When I read there are only two everglade systems in the entire world, I feel very lucky to have one so close to home. Kayaking Noosa Everglades is a fantastic experience. The extraordinary feeling of being disconnected from everything else but nature as you explore the wilderness of this untouched river is hard to describe. We keep coming back for more.
I have kayaked Noosa Everglades three times and always opted for an overnight camping trip. If you ask me, it’s the best way to explore the beauty of Noosa Everglades. I hope to inspire you to pick this option, but no matter how long you stay in the Noosa Everglades, you’ll find tips in this article to organise your adventure.
Why should you go kayaking Noosa Everglades?
The Noosa Everglades are part of the Great Sandy National Park – which is mainly famous for the incredible K’gari (Fraser Island) and the vibrant Rainbow Beach. It is a protected area where the wilderness has been preserved. An excellent opportunity to spot some fauna (mostly birds and goannas) and admire the abundant flora.
There are cruises to tour the first part of the Everglades. But it is without a doubt more charming, serene and fun to kayak Noosa Everglades.
Look at it this way: do you prefer to hear a motor engine or birds singing? Kayaking is worth the effort!
You do need a reasonable level of fitness to kayak Noosa Everglades, but no prior experience is necessary. It can be a bit hard for beginners on a windy day as the lake gets choppy, but nothing too difficult. The kayaks we hired (view details here*) had a rudder controlled by pedals to direct them which makes it easier to master.
I highly recommend selecting good kayaks if you plan to paddle far away into the river: it makes a huge difference for your comfort, your speed and the overall atmosphere during your trip. It’s also crucial to have a great map (the map we received for our self-guided tour was a lot more precise than the map from the national park website) and understand where you’re going so you don’t waste time exploring a dead end of the lake…
I did the trip once in a single kayak and found it a lot harder than in double kayaks, especially when there are wind and current, or if you plan to take photos. I was often going backwards when I stopped with my single kayak!
You don’t have a car, camping equipment or you don’t feel like paddling for too long with the weight of food and gear? Click here to have a look at this tour*. It’s particularly a good deal if you’re travelling from Noosa to Rainbow Beach as they can organise the transfer for you!
What to expect when kayaking Noosa Everglades
There are a few options to paddle the Noosa Everglades:
- a guided day tour*
- a self-guided day tour*
- a self-guided overnight tour* (my recommendation)
- a self-guided three-day tour*
How long and hard is it to kayak Noosa Everglades?
It all depends on how far you plan to go (see the map here) and the weather conditions that day.
From the Elanda Point kayak launch area, you will first need to go across two lakes before reaching the river. The river will only start after paddling for 7km (or 1.5 hours).
If you are kayaking Noosa Everglades just for the day
Make sure you consider the directions of the wind and current to calculate when you should turn around. They may make your way back a lot harder or, on the contrary, a lot easier. I recommend going at least to Harry’s Hut (11km from Elanda Point; 2h20) as you will experience the narrow river with beautiful reflections. If you can go a bit further, you should get fewer people.
If you take the overnight option
The camping you book will decide how hard you will need to paddle during the day. For example, campsites 1 and 2 are about three hours away or 15 km from the launching point (without breaks), so you’ll have a relaxing time on the river. Plus, there are toilets there.
Campsites 3 to 5 are a few kilometres further and no boat can access past campsite 3 so it’s even calmer. Campsites 8 and 9 are almost twice as far as campsite 1 and require about five hours of paddling (without breaks).
On our first trip, we reached campsite 5, which was about 20km away – …well actually more as we made a big detour and explored the first lake much further than necessary! It is feasible to reach campsite 5 in one day but does require a lot of paddling. It was a lot more enjoyable to choose campsite 2 the second time as we had a beginner on the team. We could take our time, and everyone had a more peaceful experience.
Is it worth the effort to go to campsite 8?
Another weekend, we paddled more than 50km to spend the night at campsite 8. It wasn’t as challenging as I expected. We reached our camp by 4 pm and had plenty of time to relax and enjoy being the only ones in the world. Our arms hurt a bit after the first day but the second day was easier as the wind was pushing us. We enjoyed every second we spent on the river. There are nice turns after campsite 5 but the landscape does not change much. We always like to go a bit further and we are experienced at kayaking, so we’re happy we did it. But it’s a long day for those who don’t enjoy these kinds of challenges! If it’s your first time kayaking Noosa Everglades, I recommend picking a closer campsite.
Why do I love kayaking Noosa Everglades so much?
