Whether you’re browsing real estate or scrolling through holiday accommodation on the Sunshine Coast, the location is almost always referred to in terms of minutes or kilometres to Maroochydore.
In fact, pretty much everything on the Sunny Coast (as the locals call it) is described by its proximity to Maroochydore.
That’s because Maroochydore is where it’s at.
Roughly halfway up the stunning coastline that is Queensland’s Sunshine Coast, on the banks of the Maroochy River, Maroochydore is widely recognised as the epicentre of the Coast.
Just over an hour north of Brisbane and just 10 minutes from Sunshine Coast Airport, Maroochydore is the lifeblood of the region and boasts a long list of things to do… and many of them don’t even involve the beach:
If you’ve been on holidays when it’s raining on the Sunny Coast, you’ve been to Sunshine Plaza. In fact, Sunshine Plaza has been catering for rainy day outings since its automatic doors first opened back in 1994.
But you need not save your visit for a rainy day. With a casual holiday vibe and heaps to do, Sunshine Plaza makes a great day or night out, whatever the weather. The largest shopping centre on the Sunshine Coast, you’ll find all the major departments stores from Kmart to David Jones under one roof as well as a host of dining options along the iconic Riverwalk. And whether it’s teeming down or the sun is scorching, the 12-screen Birch Carroll & Coyle cinema complex is the perfect dry (and cool) escape.
Although not quite open at the time of writing, this one is too exciting not to mention. Soon Australia’s largest adventure ropes course on poles will be swinging into action at Maroochydore. Next Level High Ropes Adventure Park will crisscross Cornmeal Creek right next to Sunshine Plaza, giving brave adventurers the opportunity to scale 20-metre high towers and fly through the air on above-water zip-lines up to 130 metres long.
Next Level Adventure park will be opening in 2020, with kids as young as six able to challenge themselves on the course. If you’re excited to check it out, keep an eye on Facebook for details about the grand opening.
For globally-inspired, delicious eats, Ocean Street is hard to beat. Running along the outer edge of the revamped Big Top complex, Ocean Street boasts a carefully curated array of restaurants, catering to every taste. Friday and Saturday nights have a great vibe so head on down to soak up the atmosphere.
Ocean Street is also where you’d head if you’re looking for live music with Solbar, the Sunshine Coast’s only dedicated live music venue, and the Piano Bar, the Coast’s mecca for live Jazz and Blues, Wednesday to Sunday. Other live music venues worth checking out include the Maroochydore Surf Club and the Maroochy RSL, which showcases seven live entertainers every week.
If you’ve spent some time in this part of the world there’s a good chance you’ve taken a stroll at one time or another along some of this magical coastline. But did you know that the coastal path actually stretches all the way from Cotton Tree Park in Maroochydore to the Esplanade at Mooloolaba? The 4.4km walk (or 8.8km round trip) offers some of the most spectacular views of the coast – all while getting your daily dose of exercise.
Take off from the Maroochy River in a Wilga Warbird seaplane for an adventure like no other. Choose a 10-minute dash over the turquoise waters of Maroochydore and Mooloolaba or strap in for a longer adventure tracing the coastline to Noosa and even as far as Double Island Point. And if that isn’t already exciting enough, you can up the thrill-factor times ten by opting to fly ‘doors off’ for a full on, wind-in-your-face experience.
Paradise Seaplanes operate from Bradman Avenue, Maroochydore, Thursday to Monday from 9am to 3pm.
Held rain or shine every Sunday morning for an incredible 22 years, the Cotton Tree Markets are a Sunny Coast institution. From 7am to 12pm, Cotton Tree’s King Street comes alive with the sounds of live music and over 70 stalls. With a fun, creative atmosphere, the market is a popular attraction for locals and holidaymakers that return year after year. Best of all, proceeds from the markets go to Bloomhill Cancer Care, a local Sunshine Coast organisation aiming to enhance the lives of people living with cancer.
It’s not surprising that some of the best things to do in Maroochydore involve the beautiful Maroochy River. The lifeblood of the region, the river starts high in the Sunshine Coast hinterland before it meanders its way down to the turquoise waters of the river mouth at Cotton Tree.
One of the most relaxing ways to explore the Maroochy is on a river cruise where you can simply kick back and watch the spectacular natural scenery and wildlife go by. Cruise Maroochy offers tours to the Maroochy Wetlands Sanctuary where you can glide through virtually untouched Mangrove forests and see local treasure the fiddler crab and majestic birds like the Brahminy Kite.
Cruise Maroochy’s Nature Lover Cruises leave from the jetty at 270 Bradman Avenue, Maroochydore on Wednesdays and Fridays.
Another way to experience the Maroochy river is to be the captain of your own water-bound adventure. Or in other words – hire a boat. Swan Boat Hire can set you up with everything you need to enjoy some time pottering about on the Maroochy River heading wherever your two-stroke will take you. You won’t even need a boat licence. Dust off your rod and try your hand at catching a couple of local bream, whiting or flathead. Or pack a picnic and set off for the whole day.
From two-seater tinnies to large barbecue cruisers seating up to 12 people, Swan Boat Hire has something to cater for you and your crew.
Look out for the Swan Boat Hire truck at 70 Bradman Avenue, Maroochydore. Swan Boat Hire is open 7 days a week, 362 days a year.
There are no shops or facilities (other than toilets) on the island, so make sure you bring everything you need with you like snacks, cool drinks and sunscreen.
However, if you haven’t packed a picnic, there’s a fish and chip shop on Bradman Avenue conveniently located directly across from the bridge so you can pick up some lunch to take with you on your adventure.
Boasting what is arguably the Sunshine Coast’s best bar view, the new Rooftop Bar and Garden, high above Maroochydore Road, is a stunning addition to the local social scene. The bar’s slick fit-out, complete with hanging garden, creates a luxe but chilled vibe, however it’s the sky-high outlook that really sets this place apart.
But just because it’s open-air doesn’t mean the party’s over as soon as there’s a sprinkle of rain. A special custom-engineered roof can be closed when the rain clouds roll in. And in such a spectacular location, we imagine that would be quite a sight.
To check out The Rooftop Bar and Garden for yourself, head on up at 8 Maroochydore Road, Maroochydore.
When it’s time to cool off, head on down to the iconic white sands of Maroochydore Beach for a dip. Of course, swimming between the flags is the safest option and the best way to avoid rips. This strip has been one of the Sunshine Coast’s most popular patrolled beaches since the Maroochydore Branch of the Royal Life Saving Society set up shop back in 1916.
You can’t have a ‘best things to do’ in Maroochydore story without giving the Surf Club a mention. Overlooking the famous stretch of sand that shares its name, The Maroochydore Surf Club is the perfect place to grab a bite or kick back for a leisurely Sunday session. Flags Bistro is open for lunch and dinner seven days a week where you can savour a classic chicken ‘parmy’, slow braised pork belly or the perfect steak, cooked just the way you like it. You’ll find the Surf Club at 34-36 Alexandra Parade, Cotton Tree, Maroochydore.
For more things to do in the local area, check out our story about the best bits of Buderim.
You can also explore our latest Prize Home in Buderim, just a few minutes up the road from Maroochydore.