Between its fabulous beaches stretching from Noosa to Caloundra and the beautiful hinterland behind, the Sunshine Coast is a fabulous place to visit in Queensland, including with your dog. Find out more about visiting the Sunshine Coast with your dog, from dog-friendly things to do to pet-friendly places to stay.
Just visiting Noosa? Check out my guide on dog-friendly Noosa
Dog-Friendly Beaches on the Sunshine Coast
The Sunshine Coast is home to many beautiful beaches, and fortunately there are plenty of dog-friendly beaches to enjoy with your pup. It wouldn’t be a visit to the Sunshine Coast without visiting at least one of these beaches for a play on the sand and in the water!
These are some of the top off-leash dog beaches along the Sunshine Coast to visit with your pup:
Noosa Spit: If you’re visiting the Noosa area, head to Noosa Spit at Noosa Heads. Lying just behind Noosa Main Beach, where dogs are prohibited, dogs are allowed off-leash on a whole section of the spit that extends into the Noosa River, including the beaches on either side.
Sunshine Beach North: Another off-leash dog beach near Noosa is at the northern end of Sunshine Beach. The off-leash exercise area starts near the small carpark at Seaview Terrace North and extends to the Noosa National Park boundary. It’s a particularly good beach when the wind is from the west, although the water is often rough.
Castaways Beach and Marcus Beach: Further south, there’s a huge stretch of off-leash beach next to the suburbs of Castaways Beach and Marcus Beach. The off-leash area extends from beach access 38 (near Orient Park South) through to beach access 47 (at Tasman Trespasser Park), nearly 4km in total. It’s a great spot for off-leash walks.
Stumers Creek: Further south, one of the most popular off-leash dogs beaches is Stumers Creek, on the northern edge of Coolum. A highlight of this dog beach are the calm waters of the lagoon, perfect for doggie paddling. There’s also a handy dog wash down area next to the carpark. Dogs are allowed off-leash in between beach access 67 and 72.
North Shore Beach: At Twin Waters, dogs are allowed off-leash at North Shore Beach, from 140m north of beach access 132 down to beach access 136, plus the calm waters at the entrance of the Maroochy River.
Point Cartwright: At Point Cartwright in Buddina, dogs are allowed off-leash at the northern end of Buddina Beach, from beach access 198 to 201 (near Gulai Street), but this beach was quite rough when we visited. Instead, head to the opposite side of the point and Mooloolah River entrance, where dogs are allowed off-leash in the calm waters from 4pm to 8am, between the entrance of La Balsa Park and the river mouth.
Note that there are currently plans to remove the off-leash hours – check the latest signs, or else I will provide an update once this change is made.
For further details and a full list of every off-leash dog beach along the Sunshine Coast, plus the beaches where dogs are allowed on-leash, check out my guide to Sunshine Coast dog-friendly beaches.
Dog-Friendly Sightseeing on the Sunshine Coast
Sightseeing options with your dog on the Sunshine Coast aren’t just limited to visiting the beaches, although it’s easy to spend most of your holiday doing just that. Consider some of these other dog-friendly ideas.
1. Head Out on the Noosa River
One of the prettiest spots on the Sunshine Coast is the Noosa River, along which the towns of Noosa Heads, Noosaville and Tewantin are located. It’s highly recommended to get out onto the river.
The easiest way to get on the Noosa River, if you have a smaller dog, is by taking the Noosa Ferry. Dogs are allowed on the Noosa Ferry as long as they can sit on your lap (but not on the sunset cruises). There’s no extra charge for pups and no muzzles are required. It’s a beautiful trip sitting in the sunshine on the open-air top deck.
The ferry runs approximately every half an hour between Tewantin and Noosa Heads. It’s $28 for an all day pass along the entire length (or $22 if bought after 1pm), or $16.50 return between Noosaville and Noosa Heads. There’s also additional ticket options.
I recommend getting off the ferry at Noosa Heads and going for a walk, before returning. If you walk to the left along the boardwalk and don’t turn towards Noosa Main Beach, you’ll soon reach the Noosa Spit and the sign for the off-leash exercise area, including the popular dog beach.
