Noosa is incredible. Golden sanded beaches, palm trees, dolphins frolicking in the water, a chilled out vibe in the main-street and a tourist district that has everything you could possibly need or want for a wonderfully blissful coastal getaway. The river system that weaves its way through the suburbs that make up Noosa is clean, clear and magical. This is, however, the playground of the rich and famous, and it can feel like you’re missing out on all the fun if you’re on a budget. I can imagine that many people skip this wonderful part of the coast altogether just after looking at the price of accommodation.
That’s where this handy little guide comes in! We stayed in Noosa for one week, on a strict budget and have a few tricks and tips we would like to pass along so that you too (fellow budget traveller) can enjoy this beautiful place without having to sell any of your vital organs.
1. Accommodation in Noosa is expensive
There is no getting around it. So grab your tent/van and lets get camping! The council is very strict with their ‘no camping’ rules at the beach, carparks and parks. Fines apply if you are caught, and the council do patrol the area, so for us that makes it not worth the risk. Your best bet is to stay at the Noosa River Holiday Park. It is the closest park to all thee action and that means you can leave your car parked beside your tent the whole time and save money on fuel. The holiday park fees are much more than what we like to pay for camping, however, this is Noosa and the park is well equipped with everything you need to cheapen up your stay. See our review on the Nooosa Holiday Park for more info about pricing and the park.
2. Shop at Aldi, the fruit shop in Noosa Junction, the butcher at Noosaville and the farmer’s market
This goes hand in hand with number 3 below. In order to get the freshest and cheapest ingredients, we shopped daily for meat and fresh produce, buying only what wee needed for that day and some lunch/ snacks for the following day. All non-perishable items we purchased from Aldi, which is an easy walk from the holiday park. The only item we could not get from Aldi was Coconut Milk, but if you drink regular milk you will be fine. Aldi has great prices on organic tinned goods, cereal, bread, snack bars (or muesli bars) and sausages. We purchased most of our fresh fruit and veg from the Pardons Fruit Market in Noosa Junction. It is at the far end of the main street street, right across from the bus depot and parking lot. The sell fresh produce and a range of health/ organic food as well as having a small cafe onsite. The pricing of their fruit and veg was very reasonable, much better than the supermarket, and the produce is much, much fresher.
The Woolwoths Plaza in Noosaville also houses a small butcher who stocks organic, fresh, cheap meat. this is the trifecta for us! All these measures allowed us too eat very well for quite cheap. We supplemented this with a trip to the farmer’s market on Sunday (at the AFL oval near Aldi), where we picked up some cheap organic vegetables also.
3. Cook your own meals
Goes without saying really. But the secret tip we’re giving you is that you do not need to purchase a camp kitchen for this trip. Everything you need is provided at the holiday park, just bring your own pots, pans and eating/cooking utensils. The camp kitchen at Noosa River holiday park is the best stocked kitchen we have seen. At your disposal are: four gas burners, two BBQ cooktops, a kettle, two sinks, large fridge for food storage and a toaster. You could cook Christmas dinner in this kitchen! So no need to stock up on gas cylinders before you leave home or stress about purchasing any camping gear that you don’t already own. this place has it all.
4. Need to be entertained all day? Get off your butt and use your legs
Make use of the large number and range of walking tracks around Noosa and in the National Park. You really can walk, skate or ride your bike to anywhere you want, or need, to go in Noosa. We spent days walking, skating and generally discovering the area. Take a snack bar that you purchased in Aldi and a bottle off water that you filled up in the holiday park and avoid the temptation to stop for a snack or tasty treat along the way, and voila, a free day out!
5. Fill up your fuel before you get to Noosa
Fuel in Noosa is pricey, don’t say we didn’t warn you. Fill up your tank before you get close to the area and be sure you have enough fuel to get you back out again.
6. Arrive early
At these campsite prices, you want to get all you can out of it. Drive overnight and arrive too Noosa in time for sunrrise. You can nap in your car during the day without hassle from the council, then wake up in time to throw some sausages on the free BBQs at Noosaville foreshore for lunch then check into your campsite (see below about not checking in too late). Be sure to leave late also, make the most of your time in Noosa. There is free parking in most areas to leave the car somewhere and go enjoy yourselves!
7. Check-in to the camping site early and be sure to view your site, and ask for a better one if you need it
The more comfortable you are in your site, the less time you will want to spend away from it frivolously spending your money. Trust us on this one, we speak from experience. The campsites at Noosa River were not all created equal, make sure you grab a good one! Alternatively, if you cannot get there early, check out our review of thee campground and request the sites we thought were best. The more cramped you are in your campsite, or unhappy with your position, the more time and money you will spend dong anything to avoid being there. This does not make for a cheap or pleasant vaycay.
8. Ask a local to take you our for a surf, in exchange for a couple of rounds of beers
Hiring a surfboard is pricey, and lessons even more so. Make friends with the locals, or your bartender or your cafe server at Noosa Junction (not touristy Hastings St) and ask if they are willing to take you for a surf in return for a few beers, or a great BBQ lunch that you can make cheaply for you both afterwards. The bonus is that you will make a new friend and who knows, maybe be able to stay on for longer camping in their property?
9. Drink like the locals do
Actually, live like the locals do. Noosa is not a party place. The only people out drinking in the bars are tourists, and they are getting ripped off for the privilege. Locals get up early and head to the beach before the heat of the day. Spend their afternoons working, running errands and what have you before meeting mates for an afternoon coffee (the cheap way we did this was to have an instant coffee in the holiday park, either with other campers or alone rather than spending $8 on coffee everyday) then head home for a good feed, a few beers then bed. Noosa does not have a Friday/ Saturday night partying or drinking culture outside of what is on offer for tourists. So save your money, do as the locals do and grab a six pack to enjoy over and after dinner for a few nights. Save the bar drinking for big cities with happy hours. If you do opt to go out partying in Noosa, you will just be with other tourists, and that is not a good way to get to know a place.
10. Steer clear of Hastings Street for everything besides window shopping
The same goes for the foreshore shops in Noosaville. Head to Noosa Junction, everything there is half the price and catered for the locals, not cashed up tourists. This is true for all things, shopping, ice-cream, food, waxing, massages, surfboards… everything! Just keep your wallet in your pocket in Hastings St and the Noosaville foreshore, use it wisely in Noosa Junction to keep your trip as inexpensive as possible.
Need more convincing that Noosa is worth all this effort? Check out these images to get your juices flowing – remember, these were all taken in July, the middle of WINTER! Imagine the place in November or March.