The Gold Coast's southern suburbs have got the goods.
The Gold Coast's southern suburbs have got the goods.
It’s always a good time when hundreds of (often quite good looking) surfers descend on one area for several days in a row.
It’s even better when that one place is a local Gold Coast beach surrounded by lots of places to eat delicious food and other delightful things to look at.
Because it’s almost that time of year again (brb buying all the bikinis) we’ve compiled a list of eight things to do on a trip to our southern most suburbs.
Pull up some sand
Yep, so number one is quite obviously heading down to watch the main event which runs from April 3rd to 13th (pending conditions). The guys and gals will battle it out in the sparkly sea (is 34 too old to become a pro surfer, asking for a friend?) for top honours and we are pretty pumped. Go Aussies.
Where: Snapper Rocks
Sip a brew
Just around the corner from all the action is local, grab-and-go coffee joint Little Mali. They’ve got all your coffee needs covered for a big day on the beach plus raw and vegan treats, cold pressed juices and some brekky goodies if you’re up and about early (which you’ll need to be because surfing is an early morning sport y’all).
Where: Corner Ward and Boundary Street, Coolangatta
Dance, dance, dance
In the happiest of news, a boutique music festival is cruising around with the World Surf League Championship Tour this year and since the Coast is the home of the Quiky and Roxy Pros, we get to join in the dance party. The Drop Festival will feature Angus + Julia Stone, Jungle Giants, Client Liaison, Hockey Dad and Alex the Astronaut and it’s gonna be a real good time. Almost as exciting as the surfing itself if you ask us.
Where: Elizabeth Park, Coolangatta
If you need a break from the beach, pop into Maverick Hair and Art Space in Coolangatta. It’s a contemporary gallery dedicated to emerging local artists. While the event is on, Local Kirra artist, Bindi Hokins is debuting her first Solo Exhibition #SlowMovingWoman and it’s really quite a treat for your eyeballs. May as well get yourself a haircut while you’re at it.
Where: 1/17 Griffith St, Coolangatta
Eat a pie
There needs to be no reason for eating numerous pies from The Coolangatta Pie Shop particularly at 3am after an all night sweat session at Rattles (tales for another time friends). Anyway. Pies from TCPS are some of the best there are and after a day of sunshine and salt water, you’ll be stinging for some pastry. There’s delicious desserts too so don’t miss that boat.
Where: 50 Griffith St, Coolangatta
Drink a beer (or three)
We were always going to get here because beers on balmy Gold Coast afternoons are life. While there are many spots to get involved in one or three beverages, today we’re going to talk about the Kirra Surf Club because Kirra is the name of things that are great and there are uninterrupted ocean views there. Food too but, beers. ALSO. Resn Byron are presenting a night called ‘Cooly under resin’ showcasing epic imagery of Snapper Rocks by some of Australia’s most amazing photographers. It’s on for one night only – Friday April 12th from 6pm to 10pm. Don’t miss that one.
Where: 15 Marine Pde, Kirra
Take a stroll
If all those fit, good-looking people are getting on your nerves, take yourself for a walk up to Kirra Hill Lookout and see the stunning sights. Unsurprisingly, there’s ocean viewing for days and although walking up a hill isn’t all that fun, the chill vibes provided by the views are definitely worth it. Send photos.
Where: Garrick St, Kirra
Learn to Surf
Feeling inspired? Learn to surf yourself! Walkin’ on Water gives lessons at super chill spot Greenmount Beach where the waves are not akin to Snapper and there’ll be no one to watch you fall because they’re all around the corner cheering on the pros. Plus, it’s a fun time. Give it a go.
Where: (Next to the Greenmount SLSC), Marine Parade, Coolangatta
Words by Kirra Smith
Coolangatta is our southernmost suburb and an uncomplicated little town. Apart from when in summer (and outside lockdowns), you can travel between two time zones — by simply crossing the street!
Time travelling aside, Coolangatta has long been loved for its laidback, beachside vibes and of course, pumping surf when the elements align and the swell fills in. These days, there is a multitude of reasons to visit other than amazing beaches and world-class waves. These include outstanding food venues, lively bars and a few other businesses worthy of your attention. So here are some worthy reasons for a nip into Cooly town.
