I have been travelling to Noosa for years now. My first trip was a family holiday back when I was in high school (it rained the entire time!) I then traveled there on numerous occasions with my job as an event manager and that’s when I fell in love with the place.
No day light savings meant early morning walks in the national park followed by a quick dip in the surf and breakfast all before I had even stepped foot in the office! This was the place for me!
We have now been back almost every year since the kids were born, it’s a fantastic family holiday destination and despite Noosa’s reputation of being a playground for the Aussie A list, it certainly doesn’t have to cost a fortune to holiday there! Here are my top tips for a relaxing holiday in Noosa – minus the big price tag!
The closest airport to Noosa is Maroochydore (Sunshine Coast). Travel time from the airport to Noosa Heads is approx. 20mins. But, flights in and out of Maroochydore are a lot more expensive than flying into Brisbane which is 1.5 hrs south of Noosa.
We always fly into Brisbane. We hire a car anyway so driving the extra 1.5 hrs is no biggie for us but a massive saving when it comes to buying five airfares! Brisbane airport is easy to navigate and car hire is accessible and straight forward.
Best thing is the kids will be more than ready for a nap by the time you get in the car! Our flight into Brisbane usually leaves Melbourne around 8:30am so a 10:30am landing + a 1.5 hour drive is the perfect snooze time for the kids to wake up in Noosa ready for lunch!
TIP: Pre book your car online before you arrive, it will save you money and hassle. Also check your travel insurance! Not many people realise that most travel insurance gives you car insurance excess so there’s no need to buy the additional excess from the car hire place which is an additional daily fee.
There are two main streets in Noosa Heads, Hastings Street and Gympie Terrace. Hastings runs along the surf beach and Gympie runs along the river. I have stayed on both but as a family, we always opt for Gympie, it’s less busy than Hastings and if you’re not huge surf beach people (like us) then the river is perfect for young children to play in the sand and paddle.
There is also a great playground at the end of Gympie Terrace “Pirate Park” and lots of places to eat. Because we always hire a car when we are here, we love driving up to Hastings Street a few nights during our stay for dinner and ice-cream (about a 5 mins drive from Gympie).
There are lots of family friendly accommodation options off Gympie Terrace (and Hastings Street if that’s more your vibe) We have stayed at Coco Bay Resort for many years now and have loved it every time. It suits our family perfectly as we can book a three bedroom townhouse for approx. $250 a night (depending on when we travel) We always come the week before Melbourne September school holidays commence so it’s cheaper and the resort is quiet.
Our stay always extends into a few days of the holidays though so the price does go up for those nights which are of course considered peak season. Coco Bay Resort is located just a 2 min walk to the river/restaurants etc… so it’s a great spot with kids as it’s easy to walk to everything.
TIP: Always book accommodation that is self contained. This is 100% a must now that we have kids. I like to do a small load of washing every 2-3 days which allows us to pack less plus by having access to a kitchen, we can alternate between going out for meals and staying in for meals which is important when you’re on a budget.
First thing we do when we arrive is do the grocery shopping. Boring I know but if you set up properly on the first day it makes for easier days ahead! Self contained apartments usually come with a few basics but it’s good to stock up on the essentials so you’re not caught short. We do our shop at Aldi but Noosa has all the big supermarkets. Don’t forget kitchen roll, some extra toilet paper and a couple of nights worth of dinners! Tacos are great because you can use the salad stuff in rolls the next day for lunch as are chicken skewers and microwave rice! Easy!
TIP: If you don’t mind spending a bit more money, pre order your groceries a few days before you arrive and have then delivered to your apartment! I shop at Aldi but if you’re a Woolies or Coles customer then this is the perfect way to stock up without doing a shop with the kids in tow! Also a great idea if you don’t hire a car when you’re there.
NOOSA YACHT & ROWING CLUB – RIVERSIDE BISTRO
Lions Park, Gympie Terrace, Noosaville
Located at the end of Gympie Terrace right next door to Pirate Park, the Riverside Bistro located within the rowing club is super kid friendly with a great range of reasonably priced bistro meals. A decking surrounds the bistro, perfect for some balmy evening dining or a mid afternoon drink with some bar snacks. I had possibly the best steak I have ever eaten, cooked to perfection and the kids loved their meals which came with a free kids pack & ice-cream.
TIP: Can get busy so best to book if you’re planning to eat at a peak time.
NOOSA HEADS SURF LIFESAVING CLUB
69 Hastings Street, Noosa Heads
Nothing beats a bistro meal at the famous Noosa Heads Surf Club. Located at the end of Hastings Street right on the beach, the surf club offers affordable bistro meals in a relaxed setting with plenty of kids about! A large balcony overlooks the beach, perfect to watch the sunset. Pick your own table on arrival then order up at the counter. A good range of kids meals to choose from for lunch or dinner and also perfect for a late afternoon drink and snack (the 1kg bucket of prawns is a good start!).
