The Sunshine Coast is a popular day trip from Brisbane, and rightly so. Take a drive up to the coastal beauty spots of Caloundra for family day at the beach, Mooloolaba for surf and sand, or Noosa for its swanky boutiques. Or trek inland to the stunning hinterland national parks, the market town of Eumundi or the alternative enclave of Maleny.
But if you’re from further afield, flying into the Queensland capital and hiring a car is not your only option. An increasing amount of airline seats are dedicated to flying direct to the Sunshine Coast Airport at Marcoola just north of Maroochydore, so you can make the destination an end in itself.
Last week, Jetstar announced it would introduce direct flights from Adelaide to the Sunshine Coast three times a week from September 30, ahead of the school holidays in South Australia. This will represent 56,000 seats between the destinations each year.
Jetstar Airways head of commercial and operations improvement Carly Povey said: “The Sunshine Coast is one of our most popular leisure destinations and we’re sure Adelaide holidaymakers, as well as Queensland tourism operators, will warmly welcome (the) announcement that a low-fares airline option is now available on the route.”
Jetstar will now offer more than 10,000 seats to the Sunshine Coast each week, including the three return flights from Adelaide, 25 return flights from Melbourne and up to 31 return flights from Sydney.
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But Jetstar’s not the only airline to notice the demand for this tourism hot spot. Virgin Australia operates daily direct flights from Sydney and Melbourne, while Qantas flies from Sydney six days a week.
And Air New Zealand provides seasonal non-stop flights from Auckland. This year the flights will resume three days a week (bumping up to four days in the peak period) from July 1 to the end of October.
In fact, Sunshine Coast Airport is the fastest-growing airport in Australia, up 23.9 per cent for February 2016 compared with the same month last year, according to the latest available Bureau of Infrastructure, Transport and Regional Economics figures.
So join the throngs heading to the Sunny Coast and while you’re there, don’t miss:
- Beachfront cafes - from Caloundra at the southern end of the Sunshine Coast to Noosa in the north, there’s a latte and a view to be had.
- Surfing lessons – Noosa and Mooloolaba are good for beginners, or try your hand at the more sedate Stand-Up Paddleboarding.
- Markets – The Noosa Farmers’ Market was just named one of the 10 best in the country according to Australian Traveller magazine; but there’s also the renowned Eumundi Markets in the hinterland, and the ever-popular Caloundra Street Fair.
- Whale watching – The Sunshine Coast is prime whale-watching territory, as whales make their way up the ‘humpback highway’ from June to November. Take a boat tour, or catch a glimpse from land-based lookouts.
- Animal attractions – Australia Zoo at Beerwah, made famous by the late Steve Irwin, is home to all manner of creatures, Australian and otherwise, and no fewer than 16 saltwater crocs. Meanwhile, Underwater World at Sea Life Mooloolaba has sharks, seals, seahorses and jellyfish galore.