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16 best things to do in Mooloolaba | visitors guide

It has been one of our favourite beaches on the Sunshine Coast for years. It has so much going for it from the white to golden sands, multiple surf-patrolled sections of beach, rock pools, fresh prawns off the trawlers, and great cafes. There really is no shortage of top things to do in Mooloolaba and it is a great spot for all ages and interests!

The top pick of things to do in Mooloolaba

1. Chill out on Mooloolaba beach

Relaxing on Mooloolaba Beach is a fabulous way to spend the day at any time of year. Choose a spot on the sand, cool off in the ocean, walk the beach, the waterfront promenade or out onto the rock walk. Bring a picnic or grab something for lunch locally.

beach towels, hot cup and magazine on the sand on Mooloolaba beach

I’ll normally arrive with my hot cup topped up with a good coffee or chai but there are plenty of places to grab a convenient refill around. The Hustle and Flow kiosk under the surf club barely requires you to leave the sand for a decent coffee and they are open from 5.30 am.

Don’t forget your shade if you are planning to spend some time out on the sand. There are a few obliging Cassurarina trees down the Spit to sit under but those prime spots are usually claimed quite early in the day. We rarely go anywhere without our Cool Cabana in summer and it’s been very useful here, you can read our review of this beach shelter but there are plenty of other alternatives that suit different needs and budgets.

2. Meet up with friends

The loo with a view is known to most as the meeting point in Mooloolaba, everyone knows where it is, it’s centrally located near the surf-patrolled section of beach, shops and cafes, set over 2 levels the top section is sheltered from the sun and it has a fabulous view from the elevated decks out over the length of the beach.

You really do have to stop by just for curiosity’s sake if not for the more practical use of the loos, changing rooms and shower facilities.

Mooloolaba meeting place - a loo with a view

3. Try out the many Coffee shops, cafes and restaurants

Mooloolaba has a fantastic range of eateries and spots to get a really good coffee, smoothie or something a bit more potent.

Always a favourite for us now is Rice Boi on The Wharf, it has multiple seating spaces and styles itself on a Japanese Izakaya. They define their menu as ‘Asian street food’ and while there are some casual favourites here it is all done so incredibly well. The 10-hour coconut braised beef is packed with flavour and is rendered to perfection so that it melts apart in your mouth and the duck salad alone would be worth the 3.5-hour drive from home.

Brunch has to be my favourite meal of the day and Mooloolaba is full of great options. On our last visit Craft Espresso really stood out and it’s easy to find with that firey red moped street art on the wall and the smell of great coffee wafting out but there are many others that deserve a mention. We are headed back for a longer stay in early 2023 and will add a guide to our favourite Mooloolaba Cafes you might also want to try.

Duck salad at Rice Boi on the Mooloolaba Wharf
The fabulous duck salad at Rice Boi on the Mooloolaba Wharf
Corn fritters and great coffee at Craft Espresso in Mooloolaba
Corn fritters and great coffee at Craft Espresso in Mooloolaba

4. Leave some footprints in the sand

Walking the length of the beach is something you’ll want to do at least once during your stay and a sunrise walk before the day really kicks off is particularly special. It’s hard to go wrong though with a wander along here at any time of day, you might just need to share the beach with a few more people as the day heats up.

Sunrise on Mooloolaba Beach

5. Explore the wharf precinct

Located at the start of the Spit you will find the Wharf Precinct, it’s situated on the Mooloola River and across the road from the beach parklands.

Most of the Mooloolaba water-based tours and cruises depart from here but it is also home to many great cafes and restaurants including The Dock and Rice Boi. It is also where you will find what we think is the best ice cream in Mooloolaba at Fior di latte Gelateria.

Icecream on Mooloolaba Wharf looking down the Mooloola River

6. Visit Sea Life Aquarium

The Sea Life Aquarium is located within the wharf precinct in the heart of Mooloolaba. It’s open 7 days and while it’s a fun place to explore any day it can be a good one to have up your sleeve if you happen to strike a few hours of less-than-ideal beach weather.

There are interactive hands-on experiences within the tidal touch pool, a fabulous walk through aquarium where the fish, sharks and all kinds of sea life float above and all around you, tanks filled with brightly coloured and unusual creatures, little blue penguins and glowing jellyfish. There is also the Seal Island show aimed at entertaining and educating the younger audience.

Red Sea Urchin at SEA LIFE Sunshine Coast

You can go behind the scenes to learn more about how the aquarium works and the conservation work carried out by the Sea Life team with dedicated breeding programs and their work with Turtles in Trouble to rescue, rehabilitate and release our beautiful sea turtles.

7. Go Snorkelling

While Mooloolaba isn’t a renowned snorkelling spot, in the area around the rock wall on the beach side you have a good chance of seeing small fish, rays and we’ve spotted green sea turtles off the wall a couple of times recently. It is sheltered and easy to get in and out from either the sandy beach or the wall making it a good option for beginners.

Mooloolaba along the rock wall looking back at the beach

8. Walk the boardwalk and paths along The Spit

Paths and boardwalks wind their way along the beachfront right the way through Mooloolaba, along the Spit and out to the end of the rock groyne. These dedicated paths help protect the dunes behind the beach while providing easy and frequent access to the beach. The walkways connect the parklands, car parks, facilities and picnic areas adjacent to the beach.

