areas of the National Park. How wonderful to have nature right on your doorstep!
There are numerous walking tracks in the park and some stunning views of the Sunshine Coast to be discovered along the way. There are also some great swimming spots on the beaches, which are perfect for stopping for a dip on a hot day after all that walking.
Certain tracks, such as the one to Hell’s Gate, one of Noosa’s headlands, are extremely popular. It is from here that if you’re lucky and have picked the right time of year you might be able to spot migrating humpback whales.
Koalas also live in the National Park in a large open area of eucalypt forest. They’re often hard to spot and you might hear them before you see them but keep your eyes peeled!
Go shopping in Hastings Street
Hastings Street is a shopper’s dream. You’ll find some of your brands here but also a range of small boutique shops selling unique items. Take time to have a little stroll down here in the daytime so you can indulge in some retail therapy and then come back after dark to experience the real atmosphere of Noosa Heads.
A gentle buzz hums in the air as people pack into the ridiculous amount of restaurants lining the street. I’m sure that if you vowed not to visit the same eatery twice in Noosa you wouldn’t run out of places to go for several months.
My advice is to skip dessert and get gelato at Gelatissimo Noosa at the end of Hastings Street. It’s worth the walk and the opportunity to soak up the atmosphere whilst enjoying the way the twinkling lights decorating the trees make everything in Noosa Heads seem that little bit more magical.
Visit Noosa Spit Recreation Reserve
If you come here on a Saturday you might end up unintentionally photo-bombing someone’s wedding photos, and who can blame them for picking this spot? It is gorgeous on a sunny day.
Follow Hastings Street until the shops disappear and you come to a car park. There you will see the start of a walking trail. Follow the coast, walk through the park and to the end of the mainland where you’ll end up on a beautiful little beach overlooking Weyba Creek.
There are much fewer people here than you’ll find on Noosa Main Beach on the other side plus you’ll get the views of Noosa Parade across the water.
If you’re a keen fisherman this is also a prime spot for fishing and you’ll often find the banks of the reserve dotted with fisherman trying their luck here.
Although you don’t have to walk very far to reach the Noosa Spit there is ample parking right up through the reserve to the end of the mainland so if the kids don’t want to walk pack a picnic and drive right on down there.
Watch the sun set over the Noosa River
There are plenty of activities you can do on the beautiful Noosa River. For the adventurous you can rent a kayak and do a guided tour or go exploring alone – there’s no chance of getting lost. For those who prefer a little more of a relaxing trip you can take one of the numerous river cruises on offer along the waterfront.
My recommendation though will suit you if you’re either of the above or even someone who has no desire to be out on the water at all. One of the best ways to see the Noosa River is at sunset from the banks of Gympie Terrace in Noosaville.
This stretch of road has a parade of cafes and restaurants where you can enjoy beautiful views over the river, however they are from across the road. Instead, grab fish and chips or take your own food (there are plenty of barbeques you can use) and use one of the seated areas directly on the green next to the river. Just be sure to get there early as it does tend to get pretty busy on a summer’s day.