I spent just over a week in Caloundra before Xmas with my husband and teenage daughter and we fell in love with the place. It is nothing flash like Noosa, but it is a busy little town and Kings beach, where we stayed, is magnificent.
We walked on the beach, hopped over the waves, read the novels we had been meaning to read and took a few trips to the Hinterland where the view as you drive along the top of the ridge is stupendous.
Our daughter went Go Kart driving at nearby Landsborough and spent a blissful day shoppingat the enormous Sunshine Plaza with her friend. We intended to check out Steve Irwin's Australia Zoo but never got there, although we drove past it several times.
There were several places for decent coffee-The Naked Turtle and Rex' coffee bar outside the Shearwater resort and a wonderful deli on Bulcock Street called something to do with a chilli bean I think. We had the best lunch there-home made quiche and fresh salad and it was very reasonable and great friendly staff. I wish I could remember the name.
We ate out at night and there are some very good restaurants-we probably spent more than we should have!
The Naked Turtle has an excellent upmarket dinner menu: there is a Thai restaurant actually on the front at Bulcock beach-great food: Don't miss the fish and chips at Alfie's on Bulcock beach: Great steaks and an upmarket menu at a restuarant called something like The Moo Cha Bar on Bulcock beach-really nice: There is a restaurant/cafe/bar on the boardwalk close to Kings beach called Tanya's. Nice food but very slow the night we were there. But you can sit right by the beach with your food:There is a Hog's Breath cafe for a lower key evening but they serve good steak; The Surf Club at Kings beach has won awards and they send out a mini van so you can have a few drinks and be dropped off afterwards. We found the food pretty average but good value. Don't miss the wonderful Italian ice cream shop on Bulcock Street-a highlight!
There didn't seem to be a whole lot of night life, which suited us just fine.
The Hinterland is half an hour away and you should spend half a day poking around the shops at Maleny-plenty of good cafes and restaurants, and don't miss Mary Cairncross Park close to Maleny. There is a lovely rainforest walk and small museum and a really nice cafe where you can sit with delicious sandwiches and quiches and gaze at the view of the Glasshouse Mountains.
Drive the other way to Montville, Flaxton and Mapleton and have a drink at the pub at Mapleton-it's the only one and you won't miss it. You sit on the Verandah and gaze at the view-it is stunning. Next door is a french patisserie and cafe-stop in for a brioche-it is authentically french! Then on the way back there are a couple of wineries, and Montville has charming shops and galleries.
We will certainly be going back.
We stayed at The Shearwater (I'll do a separate review) which was ok-amazing position, easy parking, ocean views but a bit ordinary and tired looking. If you have kids I would recommend it highly-great playground, picnic areas, water spouts but I suspect there might be better.
Somebody told me that the South Easterlies can blow seaweed onto the beach in which case go to Moffat Beach which is protected.