On the road again! After Byron Bay, we wanted to stay in Noosa for a bit, as people told us it is the ‘upscale version’ of Byron with equally stunning beaches, views and nature. And since we loved Byron and surroundings so much, this sounded like a very good plan.
Luckily it was not that far from Byron, so we could literally just throw all our luggage in the car and drive up there. Read on for the resume!
ps. Sorry, no pictures yet because of slow internet…but please follow me here for daily footage and updates!
Noosa is actually not that far from Byron (well, depending on where you’re from, that is… But as people in Australia are quite used to traveling big distances, this really is not that far!) so we chose to drive. Should you arrive by plane, fly to Brisbane! It is a 2 hr drive from Brisbane airport, so from Byron we drove to Brisbane and then on to Noosa, which took us about 3,5 hrs in total. Not that bad!
Well, that totally depends on what you are looking for. So this can either be a resort, a proper home or villa, a hotel, a B&B or an apartment. We have tried staying at hotels quite a few times but we always (always!) come to the conclusion that, at this stage in our lives, we prefer renting a house, as the kids can have their own room(s), we can put them down for naps and still be able to sit outside for a while (thanks to our baby monitor) and we really love cooking at home, trying all the local food and ingredients. But again, choosing where to stay is very personal, as you might like the extra service and options that come with a hotel stay.
We rented a cute little house in Noosa Heads, just out of the center, on a quite steep road. As we did not stay directly at the waterfront, we figured that it would be nice to have a place with a (tiny) pool and some outside space.
You will find many rental homes, hotels, villas and apartments all over Noosa- try to decide what you are looking for first. In retrospect, I think we would have preferred to be closer to the water, as we had to drive down every time we wanted to go for a swim in the ocean. Especially with kids that would have been a lot easier.
We booked via www.stayz.com.au and stayed here (Viewland Drive, Noosa Heads). Websites like Stayz, Airbnb and Homeaway are great for city trips etc, but I would recommend checking the local agencies as well- they tend to have a bigger range ánd service.
Agencies to check in this area:
Hotels and resorts to explore:
We saw some campervan areas but not as many as in Byron Bay- and only a few actual camping sites. Most people stay in (rental) homes or apartments, and the vibe is definitely less beachy and a bit more ‘stiff’, so don’t enter shops on sandy flipflops or bare feet!
As for your toddler(s): read more here under ‘Getting there’ and ‘What to Pack’.
As we are traveling for months, I obviously brought the exact same things I took to Byron, and that was more than fine- especially the rain coats and boots proved to be verrrry handy as it rained A LOT. So here goes:
Even though the band Crowded House wrote their world famous song ‘Four seasons in one day’ about their native New Zealand, we found it could very well have been written in and about Australia… Chilly mornings, hot afternoons and cool evenings; cold, hot, wet, dry… So be prepared to either let go of the term ‘travel light‘ or not to worry about wearing the same jumper over and over again.
We packed rain coats and our Bergstein rain boots and these prove to be really handy! We use them quite often, actually, and they are lightweight but still warm enough.
Even though it is on the packing list: take enough caps and hats, and UV shirts (‘rashies’ as they are called here in Australia). As soon as the sun is out it gets blazing hot and the risk of burning is real. Sun hats, sunblock (we buy a new one every other week, I swear) are of imminent importance in this part of the world!
Our most used items at the moment:
-aforementioned sun blockers (hats, sunglasses, sunblock, UV clothing)
-ipads (I know…)
-beach umbrella (be sure not to buy the cheapest one as the wind is quite harsh and you don’t want to keep running after it all the time)
Well, good question! It rained so much that we did not do that much as we had hoped for. Luckily the house we rented was super comfy so we stayed in, baked a fair amount of cookies and cakes, and the kids got more than enough iPad exposure… There are quite some things you can do when it is not raining though!
Little Cove– just around the corner you will find this cute, kid friendly beach, reachable by wooden stairs. Don’t forget about the tides! As it practically disappears during high tide…
Noosa Main Beach– right in the heart of Noosa Heads. It is wide, patrolled and excellent for small children, and the water is warm(-ish)! No white sand and turquoise water, but it is a good place to settle for a day
National Park Beaches– extremely pretty beaches and quite good for surfing, all reachable from the National Park. Bear in mind, though, that you cannot reach these beaches by car or bike, so you need to walk! Which is fine, but quite a hassle with small children (stroller, bags, umbrella, water- you get me)
Sunshine Beach– Just a 5-minute drive from Noosa Heads. Huge beach with soft white sand. We did not find the surrounding shops to be very interesting, but make sure to grab a coffee and some freshly baked pastry at Costa Noosa Espresso before hitting the beach.
