You’ll be on a high long after you’ve touched down from a flight with Paradise Seaplanes at Maroochydore.
This jaw-dropping adventure is one of the Sunshine Coast’s absolute must-do experiences and one that is sure to become one of life’s cherished memories.
The flight, which takes off from the Maroochy River, takes you over some of Queensland’s most stunning and varied coastline in a plane that is especially designed for observation, with more glass than a helicopter and the ability to fly low and slowly enough that you don’t miss a thing.
The seaplane, a Wilga 80, is the only one of its kind in the southern hemisphere and designed to be flown with doors off (optional with these tours), just like the early days of aviation. Indeed the Wilga was first built in the 1950s as an observation plane for the military, which is why it’s super quiet, built like a tank and the views are as good as it gets. And best of all, it can accommodate 2 or 3 passengers* so you can share this never-to-be-forgotten experience with friends or loved ones.
You can choose the length of your flight, starting from the 10 minute Maroochy River Adventure to the ultimate - Double Island Point Adventure of 70 mins, which flies north over Noosa and along the magnificent Great Sandy National Park to Double Island Point, with a spectacular view of the coloured sands and unique sand hills of Rainbow Beach.
There’s nothing quite like arriving for a water take-off – already it feels special and exclusive, like flying on your own private plane without the sterility, stress and bustle of departing from an airport.
Any pre-flight nerves are brilliantly dealt with by the friendly experienced pilot Shawn, who is happy to answer any questions and take you through the process with reassurances and full explanation of what to expect. With a strike rate of 100% there is not one nervous flyer who has fronted up for a Seaplane ride that hasn’t been a total convert at the end.
A short wade out into knee deep water and a brief climb up a handful of ladder-like steps and you’re onboard, something that even passengers of limited mobility can manage. (Shawn says that his oldest passenger to date has been 94 years old).
The Wilga, with its unique vintage appearance, attracts plenty of attention and waves from everyone including fishermen on the river banks, jet skiiers and other watercraft as it taxis effortlessly along the river towards a super smooth take off that is nothing short of exhilarating.
Soaring out towards the mouth of the Noosa River and over the sea, the plane banks left to head north up the coastline. Unlike commercial jet flights, you’re at cruising level (120m) in the blink of an eye, it’s whisper quiet, there’s no turbulence and down below there’s so much to take in it’s hard to know where to look.
Old Woman Island (Mudjimba), Mt Coolum, Point Arkwright and Coolum Beach are a few of the early stunning highlights and just past Peregian Beach it’s possible to spot some local sea life – turtles, sting rays and dolphins.
From there, the plane glides over Castaways Beach, Sunshine Beach and Noosa National Park via Hell’s Gate and as far as Noosa Main beach, from where it’s possible to spot Double Island Point in the distance.
As the Wilga turns smoothly to the south for the journey home, there’s a pang of regret that this wasn’t The Double Island Point Adventure, continuing on up to Double Island Point via the spectacular sandhills of Rainbow Beach.
Landing back on the Maroochy River is as effortless as the take-off and, like waking up from a dream, it seems like seconds until we’re back on land again, with only the gazillion photos to show that the flight actually happened.
Need to know – For an extra $50 per flight you can have the full ‘Doors Off’ flight, which is perfect for adrenaline junkies who want the full exhilarating Red Baron flying experience. Note that if you choose this one, there is engine noise, wind and those with long hair will need to tie it back. Passengers for all flights should wear shorts and thongs for the water embarkation and disembarkation.
Nice to know – There is plenty of free car parking adjacent to the site where the seaplane takes off. Should the weather be inclement on the day of your flight booking, Paradise Seaplanes will schedule a new time to suit. Gift certificates are available.
*Up to 3 passengers (combined max weight of 200kg) can be accommodated per flight.
142 Bradman Ave