Kefir, kombucha or kimchi? Rain therapy ritual, moonlight yoga or vinotherapy? Name your choice of detoxicant or favoured form of stress relief and one strip of Queensland is only too happy to oblige.

Australians tend to nickname their regions geographically – "the Harbor Capital", architecturally – "the City of Churches", or ironically – "the Lucky Country".

And you might think the 140km strip of beaches, mountains and rainforest, rivers and lakes from Caloundra to Rainbow Beach has gone that way too. Comparatively recently, the formerly loose bunch of diverse coastline and hinterland communities were merged into "the Sunshine Coast".

But no. This area takes a step – or a paddleboard or backrub – further, flaunting its natural and enhanced assets as "the Wellness Capital of Australia".

Boiling Pot Lookout, Noosa, Sunshine Coast. Photo / Tourism and Events Queensland
Boiling Pot Lookout, Noosa, Sunshine Coast. Photo / Tourism and Events Queensland

For the regional tourism organisation, Visit Sunshine Coast, and CEO Simon Latchford, it's more than a slogan. (The slogan, by the way, is "naturally refreshing).)

Ingredients are the scenery, quality fresh produce, myriad cooking classes, exotic spa treatments, adventure sports, watersports such as surfing and standup paddleboarding, yoga and cultural festivals, walking and bicycle trails, including the Coastal Pathway and hinterland walks. Add the climate, which increases the opportunities for most if not all of the above.

"A lot of regions offer yoga and spa treatments, but there's something about the landscape of the Sunshine Coast that makes us such a natural destination for health and wellness holidays," Latchford says. "To some extent, it is in our DNA."

Spas and retreats range from the indulgent to the esoteric: the Chenrezig Buddhist Institute, Calm Living Meditation Retreat or the Lift Gallery's sound spa, natural healing rooms and music performances. The peaceful, natural spaces of the Glass House Mountains and hinterland are an obvious place to relax, refresh, mediate or remediate.

Clean eating, too. Coastal plantations and hinterland farms have a reputation for quality produce; vegan and vegetarian consumers have no difficulty in sourcing healthy food stores, farmers' markets or organic restaurants.

Fresh produce is available from farmers' markets across the Sunshine Coast. Photo / Tourism and Events Queensland
Fresh produce is available from farmers' markets across the Sunshine Coast. Photo / Tourism and Events Queensland

Heading to the hinterland, the relaxation therapy begins a few metres after leaving the motorway about an hour north of corporate Brisbane and beginning the run along Steve Irwin Way, past farms and forests and the peaks of the Glass House Mountains, and the Crocodile Hunter's zoo.

Then the road climbs sharply; take time out to pause, breathe clean air and gaze down to the coast and out to the Pacific, before ambling through rainforests and paddocks and one-time farming hamlets that now host B&Bs, antique shops, galleries, cafes, wineries and cheese shops.

The road doesn't quite go ever on: at Maleny village you turn into a quiet country lane where, hidden behind eucalypts, is Spicers Tamarind luxury retreat and spa.


Tucked into 7ha of forest, valley and riverbank, are luxury villas, from one-bedroom homes with outdoor hot tub and seven pavilions for groups of up to four adults. The grounds, teeming with wildlife, unfold to the tumbling waters and rock bathing pools of Gardners Falls. (Hint: bring a towel and some, ah, refreshment.)

The place made its name with the award-winning Tamarind restaurant, now in the hands of award-winning chef Daniel Jarrett, trained in the French tradition but – in keeping with the restaurant's tradition and the resort's style and theme - putting his own spin on classic Thai and contemporary Chinese and Malaysian dishes.

Cuisine plays a large part in the retreat's appeal, with a renowned cooking school, and in its Spa Anise. With four treatment rooms and a hydrotherapy room with therapeutic spa, rain shower and steam room, there's a lengthy menu of pampering, from an hour of blissfulness to the five-hour ultimate retreat, beginning with exfoliation, foot and body massages and unwinding to a champagne lunch on the "relaxation deck" overlooking the gardens and rainforest.

If you're going coastal, the sprawling, gated Peppers Noosa Resort will get you as close to nature as possible: the 4000ha of the Noosa National Park is literally over the fence.
Opened almost 10 years ago, but constantly made over, the eco-conscious gated leisure community climbs up a forested hillside from the bustle of the bars, restaurants and boutiques of the town's main drag, Hastings St.

At first glance, the four-storey blocks housing 198 apartments, villas and penthouses with eateries, playrooms and carparks might look as if they should be in a city suburb rather than neighbouring a national park.

However, they're softened with greenery and the theme is sustainability, from solar design and extensive reforestation, biodegradable bathroom products and energy-efficient lighting.

One Tree Hill in the hinterland of the Sunshine Coast. Photo / Tourism and Events Queensland
One Tree Hill in the hinterland of the Sunshine Coast. Photo / Tourism and Events Queensland

The in-house Stephanie's Ocean Spa is the current owner of Australia's Best Luxury Resort Spa title, boasting 11 treatment rooms, including a private geisha bathing suite. The treatment menu includes raindrop detoxes, mineral colour floatation therapy and vinotherapy wine bath immersions.

They claim anti-ageing properties for that one. I'm not so sure: years of careful and consistent applications of shiraz don't seem to have improved my complexion or constitution.


Air New Zealand flies non-stop from Auckland to the Sunshine Coast seasonally between July to October. Outside of this season, fly to Brisbane and it's a 90-minute drive to the Sunshine Coast.