Surfing lessons– Noosa is quite famous amongst surfers, so you might want to try it here! We wanted to, but the weather was just too crazy (and we might have been a bit lazy too, but I just could not bring myself to get into the water during the grey, wet days)
Walking– the boardwalk in Noosa is AMAZING. It leads you right through the National Park with breathtaking views of the sea and many beaches. It is honestly one of the prettiest walks I have ever done!
Rent bikes– As Noosa tends to get rather busy during weekends and holidays, we figured this would be a perfect way to move around. No traffic jams getting into town, no parking problems, etc. And it was fun- as long as you did not have to climb the very steep streets…Which was inevitable in our case, as our place was right on top of a hill (hence the name of the property…why hadn’t I thought of that before booking?!) I will spare you the details but let’s just say we did that twice and that was it. However, we did love biking in the beautiful nature and along the river!
Ferry– make sure to go on the hop on-hop off ferry with your bike! We love exploring places by boat; it gives you a whole new perspective and especially when you can take your bike… We hopped on and off quite a few times and had a great day
Sunshine Coast– cute little place to visit while you are in Noosa. We went for coffee and checked out the incredibly beautiful beach as well
Farm tour– as it rained so much, we had to change our beach plans and opt for something completely different. So we drove all the way to quirky Maleny and did a farm tour at Maleny Dairies, which was actually great fun! As we were the only ones in the morning we had the guide all to ourselves and it was awesome. We got to feed little calves and chickens, milk a cow and cuddle with baby goats. You also get to taste all their different products and we had the best time! So dorky as it might sound: go do it! Such a cool experience for us city people…
Belmondos Organic Market– we love food shopping, and this is just the place. Great when it rains too, as the shop is huge and you can also have breakfast or lunch here! So many yummy things you don’t know where to look first, and the setup is amazing too. Wish we would have gone here sooner!
Hastings street (the main street in Noosa Heads) boasts many beautiful shops, although we thought it to be a bit dull. Pretty but not as inspiring as Byron and its surroundings. Expect brands like Tod’s and Iro, and of course all big surf brands like Billabong and Ripcurl. However, if you feel like spending some money on beautiful items, this is definitely the right place!
Lunch/Drinks/Dinner (Aussies dine EARLY! So we chose often chose lunch):
Note: We are quite fond of cooking at home. So we went to the farmers market on Saturday and bought the most amazing products. The Aussies do appreciate healthy and delicious food so basically everything you get or eat is wonderful! The Woolworths and IGA are perfect for your shopping, as is Belmondos Organic Market. Be prepared to spend quite some money though…
Well, not much time for that with two kids and no babysitter at hand… But should you have some spare time, there are so many things you could do!
-watersports (SURFING!, sailing, stand up paddling, diving, snorkling)
-All kinds of sports (running, yoga, tennis, cycling, swimming)
-eat (see all my tips)
-all the beautiful walks (so many beautiful parks)
-shopping (see above)
Noosa on a whole:
To be honest, I still can’t decide what I think of this place. Sure, the nature is overwhelming, as is the boardwalk along the coast, right through the National Park. The main street, Hastings, is as pretty as it gets, super clean and polished, with so many beautiful shops and brands. But maybe that word, polished, is what sort of bothered me here. I think it is a bit too polished, to be honest. Noosa lacks the very thing that attracted us so much in Byron Bay: creativity. It just seems like the Noosa inhabitants have a bit of a ‘been there, done that’ vibe; the local people we encountered where also way older than the ones we met in Byron, so maybe this place is where you move to after you have done well in life/business? Byron just had this ‘let’s do this together and make it work’ vibe, where Noosa seemed a bit dull and quiet. The main difference? While jogging I smiled or nodded to all people I encountered, and NONE of them smiled back… Still got me wondering.
So, would we return? I am not sure. Noosa has it all in terms of waves, beaches and nature, but for us it totally lacked positive vibes and left us a bit uninspired.
Our rental cottage:
We would rent this house again for it was beautiful, had enough space and it was well situated. That said, the pool was really dirty and the rental agency not that friendly. If you are looking for a comfortable, breezy and well located home away from home, this is a good place. However, in retrospect we would rent a place much closer to the ocean, as the way down to the beach was rather steep, which is ok if you go down by bike, but rather hellish if you want to return home… Try cycling up a steep hill with a tired toddler- no fun and triple workout in the blazing heat! During the weekdays it was ok to head into town by car, but weekends were extremely crowded with no chance of any parking space.
Mediocre. Seemed like most of the people thought of kids as being a nuisance, actually. Restaurant staff was not very friendly nor helpful with accommodating highchairs etcetera (The Waterfront Restaurant being a huge exception), nor were the people we met on the streets. However, we were told that Noosa is considered as a very family friendly beach town, so maybe we were just a tad unlucky and encountered the wrong people?