The sunshine coast is renowned for those chilled beach days, a picnic in the park, a wander around the many beautiful coastal pathways and those glorious days spent in nature under a canopy of lush foliage.
But did you know, we have some hidden gems with a lil’ kick about them that you just might want to add to the summer repertoire this year?
If a rush is what you’re after, if you want to get the adrenaline pumping, or try something a little out of the ordinary and take the kids on an adventure – the Sunshine Coast has you covered. We have rounded up a few straight from The Wharf, Mooloolaba to get the bucket list started for you.
First up, we jumped on board the colourful creature known as the Aquaduck. We knew from the moment we walked up the stairs we were in for a quacking good time. Reggie, the Sunshine Coast’s only Aquaduck (plus his awesome crew), will happily tell you the same as he takes you around the heart of Mooloolaba and into the glorious canals of the Mooloolah River for an hour-long amphibious tour – duck jokes included.
We took our two children along for the ride and it’s safe to say, they loved it. Departing from the front of SEA LIFE at the Wharf, the kids got to call shotgun in Reggie the Aquaduck and we had front-row views to the beauty of Mooloolaba as we bounced along the Esplanade learning a little about the history of the Coast as we went.
The crew were great, offering up a lot of laughs, and it was such a delight for the kids (and us big kids) to be motoring along the road, waving at every man, woman and dog as we passed, and then, splashing down into the water with ease, ready for a cruise.
The sun was setting during our trip too which made the waterways even more beautiful. Pockets of orange formed in the clouds and the breeze gently brushed our faces through big open windows. We cruised past Point Cartwright, the fishing trawlers, and got to learn all about who owns the mega mansions of Mooloolaba. The kids even got a chance to take Reggie for a spin, captain hat and all.
The Aquaduck really is a fantastic and unique way to explore the heart of the Coast on a sunny afternoon.
An underwater playground
If your kids (or let’s be honest, if you…) love the ocean and sea animals, then a trip to SEA LIFE Mooloolaba is a must. From the minute you walk through the door you will come face-to-face with a whole new world of underwater life.
The first point of call for us was to touch a starfish in the tidal touch pool and wow at the stingrays, sea urchins and sea cucumbers before wandering through a wonderland of fluorescent colours, corals, sea horses and sea dragons. Moving through the exhibits, there are interactive experiences for the kids, which is a great way to keep the little ones entertained.
Our family loved exploring the 11 themed zones including Seal Island, Jellyfish Kingdom and the new penguin exhibit. Of course, it was also quite the treat for the little ones to stand inside a giant shark’s jaw.
The Ocean Tunnel, a $3.5 million investment, was the winner of the day though and also where the family watched as I got up close and personal with giant rays, hundreds of species of sea life and of course, the sharks.
Shark Dive Xtreme:
I have to admit, I was ‘x-tremely’ excited to be doing this experience. So much so, that I was waiting by the entrance door about 30 minutes early, grinning from ear to ear. I had left the kiddies with my husband at the SEA LIFE shipwreck playground and wandered back towards the building entrance ready for my dive. As someone who loves sharks, this was right up my alley and had been on the bucket list for quite some time.
The two-hour adventure begins behind the scenes with a safety briefing and a chance to get geared up. We even got to see the penguins being rehabilitated before we jumped in the tank for dive training. Another gentleman and I were the only two on this encounter which meant more time in the water, something we were both happy about.
Our dive trainers Joel and Charlie ran us through the safety talk, the underwater symbols, showed us how to clear our masks, purge our regulators and then we were ready to descend into the 80-metre-long Ocean Tunnel for our dive.
It was surreal being under the water surrounded by majestic animals, especially ones a lot bigger than you. And yet, it felt completely peaceful and not at all threatening. We were up close and personal with Honey the leopard shark, Winnie the wobbegong and Huey, Patches and Pallas the three giant grey nurse sharks. I even had a huge ray tickle my face at one point. Magic.
We wandered around on the Ocean Tunnel floor following our guide Joel for nearly 45 minutes, stopping for snaps with our excited families who were watching from the other side of the tunnel glass.
This is a must-do experience for anyone over 14 years old who wants to feel the excitement and beauty of cage-free shark diving without even having to jump on a boat.
No problem because the Sunshine Coast has you covered for thrills from Caloundra to Noosa.
- Jump on (or out of) a plane and witness the views of the Sunshine Coast from the clouds before diving back down for a beach landing with a skydive at Sunshine Coast Skydivers. Minimum age is 16 years, and these guys operate out of Caloundra.
- One of just two everglades in the world, the pristine Noosa Everglades is a unique place bursting with rare bird and plant species and is therefore best experienced under paddle. Kanu Kapers offers a range of guided and self-guided tours including overnight sustainable kayak adventures in their locally hand-crafted sea kayaks.
- If you like speed, you will love the Noosa Ocean Rider adventure tour. Tight turns and manoeuvres, this adventure starts with a cruise down the picturesque Noosa River to the famous Noosa Bar, then you’d better hold on as the ride begins out on the ocean! Your tour takes you around the Noosa headland to Sunshine Beach and back across Noosa Bar. Riders need to be 10 years and older.