Noosa is a well-known Queensland hotspot, naturally drawing travellers to its pristine beaches, headland walks and balmy weather. For those who relish the Sunshine Coast vibe but loathe the tedious holiday queues down Hastings Street, head 70 kilometres south and you’ll hit Caloundra. The relaxed seaside town offers a similar buzz during the busier months, but with visitors dispersed across the coastline it doesn’t feel nearly as crowded.

An obvious choice for young families is Bulcock Beach, just off Happy Valley Park. Minimal waves, a sprawling grass area and a popular fishing esplanade make it an easy spot to while away an afternoon.

Prefer somewhere with a bit more of a break? Stroll along the boardwalk to Kings Beach. Stretched over 500 metres, there’s plenty of room to surf – either body or board depending on the day – plus a popular water park for kids. Finish up a sun-drenched day at Kings Beach Bar. The casual diner, nestled under pandanus trees, offers a tidy cocktail list, a reliable food menu and live music every Sunday.

For holidaymakers who don’t mind a little humidity, take the headland walk to Moffat Beach. Start with a cup of coffee at Aurenda Coffee Co before heading off on the three-kilometre route. The seaside trail offers a number of whale-watching vantage points, secluded beaches and dog-friendly paths. At the end you’ll be rewarded with a lesser-known suburb, home to laid-back locals, coastal boutiques and one of the town’s trendiest boozers: The Pocket Espresso Bar.

Keen to explore some of the region’s best attractions? It’s an easy 20-minute drive to Australia Zoo and a 40-minute drive to the Eumundi Markets, open Wednesdays and Saturdays. Or experience some of the best local producers and makers without going anywhere at all. Every Sunday morning, Caloundra Street Fair takes over Bulcock Street with 120 different stalls, and once a month there are twilight markets at Currimundi Lake and Bulcock Beach Esplanade.

Looking for somewhere to stay? We’ve rounded up the best Airbnbs on the Sunshine Coast.

This article first appeared in Domain Review, in partnership with Broadsheet.

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