When we first moved to the Sunshine Coast four years ago, I didn’t think there was all that much to discover beyond the beaches. Yes, there’s the hinterland but compared to the lush and gorgeous scenery of the Gold Coast hinterland, it’s a little less spectacular.
But the Sunshine Coast has grown on me.
I like this stretch of Australia’s coast a little bit more every time I go out exploring. And one of the best things around here are the scenic views: Of the sprawling coast, undulating valleys and hills, and volcanic outcrops like the Glass House Mountains.
There are far more scenic viewpoints on the coast than I imagined so let’s start with Sunshine Coast lookouts dotted along the coastline.
11 SUNSHINE COAST LOOKOUTS WORTH A VISIT OR TWO
Some of these lookouts involve a bit of a climb to the top, while for others all you have to do is fall out of your car and admire what’s laid out before you. A few are super popular, others are somewhat hidden gems. Quite a few have picnic tables, which always makes me happy because who doesn’t love a picnic with a view?!
Winter tends to offer the best views as you get clear, sunny days. Throughout summer, there’s much more moisture in the air so everything looks very hazy, if not downright uninspiring at times (unless you can catch some cool storm clouds, of course).
Go early if you can to get the best views and avoid the heat of the day.
1. MOUNT TINBEERWAH | TEWANTIN
Distance: 1km return
Time: 30-45 min (Class 4; paved almost the whole way)
Trail head: Tewantin National Park; carpark at the end of Mount Tinbeerwah Road, Tewantin
I heard about Mt. Tinbeerwah ages ago but only made it up there recently. It’s a fabulous spot with a fire tower that offers almost 360 degree views of the coast! It’s popular so don’t expect to have it all to yourself.
You can see as far as Teewah Beach in the north, along the Noosa River, Mount Coolum towards the south and westwards with all those volcanic outcrops such as Mount Cooroora.
I expect it’s a spectacular lookout for sunrise as you should be able to see the sun come up out of the water and over Noosa National Park.
2. LAGUNA LOOKOUT | NOOSA
Distance: okm, park your car and voilá, you’re there
Location: Carpark along Viewland Drive (off Noosa Drive), Noosa Heads
Most popular at sunset, Laguna Lookout (Noosa Lookout) is ideally situated to give you some fabulous views over Noosa River. It’s best at high tide as the river banks won’t look all bare and sandy.
On a fine day, you should be able to see far into the Noosa hinterland.
3. SUNSHINE BEACH LOOKOUT | SUNSHINE BEACH
Distance: 1km return
Time: 30-45 min (very steep sets of stairs)
Trail head: Noosa National Park; park along Seaview Terrace, Sunshine Beach, and then head towards the end of the beach where the trail starts
I suppose this isn’t so much a lookout as just being part of the Noosa coastal track. But regardless, the views over Sunshine Beach are gorgeous, especially on a clear day.
If you just want to admire the view, park at the Sunshine Beach end of Noosa National Park and climb up those ridiculously steep stairs to the top. They’ll get your heart pumping, trust me.
Alternatively, you could do the whole Noosa Coastal Track and park at the Noosa end of the national park. The whole circuit is about 11 km but it’s all pretty stunning!
READ MORE: Exploring the Noosa Coastal Track
4. EMU MOUNTAIN | COOLUM BEACH
Distance: about 1km return
Time: 45 min (easy to moderate with a couple of steep-ish sections)
Trail head: Noosa National Park, Emu Mountain section; carpark at Havana Road East, off David Low Way (basically opposite Coolum High School)
Mount Coolum’s little cousin! It’s seriously little, rising only 71 m above sea level. But anyway, you’ll get some lovely views of the coast. It’s more of a local’s haunt, which makes for a nice, relaxed walk as compared to the Mount Coolum lookout.
You can easily turn this walk into a loop, there are a few more trails than what’s indicated on the national park’s map so just go and explore.
But all in all, it’s probably not going to take you longer than 10 min to get to the summit. It’s quite rocky and uneven along the trail and at the top so ideally wear shoes and not flip-flops. I walked up in my hiking sandals and slipped a couple of times (or maybe that was because I’m clumsy).
It’s perfect for those sunrise and sunset shots, and I especially like viewing Mount Coolum looming large in the south from this spot!
5. MOUNT NINDERRY | NINDERRY
Distance: 3km return
Time: 1.5-2 hours (easy to moderate)
Trail head: Carpark at the end of Tinarra Close, Ninderry (Google Maps might tell you you can access the walk from Thomson Valley Road – trust me, you can’t)
This is a local gem! I had no idea it existed until my very good friend Anita suggested we go up Mount Ninderry for an easy Sunday walk a few months ago.
