Dog-Friendly Sunshine Coast, QLD: Visiting with a Dog

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 Sunshine Coast

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. 

Noosa Spit with Dog
Dogs are allowed off-leash at the beaches on the Noosa Spit

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.

Sunshine Beach North with Dog
A beautiful afternoon at Sunshine Beach North

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.

Castaways Beach
Plenty of room for off-leash walks and runs at Castaways Beach

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.

Stumers Creek Dog Wash Down Area
The lagoon and dog wash down area at Stumers Creek Beach

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.

North Shore Beach on Maroochy River
Dogs are allowed off-leash along the Maroochy River at North Shore Beach

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). This beach though was quite rough when we visited.

On weekdays, an alternative option is Point Cartwright or “Carties” Beach, on the eastern side of the breakwall at the mouth of the Mooloolah River. Dogs are allowed off-leash before 8am and after 4pm from Monday to Friday, on a trial basis until 30 June 2025. Note that dogs are no longer allowed off-leash at Half Moon Bay next to La Balsa Park – they need to stay on-leash.

Point Cartwright and Mooloolah River
Dogs are only allowed on-leash not at Half Moon Bay at Point Cartwright

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.

Dog Onboard Noosa Ferry
Dogs are allowed onboard the Noosa Ferry as long as they fit on your lap
Relaxing on Noosa Ferry with Dog
Relaxing on the top deck of the Noosa Ferry

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. 

Noosa Ferry Boat
The Noosa Ferry runs between Tewantin and Noosa Heads

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. 

O Boat Hire Noosa
O Boat Hire at Noosaville is pet-friendly

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. 

Dog Hiking Mt Ninderry
Climbing Mt Ninderry with our dog

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.

View from Mt Ninderry
The view from the eastern lookout at the summit of Mt Ninderry

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.

Glass House Mountains Lookout with Dog
Dogs are permitted at the Glass House Mountains Lookout

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.

View from Dulong Lookout
The view from Dulong Lookout

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.

Eumundi Markets
Shop ’til you drop at the dog-friendly Eumundi Markets

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.

Dog at Eumundi Markets
The Eumundi Markets are very dog-friendly

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.

Maleny Botanic Gardens with View
Maleny Botanic Gardens and THAT view

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. 

Maleny Botanic Gardens with Dog
On-leash dogs are welcome at the Maleny Botanic Gardens

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, with dogs also allowed to join you 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.

Dog-Friendly Shopping Montville
“Dog parking” at one of the shops in Montville

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. 

Poets Cafe Montville
Stop off at the Poets Cafe

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. 

Land and Sea Beers
Enjoying a beer tasting paddle at the outdoor tables at Land & Sea Brewery

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.

Point Cartwright Reserve with Dog Rolling
Enjoying the off-leash area at Point Cartwright Reserve

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

There’s a huge list of off-leash dog parks along the Sunshine Coast, far too many for me to list. For the full list, check out the Noosa Council and Sunshine Coast Council websites. 

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.

Brightwater Dog Park
Brightwater Dog Park is one of the fenced off-leash areas on the Sunshine Coast

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. 

Weyba Creek Park
Alongside Weyba Creek in Noosaville

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.

Coolum Beach View
Views along Coolum Beach from the Coolum Beach Boardwalk

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. 

Calounda Foreshore Boardwalk with Dog
The boardwalk section along the Caloundra Foreshore Walk

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. 

Maleny Trail with Dog
Checking out Obi Obi Creek along the Maleny Trail

For more details and ideas, see my guide to dog-friendly walks on the Sunshine Coast.

Dog-Friendly Cafes 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.

Hastings St Noosa Heads
There’s plenty of dog-friendly outdoor dining areas on the Sunshine Coast

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.

Land and Sea Brewery Mushroom Burger
The Roast Field Mushroom Burger at Land & Sea Brewery

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, right on the Obi Obi Creek Boardwalk, although it’s closed on weekends. 

concept coffee Maleny is right on the Obi Obi Creek Boardwalk

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

There’s a wide variety of pet-friendly accommodation on offer along the Sunshine Coast. Check out these options from luxe to more affordable…

Note: This post contains affiliate links, which means I may receive commission if you make a purchase using the links. See my full disclaimer.

Pet-Friendly Villas & Cottages on 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. A $50 pet fee applies per stay, and enquire in advance if you have multiple pets.

Saltwater Villas with Dog
Pets are welcome at Saltwater Villas © Saltwater Villas

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. 

Sunshine Valley Cottages
Stay with your pup at Sunshine Valley Cottages © Sunshine Valley Cottages

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. 

Spicers Clovelly Estate Entrance
Enjoy the fine life with your pup at Spicers Clovelly Estate

For more accommodation recommendations, check out my list of top pet-friendly accommodation options on the Sunshine Coast.

Pet-Friendly Caravan Parks on the Sunshine Coast

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.

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About the Author

Photo of Shandos & Schnitzel

Shandos Cleaver is the founder of Travelnuity: Dog-Friendly Travel. She has travelled extensively with her Miniature Dachshund, Schnitzel, including to 33 countries across Europe, every state and territory of Australia except Tasmania, and 10 of the United States. She’s passionate about providing inspiration and information to others wanting to travel with their dogs, whether close to home or internationally.

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