For my birthday a few weeks ago I really wanted to spend some relaxing time at the beach and to have dinner at a restaurant when grown ups do i.e.after dark. Neither of these things were at all hard to achieve pre children, but now they are right up there on my fantasy list.
Mooloolaba used to be our destination of choice but since our son arrived, the cafe and restaurant strip and the shops haven't really seemed ideal. However, this weekend proved to us that Mooloolaba is a great family destination.
Arriving mid afternoon we spent around an hour at the children's playground, near the Surf Club. There were plenty of adult seats available for us to soak up the sun and relaxing swish of the ocean while our son worked off some energy at the playground. We then wandered along the pathway, past families preparing their BBQ dinners and topped for another play at the next set of playground equipment. After another half hour or so it was dusk and the long awaited grown up dinner time approached.
Mooloolaba Beach Playground
Taking deep breaths we headed to the cafe strip and wandered past many restaurants discussing with our five year old son our plans for dinner and the aim of all sitting down together for more then ten minutes for a relaxed meal. We settled on Semo's Modern Moroccan Cuisine. Run by accomplished chef Semo M'Souli who has worked all over the world this is a very family friendly restaurant. Semo and Joanne's children take orders and help out generally. The place is a great mix of homeliness and professionalism with fantastic food. My partner and I both had tagines while my son had home made chicken nuggets. There was nothing left on any of our plates at the end. Mooloolaba's cafe strip has a fun celebratory atmosphere which rubbed off on my son who sat at the table the whole night enjoying himself and being quite taken by the fact that his food was brought out by other, albeit much older, kids.
Semo and Joanne M'Souli (Image courtesy of Semo's website)
After our very satisfactory dinner we walked along the beachside path to the Loo With A View, where we discovered lots of kids frolicking in the waves under the moonlight and loo lights. This gave my partner and I a chance to take in the beach at night while our son was chased by and chased after waves. The water was still warm enough to make this pleasant.
Mooloolaba Beach at night
The next day we spent almost entirely on the beach. A succession of storms have carried away a lot of the beautiful soft sand from Mooloolaba but there are some options for still enjoying the beach. There is a small area of lovely flat beach up the South end of Mooloolaba that is great for kids. While the sand everywhere is a bit grainier there are also lots of shells. Our son spent hours looking for shells, building sandcastles and digging moats out to the ocean in-between jumping waves. This completely occupied his attention so that we could sit quietly on the beach taking turns reading and playing with him. I even managed an hour or so shopping. Mooloolaba always manages to attract a range of great shops from those that are there every season like Sapien Arts to others that pop up for a season or two or even just a weekend. It is always worth a look and make sure you delve into the arcades and off the main strip.
Shells from Mooloolaba beach
After exhausting this activity we went to the rock pools and looked for crabs and other sea creatures. This is another popular family friendly activity and again occupies kids for hours. Mooloolaba has some of the best rock pools on the Sunshine Coast and we have spent many family hours pottering around.
You can even take your pram down to the rock pools
We decided to repeat dinner at Semo's as it had been so successful the previous night. Again we played on the moonlit beach and wandered back past the playground to our accommodation. The area was fully of families having BBQs, a few people had guitars and were singing, while at one end a dad was drumming while his daughter climbed the playground. It was a great atmosphere and we found ourselves lingering.
The next day began with breakfast at Raw Energy, a long time favourite of ours. Raw Energy began in Mooloolaba around fifteen years ago and was so successful that it has expanded throughout the sunshine coast. You can choose from any number of healthy but delicious breakfast options. The kids' menu also offers familiar choices with a healthy twist.
Following this we went to UnderWater World to see the Shark Tunnel, our son's favourite. This is always a great place to come and if you prebook tickets online or buy an annual pass you can save a lot of money. There is also a two for one ticket deal offer on their Facebook Page at the moment so hurry and you might be able to take advantage of this great deal. From seeing the sharks, to touching starfish, learning about stingrays or watching a seal show there is always lots to do. The focus is on conservation and many of the seals and turtles have been rescued and now live at Underwater World as they were not able to be released back into the wild. After a few hours here we started the drive home feeling very satisfied with the weekend and of achieving the goals of relaxation and dinner out.