The classic beach favourite of Noosa has its mojo back, writes long-time resident Ann Rickard.

You need to do this…

No question, the beaches are great. But the Noosa River, with its boat shacks, jetties and watercraft, has become just as popular. From pop-up coffee bars to perky pelicans, the river is a busy place. There are tables beneath shady trees, playgrounds for kids and barbecues. Have a paddleboard lesson with one of the operators along the river or work out on the free gym equipment.

SEE ALSO: 10 Noosa Restaurants for Long Summer Nights

Noosa National Park remains pristine despite the walkers and joggers treading its Coastal Track each day. Walk to Boiling Pot, Tea Tree Bay and Granite Bay and enjoy limitless sea views. Or head deep inside the park along the well-signed Tanglewood Track and trek its winding length back to the ocean trail.

Fashion boutiques on Hastings Street, at Noosa Junction and on Gympie Terrace sell local and international labels. There are few chain outlets on Hastings Street. Instead, you’ll find art galleries and jewellery stores wedged between homewares and gift shops.

Having a glass of wine at a window seat at Peter Kuruvita’s Noosa Beach House gives you a top view of the Hastings Street action, as does sipping coffee at Aromas, where the chairs face the pavement, European style. Ice-cream parlours abound but the chocolate-truffle flavour at Massimo’s Gelateria (07 5474 8022) makes everything better.

It’s all about the water, though. Go deep-sea fishing with Noosa Reef Fishing Charters or stay closer to home on the river and nearby lakes with Noosa River Fishing Safaris. Depending on the spot, you may land a tuna, mackerel or reef fish. If you prefer to look at your fish rather than catch them, the crew at Kanu Kapers run guided kayak tours in the Noosa Everglades, which has more bird species than Kakadu National Park.

On Sundays, it’s a tale of two markets. Locals and visitors alike flock to Noosa Farmers Market at Noosaville’s football grounds for farm produce and homemade goodies. Or hop on the Noosa Ferry Cruise and head to Noosa Marina at Tewantin, where the markets showcase local art, craft and produce. Fish and chips at the Noosa Harbour Fish Market tops off a visit. The Eumundi Markets, held on Wednesdays and Saturdays, are a 20-minute drive into the hinterland. Stalls here brim with handmade products.

You’ll want to eat here…

The seafood platter at the Noosa Yacht & Rowing Club could be the best value in the country: the $55 serve is overflowing with fishy delights, including a prawn bisque shooter. The generous club food is by chef and fisherman Daniel Dyer.

Thomas Street, Noosaville’s eat street, is home to Magic of India, serving what locals like to say is the best butter chicken outside of Mumbai. Down the road, Red on Thomas is a favourite for cheap drinks and casual food. The Burger Bar delivers old-fashioned towering burgers, while Raw Energy café on Gympie Terrace promises healthy options that look good, too.

Gaston in Hastings Street offers two hearty main meals plus a bottle of wine for $55 on a specials menu that changes daily – think dishes such as twice-cooked pork hock or pizzetta of slow-braised lamb. And its Friday-to-Sunday Yum Cha Longtime menu has items starting from $4.

After a morning swim, tuck into blueberry buttermilk pancakes with apple, macadamia, maple syrup and mascarpone at Boardwalk Bistro on the beach in Hastings Street.

Back on Thomas Street, chef David Rayner, who apprenticed at London’s The Savoy hotel, sources the best local produce and treats it with TLC at Thomas Corner Eatery.

At nearby Sunshine Beach, Fratellini Italian restaurant stays open late (not common in Noosa). Former PM Kevin Rudd, a regular Noosa visitor, calls it “Kevin’s canteen”. Try the truffle-rich porcini and duck confit risotto. A few doors down, Embassy XO has a South-East Asian/Chinese menu. Save room for the chocolate dumplings with raspberry and chilli sauce.

Back in Noosaville, Sirocco Noosa delivers flavours of North Africa, the Middle East and the Med. The dukkah-crusted lamb fillet with eggplant caponata and whipped fetta is a standout. And locals love Gusto Riverfront Restaurant, which is next door, for its pancetta-wrapped figs with goat’s curd and walnut pesto. 

The beachfront dining at Season on Hastings Street comes with smart service and modern-Australian fusion cuisine. The yellow curry overflows with local seafood.

Miss Moneypenny’s, a super-stylish addition to the Hastings strip with its open-air stone-and-wood fit-out, has cutting-edge cocktails (West Indies Yellowbird, anyone?) and half-price bar bites and pizzas from 4pm to 6pm, Monday to Friday.

Well-known restaurateur Rio Capurso will greet you effusively at Locale, a glamorous vision of dark wood and white linen on Hastings Street. The pumpkin, sweet potato and buffalo ricotta gnocchi drenched in rosemary and sage cream sauce will linger in the memory.

At Sails, where the only thing between you and the ocean is sand, chef Paul Leete’s coral trout pot-sticker dumplings and Fraser Island spanner crab lasagne are as legendary as his pancetta-wrapped Moreton Bay bug tails. And as good as the killer wine list.

Insider’s Guide to Noosa

One of the best Japanese eateries in Australia – yes, we stand by that claim – Wasabi Restaurant & Bar presents authentic cuisine that includes Japanese herbs and salad leaves grown on owner Danielle Gjestland’s farm. The Mooloolaba bigeye tuna tartare and the nigiri sushi are prepared from fish caught that morning.

These are the places to stay…

Noosa River Holiday Park has waterfront sites, a boat ramp and a million-dollar location. Historic Halse Lodge is a backpacker hostel that sits in almost a hectare of lush rainforest yet is just a couple of minutes’ walk from Hastings Street.

Hotel Laguna Holiday Apartments in Hastings Street is family- and wallet-friendly, with all the action at your door. Como Noosa Luxury Riverside Apartments in Noosaville has water views from apartments wrapped around the pool. 

Indulge at Hastings Street’s Sofitel Noosa Pacific Resort (the Sheraton rebadged) or The Sebel Noosa. Opt for beachfront at Tingirana Noosa or check in to a penthouse at Netanya Noosa for a rooftop spa. 

SEE ALSO: Explore the Sunshine Coast Hinterland

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