If you have a larger dog or are feeling more energetic, hire a boat or kayak for an hour or the day. One of the dog-friendly boat hire companies along the Noosa River is O Boat Hire. They offer a range of boats, including BBQ pontoons, plus kayak and SUP hire.
2. Climb Up a Mountain
The Sunshine Coast is dotted with mountains, including the famous Glass House Mountains. I highly recommend climbing one or two, partially to enjoy the beautiful views from the top.
While some of the mountains are located in pockets of national parks, one dog-friendly hike up a mountains is the climb up Mt Ninderry. Not far from Yandina and the freeway, the start of the Mt Ninderry Walking Track is located on Eucalyptus Crescent in Ninderry.
It’s a 2.8km return track to the summit. The sign at the entrance recommends to allow 3 hours, but you’ll likely finish it in under 90 minutes, even less if yourself and your dog are enthusiastic. It took us about 30 minutes to climb to the junction at the top, where one trail goes to the east lookout, the other to the west lookout, that are also joined by a loop track.
Dogs are required to be on leash on the trail, but this wasn’t strictly followed by the many locals and their dogs on the track on the morning we hiked it. Note that there’s a lot of rocky stairs during the ascent – make sure you wear proper walking shoes.
3. Or Just Visit the Lookouts
Of course, climbing a mountain isn’t the only way on the Sunshine Coast to enjoy spectacular views, with many lookouts of course also accessible by road.
One of the most famous lookouts is the Glass House Mountains Lookout, located on the southern edge of the region. Dogs are allowed at the lookout, but not on the walking trail starting at the lookout (which doesn’t lead to any further lookouts). This lookout is most impressive for the number of mountains you can see, with signs naming each of the surrounding peaks.
Another lookout we enjoyed was Dulong Lookout, located just behind Nambour on the way to the villages of Mapleton and Montville. In fact, drive along the length of the Blackall Range Tourist Drive, and you’ll be spoilt with endless vistas off towards the coast, whether while driving or when stopped at various points along the way.
Note that dogs are not permitted at the Mary Cairncross Scenic Reserve in Maleny, a popular vista spot.
4. Shop at the Eumundi Markets
There’s plenty of markets that take place all over the Sunshine Coast, many of which are dog-friendly. However, the king of them all are the Eumundi Markets, which take place in the town of the same name every Wednesday and Saturday, between 7am (8am on Wednesday) and 2pm.
Pets on a leash are welcome at the markets, with plenty of water bowls to keep your dog cool. Your dog will probably sniff out the two pet stores that were at the market on the day we visited in 2021, Made in Noosa and 4 Your Petz. There’s also plenty of pet-related things to buy at the homeware stores, such as the prints and cushions at Tracey Keller Gallery.
Two hour parking spots are available on nearby streets for free, or else head to the paid parking lot. Come lunchtime, there’s plenty of food stalls located just off Memorial Drive, plus more dotted around the rest of the markets.
5. Explore the Maleny Botanic Gardens
One of the stand-outs of the Sunshine Coast Hinterland are the stunning Maleny Botanic Gardens. Luckily, leashed dogs are welcome to join you on a stroll around the gardens, for no additional charge, although they are not permitted in the aviary area, accessible on guided tours for an additional fee.
When stepping out of the reception centre, you’ll be stunned by the beautiful view of the gardens with the Glass House Mountains in the distance. We thought the top half of the gardens were the most impressive, although back in 2021 there were some works underway that opened up access to the lower levels.
The gardens are dotted with countless waterfalls and ponds, taking advantage of the steep slope. It’s possible to rent a golf cart for an hour, although we didn’t check if dogs were allowed on the carts. There’s also a cafe at the reception centre.
Note that dogs are not allowed in the Maroochy Regional Bushland Botanic Garden.
6. Visit the Village of Montville
One of the other highlights of the Sunshine Coast Hinterland are the charming villages, with the village of Montville being a must-visit.
