Queensland’s Sunshine Coast has that name for a reason. With an average 300 glory days of sunshine annually and more than 130km of pristine coastline, it’s one of Australia’s favourite holiday spots. 

But in the unlikely event of rain or showers, or if you simply need a break from all that fun in the sun, you’ll find that the region is much more than just a pretty face in subtropical splendour.

Overcast skies needn’t mean downcast eyes when it comes to things to do. There’s a host of indoor activities from Noosa in the north to Caloundra in the south and west to Kenilworth in the hinterland.

Entertain the ideas of craft beer tasting and once-in-a-lifetime experiences, cooking schools with a difference and shopping expeditions, fun-filled attractions for the family and luxuriant day spas.

You’ll soon realise the “Sunny Coast”, as the locals call it, never rains on your holiday parade.

Cheers to innovation


Moffat Beach Brewery, Photo by: Visit Sunshine Coast

The Sunshine Coast has staked its claim as the craft beer capital of Australia – certainly per capita! So, when it comes to rainy day and indoor activities or the chance to rub shoulders with the friendly locals, a brewery visit is fast becoming an essential item to tick off the holiday list. It’s always happy hour at the 21 breweries operating from the coast to the hinterland. The innovative and passionate people behind the scenes all have a glass and a half of stories to tell.

But it’s not all talk. Even the 2022 Australian International Beer Awards raised its glasses to the Coast’s top brewers. Moffat Beach Brewing Co – with a beachside brewpub/cafe at Moffat Beach and a production house and taproom in Caloundra West – was named Champion Small Australian Brewery and took out the title for two of the most hotly contested categories: Best International Pale Ale with the Shadow Of The Moon Strong Pale Ale, and Best Traditional India Pale Ale with the hugely popular Trilogy Best Coast IPA. Heads Of Noosa, Boiling Pot Brewing, Land & Sea Brewery, Noosa Hinterland Brewing Co and Sunshine Coast Brewery also claimed a number of medals in the awards.

Meanwhile, one of the Sunshine Coast’s most-loved breweries, Brouhaha, recently opened a second location in Baringa, just south of Caloundra, to join its hugely successful Maleny operations. The new 1500sqm open-plan building – with exposed concrete walls, two mezzanine levels, a brewers’ lab, double-storey taproom and 16 sour and hoppy taps – gives visitors a bird’s-eye view as the craft brewery produces 1.25 million litres of beer per year. The brewery has had to increase production of its bestselling and unique Strawbarb to meet with demand. The kettle sour craft beer is a nod to locally sourced ingredients, needing 32 tonnes of local strawberries and 5.2 tonnes of rhubarb, not to mention truckloads of yoghurt from local supplier Maleny Dairies to create the distinct sour flavour.

So, if the thought of sampling some of the local craft beers has you frothing, here’s the easiest way to indulge in some tasty drops. Creative Tours and Events owner Josh Donohoe might just have the best job in the world as host of the Hinterland Farm to Fork Experience and Sunshine Coast Craft Beer Tours. He spends his days introducing others to a smattering of innovative Sunshine Coast businesses – from farms to coffee roasters, breweries to pantries. Tour guests and private groups learn as they taste in one-hour stops and 90-minute lunches, hearing from the passionate people driving the businesses’ success stories.

Shopaholics' paradise


Sunshine Plaza, Photo by: Sunshine Plaza

The effects of retail therapy on holidays can last long after you arrive back home. Put on that cool and carefree sundress from one of the Noosa’s Hastings Street boutiques, smile at the seashell photo frame you spotted on Mooloolaba Esplanade or remember that special handmade gift from the Original Eumundi Markets and instantly you’re transported back to the Sunshine Coast. From the quaint main street artisan shops in the hinterland town of Montville to Nambour vintage clothing shopping, the region has all your holiday shopping needs and desires covered.

Sunshine Plaza in Maroochydore – the largest shopping centre on the Sunshine Coast – is an attraction in itself. The one-stop shopping mecca has more than 320 specialty stores along with major retailers David Jones, Myer, H&M, Kmart, Target, Big W, Coles and Woolworths, plus a smattering of pop-up kiosks. For a more leisurely encounter, The Riverwalk and Promenade on the picturesque natural waterway of Cornmeal Creek boasts restaurants offering international cuisines, the 12-screen Birch Carroll & Coyle Cinema, and paddle boats for the whole family to enjoy.

Sunshine Plaza also is home to Rush Adventureland – the Sunshine Coast’s largest indoor family entertainment and adventure centre. Even when it’s pouring outside, kids can run, climb, and slide around a multi-storey indoor playground, zoom around the room on the Rush Coaster – the first indoor air coaster of its kind in Australia, or take on the high ropes and ninja courses, climbing walls and bumper cars. The centre also includes a colourful playground just for toddlers and a 120-seat café.

