Author: Lindsay Buckley of Frugal Frolicker
Most Australians consider Noosa a glamorous beach holiday destination, where you spend the day on the beach or shopping and the evening dressed up to dine on Hastings Street. It's the kind of place where it's warm and sunny year-round and everyone is happy - especially the locals.
But what you might not know is that Noosa is also an outdoor adventure mecca, with heaps of fun activities, mainly centering around water.
From walks to boat trips and beyond, here are the top outdoor adventures to have in Noosa:
Noosa Main Beach is beloved by locals and visitors alike, with the bulk of visitors congregating on the southernmost end. From here, you can enjoy views of the coastline north of Noosa.
Noosa also happens to be an excellent place to learn how to surf. The waves off Noosa Main Beach tend to be gentle and safe to learn on, ideal for your first surf lesson.
If you're keen to try surfing, there are a few surf schools in Noosa: at Noosa Learn To Surf, you can learn from former world champion surfer Merrick Davis. Go Ride A Wave also provide beginners surf lessons in Noosa Heads. Epic Ocean Adventures offer surf lessons with a side of adventure, with all lessons beginning with a 4x4 drive through Noosa North Shore to reach Double Island Point, the surf location.
From the south end of Noosa Main Beach, follow the road or foot path to the start of Noosa National Park: a glorious slice of wilderness with a well-formed trail that follows the coastline around to Sunshine Beach.
The Noosa National Park coastal walk is a 10.8km return, from Noosa to Sunshine Beach and back. You should allow a full day to enjoy the entire walk with stops.
There are two beaches near the start of the trail that are great alternatives to Noosa Main Beach and are especially popular with surfers: Little Cove beach and Tea Tree Bay beach. The tide does come up pretty high at both, so check the tide times before coming here to sunbathe.
There are several designated lookouts all along the trail. If you're lucky, you might be able to spot humpback whales from July-November!
Apart from the lookouts, there are several stops worth making along the walk. The best thing to do is just walk and see what you find!
Alexandria Bay is a fab spot for sunbathing, as long as you don't mind that it's an unofficial nudist beach! Devil's Kitchen is a pretty slice of rugged coastline where you can sit and watch the water churn below, with Sunshine Beach in the distance.
The trail ends at the beautiful Sunshine Beach, at which point you can turn around and retrace your steps back, or catch a bus back to Noosa Heads.
If you have extended time in Noosa or just want to escape the crowds, you might want to venture across the river by ferry to Noosa North Shore, featuring 80+ km of undeveloped beaches. You can access some of it with a regular car, but a 4x4 will give you much more freedom and reach.
Not keen to 4x4, but still want to enjoy the pristine beaches up this way? Book a private horse ride on Teewah Beach with Equathon. The whole ride takes place on the sand and caters to riders of all levels, from first-timers to experienced.
The Noosa River runs from the Noosa Everglades to the Pacific Ocean and borders Noosa Heads, Noosaville, and Tewantin - so odds are, wherever you stay in Noosa, the river is going to be nearby. From most spots on the river, you can glimpse mountains in the distance and lavish homes right on the waterfront. It honestly is beautiful no matter where you look!
If you do just one thing on the Noosa River, let it be the Noosa Queen sunset cruise which sails into the sunset from Noosa Marina to Lake Cooroibah and back. At just $15, it's one of the most affordable Noosa adventures.
For me though, the best part of the Noosa River is the narrow canals that branch off of it and wind through the suburbs. This is where you go if you want to escape all the river traffic and get a glimpse of how the affluent spend their days living in fancy waterfront homes. Pretty much every house has its own little beach and jetty with parked boats and jet skis.
Here's the thing, though: you can't really see much from the street, as there are houses rather than roads right along the waterfront around the canals. So if you want to ogle the fancy homes, you have to get out onto the water. I used my inflatable SUP and Pete hired a stand-up paddleboard from Boardwalk Boat Hire.
You could alternatively hire a kayak or boat from them, or hop on a boat tour with Noosa River & Canal Cruises (they probably won't go down the channels, but you'll definitely get to see lots of waterfront Mansions!).
A whale-watching trip is one of the more exciting Noosa adventures you can partake in. With Noosa Ocean Rider, you spend 2 hours on the water, cruising down the river before hitting the ocean and speeding up as you head south along the national park coastline.
On our trip, we caught sight of another whale-watching boat that was stopped near some whales, so we followed them out and waited for a short distance away. Once that boat left, we moved in for a closer look at the two whales. I couldn't believe how close they came to us! We caught one of the whales breaching twice, just a few metres away.
In short, whale watching in Noosa is a must-do. July to November is when the whales are around Noosa; we visited in late July and saw 2 whales.
Ocean Rider also run a dolphin safari tour and an adventure tour!
You've likely heard of the Everglades in Florida. Well, there is exactly ONE other place in the world where the Everglades exist - and that's Noosa.
To get to the Noosa Everglades, just make your way up to Habitat Noosa, where you can either join a full-day tour or sunset tour of the Everglades, or hire kayaks, canoes, or stand-up paddle boards to explore on your own.
We opted for the full-day Everglades Eco Tour with the optional canoeing add-on, which I HIGHLY recommend. The boat takes you across the lake and down some channels to Harry's Hut, then turns around and heads back to Habitat Noosa, where you have a BBQ lunch.
If you opt to canoe, you'll get an hour to paddle through The Narrows, which is the calmest and narrowest part of the Everglades system. On a good day, the water here will be so still that it reflects the trees above it. Don’t worry, you’ll still be able to enjoy The Narrows from the comfort of the boat if you’re not canoeing.
For those who would rather hire a canoe or kayak and see the Everglades independently and more extensively, there are some campsites along the river that you can paddle to and stay overnight. You’ll need to bring all your food and camping gear with you in your boat, but you can take your time and explore at your own pace.
If you're camping, Ingenia Holidays Noosa North is a great option in Tewantin. It's only a 15-minute drive to Noosa Heads. For a bit more of an immersion in nature, Habitat Noosa has both campsites and glamping tents, with easy access to the Everglades and just a 30-minute drive to Noosa Heads.
If you're looking for luxury accommodation, Bella Casa is an excellent option on Hastings Street. Our apartment had a beautiful view out toward the canals from our balcony. It also came equipped with a washing machine, dryer, bathtub, full-size fridge, dishwasher, and oven, all of which made for a very comfortable stay.
Or if you're seeking accommodation that's somewhere between budget and luxury, try:
You'll find the best coffee at Moonstruck on Hastings Street. And what's more, they double as a gin bar in the evening. Moonstruck uses locally-roasted coffee beans and Australian gin, and their coffee drinks and cocktails are definitely worth writing home about (or a blog post about!).
If you want to grab something quick and healthy to bring to the beach for lunch, Raw + Rice and Oakberry do excellent poké and acai bowls, respectively. Milk Bar Grocer have lots of sandwiches, wraps, salads, and snacks that are perfect to grab and go.
Or if you want to have a nice sit-down meal, there are a couple of great restaurants right on the boardwalk overlooking Noosa Main Beach. Boardwalk Bistro does an incredible seafood chowder. Season is a more upscale restaurant with lots of excellent seafood dishes, particularly their seafood yellow curry. Book ahead if you want to dine at a table with a view at either restaurant.
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