The carpark is tiny and it’s mostly locals who come for some exercise or to walk their dogs. You’ll get fabulous views of the coast from the now finished platform at the top, looking directly onto Mount Coolum and the Sunshine Coast Solar Farm.
If you scramble around to the other side, you can gaze into the hinterland and see the sun drop behind the Blackall Ranges at sunset.
6. POINT PERRY | COOLUM BEACH
Location: Carpark just off David Low Way, Coolum Beach
Not a high-elevation point but Point Perry is so close to Coolum Beach, you may as well go and see what the views are from here. On clear days, you can see all the way to Noosa to the north. There are also some picnic tables and BBQ shelters though it can be a bit windy along there.
If you’re starting out in Coolum Beach, take the boardwalk along the beach, it takes you right to the lookout and makes for a nice stroll. Or leave your car in the carpark and meander into Coolum Beach for a coffee break.
7. MOUNT COOLUM | COOLUM BEACH
Distance: 1.6km return
Time: 2 hours but I’d say 1.5 hours or less is more accurate (Class 4; moderate with steep sections)
Trail head: Mount Coolum National Park; carpark at Tanah Street West, Coolum Beach
Without a doubt, the most popular Sunshine Coast lookout for active people!
It’s exercise madness, especially in the mornings when people race up and down the many steps to the top. There’s not a lot of shade along the way so plan accordingly.
The view from the summit is pretty stunning as you get sprawling views up and down the coast from Noosa to Mooloolaba, and even into the hinterland. It is a steep-ish trail but do-able even for small children.
READ MORE: Climbing Mount Coolum
8. POINT ARKWRIGHT | POINT ARKWRIGHT
Location: Carpark off Jubilee Esplanade (access from Dewar Street or Andrew Street, just off David Low Way), Point Arkwright
If you’re around the Coolum area, this lookout and picnic spot makes for a lovely little side trip. There isn’t much elevation so you won’t get sweeping views but on a calm day, it’d be a nice spot for a picnic and a wander along the beach.
9. LION’S PARK LOOKOUT | BUDERIM
Location: Street parking along Burnett Street, Buderim
Lion’s Park in Buderim is a lovely spot for a picnic with a view. And if you cook up a BBQ, it’s basically sausages with a view! What could be better?! 🙂 If Lion’s Park is too busy, head to Buderim Village Park along King’s Street: Equally gorgeous views, public BBQs and lots of green space for running around.
I’ve come to Lion’s Park a couple of times for picnics and I always love the views stretching out to the south. On a good day, you can easily spot Caloundra at the southern end of the Coast, and for years, the cranes at the Sunshine Coast University Hospital construction site dotted the horizon.
10. POINT CARTWRIGHT | BUDDINA/MOOLOOLABA
Distance: 500m return
Location: Carpark at La Balsa Park, Pacific Boulevard, Buddina
This is another popular lookout spot on the Sunshine Coast.
Point Cartwright is one of the few spots where you can watch the sun set over the ocean (at certain times of the year) because of how the beach curves. Plus it’s got a lighthouse and tessellated pavement at low tide.
11. MOFFAT HEADLAND LOOKOUT | MOFFAT BEACH
Location: Ma and Pa Bendall Park; street parking along Queen of Colonies Parade, Moffat Beach
Some lovely people have created viewing platforms at the Ma and Pa Bendall Park (yep, truly, that is the name of the park) at the southern end of the Sunshine Coast. The platforms are very nicely located at the headland overlooking Moffat Beach (both the suburb and the actual beach), and guess what, they are popular, especially for sunset drinks in the park.
You’ll catch a nice breeze from there and should be able to see all the way to Mooloolaba along Kawana Beach.
And if you’re in the area, the view towards King’s Beach (Caloundra) from the headland is also pretty nice. You’ll not only overlook the beach but you can glimpse the Glasshouse Mountains in the distance.
Check out the map on location specifics, and Mr. Google will gladly tell you how to get there. Your own set of wheels is kind of mandatory, unless you’re big into walking or like spending hours traversing the countryside by bus.
MORE POSTS ON WHAT TO DO ON THE SUNSHINE COAST
We don’t just have short walks to lookouts, there are also plenty of forest or rainforest walks on the coast. Here are my favourite short walks on the Sunshine Coast.
If you’ve done enough hiking and looking at our pretty coastline, you could get in your car and take a scenic drive around the Glass House Mountains. Alternatively, head up to the Blackall Ranges for a poke around some hinterland towns, rainforest walks and waterfalls.
The Buderim Ginger Factory (which is not actually in Buderim anymore but in Yandina) can be a fun day out with the kids. For a free and relaxing spot, visit the Maroochy Bushland Botanic Gardens. Bring a picnic or spot some Aussie animals in the Kids’ Corner!