Have a beachside coffee at Vanilla Lily
Quite possibly Coolangatta’s prettiest cafe, Vanilla Lily is serving up solid coffees and fresh eats in a beautiful setting opposite Greenmount Beach. Chill with the local community who love this hangout and enjoy the delectable fare. Our pick is the Avocado Toast with sliced radish, dried chilli flakes, pomegranate and drizzled with raw honey and lemon on a slice of sourdough.
Where: Shop 2, 110 Marine Parade, Coolangatta
Drink a beer at the Coolangatta Hotel
The Cooly Hotel is an absolute must-do. This well-known bar is opposite the town’s main stretch of sand and is often the place folks find themselves towards the latter part of the day. The attractions are world-class live music and great vibes aplenty. Pull up a chair and make an afternoon of it with salt-licked breezes blowing and uninterrupted beach views.
Where: Corner Warner Street & Marine Parade, Coolangatta
Enjoy some good food at Choofas Smokehouse & Seafood
Conveniently located on the town’s main street, the guys at Choofas offer some exceptional fresh and cooked seafood alongside BBQ style smoked meats, ribs, buffalo wings, burgers, steak, chicken and salads able to fill all hungry-bellies. The BBQ smoked meats are rubbed with Choofas own dark dry rub, then cooked long and slow to ensure tenderness and flavour. Choofas Horn Bar is also stocked with over 60 top brand rums, otherwise enjoy a cold beer on tap while overlooking Coolangatta beach as the sun goes down.
Where: 150 Griffith Street, Coolangatta
Grab a pie from the Coolangatta Pie Shop
This iconic Gold Coast pie shop has been around for over 50 years, so it’s no wonder they’re serving up some of the tastiest pies around. You can also get some outrightly delicious caramel slices while you’re at it. Perfect for a mid-morning fuel up or after a big afternoon session of surfing. Fun fact: they’re open 24 hours on weekends.
Where: 50 Griffith Street, Coolangatta
Eat pizza at Francie’s Pizzeria
Francie’s is some of the best pizza you’ll ever sample, so without hesitation, it quickly became the local’s favourite pizza bar. As purely a walk-in and no reservations style venue, swing by ahead of the crowd for delicious and inventive toppings. Our pick is the Pears Brosnan: Gorgonzola, pear, Prosciutto, and Mozzarella. YUM.
Where: 2/102 Griffith Street, Coolangatta
Take a stroll through The Strand
The Strand at Coolangatta is a great respite from all the action at the beach. Filled with all you retail needs (ALDI, Woolies etc), dining (the views from the upstairs restaurants are outstanding) and entertainment (hello Timezone and Cooly’s only cinema). Spend some time strolling around the boutique shops in the air-con; you’re sure to find something you love here.
Where: 72-80 Marine Parade, Coolangatta
Scoop your way through all the flavours at Ottimo
Ottimo serves up great coffee and makes all of their moreish gelatos in-house, but why are their plethora of dazzling flavours so damn good? Likely because the owner and head gelato maker Davide is Italian and has studied for a diploma from the Gelato University of Carpigiani — we didn’t make this up, it’s true!
Where: 18/52 Marine Parade, Coolangatta
Release your inner child at Timezone
Have the heavens opened up? Or are you simply up for a bit of fun? Timezone Coolangatta features full-sized bowling lanes, over 200 video games, dodgem cars and laser skirmish. Not just one for the kids!
Where: Level 1, 72-80 Marine Parade, The Strand, Coolangatta
Start your day with brekky at South East Espresso
A Cooly favourite for a tasty breakfast and excellent poured Paradox coffee, find South East Espresso tucked a block back from the majestic Rainbow Beach. It’s the ideal spot to satisfy those early morning hankerings, and if you fancy visiting again (which you will after a surf), they’re open for lunch too.
Where: 5 Dutton Street, Coolangatta
Indulge in an Italian feast at Little Cooly
Little Cooly is serving up some mind-blowing handmade pasta alongside a 100-strong Italian wine list that reads like a love letter to Italy itself. If it’s date night, look no further — and if you’re desperate for great pasta, well they have you covered on all bases. In an ode to the local area, dishes have been named after Gold Coast icons and suburbs and shine a light on local produce, for instance The Snapper Rocks features Tweed River prawns, mango, cashews and avocado or The Greenmount features Bangalow bacon, spicy chorizo, a fried egg and mozzarella.
