Scout Hinchliffe’s roundup of kayaking on the Sunshine Coast in Queensland won’t leave you short of ideas for where to dip your paddle. Let her guide your kayak adventures along rivers, around lakes, and out to the ocean.


We acknowledge the Traditional Custodians of the Countries on which these adventures take place who have occupied and cared for these lands, waters, and their inhabitants for thousands of years. We pay our respects to them and recognise that sovereignty was never ceded.

Sunshine Coast Kayaking

Is it the motion of the ocean? Or is it feeling like a king as you kayak through the rich vegetation that forms a guard of honour?

Whatever it may be (as long as you’re not up shit creek without a paddle) kayaking feeds the soul with adventure and is the ultimate way to explore and connect with the amazing coastlines, lakes, and rivers that make up the Sunshine Coast.

Here’s your Sunshine Coast kayaking bucket list. Please note that the experience levels are a guide only and your personal fitness levels should be considered first. Happy paddling!

1. Maroochydore River Trail

Start: George Best Park
Finish: Coulson Wharf Park
Experience Level: Beginner

The Paddle – The first kayak of our kayak adventures on the Sunshine Coast is a 3.5km (one way) section of the Maroochy River Trail, which is the perfect paddle for wildlife lovers. Water dragons line the banks while ducks frolic madly and the occasional bright blue dragonfly will hitch a ride.

Read more: SA Murray River Kayaking – A Warm and Lazy Overnight Loop Paddle for One


7 Killer Kayak Adventures On The Sunshine Coast (QLD), Scout Hinchliffe, water, glassy, reflection, sunburst, trees, MAROOCHY RIVER TRAIL

2. Lake Cootharaba

Start and finish: Boreen Point, Noosa North Shore
Experience Level: Beginner/Intermediate

The Paddle – Being approximately 25km in diameter, Lake Cootharaba is the largest saltwater lake in the region and therefore can provide endless hours of paddling fun.

Hot Tip – The lake is best suited for days with no/light winds!


7 Killer Kayak Adventures On The Sunshine Coast (QLD), Scout Hinchliffe, jetty, trees, woman, LAKE COOTHARABA

3. Old Woman Island

Start and finish: Mudjimba Main Beach, Mudjimba
Experience Level: Intermediate

The Paddle – Load the kayak with snorkeling gear for one of the more epic ocean kayak adventures on the Sunshine Coast. The 1km paddle over to Old Woman Island can often be treacherous so pick a day with light winds and gentle swell.

Read more: Remember to leave no trace!


7 Killer Kayak Adventures On The Sunshine Coast (QLD), Scout Hinchliffe, snorkel, flippers, wheel, beach, underwater, OLD WOMAN ISLAND

4. Ewen Maddock Dam

Start and finish: Maddock Park, Connection Road, Mooloolah Valley
Experience Level: Beginner

The Paddle – With sneaky views of the Glass House Mountains and the Maleny ranges creating a backdrop to the west, plus being surrounded by state forest, Ewen Maddock Dam sure is a picturesque paddle, especially at sunset!

If you want a whole day of wonders, you can precede a sunset paddle at Ewen Maddock Dam with a short hike up nearby Mt Ngungun to see the sunrise.


7 Killer Kayak Adventures On The Sunshine Coast (QLD), Scout Hinchliffe, EWEN MADDOCK DAM, woman, sunset, water

5. Currimundi Lake

Launch Point: Currimundi Beach, Westaway Parade or Hargreaves Street, Currimundi
Experience Level: Beginner

The Paddle – The beautiful waters of Currimundi Lake provide a haven for bream, whiting, and flathead so make sure you throw in a fishing line for this paddle!


7 Killer Kayak Adventures On The Sunshine Coast (QLD), Scout Hinchliffe, fish, fishing rod, reel, CURRIMUNDI LAKE

6. Mary River

Start and finish: Being one of the largest river systems in SEQ, there are a lot of launch points to choose from. We would recommend making a weekend of it by staying at the Kenilworth Bluff campground where the river access is only metres from the tent!
Experience Level: Beginner

The Paddle – Straight after decent rainfall is the best time to explore the Mary River by kayak. The river starts high in the Sunshine Coast Hinterland then passes through Kenilworth, Gympie, and Maryborough. Eventually the river flows out into the Great Sandy Strait.

There are sections with fun little rapids so make sure you take an adventure buddy who can pull the kayak back upstream!

Read more: Staying Safe Around Swimming Holes


7 Killer Kayak Adventures On The Sunshine Coast (QLD), Scout Hinchliffe, water, paddle, woman, glassy, mirror, reflection, hero, blue sky, MARY RIVER

7. Pumicestone Passage

Start and finish – Golden Beach Esplanade, Caloundra
Experience Level – Beginner/Intermediate

The Paddle – Winding for 35km from Caloundra through to Deception Bay, this is a ‘choose your own adventure’ type of paddle. Glide across Pumicestone Passage to discover secluded beaches on Bribie Island, power upstream for superb views of the Glass House Mountains, or just relax and enjoy the wildlife and natural beauty.

Hot Tip – Timing your kayaking adventure with the tides will make paddling easier.


7 Killer Kayak Adventures On The Sunshine Coast (QLD), Scout Hinchliffe, drone, water, sandbanks, ripples, kayak, lone paddler, PUMICESTONE PASSAGE


Paddle Away!

Now you’re all set. Go while away your weekends with your own kayak adventures on the Sunshine Coast and beyond.

Kayaking FAQs

Where can I kayak in Maroochydore?

The Maroochy River Trail is the perfect place to go for a paddle in Maroochydore. It’s a  3.5km one-way journey that begins at George West park and ends at Coulsan Wharf park.

Is kayaking safe for beginners?

Yes! As long as you exercise common sense kayaking is very much a safe sport for beginners. Make sure you practice first on calm, flat water, and wear appropriate safety gear such as a life jacket.

Where can I kayak on the Sunshine Coast?

There are plenty of places to kayak on the Sunshine Coast. These include the list mentioned above. Some of the best are the Maroochy River Trail, Lake Cootharaba, Ewen Maddock Dam and the Mary River.

We’ve shared these recommendations because we genuinely rate them and want you to enjoy them too. Our writers use a mix of personal experience and research to compile these lists, and they’re also encouraged to be honest when things aren’t up to scratch. For more information on our approach, check out our Editorial Standards.