The boardwalk and several park sections have some light tree shade which is welcome during hot summer days. From the eastern end of the Spit to the HMAS Brisbane Lookout is just under 6 km as a return walk. It’s a really fun walking path whether you do it for exercise or to explore Mooloolaba from one end to the other stopping regularly along the way.

Mooloolaba Spit boardwalk and walkway

9. Walk into the ocean on the rock wall

From the end of The Spit, a rock wall or groyne separates the southeastern end of Mooloolaba beach from the entrance to the river. You can walk out on an easy path along the top of the rock wall into the bay while keeping your feet dry. It’s a great perspective to look back on the beach but also look out into the water on either side, over the years we have seen both dolphins and turtles from out here.

Mooloolaba rock wall

10. Take a Canal cruise

There are a couple of different canal cruises that run out on the Mooloola River from the Wharf area. Coastal Cruises Mooloolaba operates both a sunset and a seafood lunch tour through the waterways while Saltwater Eco Tours is a newer cultural tour in the region incorporating lunch, an insight into the area’s maritime history, the beautiful Mooloolah River and Indigenous Culture.

11. Have an Aquaduck adventure

Is it a bus? Is it a boat? It’s actually both and the kids especially will love the Sunshine Coast Aquaduck. Tours depart daily from outside Sea Life Aquarium, an easy walking distance from the local accommodation so you won’t need to round up everyone into the car.

Cruise along the beachfront esplanade before driving off the road and into the canal. You’ll float past million-dollar waterfront properties and get some fabulous views along with interesting commentary on the area.

Aquaduck in Mooloolaba

12. Explore the rock pools

At the northern end of the beach, there is a rock table where interesting rock pools are exposed on the low tide to explore. Discover all sorts of small sea creatures that hang out in the tidal pools.

The rocks at Mooloolaba Beach

13. Treat yourself to prawns fresh from the ocean

The trawlers pull up directly behind the Mooloolaba fish market and you can be sure you are always getting fresh and delicious prawns. We love picking up fresh prawns and then adding a salad and some sweet chilli sauce for an epic picnic but you can get a wide variety from raw seafood through to fish and chips to take away or just carry them upstairs to enjoy on their deck overlooking the river.

14. Take the new walkway from Mooloolaba to Alexandra Headlands

The Sunshine Coast coastal walkways have been extended with the new section that opened in 2022 between Mooloolaba and Alexandra Headlands. Plantings and green space surround the walkway and it means you no longer have to walk along the road over the top of the hill, you can cut out a bit of that uphill slog and walk alongside the beach rather than the traffic.

New walkway from Mooloolaba to Alexandra Headlands

And if you have time left to explore nearby, good options include:

15. Point Cartwright

To the south of Mooloolaba is Point Cartwright just a short hop across the river. There used to be a river taxi you could take for the quick trip to the other side but that seems to have stopped running now so unless you have your own boat it is a 10-minute (6 km) drive winding around the canals.

There is extensive parkland at the Point with walking paths winding its way around. The riverside beach is a popular dog beach the point itself is at the top of the hill giving some great views as you head down the ocean side onto Kawana Beach heading south.

Kawana Beach

16. Alexandra Headlands

Headed north, Alexandra Headlands is the next beach along from Mooloolaba so they basically join together but call it a 1-2 km walk along the beachfront and clifftop depending on your starting point and destination.

Alex Headlands is a great beach and slightly less busy than Mooloolaba. There are several kilometres of sand, with a beach park and barbeque facilities, plus patrolled swimming areas. The beach is popular for surfing, there is a skate park and several cafes nearby.

Where to stay in Mooloolaba

There’s a wide variety of accommodation types to choose from in Mooloolaba and its surrounding beaches.

For apartments, we’ve stayed at the Seaview Resort and Mantra Mooloolaba Beach. They are tourist apartments with the facilities you need to self-cater and relax at the beach. They have pools, BBQ facilities, and free WIFI and are located directly across the road from the beach and adjacent to the Esplanade restaurants.

Private rentals in mixed apartment blocks are also far more accessible now for online booking and can offer a great alternative tailored to the position and facilities you are looking for.

Mooloolaba also has a fantastic beach caravan park with its coded access gate opening directly onto the boardwalk and beach. It’s recently been given a full makeover and is a great place to base yourself if you are travelling in a motorhome or caravan, all sites are powered slab sites and the facilities are modern and immaculately clean but you will need to plan ahead for this one, they are almost always busy.

The best time to visit Mooloolaba

The beauty of Mooloolaba, the Sunshine Coast and most of the Sunshine State is that ‘now’ is usually the best time to visit regardless of when you ask the question. With a subtropical climate that is rarely impacted by cyclones and more sunny days than almost anywhere else in the country, you will have a great beach holiday here.

That said, you can always strike it a bit off when a weather event comes through so checking the 14-day forecast will help you figure out whether this week will be another beauty.

Mooloolaba has a significant residential population and is an easy day trip distance from Brisbane so if you have your choice of days, midweek is better than weekends, and outside school holidays is better than during those peak periods. You’ll just find it’s a bit easier to get a car park, a better deal on accommodation or a table at your choice of cafe. That said we’ve been in Mooloolaba on Australia Day, during the Year 12’s final day celebration and plenty of school holidays, and we always love it.

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