Where: Level 1, Shop 120/72-80 Marine Parade, The Strand, Coolangatta
Get your art on at Maverick Hair & Art Studio
Pop into this tucked away gallery for a fabulous hair spruce up or to enjoy some fresh local art including that of Cooly local Byron Coathup. You’re sure to find sweet, locally designed souvenirs to take home. Your favourite local brand, The Undercurrent is stocked here too. Grab a Cooly tee to remember your time.
Where: First Floor, 1/17 Griffith Street, Coolangatta
Take in the view at Greenmount Beach Surf Club
With unsurpassed views in a northerly direction, you can take in everything overlooking the spectacular Greenmount Beach right up to the skyline of Surfers Paradise and, on some days, beyond. If the surf is good, you can also be entertained by surfers as they jostle with each other and generally tear waves apart — the level here is high. Our favourite is an icy schooner in hand and an amber sunset: perfection.
Where: Marine Parade, Coolangatta
Eat a burger at Eddie’s Grub House.
Rock ‘n roll meets fried chicken, burgers and whiskey: does it get any better than that? Get a mouthful of naughty but nice American classics in this soul food dive bar. They regularly have live music and karaoke nights and are one of the best spots to catch up with mates before a night on the town.
Where: 171 Griffith Street, Coolangatta
Shop local at Cooly’s Beachside Markets
On every second and fourth Sunday of the month, Queen Elizabeth Park comes alive with plenty of local traders selling anything from raw produce to clothing and accessories. The perfect place to take a stroll with a coffee in hand and the sun on your face — be prepared to spend some money.
Where: Queen Elizabeth Park, Coolangatta
Have a sunset cocktail at Moxy’s Rooftop Bar
This Griffith Street rooftop bar is always packed with sunset and weekend revellers sipping on cocktails living their best lives, and this should include you. Regular DJs and insta-worthy drinks mean this venue is a top place to see in the weekend or alternatively help you get over a hump day from hell. Either way, head upstairs and let the good times roll.
Where: 2/152-154 Griffith Street, Coolangatta
Words by Alex Mitcheson.
Best known for a pumping, world-renowned surf break and ever-present chill vibes, there’s so much more to Kirra than just waves and a pristine stretch of sand (although that’s motivation enough for us).
Here are 12 reasons why Kirra locals ain’t budging for love nor money, and why the wider GC community can’t get enough of this thriving yet mellow footwear-optional ‘burb.
Who doesn’t love a luxurious homewares store that’s also a patisserie café, and the answer is a unanimous NOBODY. In its beautiful new location, Cotton Living showcases stunning handmade furniture and timeless accessories to make every room in your abode sing. Everything is Insta-worthy with a focus on natural colours and textures, plus you can grab a croissant with your cushion and #WhatsNotToLove. This luxurious space right by the beach is family-owned and the obvs choice for your next coffee date with the gals.
Where: 1 Lord Street, Coolangatta
Once a humble Pizza Hut (and the hottest piece of real estate going around), the iconic and heritage listed beachside Kirra Pavilion has been reincarnated! Founded by local restaurateur royalty Jarrod Kyle and TJ Cianci, Siblings is a modern Australian brunch and dinner showstopper, dripping with 1950’s Miami beach vibes goodness. The menu is infused with fresh seafood and share-plates a-plenty and don’t even get us started on the cocktails! You haven’t lived till you’ve been.
Where: 15 Marine Parade, Kirra
From the brilliant mind that brought us Project Tokyo comes an all new, sandy-shore-dwelling, Mexican fusion dining experience and yep, that was a mouthful. Speaking of mouthfuls, you’ve never tasted better modern Mexican fare, with fresh, delicious dishes infused with dashes of distinct oriental flavours and srsly, the tongue-twisters are coming in hot today. The fit out is bright but totally on-fleek, just how we like our Mexi restaurant and taquerias.
