As I write this guide, the warm and sunny shores of Noosa seem so far removed from the chilly, foggy Italian winter morning I see from my window. It feels like I’m throwing back to a distant holiday memory, rather than what was my reality a mere few weeks.
Noosa is a very touristic resort town, perhaps the most well known and popular on Australia’s Sunshine Coast. Its popularity lies in its location hidden behind the Noosa National Park and the fact that it’s north facing aspect creates beaches protected from the southerly winds and swells that batter most other beaches on the east coast.
Noosa was suppose to be only one stop on our Sunshine Coast road trip, but despite its super touristic status, we decided to make it our base for exploring the area.
// The Sanctuary – Little Cove
Because Noosa is so touristic, accommodation is expensive all year around. The majority of availability is in resorts, which isn’t really our thing. But a quick search on Air BnB revealed several more appealing options including the house we ended up renting in Little Cove, on the edge of the National Park and a short walk from Hastings St. We loved waking up each morning in our tree house and having our own deck overlooking the National Park for relaxing and cooking BBQs.
After being spoilt of choice in Byron Bay, eating out in Noosa was a bit like coming back down to earth. Vegetarian options where limited especially on lunch and dinner menus. Luckily we are big fans of brunch and ate out most mornings.
// Bistro C
One of the more trendy cafes along the boardwalk at Noosa main beach, Bistro C serves stylish fare for breakfast, lunch and dinner, but breakfast is best for vegetarians as lunch and dinner options are limited. Its absolute beachfront location, enviable views and friendly and attentive staff make this place popular with visitors and locals alike.
// Betty’s Burgers
The slick, on-trend fit out at Betty’s Burgers makes the place look like the latest chain of hipster eateries, rather than the reincarnation of the famous Betty’s Beach Burgers, once a Noosa institution. Despite the super cool vibe, this place has only one option for vegetarians, a portobello mushroom veggie burger. But believe me, it is the BEST vegetarian burger I have EVER eaten, and I’ve tried a lot a veggie burgers. Usually veggie burgers are also the ‘healthy’ burger choice and this one certainly is not, which is probably why it tastes SO good. Accompanied by onion rings and fries and washed down with a Little Creatures beer, eating vegetarian at Betty’s Burgers is pure laid back indulgence!
// Nosh Express
Located in the arcade that connects Hastings St and the main beach boardwalk, Nosh is a busy little food bar that offers amazing fresh salads to take away daily. They also make a great ‘hippy’ (veg) burger (this one is more of the healthy kind). Great for a quick lunch to eat down by the beach.
// Noosa Surf Club
Along the Queensland coast, Surf Life Saving Clubs offer some of the best views where to enjoy a meal or a drink, and Noosa Surf Club is no exception. Offering a magical view over Noosa main beach from the huge open air terrace, its the perfect place to kick back and relax and watch the ‘nippers’ in action. Simple, kiosk style food is served for breakfast, lunch and dinner, but the bar is always open.
// Kaali Gourmet Indian
After running from awning to awning, reviewing restaurant menus with little choice for vegetarians and trying to stay out of the rain, we were delighted find Kaali Gourmet Indian at the end of Hastings Street. With a dedicated vegetarian menu we were so happy to be out of the rain and eating delicious food with plenty of choice.
// Grind – Noosaville
Well worth the short drive out of Noosa along the river, Grind definitely had the best brunch we ate in the Noosa area. Plenty of vegetarian options, daily specials, and all fresh delicious options served at this cute cafe across the road from the river, its not surprise that on the Noosaville strip full of cafes this place is always packed.
// Thai Square – Noosaville
Thai is always a great options for vegetarians and Thai Square is arguably the best Thai in Noosa. With a table on the outside verandah surrounded by palm trees, and thai TV playing in the corner, you can really feel swept away to a tropical paradise as you enjoy this delicious thai fare.
This french inspired bistro unfortunately didn’t have any suitable vegetarian options for us to eat. But the coffee was great.
// 10 Hastings St
This cute lil cafe in the centre of Hasting St has a nostalgic summer surf vibe. Great for coffee and people watching from the alfresco seating area.
// Miss Moneypenny’s
Perfectly located in the centre of the Hasting St strip, Miss Moneypennys attracts a mixed crowd of locals and visitors for stylish cocktails and Mediterranean inspired bar menu.
// Eumundi Markets
If you find yourself in Noosa on Wednesday or Saturday, a visit to the Edmund Markets is a must. Quoted as Australia’s premier artisan market, you’ll find a wide selection of quality handmade products as well as a dedicated food section offering fresh local produce and international inspired street food and snacks. The town of Edmund itself is quaint and worth a visit with a variety of cute homeware and fashion stores and the prerequisite pub.
// Noosa Farmers Markets
Located between Noosa and Noosaville, the farmers market is the perfect place to have breakfast on a Sunday morning. Along with the fresh local produce of every kind, you’ll find many of the Eumundi street food stalls here as well. A lovely way to pass a sunny Sunday morning.
// Apollonian Hotel
Just a short and pretty 30 minute drive from Noosa and you will find yourself at the historic heritage Apollonian Hotel. Famous for its Sunday spit roast (which we strategically missed) the pub is set on 3.5 acres and is surrounded by rolling lawns and colonial verandahs covered in climbing bougainvillaea. Located in the picturesque town of Boreen Point on the shores of Lake Cootharaba, the pub still oozes the charm of its gold rush heyday, while the bar is full of colourful local characters.
// Noosa National Park
This guide wouldn’t be complete without some serious wayfaring – in the form of a hike all the way through Noosa National Park to the next town over, Sunshine.
Follow the oceanside forest track enjoying typical Australian vegetation and wildlife, keeping an eye out for koalas in their native gum trees. Stop for a dip in the crystal clear rock pools of Granite Bay, surrounded by huge black granite boulders and gorgeous views over the secluded beach and ocean. Feeling fresh and invigorated, resume the hike until you reach Hell’s Gate and stop for amazing 360 degree views of the headland.
Then continue around to coastal cliffs and cross the beach at Alexandria Bay (NB. this is a nudist beach) to rejoin the coastal track at the southern end. Once you reach the northern end of Sunshine beach, walk along the shore until you reach the exit for the Sunshine Surf Club (exit 33, i think, its about a 1.2 km walk). Here you can enjoy lunch or delicious snacks from their bar menu and a well earned drink. The Surf Club is also across the road from the bus stop that will take you back to Noosa. Allow 3-4 hours because but if you are anything like me, the photo stops will add at least an extra half hour =)