After a full throw-my-umbrella dummy spit at having to do another week of Melbourne winter I recently whisked myself off to Noosa, spending a week clad in Seafolly and strolling Hastings Street like a local.
Here are my recommendations on what to see and do in Queensland’s version of the Hamptons:
1. Walk the coastal walk in Noosa National Park
This is a Noosa don’t argue, non-negotiable. You. Have. To. Do. It. The ocean views throughout this approx. 10-kilometre round trip are mesmerising. So much so that you’re guaranteed to step on the back of the hiker’s heels in front, too busy staring out at the beautiful aquamarine body of water. Take a break from your bushbashing at any number of the secluded beaches along the way and keep one eye on the ocean – you might see a whale or dolphin, or both if you’re ultra-lucky.
2. Eat and drink. LOTS
When I booked my Noosa jail break, in my head I had pictured myself suitably bronzed and strutting Noosa Main Beach as if I were Jessica Hart. In reality, I was probably closer to a cravat-wearing Matt Preston talking about how fabulous the king prawns were.
So, yes, lots of eating and drinking is to be had, be prepared, and now that you’ve done your 10-kilometre Noosa National Park hike you only need to feel 75% guilty about it.
My full food diary for Noosa can be studied here. Or if you’re too lazy, I strongly recommend Bistro C for its spaghetti seafood.
3. A day spa and massage is a must
If you’re anything like me, you’ll be technically on holiday but still operating at the McLaren F1 speed that you barrel through everyday life at. My internal Noosa monologue went something like this: “I must get sun, a tan. I haven’t been to the beach yet, I must do that. What’s the time? Should I do that now? No. I need to get to the shops on the western end of Hastings Street, I didn’t do that yesterday, I only did the eastern end. I don’t want to run out of time. Dinner. Where should I book for dinner? I must not forget to go to the beach. Now I need to post an Instapic looking super relaxed and holidayfied.” Somehow I managed to make Noosa stressful.
To slow the pace, I had the internal monologue scrubbed and kneaded away with a full body scrub and massage at Sofitel Noosa Pacific Resort’s Aqua Day Spa (highly recommended). The second best bit was just hanging about in the spa’s aqua therapy and steam room afterwards. If you’re anti-Sofitel, Ikatan Day Spa has won a shelf-full of trophies and its name just sounds soothing. Ikatan.
4. Go surfing or paddle boarding
Let’s be honest. I did neither of these. But given the husband did and over shared his GoPro footage so much so it’s burnt into my retinas, I feel like I was there on the board riding the right-handers with him. He did tell me, more than once (probably closer to six times), that the further you walk to the surf breaks in Noosa National Park the more you’re rewarded, with better surf and less crowds. Which may have been behind his motivation to surf at nude beach Alexandra Beach every day, who can tell.
5. Beach, beach, beach
Now do not forget to go to the beach! God knows Noosa has plenty of sand to claim a Vitamin D-drinking spot on. Noosa Main Beach is a big wide arc of towels and umbrellas, but I preferred the more secluded, rocky nooks in Noosa National Park. I guess Jude’s advice for surfing also applies to beach dwelling: the further you walk the more you’re rewarded, with better beaches and less crowds.
6. Noosa Botanical Garden
A 30-minute drive from Hastings Street, Noosa Botanical Garden offers a hint of hinterland, more water in the form of Lake MacDonald and ponds; a Zen garden; and a Roman-style amphitheatre. If you’re into picnicking, it’s a good picnic destination.
7. Stroll Hastings Street
Yes, you need to shop the shops on both the eastern and western side of Hastings Street, where you’ll find lots of variations of the Noosa uniform (frilly, lacey baby doll tops or dresses, generally in white or cream). But you’ll also find plenty of al fresco dining, cocktail-drinking and definitely a few dreaded I Love Noosa souvenir shops along the stretch of concrete that’s very ambiently decorated with fairy lights.
I stayed at the Sebel Noosa, in the beating heart of Hastings Street. I could not urge, encourage, push you to stay on the strip more. Take one look at the road winding into the beach, which is at all hours of the day as car park-like as Punt Road, and you envy anyone who has to drive to Hastings Street and/or Noosa Main Beach.
8. Explore Noosa River
Whether it’s a ferry or boat you’ve hired, take a floating vessel through the river network of Noosaville and drink in the peacefulness. You can also, admire the abundant birdlife, go fishing or just look enviously at the beautiful riverside homes.
9. Take a sea canoe to Granite Bay
Granite Bay in Noosa National Park and back is a two-hour return paddle in a sea canoe – obviously, only go as far as you can get navigating the waves without capsizing. Fortunately, I had a sea pirate in the back who can read the ocean like a tea reader reads tea, and managed to dock our canoe at Granites without turning it into the Titanic.
A highlight: I did see a dolphin. Or at least the husband told me it was a dolphin, and only later revealed that he wasn’t 100% sure what it was. He thinks it was a dolphin.