Warm weather, miles of pleasant beaches, trendy restaurants, and a relaxed lifestyle attract Aussies to the Sunshine Coast in droves. Despite some rather unsightly commercial development in recent years, the Sunshine Coast is still a great spot if you like lazing on sandy beaches and enjoying a good meal.
The Sunshine Coast starts at Caloundra, 83km (51 miles) north of Brisbane, and runs all the way to Rainbow Beach, 40km (25 miles) north of Noosa Heads, where the fashionable crowd goes.
Most of Noosa's sunbathing, dining, shopping, and socializing takes place on trendy Hastings Street, in Noosa Heads, and on adjacent Main Beach. The commercial strip of Noosa Junction is a 1-minute drive away; a 3-minute drive west along the river takes you to the low-key town of Noosaville, where Australian families rent holiday apartments. Newly spruced-up Mooloolaba, about 30km (19 miles) south, has a better beach and about 90 great restaurants. For a quieter pace, but with equally lovely beaches, head to Peregian or Coolum.
A short drive away, in the hinterland, mountain towns such as Maleny, Montville, and Mapleton lead to the stunning beauty of the Glass House Mountains, a dramatic series of 16 volcanic plugs.