If Marlow had her way, we’d all be moving to Noosa. She was on the verge of tears yesterday when I explained, again, that while we might visit every year, we probably wouldn’t be moving there. We’re not sure why Noosa connected so deeply with our 4 year-old. Maybe it was the company? We went, en masse, with our close friends, the Winchester family (or ‘the Winnies’ as we say), who have four girls. Certainly the kids outnumbered the adults on this excursion and they all had so much fun together. Or maybe it was the impossibly beautiful beaches. Noosa offers some of the prettiest in a country brimming with beautiful beaches. The most spectacular of these run along the Noosa National Park, over 4,000 hectares of lush Australian rain forest, crisscrossed by walking tracks. Whatever the reason, Marlow was smitten with Noosa and so were the rest of us.
The town of Noosa (officially Noosa Heads) is also eminently walk-able—a feature we love in any town (our car remained parked for the majority of our 3-day visit). Its main boulevard, Hastings Street, sits at its centre and is lined with restaurants, shops, cafes, groceries and any tour or activity a visitor could possibly desire. At night Hastings street takes on a magical and almost European hue, its myriad trees shimmering with fairy lights, its lively restaurants open to the street and happy visitors milling about with gelato.
We chose to visit Noosa in the middle of the Australian winter. This meant the town was relatively quiet yet the weather was still, quite possibly, perfect. Daytime temperatures were around 24 (75° F), with blue skies and low humidity. Even the pretty turquoise seas were still inviting with water temperatures around 20 (70° F). In most places we’ve lived this combination would have signaled the height of summer. Here, it was just an average winter’s day. The town remained lively despite it being the low season and I suspect, we’d like it less in the middle of summer. Visiting in winter meant that the beaches were less crowded, restaurant bookings were easier to come by (we made our reservations the day before) and there was a generally relaxed vibe about town.
We hope to get to know Noosa better in the years to come. For now, here are our recommendations for this little slice of paradise that any visitor to Australia should add to their itinerary.
- Betty’s Burgers — A lively burger joint just off the beach with super friendly staff and delicious burgers, fries and shakes. I’m not much of a meat eater so I opted for the ‘shroom burger’ and it was delicious.
- Coconut Head — a plant based, super food bar on Hastings Street (just off the beach) with a selection of raw cakes, smoothies, and Acai bowls. Perfect if you want something light for breakfast or lunch (quite the opposite of Betty’s Burgers! haha).
- El Capitano — A wonderful pizzeria with organic sourdough pizzas. They were able to accommodate our big group of 12 people and were very patient with the kids.
- Bistro C — Michael and I ordered the seafood spaghetti from this upscale beachside restaurant and it was definitely our favourite meal of the weekend — worth the higher price point.
- Massimo’s Gelateria — The best place to get ice cream in Noosa — with a wide range of gelato and sorbet flavours. The only hard part is choosing.
- Belmondos Organic Market — This food market/cafe is located slightly out of town so we stopped here on our last day to grab breakfast and to stock up on snacks for our drive back home. I wish we could have cloned this market and brought it back to Byron with us. Everything we got from here was delicious. But that bread pudding muffin was worth driving all the way back to Noosa to eat again.
- Walk along the rainforest boardwalk from Noosa centre into the beautiful National Park — the main beach in Noosa is beautiful, but if you walk just a short distance around the bend into the national park, the crowds will thin and the scenery gets even more stunning. There are several smaller beaches dotted along the coast. We spotted koalas high up in the gum trees on our walk.
- Stand Up Paddling — you can rent these from Noosa Stand Up Paddle and they offer free delivery to your hotel or accommodation for daily or weekly rental periods.
- Surfing — we brought our own surf boards up to Noosa, but boards can be rented from kiosks on the beach or from surf shops on Hastings Street.
- Walk along Hastings Street at night — the trees lining the street are lit up with ferry lights, which turn this busy shopping street into a pretty promenade, perfect for a post-dinner stroll.
- Noosa Crest Resort — This resort offers a selection of self-catering family apartments all perfectly equipped with everything you need for your stay — fully equipped kitchens, washer/dryers, etc. It’s located on the hill just outside of the centre of town, so you get nice views over Noosa and it’s a pleasant 10-minute walk into town through the rainforest. We stayed in one of the 3-bedroom family penthouse apartments (this one!), which accommodated us perfectly. (All the apartments are individually styled and furnished, so there’s a variety of apartments to choose from.)