Go for a wander with your pup along the main street, catching glimpses of the beautiful vistas off towards the coast along one side, while browsing the many interesting galleries and boutiques. Plenty of the shops have water bowls for pets outside, even “pet parking” areas.
If you’re feeling peckish or wanting a coffee, the European-style Poets Cafe has plenty of outdoor tables where your pup is welcome to join you.
7. Taste the Local Craft Beer
The Sunshine Coast must surely have one of the highest concentrations of craft breweries anywhere in Australia, and luckily many of the breweries are dog-friendly, meaning that you can enjoy a tasting (and perhaps a meal) with your dog at your feet.
We visited Land & Sea Brewery in Noosaville, which was luckily open mid-week during our visit. (Many of the breweries are closed mid-week). There’s plenty of outdoor tables, and even a gas fireplace near where we were sitting for cool evenings.
As well as a tasting paddle, consider ordering from their extensive menu. The Roast Field Mushroom Burger I had was amazing, and there’s also heartier options available. If you’re not a beer fan, the brewery is also home to Fortune Noosa Heads Distillery, with gin tasting paddles available, not to mention a cocktail menu.
Some of the other dog-friendly breweries around Noosaville include Heads of Noosa Brewing and Boiling Pot Brewing. In the Hinterland, consider Terella Brewing, near Eumundi. Or just check with individual breweries – the majority are dog-friendly.
8. Explore Point Cartwright
One of the most dog-friendly places to visit along the Sunshine Coast during the late afternoon is Point Cartwright, home to a very modern lighthouse. Head there after 4pm and dogs are allowed off-leash not only on the nearby ocean-facing Buddina Beach (north of beach access 198), but also most of the reserve and the foreshore along the Mooloolah River, as far as the entrance of La Balsa Park.
Even if you visit before 4pm, it’s a fun excursion combining some off-leash romps and on-leash time, even an on-leash paddle on the river sandbar. Park at the carpark at the end of Pacific Boulevard and take note of the sign showing which areas are off-leash all-day and just after 4pm. Alternatively, head there early morning, with the time restricted off-leash areas lasting up until 8am.
Note that there are currently plans to remove the off-leash access and increase dog prohibited areas – check the latest signs, or else I will provide an update once this change is made.
9. Ride the Mary Valley Rattler
Now the Mary Valley strictly speaking is outside of the Sunshine Coast or the Sunshine Coast Hinterland, but this pet-friendly steam train ride is close enough that it’s a fun day trip from the Sunshine Coast, particularly if you’re staying around Noosa.
The Mary Valley Rattler departs from Gympie, and pets are now allowed to join you on the weekly Wednesday, Saturday and Sunday excursions (just not the Rattler Tasting Train on Thursday). There’s two specific booths available for families with pets, that up to two dogs from the same household can share with up to six people, for an additional charge of $25 per pet. Make sure you book well in advance!
Dog-Friendly Parks on the Sunshine Coast
The majority of the parks are unfenced, although there are some fenced options available. On the Sunshine Coast Council website, view the map – the parks with stars next to them are fenced. An example is Brightwater Dog Park at Mountain Creek, near Mooloolaba. This fenced area has double gates, plenty of shade and dog agility equipment.
One of the best option near Noosa is Weyba Creek Park in Noosaville. This long stretch of park follows the creek, a tempting spot for a dog paddle, with plenty of shady trees to walk under and handy picnic benches.
Dog-Friendly Walks on the Sunshine Coast
While some of the most popular walking tracks along the Sunshine Coast are off limit to pets, such as the trails at Noosa Head in the Noosa National Park, there’s still plenty of dog-friendly walking options on offer.
For starters, see the details above about climbing to the summit of Mt Ninderry, or walking through the reserve and along the beach and river at Point Cartwright, which is partially off-leash.
Some other popular short walks include the Coolum Beach Boardwalk and the Caloundra Foreshore. The former is a 800m boardwalk at the southern end of Coolum Beach, that ends at a whale watching lookout.