Where: 74 Musgrave Street, Coolangatta
Famous for an overflowing dessert cabinet including, you guessed it, tasty tiramisu, this little gem has become an institution in the beachside suburb. Not only loved for their clever name, Kirramisu serves up a bangin’ breakfast and lunch menu, fresh juices and smoothies, all with a side of multi-million-dollar sparkling ocean views. It’s the little place with the big soul.
Where: 28 Musgrave Street, Kirra
Speaking of institutions, Kirra Surf is a must-visit when cruising into this salty (good salty) seaside suburb. Their range of surfing products and apparel is unrivalled, the staff are super friendly, and there’s always at least (twenty)two things you’ll want to take home with you. Ladies, pop in for a visit and marvel at the larger-than-life posters of your fave easy-on-the-eyes surfer boys. You’re welcome.
Where: 8 Creek Street, Kirra
Bread and Butter
From Spanish tapas, stone baked pizzas, handmade gnocchi to cocktails and a large selection of wine and beer, you’re in for a treat at this Kirra icon. A lively space where the good times always roll, take a seat on the terrace and soak up the delightful ocean breezes and beach views. With $20 pick-up pizzas and $25 gnocchi and pasta until 6pm, it won’t break the bank which is the icing on the cake (or the butter on the bread).
Where: 76 Musgrave St, Kirra
Kirra Beach Bakery
A visit to Kirra isn’t complete without hitting up the local bakery and this is a fact. Whether you’re in need of a post-surf pie, sausage roll, quiche or pastie, a healthy salad or sandwich for the road, or some pre-dinner cake, slice or a sweet treat (don’t judge), Kirra Beach Bakery is the place. Get down there early in the morning for fresh-out-of-the-oven bread and enjoy a slice or two with the local ‘gulls while watching the sunrise. Best.
Where: 100 Musgrave Street, Kirra
The poke bowl phenomenon has taken the Gold Coast by storm and why wouldn’t it. Originating in Hawaii, poke bowls are made up of protein and salad combinations artfully arranged in bowls and perfect for both consuming and Instagram snaps. Of the signature bowls, we’re all about the Karaage Chicken with edamame, carrot, corn, sweet chilli mayo and lotus root chips. Satisfying and healthy, the entire menu is preservative free and all seafood is sustainably sourced. How good!
Where: 48 Musgrave Street, Kirra
Kirra Surf Life Saving Club
Located right on the beach, this old boy has been around longer than you (est. 1916) and is a firm fave amongst all Gold Coasters. It’s the perfect spot for an afternoon cold one overlooking the ocean or an affordable dinner with the crew. Sit yourself on the deck and let that balmy sea breeze take you to your happiest place.
Where: 15 Marine Parade, Kirra
Kirra Hill Lookout
Where better to feast your eyes on the world-famous Kirra beach! Trek to the top of the headland and prepare to be wowed by views from Main Beach to Snapper Rocks and everywhere in between. Pack a picnic or fire up the barbie (you’ve earned it after that walk), and thank your lucky stars you get to live in the best place on Earth. No bias, just #truth.
Where: It’s on the big hill, you won’t miss it!
Gold Coast Skydive
Jumping out of a plane is all kinds of a fun time, and jumping out of a plane and landing on Kirra Beach, even better. The good folks at Gold Coast Skydive are based in Kirra and once you’re out of that plane hurtling toward the sand, Kirra is exactly where you’ll land. After that adrenaline rush you might want to calm yourself with a beer or two. Luckily, the surf club is right there to assist.
Where: 1/78 Musgrave Street, Kirra
Kirra Beach Pavilion
While driving around the headland, you may have noticed the cute little shelter overlooking the ocean. It’s a great place to hide from the scorching sun, and has certainly seen a lot over its lifetime – more than a century to be precise. Early photos of Kirra Beach show the shelter in place by around 1916 and we love ourselves some GC history. The Kirra Shelter Shed makes for a great viewing platform and is the perfect spot to watch whales frolic out in the big blue.
Words by Bianca Trathen.
Many would have considered this unassuming suburb as just somewhere you zipped through on your way to the airport a few years ago, but oh my, how things have changed. Now, overflowing with the kind of beachside village vibes that are highly sought after these days — and a decent collection of cafes, eateries and other reasons to part with your hard-earned cash — Tugun has well and truly come into its own. And we think you deserve to be in on this action.
