The Sunshine Coast is synonymous with sun, sand and surfing, but beyond the natural wonders are hidden gems just made for finding. Here are a fistful of the best local secrets from the Coast’s south, central, north and hinterland.
By Melissa Halsey
Caloundra Power Boat Club, 2 Lamerough Parade, Golden Beach
Overlooking the beautiful Pumicestone Passage, the location of the Caloundra Power Boat Club is unbeatable, making you feel like you’re on holiday when you eat there.
At dusk you can watch the water turn from bright blue to sheer glass as pelicans swim by looking for their own dinner, and lights start to turn on, on the houseboats floating by.
The best thing about the menu at the club is the quality of food you get for prices that are feasible even on the smallest of budgets. It caters for everyone, offering two menus: The Galley, which consists of Chinese cuisine, and The Quarterdeck, which contains your more standard meals.
At just $19, the linguini carbonara truly is a “taste of Italy”. Best of all, for those of us who never eat a whole standard meal, there is the lite option that comes in at $14, or even better just $12 if you become a member. This carbonara is better than some from Italian restaurants, and the thick pasta makes it a fulfilling meal. There was plenty of bacon and parmesan cheese to top it off.
The Power Boat Club is off the beaten track from the hustle and bustle of Caloundra, but draws in quite a crowd for the Saturday night meat tray raffles. If you want to mingle with the locals and enjoy a nice meal at an affordable price, this is exactly the place to go.
Drift Bar, 30 The Esplanade, Bulcock Beach
After dinner it is time to sit down, relax and enjoy the best cocktail in town. Located on the Esplanade at Bulcock Beach is Drift Bar. It is full of big lounge chairs and rustic booths, and more often than not there is live music playing in the background. This bar has a rustic-but-elegant vibe.
The pink panther cocktail is perfect for those who enjoy their drinks on the sweeter side. The presentation is simple, pink with a small amount of bitters on top, but the flavours that come from this drink are far from simple.
For those who enjoy the red Starbust chew, this cocktail tastes exactly like the sweet lolly. This is probably due to the disaronno cherry alcohol in the drink. It also contains vodka, pineapple juice, lime and grenadine. It comes in at a standard price for a cocktail: $15.
Overall, this sweet flavour sensation will satisfy all your sugar cravings.
Spinners Bar & Bowl, 97 Bulcock Street, Caloundra
Right in the middle of Bulock St, Caloundra sits a gold mine that is still commonly unknown even to Sunshine Coast locals. Spinners Bar & Bowl opened in 2016 and offers fun for all ages.
Fully licensed from 10am until midnight, the liquor licensing might finish at the same as other bars in the area, but Spinners can offer patrons even more. Decked out with a dance floor, pool tables, arcade games and even a massage chair, the vibe in the bowling alley is contagious. There are two big screens that can play music videos, or even a sporting game if one is on.
To top the experience off, the customer service at Spinners is second to none. With only five lanes, the bowling alley is a lot smaller than the next closest one at Alex Heads, but the atmosphere and experience is a whole lot bigger.
Price: For adults, two games comes to $23
CALOUNDRA LOCALS’ SECRET
Little known to visitors, unless of course they are an early riser and enjoy a morning run, is the amazing sunrise that can be experienced at Moffat Beach. A perk of living on the east coast of Australia is the opportunity to watch the sun rise over the water.
If you are looking for a true Caloundra experience, set your alarm early, grab a coffee from The Pocket Espresso on your way and make your way up the hill. If you don’t like walking, put McIlwraith Street in Google maps. It will take you straight to the sweet spot. The view from the top is unbeatable.
By Jack Gillespie
The Post Office Bar & Restaurant, 10 Ocean Street, Maroochydore
If you go down to Ocean Street looking to stamp that letter, you’ll have to look a bit harder – but you won’t be disappointed. Where the old Maroochydore Post Office once stood now stands a new kind of post office – one that sells beer and steak, not envelopes.