The Caloundra Foreshore Walk runs for 4km between Bulcock Beach and Shelly Beach, a combination of beach and boardwalks. Both are on-leash only walks.
Heading inland, an easy option at Maleny is the Maleny Trail, which runs for 4.8km from the Showground to historic Fairview, largely following Obi Obi Creek on paved paths and boardwalks. Dogs also need to be kept on a leash on this walk.
For more details and ideas, see my guide to dog-friendly walks on the Sunshine Coast.
Dog-Friendly Dining on the Sunshine Coast
There’s no shortage of cafes and restaurants on the Sunshine Coast with outdoor dining areas that allow dogs, although of course it’s always up to the individual restaurant owners, so make sure you check first, if you can’t spot any other dogs around.
In Noosaville, Grind Cafe is a popular dog-friendly cafe just across from the river, that’s open for breakfast and lunch daily. Alternatively, I recommend heading to Land & Sea Brewery. While there aren’t any water views, it’s open daily for lunch and dinner except on Monday, with a wide-ranging menu and both beer and gin tasting paddles.
In Maleny, Monica’s Cafe is highly rated, in particular for their breakfasts and vegan options. The cafe is open daily for breakfast and lunc. Another terrific dog-friendly coffee spot is concept.coffee, right on the Obi Obi Creek Boardwalk, although it’s closed on weekends.
In the evening in Maleny, head to Lane 32 Woodfired Pizza. As well as allowing dogs at outdoor tables (and spoiling them with dog biscuits), there is also an enclosed dog pen – perfect for when the puppy dog eyes become too much! Just check in advance which evenings they are open.
For somewhere that offers your dog their own menu, head to Velo Project Cafe in Mooloolaba. Open daily for breakfast and brunch (for humans), your pup can feast on their own donut, or a peanut-butter flavoured, lactose-free milkshake.
Dog-Friendly Accommodation on the Sunshine Coast
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There’s a wide variety of pet-friendly accommodation on offer along the Sunshine Coast. For starters, if it’s waterfront accommodation you’re after, look no further than Saltwater Villas in Mooloolaba. All villas are pet-friendly, including the waterfront villas that have fully-fenced private courtyards, with pets allowed inside and out. Dog sitting and walking is also available.
Another popular pet-friendly place to stay in the heart of the Sunshine Coast is Sunshine Valley Cottages. With three cottages set in a beautiful tropical garden, these cottages are truly pet-friendly. Pets are allowed inside, although not on the furniture or bedding, and there are off-leash areas available. Pets sitting is available on request. More than one pet is permitted (call to discuss), with no size limit, and a small additional charge per pet.
For a taste of luxury, head to the Sunshine Coast Hinterland. Both Spicers Clovelly Estate near Montville and Spicers Tamarind Retreat in the rainforest at Maleny have pet-friendly options available. The Pooch Package at Clovelly Estate includes luxury accommodation in the French cottage, along with a dog bed and blanket, lead and clean-up bags, food and water bowls, and a long-lasting bone. Alternatively, stay at the Orchard Villa at Tamarind Estate. Dogs are allowed inside, but not on the furniture, although a size limit of 25kg applies.
For a more affordable stay on the Sunshine Coast, two of the Sunshine Coast Holiday Parks accept dogs. Coolum Beach Holiday Park is beachfront, adjacent to the popular off-leash area at Stumers Creek. Dogs are only permitted on application, at the discretion of the manager, and not allowed in cabins. Alternatively, check out Mudjimba Beach Holiday Park, which is almost beachfront. Once again dogs are only permitted on application.
Heading inland, Maleny Showgrounds is a cheap and easy option for caravans and campervans. There’s no peak-season rates, plus the showgrounds have an off-leash area and are a short walk from Maleny along the delightful Obi Obi Boardwalk. Double-check online for the multiple blackout dates for various shows, and note there is a maximum stay of three consecutive nights.
For more accommodation recommendations, check out my list of top pet-friendly accommodation options on the Sunshine Coast.