The Sunshine Coast has some of the world's best beaches, with a climate that allows year-round swimming and surfing. The major swimming beaches are patrolled by surf life savers of Surf Life Saving Australia and/or council lifeguards. Swimmers should always swim in the patrolled areas indicated by the red and yellow flags. It pays, too, to be aware of the basic rules of surf safety and beach safety and to understand waves. For interactive surf safety education, see the Surf Life Saving Queensland site. Children should be supervised at all times. Families unfamiliar with the surf may prefer the calm-water beaches.
Golden Beach on the edge of Pumicestone Passage has calm water and is popular for swimming, sailboarding and boating.
Bulcock Beach on the edge of the city centre has a boardwalk and is a popular site for kite surfing, fishing and swimming. There are strong currents when the tide is running.
Mooloolaba Spit provides a gradation from surf to calm water as you approach the Mooloolah River mouth.
Maroochy River mouth at the Cotton Tree and Pincushion Caravan Parks has small beaches that are popular for fishing, boating and swimming.
Noosa Main Beach is generally relatively calm, especially in southerly or westerly wind conditions. The lovely little beach at Tea Tree Bay is also relatively calm in similar conditions.
Sound provides another small beach area with calm water.
Most of the Sunshine Coast beaches are surf beaches where conditions can change rapidly as the tide or weather conditions change. Beach conditions are often most pleasant when there is an offshore wind and the water surface appears calmest. These conditions often produce the best surf for both body surfers, body boarders and board riders. However, especially when the tide is going out, these conditions can also produce "dumping" waves which can be extremely dangerous. Consult a lifesaver or lifeguard if in doubt and be sure to swim between the red and yellow flags.
South easterly winds prevail for much of the year. In these conditions the most protected beaches are Moffat and Dicky Beaches in Caloundra, Mooloolaba and Alexandra Headland Beaches in Maroochy and Noosa Main Beach and Tea Tree Bay in Noosa.
South westerly winds are common in the winter months, providing glorious, sunny, calm conditions on most beaches, especially early in the day, but watch for dumping waves at times.
North easterly winds occur mostly in summer, causing choppy conditions, although usually relatively safe, on most beaches. Kings Beach at Caloundra is most popular in these conditions and Sunshine Beach at Noosa is partially protected.
There are open beaches all along the Sunshine Coast in between those already mentioned. Look for the patrolled areas. Click on the map to enlarge it. For more information on any of these areas, type the name into Google or your favourite search engine.
The major surf beaches are patrolled from September to May by members of the Surf Life Saving Clubs, often now known as Surf Clubs. These provide not only patrol and rescue services, but have extensive supporters memberships and provide meals, entertainment and shopping in their beachside clubhouses. Some also have web cams showing beach conditions. For links to clubs with websites, see the Surf Life Saving Clubs section on my Links page.