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.
Dog-Friendly Beaches on the Sunshine Coast
The Sunshine Coast is home to many beautiful beaches, and fortunately there are plenty of dog-friendly options 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!
Northern Sunshine Coast Dog Beaches
If you’re visiting Noosa, one of the most popular dog beaches is the Noosa Spit at Noosa Heads. Lying just behind Noosa Main Beach, where not surprisingly dogs are prohibited, dogs are allowed off-leash on a whole section of the spit extending into the Noosa River and the beaches on either side.
Probably the most popular option is on the northern side (search for “Doggy Beach” on Google Maps), although I found the section of sand larger on the southern side when I visited.
Double check the map on the council website to find out which area is off-leash, or look out for the cute Dog Exercise signs when visiting, although it would be good if there were a few more erected.
Another fabulous off-leash dog beach near Noosa is Sunshine Beach North. The off-leash exercise area starts at Seaview Terrace North, near the small carpark, and extends to the Noosa National Park boundary. Search for “Sunshine Beach Dog exercise area” on Google Maps. It’s a particularly good beach when the wind is from the west, although the water is too rough for most dogs to swim.
Further south, there’s a huge stretch of off-leash beach running along Castaways Beach and Marcus Beach. It extends from beach access 38 (near Orient Park South) through to beach access 47 (at Tasman Trespasser Park), nearly 4km in length. It’s a great spot for off-leash walks, although small dogs should be wary of the often rough surf.
There’s also an on-leash only dog beach at South Peregian Beach, between beach access 59 (near the shops) to beach access 67 (at Pitta Street). For the latest details on the off-leash dog beaches in the Noosa Council area (the northern section of the Sunshine Coast), check out their website.
Southern Sunshine Coast Dog Beaches
Further south in the Sunshine Coast Council area, one of the most popular off-leash dogs beaches is Stumers Creek, on the northern side 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.
Two more great areas with calm waters for dogs to swim are at Twin Waters and Point Cartwright. At Twin Waters, dogs are allowed off-leash at North Shore Beach, from 140m north of beach access 132 down to beach access 136, including the calm waters at the entrance of the Maroochy River. Head to the carpark at the end of North Shore Road or search for “Dog Beach Mudjimba” on Google Maps.
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 from 4pm to 8am, between the entrance of La Balsa Park and the river mouth. Even during the day, people were letting their dogs paddle on-leash on the sand bar.
Dogs are also allowed off-leash on the following beaches along the southern part of the Sunshine Coast:
- Town of Seaside – Beach access 97 to 98, but only between 5-9am and 4-8pm
- Buddina – In addition to the above area, there is a second off-leash area between beach access 210 to 217, roughly from Mawarra Street to Talinga Street
- Kawana – Beach access 226 to 245, roughly from Maloga Street to Blue Haven Court, Bokarina
- Bokarina Beach – Beach access 245 to 249, but only from 5pm to 8am
- Wurtulla – Beach access 249 to 253, from Poatina Street to Currimundi Creek
- Currimundi Beach – Beach access 255 to 262, from Gothic Parade to Ann Street
For full details and a handy map, refer to the Sunshine Coast Council website. On other beaches where dogs are not specifically prohibited, which includes all patrolled beaches, dogs are allowed on-leash.
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. Get 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 $25 for a return journey along the entire length, or $15 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 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 of the dog-friendly mountains to climb is 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 main 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 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, 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 jewels 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 there’s some works underway that promise to open 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 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.
Alternatively, head to the Wild Rocket at Misty’s, a micro brewery and bistro in one that is pet-friendly. Note however that it’s closed on Tuesday and Wednesday, plus Thursday lunchtime.
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 is amazing, and there’s also heartier options such as Steak available. If you’re not a beer fan, the brewery is also home to Noosa Gin, with a 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 Wild Rocket in Montville. 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.
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 $10 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.
A tougher hike is at Ewen Maddock Dam in Landsborough. The 8.0km one-way Main Track is rated at medium difficulty, and can be muddy underfoot and underpaw.
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 (or at least an early dinner), 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 lunch, except on Thursdays. Another terrific dog-friendly coffee spot is concept.coffee, right on the Obi Obi Creek Boardwalk, although it’s closed on weekends.
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.
For some different, consider heading to NightQuarter, the night markets in Kawana open every Friday and Saturday night. There is a small entry fee, but in return you can enjoy the live entertainment, plus wander the street food stalls. Dogs are permitted inside, although it’s probably best to only bring small dogs. They need to be people-friendly, on a short leash and able to be carried if you choose to enter congested areas (or else avoid these areas).
Dog-Friendly Accommodation on the Sunshine Coast
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, with no dogs permitted during the peak period over Christmas and New Years.
For a year round pet-friendly option, 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 closure dates for the yearly show and any other occasions.
For more accommodation recommendations, check out my list of top pet-friendly accommodation options on the Sunshine Coast.