The warm, cabin-like feel to the Post Office Bar and Restaurant is a nice alternative to the majority of Ocean Street’s animated and vibrant establishments. The polished timber tables, leather armchairs, dim hanging lights and all-round dark-coloured décor creates a welcoming environment, and one that is comfortable to socialise in.
The Sunshine Coast’s diversity is on show through the restaurant’s menu, as it offers foods from both the hinterland and the sea. It’s all high-quality food at the Post Office, and the costs attached suggest the same, averaging around $26 a meal – but are not overpriced.
With live music and a beer garden out the back as well, whether you take the family there or just a few mates, you’re guaranteed a good time.
Opening Hours: 11.30am – Late Wednesday to Sunday
Riba Kai Café Lounge, Sunshine Plaza, Maroochydore
Whether it’s breakfast or lunch, something light or something heavy, the Riba Kai Café Lounge has you covered.
Typical café dining is on offer, as well as the more restaurant-type meals such as steaks, burgers and seafood.
It’s licensed, so bring on the red wine with a nice juicy steak. Overlooking Cornmeal Creek, it’s a relaxing spot to enjoy quality food.
Opening Hours: 8am – 5pm Monday to Wednesday, Fridays and Saturdays, 8am – 9pm Thursday, 8.30am – 4pm Sunday.
Corbins, 34 Duporth Avenue, Maroochydore
Sitting opposite Big Top, Corbins is a nice little restaurant that serves all things Asian-fusion. It’s the breakaway from the norm you need, offering meals you don’t often hear about – a powerful hit of Asian culture. If you have heard of something on the menu, it is guaranteed to have a delicious, unfamiliar twist attached. Twice cooked duck leg, sweet potato noodle balls, and watermelon salad are just some of the options.
It can be a bit pricey, but with a restaurant that prides itself on creating an environment that leaves an impression, it is definitely worth handing out a few extra dollars.
Opening Hours: 8am – 3pm Monday and Tuesday, 8am – 8:30pm Wednesday, 8am – 10pm Thursday and Friday, 9am – 10pm Saturday, 9am – 3pm Sunday
The Piano Bar, 22-24 Ocean Street, Maroochydore
Are you in the mood for a splash of culture? Something different – fancy, perhaps? The Piano Bar is where you want to go.
A Mediterranean-style restaurant, you’ll notice the Piano Bar from a distance – if not by the live music, spilling out into the night, then by its healthy red glow. ‘Eye-catching’ is an understatement: with red-painted walls and lamps producing the majority of the light, inside the bar is quite different to the conventional style of a restaurant.
Couple this with an old-style bookcase in one corner of the room and jazz instruments hanging on the walls, the Piano Bar has a unique feel to it. Its Mediterranean culture is ever-present, and that’s before the tapas is served! Costs rarely exceed $20. But with live jazz multiple nights a week, and music from differing countries played in between, Mediterranean culture is on display in the drinks, too.
Opening Hours: 5pm – midnight Monday to Thursday, noon – midnight Friday to Sunday
Duporth Tavern, 52 Duporth Avenue, Maroochydore
Duporth Tavern is in many ways the head entertainer of Ocean Street. Established in 1911, it is by far the eldest of the street’s heavy list of bars and restaurants.
Throughout its long existence, it has been altered and adapted to suit the changing times. In the present day, it is the ultimate entertainment precinct, complete with gaming lounge, function rooms, sports bar and quality dining.
In the vernacular, it’s the perfect place for “a couple o’ quieties” after work. Catch up with some mates inside or out, the front or the back. Enjoy live music, the Sunday afternoon game, or simply escape for a few hours.
Opening Hours: 10am – midnight Sunday to Wednesday, 10am – 3am Thursday to Saturday
Paradise Seaplanes, 142 Bradman Avenue, Maroochydore
The Maroochy River – if you’re a local, you’ve almost definitely been in the water, you may have been on the water … but have you been over the water?
Well, with Paradise Seaplanes, for $149 per person, you and two others can enjoy a soaring adventure that includes a run along the Mooloolaba beach, circling over Point Cartwright and a return to Maroochydore.
