There is so much to love about the laid back charm and buzzing food options at Caloundra beaches, but which beach is best for you? There are so many things to do in Caloundra and I have done most of them! My advice is to choose the stay closest to your preferred beach. There is a special delight in parking the car for a holiday and just walking to your favourite beach each day. Even better if there is a coffee shop on the way. Read on to discover Caloundra’s five best beaches and 10 things to do when visiting.
Why I love Caloundra beaches
Dare I say it? Despite dedicated devotion to the glorious landscape of Noosa, I’ve fallen in love with the sparkling blue waters and mountain backed vistas of the Sunshine Coast’s southern sister Caloundra.
It’s always been the slower one in the Sunshine Coast family. Favoured by families and oldies who want to sit back and enjoy the ocean views. Suddenly it seems to me that they are on to something here and Caloundra’s beaches beckon me for a stress-free holiday.
I’ve taken a close look at five of Caloundra’s beaches to give you a summary of what to expect at the beach and where to eat close by.
Sunset at Bulcock Beach, Caloundra. Photo: Kerry Heaney
Which Caloundra beach is best for you?
The joy of Caloundra beaches is that there is almost an oversupply of beachfront to sit at and ponder. No need to squeeze yourself into a tight spot here. There is a beach for every season or wind direction.
Kings Beach is very popular with visitors and it is easy to work out why. This gentle Caloundra beach break has protected swimming areas, a swimming pool on the oceanfront and a children’s playground with a giant water fountain. It was named the Top Queensland Beach for Kids in 2015.
For a relaxed breakfast on Kings Beach try Coffee Cat on Kings where the produce is locally sourced, stocks and sauces are made in-house and the chicken is free-range. This gets big ticks from me! They also offer vegan and vegetarian options. There is no road between you and the waves here so just sit back and relax under the pandanus trees.
Pros: This beach has it all and is very child friendly
Cons: Can get very busy, parking can be difficult during peak times, not very dog friendly.
This northeast-facing, patrolled, family-friendly beach is popular but usually uncrowded. It takes its name from the wreck of the SS Dicky. Always swim between the flags here as the beach is prone to rips. The beach is dog friendly with both off-leash and on-leash areas. There is also a skate park which is popular with teenagers.
Just a short walk back from the water The Giggling Goat Emporium and Breakfast Bar offers superb coffee and delicious breakfast options.
Pros: Friendly family beach that is usually less crowded, skate park for teenagers, dog friendly
Cons: Prone to rips
The headland at Moffat Beach is a great stop on the Caloundra Coastal Walk and a perfect spot for a picnic. It is said to have been named after a Brisbane chemist, James Moffat, who built a holiday home here in 1883!
Pocket Espresso Bar is very popular with locals and their pups. The menu includes gems such as green goddess mushrooms, their own version of avocado toast and legendary ricotta hotcakes. Get your day off to a banging start with their good morning cocktail range which is available from 10 am. Who doesn’t love an Orange Marmalade Martini? Overlooking a famous Moffat Beach right-hand point break, a coffee stop here also is popular with local surfers. Aim for a morning dip before or after your coffee which you can drink while taking in the beach vibe. There’s a playground for youngsters nearby too. On weekends The Pocket opens for dinner also.
Come dusk and the place to perch is the kerbside bar at Moffat Beach Brewing Co. where Matt Wilson has won a slew of awards for his local brews. At the 2018 Indies – The Independent Beer Awards Australia – Moffat Beach Brewing Co was awarded Champion Small Brewery. The range of beers is extensive and constantly changing so be prepared to try something new. Crowd favourites, like Deadbeat Boyfriend and Vanilla Latte Stout, maybe on tap along with others. The food here is worth savouring. I recommend the crispy chicken wings with blue cheese sauce and the seafood linguine, which includes local seafood.
You may swap your beer for a coffee, but Moffat Beach Brewing also opens for breakfast daily.
Pros: Great food options at this popular surfing beach
Cons: Parking can get a little crazy
The only east-facing Caloundra beach, Shelly Beach does not have a patrolled beach swimming area. It does have plenty of rock platforms and I like paddling in the rock pools here. It’s a great spot to sit and enjoy gazing over the ocean from the grassy reserve area.
Dogs are welcome here and it is an off-leash area between 4 pm and 8 pm daily. There is often a mobile coffee van where you can grab a coffee.
Pros: Good ocean outlook with picnic tables, plus rock pools for paddling. Dogs welcome off leash during limited hours.
Cons: No patrolled swimming area, limited coffee options.
Right opposite my Caloundra accommodation stay at Rumba Beach Resort, Bulcock Beach faces Pumicestone Passage looking towards Bribie Island. The water gets deep here quickly but at the mouth of the passage, there are large sandbanks that offer a shallow swimming alternative. There are also rock pools and the creatures that live within them to ponder. Versatile with options are the keywords for this beach.
Update your Instagram account with images from White Picket Fence in Bulcock Street which has pink archways to frame their diverse all-day brunch menu. From poke bowls and sausage benny to soldiers and dippy eggs, White Picket Fence will fill your tummy and feed your fantasies. This little bit of paradise is straight from the heart of owners Adam and Caity who have many years of hospitality experience.