TIP: Consistently busy so if you want a table on the balcony arrive well before rush hour.
Shop 2/50 Hastings St, Noosa Heads
It was our first time visiting Betty’s Burgers on this trip to Noosa and we were not disappointed! Located opposite the Surf Club, Betty’s has such a cool beach shack vibe with great decor and furnishings. There is a whole range of burgers to choose from with all the usual suspects to accompany them (think rustic frys, onion rings, milk shakes etc…) I had the Shroom Burger filled with a crisp fried mushroom patty with melted Gouda & Gruyere cheese, lettuce, tomato and Betty’s special sauce and it was so good I went back and ordered the same burger two days later!
TIP: Literally 24/7 queues out the door for this place BUT service is fast. We didn’t have to wait for a table (possibly our lucky night!) but if there is a bit of a wait, order take-away and eat across the road at the beach.
RED EMPEROR FISH & CHIPS
281 Gympie Terrace, Noosaville
Another Noosa institution, Red Emperor serves up some of the best Fish & Chips in Noosa and with the river just across the road, it’s the perfect place to pick up some takeaway before watching the sun set. The scallops are super yummy as if the calamari. We ordered the River Pack + some extra steamed dimmies and spring rolls and this easily served the 5 of us. I love that the seafood is all displayed in the windows so you can pick your fish, service is efficient and they also have a great ice-cream selection.
TIP: BYO a bottle of wine, order your food then take it across the road to one of the many picnic tables on the river to watch the sunset. Don’t forget some bug spray though! You won’t feel them bite you but the little midgy sand flies sure leave an almighty itch!
ZACHARY’S GOURMET PIZZA BAR
15 Hastings Street, Noosa Heads and 271 Gympie Terrace, Noosaville
Well, just like the Surf Club, you can’t visit Noosa without having a pizza from Zachary’s. The best gourmet pizzas going around, we have been ordering the Pesto Lamb pizza literally for the past 10 years and it has not disappointed us once! Roast lamb, caramelised onion, yoghurt raita, crispy base… yum!
TIP: The kids pizzas are quite a generous size so order one between two to start and then you can always order another if need be, we ended up taking quite a lot home in a take-away box!
NOOSA REEF HOTEL – LAGUNA BAR & BISTRO
19 Noosa Dve, Noosa Heads
Great family friendly bar and bistro with a large outside balcony which overlooks the sea. We discovered this bistro on our last night but will definitely visit again next year. A big kids play room kept the kids occupied before their meals came out (meals which were reduced to $5 each because it was school holidays!)
TIP: Book a table if you are in a large group as this is a popular spot with families due to the kids room.
We can’t afford to eat out all the time so if we wanted a quick cheap lunch we would head to Woolies and grab some rolls and fillings and make our own lunch back at our apartment. There is also a food court on Hastings Street with Subway and sushi etc and on days we wanted to be super tight, we would head to 7/11!
Now, don’t laugh, but between 11am and 2pm you can get lunch at 7/11 (sushi, sandwhiches etc…) for 1/2 price with any drink purchase! Even an 80 cents slurpee counts! So we would purchase the kids a small slurpee, purchase ourselves a $1 coffee and then each grab a 2 pack of sushi for just $2.50! Lunch for 5 for well under $20! Yes please!
TIP: If we go out for lunch we stay in for dinner and vice versa and we NEVER go out for breakfast. I’m sorry but I think going out for breakfast (unless it’s a long breakfast/brunch catch up with girlfriends child free!) is the biggest waste of holiday money ever!
I refuse to pay my left arm for my kids to east toast and eggs which they will probably leave half of anyway! I can buy eggs, bacon, bread, avocado, feta, juice and fruit from Aldi which will last a week for less than one family breakfast out. Save your money for dinner and ice-creams!
When ever we ate on Hastings Street it was ritual to grab an ice-cream for dessert and people watched as we sat on a bench and ate them (well, slurped them off Hazel’s dripping arms!) These are our four faves on Hastings –
Nitrogenie – Theatrics galore! Watch your ice-cream get made before your eyes with liquid nitrogen!
Gelatissimo – Download their app to get reward dollars every time you purchase + $5 off your first order!
Royal Copenhagen – Self serve sprinkles! Yum!
Ben & Jerry’s –Weird and wacky flavours – super yum!
NOOSA NATIONAL PARK
Palm Grove Circuit, Noosa Heads
My most favourite thing to do when I worked in Noosa was to get up early and walk the coastal track from the surf beach to Picnic Cove return before having a quick dip in the sea! That was the (pre children!) life! There is lots of great walking paths in the National Park, some bush based, others on the coastal path. The coastal path is pram friendly but can get busy so perhaps take a light stroller if you can instead of anything chunky.
TIP: Look up! Lots of great views to be seen and I have also spotted the occasional koala in a tree next to the coastal path munching on some gum leaves!