So, whether you live near or far, we encourage you to give this locale some devoted time. To assist you in doing this, our gathering of reasons locals love Tugun should be more than enough incentive to make your way to this quiet and much-loved corner of our Coast.
Craft House Restaurant & Bar
Beer is the star attraction at the Craft House — the reason being there are a whopping 20 on tap. You’ll find a kaleidoscope of beer variety at your fingertips, with some exciting and not so often found guest ales displaying interesting flavours and sizeable ABVs! The relaxed pub atmosphere is the perfect spot to while away an evening with live music and great share style plates.
Where: 445 Golden Four Drive, Tugun
Niche & Co
If you’re a fan of acai bowls in any shape or form, then we implore you to take a visit to this oh-so-cute hole-in-the-wall-style café. We don’t mind saying it — these guys dish up some of the best bowls on the Coast. Period. Not just this, the precious little space boasts healthy and delicious meals, cold press coffee, raw and vegan treats. Get in there for good vibes and Insta-opportunities stat.
Where: Shop 4/449 Golden Four Drive, Tugun
Good Day Coffee
It’s always a good day when you’ve got a Good Day Coffee in your hand! Starting out as the prime pit-stop-grab-coffee and go kind of spot, locals now flock habitually here to caffeinate themselves for a big day ahead. You can expect all of the lip-licking goods — particularly their toasted-to-perfection toasties and one-of-a-kind Bacon & Egg Smashes — if you know, you know.
Where: 2/476 Gold Coast Highway, Tugun
If vintage furniture and funky interiors are your things (and we know they are), look no further than Found. They specialise in imported Danish and mid-century furniture as well as one-off collectables and some contemporary homewares thrown in for good measure. We say pop in if you’re in the market for a piece that’s certain to make you the envy of all your friends.
Where: Shop 2, 471 Golden Four Drive, Tugun
House of Hubert
Sustainable, seasonable and farm to fork are words that usually describe a restaurant that produces culinary gold — and House of Hubert is no exception. Chefs take only the best local produce to create nourishing, tasty eats that are an absolute must-try. When it comes to coffee, they consistently pour the goods —always served with a smile. And as for the space, it kind of feels like home (but with better food).
Where: 5 Toolona Street, Tugun
The Welcome to the Gold Coast mural
Mural art is finding itself a steadily growing home here on the Gold Coast. Iconic pieces are helping nurture an identity beyond theme parks and beaches — and we’re all here for it. Renowned creative and mural artist Kiel Tillman is behind this wonderous heaven-sent artwork on the side of Tugun Supermarket. His skills have created a bold and iconic piece: greeting tourists arriving from the airport and something the locals are proud of.
Where: Tugun Fruit Market, Gold Coast Highway, Tugun
Made Barber & Barista
Finding a great cup of joe beyond noon can sometimes be an impossible feat. Well, no more. Find yourself in Tugun and Made Barber & Barista is the place to pop into up until 3pm on weekdays for a guaranteed stellar cup of jitter juice and a chance to catch your breath. Being a barbershop set up as well, if you’re a guy out there who feels like their hair needs some love, then you’ve found the best place to receive it. Let the talented Britt do her magic on your locks — you won’t look back!
Where: 2B/417 Golden Four Drive, Tugun
Tugun Fruit & Flowers
If you’re yet to experience the sensory extravaganza that is Tugun Fruit & Flowers, you might want to rectify that quick smart my friend. The space has been making Tugun smell pretty since 1975 by offering the very best in beautiful flower arrangements along with a plethora of fresh juices, acai bowls, and other gift-style goods you will simply want to get your hands on.
Where: 4/467 Golden Four Drive, Tugun
First things first — when you decide to visit this den of divine food, we suggest you book a table. It’s so popular should you walk in and expect a table, you are likely going to be sorely disappointed. The Thai menu offers all the classics but with an ever-so-slight Australian twist, meaning all the authentic, fresh fragrant flavours are there along with local ingredients and plentiful servings. One aspect you shouldn’t overlook at this venue is their capacity to make first-rate cocktails. A Thai restaurant that makes terrific cocktails?! Yes, we know — must try!
Where: Shop 7, 443 Golden Four Drive, Tugun
Words by Alex Mitcheson.