THE beaches are better than Waikiki, the restaurants rival many city establishments and the lifestyle is the envy of millions.
The Sunshine Coast is open for business and the stretch from Noosa and the North Shore to Caloundra along the coast and the Blackall Range to the west offer many great places to discover.
From droughts to flooding rains, this past year has proved a challenge to Sunshine Coast travel providers and tourism bodies.
The result of the slow summer season is that great deals are being offered to encourage travel and tourism throughout the region.
The Sunshine Coast also has a diverse choice of accommodation, much of which overlooks spectacular beaches or can be found high in the hinterland.
Four and five-star resorts, bed and breakfasts, mountain escapes, beachside houses, caravan parks and self-contained apartments - literally hundreds of options will suit the luxury traveller or the budget-conscious.
The Sunshine Coast Art Gallery Trail
Leading local, national and international artists are showcased in the art galleries which spread from the coast to the hinterland. The trail showcases paintings, drawings, jewellery, pottery, timber, glass works and sculptures which explore the culture and character of the Sunshine Coast region.
The trail brochure is available at the local visitor information centres or can be accessed online at www.scap.org.au.
Silent movies experience in Pomona
Experience the films of yesteryear at the Majestic Theatre with memorable movies such as The Son of the Sheik, starring Rudolph Valentino. The community-owned heritage building, which was built in 1928, shows silent moves two to three times a week. Living legend Ron West occasionally plays the theatre organ in accompaniment to the movies. The box office hours are Tuesday to Friday, 10am-2pm. Phone 5485 2330 or email email@example.com.
Sunshine Coast Hinterland Great Walk
Take the challenge of a 58km walk through the Blackall Ranges or take a more leisurely approach and walk a small section of the great walk. Experience waterfalls, rainforest and stunning views of the hinterland from the clearly marked tracks which are generally firm with a stable surface. To experience more than one section of the walk or to combine it with a weekend escape book into a bed and breakfast or a self-contained cabin in the hinterland. For maps and bushwalking guidelines, go to www.derm.qld.gov.au/parks/great-walks-sunshine-coast.
Get lost at Bellingham Maze
The only maze of its kind in Australia is made up of more than 1000 trees converted into a hedge maze in the shape of an eight-pointed star. The mission is to use the sense of sound to find the fountain in the centre. Make a day of it and enjoy a family picnic in the shady picnic area or indulge in a Devonshire tea at the tea house. The maze is on Tanawha Tourist Drive, Tanawha. Details on www.bellmaze.com.
Take a gondola ride
You don't have to go to Venice to surprise the one you love with a romantic gondola ride. Gondolas of Noosa depart from the Sheraton Jetty on a daily basis and can carry up to six people. Cruises are BYO but music, ice buckets, ice and glasses are supplied and catering can be arranged. There is a choice of one-hour or 90-minute cruises and bookings are essential. Phone 0412 929 369 or visit www.gondolasofnoosa.com.
Caloundra Coastal Path
Explore the Sunshine Coast on foot or with pedal power. Caloundra's Coastal Pathway is a nine-kilometre stretch of newly constructed paths, meandering along beaches from Bells Creek at Golden Beach in Caloundra to Point Cartwright. The pathway is a great way to explore the natural beauty of lakes, creeks and spectacular surf beaches. Details on www.sunshinecoastqld.gov.au.
Buderim Rainforest Walk
Wander along pathways surrounded by Strangler Figs and vines. Where the boardwalk ends, a bushtrack meanders along the creek which leads up the mountain to an open waterfall. Picnic areas, a waterhole and barbecues are waiting to be discovered right in the middle of Buderim Mountain. Details on www.buderim.com/forest.htm.
Take a coastal bike ride
A round trip of 23km between Peregian and Noosa Junction, the ride is mainly off-road along the coastal pathway with moderate grades and a few short steep sections. This is fun for the whole family with great views of the Pacific Ocean and beach access along the way. For more details, visit www.sunshinecoast.cbc.lgaq.asn.au.
Take a cooking class with a world-class chef
Refine your cooking skills, impress your friends and learn handy tips in the kitchen. The Spirit House Cooking School in Yandina, the Buderim Ginger Cooking School in Yandina, and Amytis Garden's Cooking School are a small selection of cooking schools on the Sunshine Coast. Visit www.amytisgardens.com or www.buderimginger.com or www.spirithouse.com.au.
Indulge in a Sunshine Coast boutique wine
Boutique wineries are dotted throughout the Blackall Range, Kenilworth and Traveston. Blind Man's Bluff has views of the Mary Valley and Kenilworth Bluff where it is possible to talk to the grower who has a passion for winemaking. Information and techniques inter-woven into an entertaining tasting package is available for purchase. Details: www.blindmansbluff.com.au.
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