139/141 Gympie Terrace, Noosaville
Very popular mid morning, Pirate Park is a great children’s playground located next to the Rowing Club on Gympie Terrace. With play equipment for both younger and older kids plus a Liberty Swing, Pirate Park is a great spot to sit and relax while the kids run off some steam. There is plenty of big grassy areas if you have a ball to kick or pack your togs and your bucket and spade and have a paddle in the river.
1638 Steve Irwin Way, Beerwah
We absolutely love Australia Zoo and visit on most trips to Noosa. Located approx an easy hours drive south in Beerwah, the grounds are gardens are so well kept and the animals look extremely relaxed and happy. The kids love the croc show and the new spray park (pack your togs!) Crocs aside, there are kangaroos, lemurs, koalas, snakes, giraffes, rhinos, tigers… it really is a great zoo and Steve Irwins memory is well and truly kept alive with pictures and memorials everywhere you look.
TIP: Entry isn’t cheap compared to say Melbourne Zoo but it’s so worth a visit. You can get cheaper entry with your RACV membership. Pack a picnic, there are plenty of places to stop and eating including the huge food court area at the Crocoseum, Save your money for an ice-cream and the gift shop!
TEWANTIN SPRAY PARK
2 Parkyn Ct, Tewantin
Not huge in size but lots of fun for the kids, the Tewantin Spray Park is located at the Marina so it’s a lovely spot for a little stroll and cool off in the spray water. There is picnic benches so pick up some fish and chips or bakery and sit and relax while the kids run in and out of the spray fountains.
PADDLE BOARDING ON THE RIVER
T Boat Hire, 1/290 Gympie Terrace
This is a great activity with the kids and a budget friendly one too! 1 hour SUP hire from T Boat Hire is just $20 ($15 per hour there after) and just the perfect amount of time to keep three little minds occupied! The kids loved taking turns sitting on the front as my husband and I took turns paddling out to the middle of the river. No need to pre book as T Boat has heaps of boards available, they also hire kayaks too.
SEALIFE SUNSHINE COAST AQUARIUM
Parkyn Parade, Mooloolaba
An easy 30mins drive from Noosa, the Sealife Aquarium is a fantastic place to take the kids and would make a great rainy day activity. Aside the beautiful marine life, there is also some great interactive kids areas with the characters from Octonauts and Finding Dory as well as a soft play area and the cutest seal show. We had a great afternoon here, the seal show was a highlight.
TIP: The Aquarium is located at the marina which has lots of cute little shops and eateries so pop to the aquarium in the morning then walk the marina for lunch.
80 Memorial Dr, Eumundi
Make it, Bake it, Grow it, Sew it! The Eumundi Market is 100% worth a visit! Just a 15min drive from Noosa, the market is jam packed full of beautiful stalls selling handmade products and street food (try the MOMO next to the playground – so good!) This is a huge market so plan on spending at least 2-3 hours there. Open Wednesdays 8am to 1:30pm and Saturdays 7am to 2pm. Parking is $6 and goes to the local Rotary Club.
TIP: There is a great playground at Eumundi Market with picnic benches so grab some lunch and take a seat while the kids have a play.
NOOSA FARMERS MARKET
Noosa Football Club, 155 Weyba Rd, Noosaville
On every Sunday 6am to 12pm, the Farmers Market has a range of great stall holders and fresh food. Fruit, veggies, bunches of flowers, a great place to grab a Sunday morning coffee while you stroll around the stalls.
A necessity. If you can’t manage to swindle a grandparent away on your Noosa holiday then Nannies of Noosa is the next best thing. We have used Nannies of Noosa for the past 2 years now and highly recommend. You book online via their website with your childrens age and sex and they then match you with a Nanny which will best suit your family.
After texting us during the day to introduce herself and confirm her start time, our Nanny arrived with a bag of toys and books for the little ones and a thorough knowledge of Fortnite dances, dabbing and flossing for Lenny! Rates are reasonable too, $80 for 3 hours and $20 an hour after that, 3 hours is perfect for us, 7pm to 10pm (rates vary depending on public holidays etc…)
So where to go on date night? Well, with a plethora of restaurants and bars to choose from on both Hastings, Gympie and surrounding towns, it’s really down to personal choice. Personally, we chose venues we wouldn’t usually visit with the kids. This year we started at iS Bar & Tapas on Gympie Terrace for cocktails and tapas, we then ventured down to Whiskey Boy (10/203 Gympie Terrace) for some more tapas and a night cap (pink gin for me, whiskey tasting paddle for hubby!)
So there you have it. This is how our family does Noosa. There are obviously many restaurants and cafes you can visit and many different activities you can participate in but these ones suit our budget (and the fact that we have three children with us!) If it was just my husband and I then we probably would fly into Maroochydore AND stay on Hasting Street AND go out for breakfast (!) but for now this suits our family of five just fine!
Happy holidays on the Sunshine Coast!