Spa-rkling beauty


Spa Anise at Spicers Tamarind Retreat in Maleny, Photo by: Visit Sunshine Coast

Beat the rainy-day blues with a little “me” time or “couple’s therapy” over a few hours of bliss that replenishes the mind, body, and soul.

For some fresh mountain air to elevate your spa treatments, try Spa Anise at Spicers Tamarind Retreat in the Blackall Range. The therapists specialise in indulgent botanical facials, soothing aromatherapy massages or pick-me-up manicures.

Ikatan Balinese Day Spa at Doonan brings a tranquil slice of Bali to Noosa. Built on acreage in the hinterland, this award-winning therapy business has double and single air-conditioned treatment rooms, set up as villas within the gardens, or try a head massage, pedicure and manicure in the communal garden room.

Bli Bli’s new Tank Bathhouse has four concept tank baths including three hot tubs and one cold plunge pool, spa treatments such as massages and facials, a sauna and steam room. Go the extra mile in pampering with the wellness package: a treatment and gourmet degustation lunch, high tea or brunch, a bottle of Chandon with the option of staying on for a candle-making class.

Noosa Springs Golf and Spa Resort’s popular hydrotherapy pool soothes as it massages using intensive water jets. Or drift away as you lay suspended in the flotation pool with starlit ceiling. Try these in combination with the steam room, infrared sauna, blitz shower, thermal capsule and treatment rooms opening to private courtyards with tranquil water features. Book in for a facial, body scrub, manicure, pedicure or something from the massage menu.

New worlds to explore


Sea Life at the Sunshine Coast, Photo by: Tourism Sunshine Coast

If you’re stumped with what to do with the kids, turn everyone’s holiday into an escape and head to Birtinya’s Zero Latency VR – the Sunshine Coast’s only free-roam virtual reality. Players enter other worlds and new time zones, battling against relentless enemies from aliens and human hunters to zombies and maniacal scientists. Put on the VR headset, strap into the backpack, pick up the controller and be transported into the virtual world where there are no wires or walls to get in the way of your adventures.

In Maroochydore, Holey Moley is doing its best to turn the Sunshine Coast into the Funshine Coast with the craziest mini golf course you’ve ever seen. Play a round of 9, 18 or 27 holes on the zany multi-sensory course, and then stay on to tee up some cocktails and snacks at the bar.

Sea Life Sunshine Coast is another great wet weather attraction with fun, educational indoor activities for a few hours or a whole day. Explore 11 themed zones, check out the penguin capers in the latest exhibit, take in the popular Seal Island presentation, marvel at the Seahorse Sanctuary critters and really get hands-on in the Tidal Touch Pools. A variety of experience options will take you behind the scenes at the aquarium, swimming with the seals, venturing into the little blue penguins’ pool and hand-feeding them their favourite dish, or signing up to the Sunshine Coast’s only cage-less diving with a guaranteed underwater encounter with sharks and rays.

Cooking up a storm


Spirit House Cooking School, Photo by: Visit Sunshine Coast

The region’s smorgasbord of cooking schools turns the heat up on indoor activities for a rainy day.

The Spirit House Restaurant and Cooking School in Yandina boasts the longest-established cooking classes on the Sunshine Coast at its state-of-the-art kitchen, set amid lush tropical gardens. Thousands of participants of varying ages, backgrounds, and kitchen skills experience the joy of Asian cooking using authentic, fresh ingredients. School of Wok, Fast, Fab Thai, Spirit House Restaurant Classics and Spice Island Tour are among the most popular classes offered. And the best part? You’ll dine on the recipes prepared during the class and enjoy complimentary wine and beer afterwards.

Life’s a Feast in Noosaville is a complete foodie experience inside a cooking lesson. Noosa’s longest-established cooking school, surrounded by tropical gardens backing on to Noosa National Park, will help guests learn chef-style kitchen skills, increase their culinary knowledge, prepare a selection of scrumptious dishes, and feast on their achievements with wine, in a relaxed and fun atmosphere. Teacher Gail Rast guides the interactive, hands-on cooking classes using fresh, quality, local produce. The classes conclude with a full sit-down meal with wine. Participants leave with their personal folder containing the original recipes, class notes and fact sheets to recreate the dishes at home. With classes such as Pasta Making and Italian Sauces, Seafood Barbecue, Moroccan Magic, Indonesian Banquet and Plant-Based for Health & Taste, there’s something for every taste.

Caloundra’s spiciest business, Red Hot Chilli Pepper, has added its own dash of pizzazz and sprinkle of extra flavour to cooking schools in the region. Owner Vicki Taylor is adding to her Spice Blending Workshops with a fusion of spice blending and cooking classes inspired by her own extensive travels. Students will make a mouth-watering dish after learning about spices needed to create traditional and complex Sri Lankan curry spice blends.