The Sunshine Coast is one of the most beautiful locations in Southern Queensland and entire Australia. Locals and visitors alike have no shortage of amazing activities and discoveries to enjoy. It is part of the eastern coastal region, which is renowned for its natural beauty.
Among the Sunshine Coast’s attractions is its diversity of wildlife with creatures that will surely astound you. While you can find some of the animals in other places, the region offers something genuinely unique. You can see these creatures face to face and even enjoy adventures that you will never forget. Whether you are a fan of diving, meeting friendly animals, or just interested in meeting them from afar, you can have all sorts of moments with these gifts of nature in the region.
Some tours provide educational encounters. Others are mostly focused on preserving the animals, especially certain native species. Every time you go on an animal adventure, you will learn something new about the local wildlife on the Sunshine Coast.
Without further ado, here are some of the best animal experiences and wildlife attractions that you can find on the region:
The Australia Zoo is best known as the Home of the Crocodile Hunter. This famous attraction is located just less than one hour north of Brisbane on the Steve Irwin Way. It is open from 9 AM to 5 AM daily, except during Christmas.
The popular zoo first opened in 1970, spanning only four acres back then. The founders were Steve Irwin’s parents, Bob and Lyn, who called the zoo the Beerwah Reptile and Fauna Park.
Many years later, the zoo now measures 100 acres and has over 1000 animals, ranging from native to exotic. Before, only reptiles lived in the Australia Zoo, but today, you can see birds and mammals as well. Several of the animals were even born in this location. The others were rescued or came from other zoos. Some creatures are released into the wild.
Visitors can interact with the animals, including with the Asian Elephants, which can be fed through the hands. This experience is completely free, but you will have to purchase farm food first. Other animals that you can hand-feed are wallabies and kangaroos.
If you are interested in visiting the Australian Zoo, here are the ticket prices:
- Adults: $59 per head
- Children: $35 per head
- Family (two adults and three children): $189
- Students and Pensioners: $47 per person
Animal encounters are available where you meet wombats and tortoises, as well as tigers, cheetahs, and koalas, face to face. You need to sign up for the encounter to happen.
Another zoo that you would not want to miss while in the Sunshine Coast is Wildlife HQ. It is located at the iconic Big Pineapple of the region and is home to different animals, including native and exotic ones from around the world.
The history of this zoo is quite impressive, especially if you are familiar with Noah’s Ark. The owner, Julie Seabrook, together with the help of a team of people, needed to move about 200 animals from another zoo called the Alma Park Zoo. This particular establishment was about to close, which was why the animals had to transfer. Julie took them to Wildlife HQ, which has become their new home since that day.
It was indeed a mammoth task where she and her team packed a herd of red pandas, Indian blackbuck, South American monkeys, dingos, and one bearcat.
Aside from the animals, you can visit Wildlife HQ to enjoy a drink or refreshment at the Zoo Keepers Café. It caters to all guests, no matter what their budget. There is an in-house barista who is always ready to make hot and iced coffees.
If you drop by with your kids, they can enjoy ice-cold slushies and other cold drinks. There are also food items on the menu, which can be served either hot or cold, depending on your preference. The café has vegetarian and gluten-free options as well.
There are a few options for seal encounters in the Sunshine Coast where you get to meet the marine mammals one-on-one. You get to swim in the pool where they live and even have a photo with them. These seals are trained and can perform tricks, including shaking your hands. You can also watch them play and have fun while in the water.
One more seal encounter is with Sea Life, which comes with many activities that you can participate in, including:
- Swimming with the seals at the Seal Island
- Enjoying the day in the Seal Fish Kitchen where you can see how the seals are taken care of, as well as their meals
- Learning more about different seal species that can be found in Australia
- Meet some of the resident seals
Everyone can join with the seals, except for expectant mothers. Those who have fish allergies or any sensitivities associated with cephalopods, whether major or minor, are not allowed to meet and swim with the seals. However, they can still watch and cheer for their mates outside the pool.
Sea Life Sunshine Coast
We have already mentioned the Sea Life above. Aside from seals, you can also meet other aquatic creatures in this facility located in the heart of Mooloolaba. Witness themed aquarium habitat zones where they feature penguins among others.
One aquarium that you may not want to miss is the Ocean Tunnel. It is one of Sea Life’s most popular destinations. The Ocean Tunnel gives you an 80-metre long experience where you can see sharks, rays, and reef fish, among others. Basically, it gives you a glimpse of how it is like in the depths of the ocean.
Another captivating attraction at Sea Life is the Tidal Touchpool, which is an interactive pool. You will certainly enjoy getting your hands wet as you watch and touch different marine creatures. These animals can be found in tide pools, which include sea stars and sea cucumbers.
There are a lot of things to discover in Sea Life. You do not have to be a kid to be mesmerised with the animals, exhibits, and exclusive experiences.
A handful of companies with trained professionals offer diving with sharks in the Sunshine Coast. It will surely be one of the most memorable experiences you will ever have in your life.
At Scuba World, you can have one or two dives with the sharks, specifically the Grey Nurse Shark, which is an endangered species. You can meet up to 25 sharks and even share the moment with up to six of your friends. This experience will have one guide for the whole group. Aside from swimming with sharks, you will also have baked goods and biscuits while you are on the surface. Dive prices start at $89.
Another way to dive with sharks is with the Blue Water Dive. You can swim with the sea creatures even if you are not a qualified scuba diver. You will be in the same space as the Grey Nurse Sharks, Sandbar Whalers, and the Whitetip Reef Sharks among others. Although it may be a frightening experience, you will be with professional dive instructors. They will accompany you throughout the whole encounter.
Many of these shark experiences require you to book early – about two months before the actual adventure. Make sure that you plan and reserve a spot early, so you avoid disappointment.
Whale Watching and Swimming
Sharks are not the only sea creatures you can meet in the Sunshine Coast. Some professional divers and groups allow you to get up close with gigantic whales. Some of these experiences are restricted to just sightseeing, such as the Whale Watch Cruise. The tour can take 25 to 35 hours on a cruise ship. There is a 100% guarantee that you will see whales during the trip.
Passengers can watch the humpback whales up close. There is no need to worry because you will be with an experienced group of people. This whale watching experience costs $75.
Meanwhile, if you are serious about swimming with whales, Sunreef in Mooloolaba gives you this opportunity, which can last for more than four hours. The experience costs $165, but this fee already includes wetsuit, fins, mask, and snorkel.
The Sunshine Coast is not just about marine animals. You can also find many farm animals with their babies ready for cuddling. Maleny Diaries offers tours that let you visit baby animal pens where there are cows, lambs, and piglets that you can feed.
Another option is the QCamel Farm, which is in Bells Creek. This place gives you a one-of-a-kind experience with farm animals. You can even meet a camel, and if you are interested, you can drink the animal’s milk.
At the Sunshine Coast, you will never run out of things to do, especially if you are an animal lover. Whether you wish to meet land or sea creatures, you can find the best experiences in this region.
If you’re looking for a place to stay on the Sunshine Coast, Your SuperHost has a range of BnB properties for you to stay at!