The exclusive end of the Sunshine Coast and an established celebrity "des-res" area, NOOSA is dominated by an enviably beautiful headland, defined by the mouth of the placid Noosa River and a strip of beach to the southeast. Popular since surfers first came in the 1960s to ride the fierce waves around the headland, the setting compensates for the density of cloned apartment boxes in "Mediterranean" colours around town.
"Noosa" is a loose term covering a seven-kilometre-long sprawl of merging settlements stretched along the south side of the Noosa River, culminating at Noosa Heads. This forms the core of the town, with a chic and brash shopping-and-dining enclave along beachside Hastings Street, and a far more down-to-earth area of shops, banks and cafés 1km inland along Sunshine Beach Road. East of this is the headland itself and Noosa National Park, worth a look for its mix of mature rainforest, coastal heath and fine beaches – Tea Tree Bay and Alexandria Bay ("swimwear optional") have good sand pounded by unpatrolled surf – all reached along graded paths with gorgeous views. These start from the picnic area at the end of Park Road (a continuation of Hastings Street), where you'll probably see koalas in gum trees above the car park. South of the headland and national park is the discreet suburb of Sunshine Beach, which features Noosa's longest and least crowded stretch of sand. All three suburbs are connected by a bus service (Sunbus), which goes by every thirty minutes or so between 5.50am and 7.50pm, with an hourly service thereafter to midnight.