This particular trip is the quickest on offer, about 30 minutes. The longest and most expensive flight is a 90-minute adventure that soars over Noosa to Double Island Point, costing $649 per person. In between are three other routes of varying lengths, as Paradise Seaplanes is the ultimate way to explore the spectacular scenery of the Sunshine Coast. To get that little bit closer, for just $50 more you can have the plane’s doors removed and feel the magnificent breeze.
Opening Hours: 9am – 4pm Monday to Thursday. (Other days are by appointment).
By Tiama Kimlin
Locale, 62 Hastings Street, Noosa Heads
With a contemporary, spacious design you would have never realised that Locale is an Italian restaurant.
Prices for food range from $18- mid 30s, but once you get your hands around a woodfired pizza, it will all make sense to splurge a little more on quality tasting food.
Opening Hours: 12pm- 12am Monday to Sunday
Village Bicycle, 6/16 Sunshine Beach Road, Noosa Heads
Wanting to escape after a hectic day at work? Head to Village Bicycle, where there is nothing more than good food, music and relaxed vibes. The menu delivers at this chilled-out restaurant, with nothing over $15 – that’s burgers, tacos, cocktails and beers. Go, go, go!
P.S. If you liked Village Bicycle then go visit its sister restaurant Cholo around the corner. It does everything Mexican – and you’ll leave wanting to undo that zipper and button on your jeans.
Opening Hours: 4pm till late, Monday to Saturday and 12.30pm till late Sunday. Closed Thursdays.
Flux Restaurant and Lounge, 255 Gympie Terrace, Noosaville.
Just a little out of Noosa sits Flux, a tapas styled restaurant that focuses on sharing your food with a group of friends. Offering nothing over $20 with an impressive ciders menu, go grab your friends, book a table and share the food around.
Opening Hours: 12pm-12am Monday to Sunday
Whiskey Boy, corner Thomas Street and Gympie Terrace, Noosaville
Whiskey Boy opened late 2015 and has hit the pavement running. If you want to try something a bit different, this is the place to go. It is costly, but the drinks and food are to die for. Lovers of alcohol – the drink list is off the menu, and so is the food. They even infuse the food with alcohol! One tequila, two tequila, three tequila more! You may want to think about catching an Uber, because once you’ve had a sip, you’ll be going back for more.
Opening Hours: Monday-Tuesday 4pm-10pm, Wednesday-Thursday 11:30am-10pm, Friday-Saturday 11:30am-12am and Sunday 11:30am-10pm.
The Cooking School, 2 Quamby Place, Noosa Heads
The Cooking School was made by the multi-award-winning Wasabi Restaurant and Bar. It offers intimate classes with chefs from Wasabi as well as guest chefs from around the country. Experience isn’t needed as the class caters for all, from home cooks to qualified chefs. Seats are limited to 10, but you can ask as many questions as you like while making one of six cuisines: Noosa regional, Italian, French, Japanese, South East Asian, or if you’re a pro, Masterclass. Prices for the class are $250 per person which comprises a three-course menu, two glasses of premium matched beverages, a hands-on class with a quality chef and assistant, a recipe booklet and an apron.
Classes start at 9am and finish at 2:30 – this includes sit-down time to enjoy the meal you just created.
Opening Hours: 9am- 2:30 Thursday, Saturday and Sunday.
Noosa Flow, 14/203 Gympie Terrace, Noosaville
Noosa Flow is a wellness and pilates studio that provides peace of mind in a relaxing setting while recharging the body and rejuvenating the soul. A variety of classes are offered from barre, reformer, yoga and mat pilates. The classes are suitable for beginners to advanced, with instructors who deliver value in their training programs. Class sizes are small so all the attention can be on you, leaving you to feel in no way intimidated. With a strong focus on alignment and form, the girls at Noosa Flow will have you getting the most out of your workout. Prices are reasonable at Noosa Flow, where you can choose from an array of special deals.