For dinner, try the gorgonzola gnocchi at Amici Restaurant and Pizzeria. From the moment you step into this restaurant, the delicious aromas will tell you that there is much to look forward to here. It’s fresh and modern Italian food with a well-sourced and matched wine list.
My other favourite Bulcock Beach restaurant is Tides Waterfront Dining where you can look out over the beautiful Pumicestone Passage while you eat.
Bulcock Beach also has its own food markets on Friday evenings during summer.
Pros: Plenty of food and drink options close by and several beach swimming options. Multiple areas for picnics.
Cons: Parking can get difficult.
Matt Wilson’s Moffat Beach Brewing Co is an award winner. Photo: Kerry Heaney
Try cycling Caloundra beaches. Photo: Kerry Heaney
Ten things to do in Caloundra
While it is too tempting to relax on the balcony at your resort accommodation and let your eyes do the walking, there is are so many things to do in Caloundra it’s easy to get active. When you are pining for a really relaxing break where the big decisions are what beach to swim at or local brew to try, try on Caloundra for size. You might be surprised how well it fits.
Here are a few suggestions.
Walk the Caloundra Coastal Walk
Following some of the Sunshine Coast’s most picturesque coastline, the full length of the Caloundra Coastal Walk is 25 kilometres but you can do as much or as little as you like.
Check out a new local brewery
Brouhaha, one of the Sunshine Coast’s most popular breweries, has expanded from Maleny with a second outlet at Caloundra. Their 1500 square metre open-plan brewery at Aura Business Park in Baringa will offer all the Brouhaha favourite brews, artisan spirits, Queensland wines and a beer-inspired cocktail list. Patrons can look out over the entire brewery from two mezzanine levels. There is also a brewers lab, a double-storey taproom and 16 sour and hoppy taps.
Try a pot of loose-leaf, hand-curated tea at Artea The Tea Merchant in Bulcock Street. Their Tea Bar also has a range of tea wares and daily tea tastings.
Buy from a local distillery
The first distillery in Caloundra, First Nations business Beachtree Distilling Co. makes vodka and gin infused with native botanicals using a base of organic sugar cane. They are very particular about the botanicals they use sourcing only organically grown, wild-harvested or native ingredients. Then it is all triple distilled and combined with rainwater. Find Beachtree at Caloundra West Industrial Park.
Eat amazing cannoli
Cafe Sisily at Golden Beach has a cult following for its amazing authentic cannoli, but don’t stop there! This coffee. dessert shop and bakery has plenty more to please.
Follow a bike trail
The folk at EcoTekk Sunshine Coast will deliver an E-Bike to your door. These electrically assisted bikes make cycling Caloundra hills easy. Ride the coastal trail and enjoy those views close up!
Visit an Air Museum
Caloundra is home to Australia’s largest air museum! Queensland Air Museum has over 94 historic aircraft on display. They have all been sourced and restored by volunteers over the past 45 years.
Jet ski through Pummicestone Passage
Caloundra Jet Ski will take you on a real adventure into the 35 kilometre Pummicestone Passage that separates Bribie Island from the mainland. There are mangrove waterways to explore and dugongs, turtles and dolphins to stop. You’ll have the Glass House Mountains as your backdrop.
A Red Hot Chilli Peppercheese platter. Photo: Kerry Heaney
Do a spice cooking class
Vicki Taylor offers cooking classes and spice blending classes at Red Hot Chilli Pepper. This is a one-stop online shop for herbs and spices.
You can’t miss Steven Bordonaro’s classic Dingle Wall. Photo: Kerry Heaney
Caloundra’s Street Art Trail
Walk off your meal by following the 1.7-kilometre Caloundra Street Art Trail which weaves through the main streets and laneways. You’ll see memories of old Caloundra like the city’s oldest structure, the lighthouse, and a tribute to Ma and Pa Bendall, who were a cornerstone of Caloundra’s surfing culture. Local artist Steven Bordonaro has created a classic take on Caloundra at Dingle Wall.
I’ve walked the full Caloundra Street Art trail to share with you.
Browse the Caloundra Sunday Market
Caloundra also has a weekly Sunday market which takes up the top end of Bulcock Street from 8 am to 1 pm. There are 100 market stalls to browse.
Exploring the Sunshine Coast
While I have fallen in love with Caloundra’s beaches, my list of favourite things to do on the Sunshine Coast is long. Here are a few.
Here are my six favourite Queensland beach holidays.
Caloundra beach view from Rumba Beach Resort. Photo: Kerry Heaney
Where to stay in Caloundra
Sitting on the deck of my Caloundra accommodation at Rumba Beach Resort. I have a postcard view of the Pumicestone Passage with Bribie Island in the background and the Glass House Mountains backing up the rear. It’s the sort of outlook that you can lose yourself in just dreaming the day away
The beachfront spa apartments are my pick of the options at Rumba Beach Resort. They are spacious and include kitchens fitted with everything you need for a holiday stay. When you are finished with the view it’s easy to relax in your own bathroom spa.
Cafes and restaurants on the complex’s street level mean that you will never be short of a food option. I also saw a day spa! The resort has its own poolside bar, 26°, where you will want to enjoy more than a few of their cocktails during happy hour. On Friday and Saturday from 4 to 7 pm when they have live music here too.
Rumba Beach Resort, Caloundra Photo: Kerry Heaney
Rumba Beach Resort pool at sunset. Photo: Kerry Heaney