I have made the Noosa Everglades overnight kayaking trip at least four times (October 2013, January 2015, March 2017 and September 2018). Every trip brings back good memories and I will do it again with pleasure.
I highly recommend spending the night at the Noosa Everglades. Feeling so close to nature is an unusual experience. I will never forget the first lights of the day on the river.
It is such a peaceful and beautiful moment, with pastel colours and perfect reflections, before the birds wake up slowly. The river has a black colour from the tea tree leaves. It looks immaculate before sunrise. There is no movement on the water: the reflection is as good as in a mirror.
Kayaking Noosa Everglades is special and I do consider this gateway a small adventure. If you go as a couple, you can even turn it into a romantic experience. As you go further up on the river, there is less and less traffic. Even better, the campsite you book is for your group only. Hence, you will feel remote, spending the night in the wild in your tiny group with no phone coverage. Some people may find it more scary than romantic. But if you use your common sense and listen to the instructions that were given to you, there is no significant danger. Still, the sensations are incredible.
The night is not quiet when you are in the wild, as all the nocturnal animals get busy… Including toads that will find your tent interesting and might try to get in. If you are travelling by yourself or not a fan of the remoteness, you can also join a guided tour or stay at the bigger campsite Harry’s Hut.
The trip starts on a big lake with great panoramic views. It then narrows down to a smaller lake partially covered by lilies. Once you leave the lakes behind, it is finally easier to cruise on the black Noosa River.
Hiking while kayaking Noosa Everglades
Because kayaking Noosa Everglades was not tiring enough (!), we left the camp as early as we could in the morning – just after the unforgettable first lights of the day – to reach campsite 3 for a hike up to the sand patch. It took us about 3 hours return at a good pace.
The sand patch is big, and the views up there on the lakes that we’ve been kayaking on are stunning. I also really appreciate the opportunity to mix the activities for a different taste of the area. The hike had nothing in common with kayaking! When we are on the river, as the vegetation is very dense, it is hard to imagine that we are surrounded by land made of sand.
If you are happy to add some more exercise to your trip and have enough time, the sand patch will be a great addition to your adventure.
When is the best time to go kayaking Noosa Everglades?
My favourite time for kayaking Noosa Everglades is during Spring or Autumn. During these seasons, the temperatures in Queensland are nice and the risk of storms and rain is lower than in Summer. In Summer, it can get very hot and you may end up looking for shade a lot. If you are camping overnight, the temperatures at night will get low. You’ll need to pack many layers as fires are prohibited at the campsites.
What you need to pack to go kayaking Noosa Everglades
You’ll find all the equipment I recommend for kayaking in this post. The main ones are a long-sleeve top* and gloves*. The usual cap, sunglasses and sunscreen must be on your list too. I highly recommend bringing a windproof and rainproof jacket too. You may also want to bring insect repellent, especially when you prepare your material at the launching area.
Always remember that you will have to carry all day long whatever you bring on your kayak. Hence, you don’t want to overweight it. There are no bins in the Noosa Everglades, so you will also bring your rubbish back. It means you should avoid food in cans if possible (as cans are heavy). And maybe more importantly, also avoid stinky food (smoked salmon is delicious, but it’s stinky!). Try to favour food that leaves no waste like tomatoes for example. The kayaks have a spot to carry an eski, so you can get creative with the food.
For the water, we always bring a 5L pouch per person for a two-day trip. Don’t bring plastic bottles. You may want to use a Camelback*. If you’re really concerned about the weight of your kayak, you could carry a water filter and use the water from the river.
If you’re staying overnight, I highly recommend having a warm meal option. Even when the weather is not that cold, you may be happy to have hot food if you’re wet. If you choose the same tour as us*, you get a stove and all the cooking equipment. Two-minute noodles and Continental soups are perfect when you’re limited with the weight and space. Don’t forget to bring headlamps.
Did you go kayaking in Noosa Everglades? Share your experience in the comments below!
Where can you kayak Noosa Everglades?
The Noosa Everglades are on the Noosa River in the north of the charming town of Noosa on the Sunshine Coast. The Noosa Everglades are located in the Cooloola section of the Great Sandy National Park that goes up to K’gari (Fraser Island).
The launch point when kayaking Noosa Everglades is at Elanda Point, just after Boreen Point. It took us about two hours to drive there from Brisbane CBD.
Noosa is a short drive away from where the Noosa Everglades adventure starts. Still, it’s the best place where to spend the night if you’re looking for a hotel. Click here to learn more about Noosa and click here to find out accommodation availabilities*.
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