Opening Hours: See the class schedule
NOOSA LOCALS’ SECRET
MV Catalina, 172 Gympie Terrace, Noosaville
Floating on the Noosa River is the beautiful MV Catalina, the only floating event space in Noosa. Wanting to enjoy some great food and tasty drinks while watching the sun go down? This is the place to be. Its open style, beach luxe aesthetic makes this boat seem trendy and Instagram worthy. Check out the website to book tickets for their events. Catalina is also continuing its Friday Night Social with a new menu featuring international street food, Japanese cuisine and the modern classics of Australian food.
If boats aren’t your thing, MV Catalina also has a café on dry land that has specialty coffee from 6am.
Opening Hours: 6am-12pm Monday-Sunday
By Madeleine McKinlay
Rick’s Garage, 16 Margaret Street, Palmwoods
Take a 30-minute drive from Maroochydore to Palmwoods and experience a 1950s-themed bar and diner at Rick’s Garage.
Laughter and constant conversation create an inviting, laid back, fun atmosphere and it appears everyone is comfortable in the environment. Nightly live entertainment add another aspect to the overall experience and atmosphere of the diner, which creates the illusion of a night away from all of your worries.
Staff wear rockabilly-style clothing which add authenticity to the venue’s theme and as the night becomes busier, staff remain in good spirits. While the bar selection is endless, Rick’s Garage is all about its homemade burgers and milkshakes. Juicy chicken breast, crispy bacon, melted cheese topped with a fresh salad of lettuce, tomato, beetroot and red onion, accompanied by tomato relish, aioli and sweet chili sauces on a thick bread roll create the popular Rick’s Chicken Burger for $18.
Although to some this may seem steep, customers will not leave feeling hungry or unsatisfied. The chefs create fantastic quality food and staff get the meals out within 15 minutes of ordering.
The only negative to this popular restaurant is the parking. Unless you are lucky to get a park right out the front of the diner, be prepared to walk. There was not a lot of parking options for the number of customers arriving for Friday night dinner and drinks.
Opening hours: 10am to 10pm daily
Yandina Hotel, 1 Stevens St, Yandina
The Sunshine Coast hinterland is best known for its range of historic pubs and hotels. Yandina Hotel was established in 1887 and is one of the Sunshine Coast’s oldest, which still holds all of the architecture of a typical Queensland Hotel. Take the night off and take your pick of one of the three of the hotels bars: Sports Bar – ideal to watch Friday night football, have a game of darts or pool with easy access to the games room; Platform Bar – ideal for families and larger groups of people to enjoy a pre-dinner drink, and Cocktail Lounge – ideal for spending a night out with the girls.
Don’t worry about exceeding the legal alcohol limit because the Yandina Hotel provides a courtesy bus to keep everyone safe or stay at the hotel in the provided accommodation at your own cost.
Opening hours: 10am to 12am daily
Kondalilla Falls, Kondalilla Falls Road
Starting at the top of Kondalilla Falls, walkers travel down through lush rainforest past rock pools and beautiful views to an open picnic area with a refreshing swimming hole. This walk is best done on a clear day so walkers don’t slip on wet pathways, but after a heavy downfall, the waterfall flows endlessly and is a beautiful reminder of how diverse Australia is.
The average time to walk the 4.7km trail is 2.5 hours with an elevated hike of over 100 stairs, so be sure to pack plenty of water and appropriate footwear.
Effort levels range from easy to difficult however the circuit track is rated a three out of five in which your fitness should be somewhat decent to tackle the many stairs and inclines. But don’t let that deter you, the views and wildlife sightings are worth the work.
Wildlife HQ Zoo – 76 Nambour Connection Road, Woombye
If you’re looking for a wildlife experience not to be forgotten Wildlife HQ Zoo, located at the Big Pineapple on the Sunshine Coast, is home to more than 200 native and exotic animals. Some of these include the Indian blackbuck, red pandas, South American monkeys, a pack of dingos and Tasmanian devils were moved from Alma Park Zoo when it closed after 45 years of business. Zoo owner Julie Seabrook relocated the animals to their new home and created a business that educates zoo goers about the different animals while also giving them a hands-on experience which isn’t offered in many zoos. Wildlife HQ Zoo is a smaller and more personal zoo which allows for quality time with some of your favourite animals.
Adult entry: $29, Under 15 entry: $15