The Sunshine Coast in northeastern Australia is one of Queensland’s premier landmarks, a place of gleaming beaches, verdant highlands, and bustling resort communities that has long served as a vacation destination for the region, not to mention a major business and agricultural center.
The capital of Queensland, Brisbane, lies about 100 kilometers (62 miles) south of the Sunshine Coast; between are numerous gateway communities, including Caboolture. The developed core of the Sunshine Coast encompasses a wide range of settlements: from large urban centers like Caloundra, Maroochydore, and Noosa; to suburbs like Alexandra Headland, Marcoola, Minyama, Golden Beach, and Twin Waters; to smaller outposts like Montville and Maleny, both up in the Blackall Range.
The resorts, shops, concert venues, and other entertainment options of the Sunshine Coast’s cities and towns are a major draw, but a preeminent attraction is the coastline itself. Plenty of beachside communities—Coolum, Kings Beach, Sunshine Beach, Peregian, Mooloolaba, and others—offer outstanding surfing, swimming, and lounging opportunities against the sparkling backdrop of the Coral Sea.
Golf and amusement parks—like the well-known Big Pineapple near Nambour—are other hallmarks of Sunshine Coast tourism. A number of zoos and aquariums offer visitors an up-close look at some of the region’s native fauna. UnderWater World in Mooloolaba, for example, boasts an array of exhibits and houses creatures as diverse as grey nurse sharks, Australian freshwater crocodiles, and Australian fur seals. Australia Zoo, made famous by the late Steve Irwin, also showcases a broad spectrum of wildlife from Queensland and other parts of the world.
Aside from the marine wonders of the immediate coast, you’ve also got plenty of terrestrial wilderness to explore, thanks to the Sunshine Coast’s network of national parks. There are the striking volcanic domes and spires of the Glass House Mountains, protected in their own eponymous national park; these highlands contain critical swaths of the area’s native ecosystems, including rainforest and montane heathlands. Great Sandy National Park protects a very different mosaic of coastal habitats, from mangrove swamps to towering dunes. You can scan for huge and acrobatic humpback whales from the headlands of Noosa National Park, which also plays home to one of Australia’s most iconic symbols, the koala.
Whether you’re interested in surfing, shopping, hiking, sunbathing, or simply relaxing, the Sunshine Coast is an unbeatable destination, from the crests of the Blackall Range to the reef heads of the Coral Sea.
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