Learning to surf is pretty much a rite of passage on the Gold Coast, we’re blessed with (almost) year round warmth, the ocean right on our doorstep and of course, plenty of pumping, world-class surf breaks.
In honour of that, here are five fun spots to go surfing on the Gold Coast (from north to south).
Get out there frothers.
South Stradbroke Island
Some say South Straddie is the best beach break on the Gold Coast because it’s both a swell magnet and an A-frame (a wave that breaks both ways) and those are two of the best things a wave can be. It’s a bit of a trek to get there – you have to go by boat – but once you do, you’ll be rewarded with a peaceful little slice of paradise with beach stretching for kilometres and not a structure in sight. Lovely.
Where: Across the bar from The Spit (Southport)
The waves that break off the headland at Burleigh Heads make up one of the Coast’s most-loved surf spots and when it’s on, it’s usually packed with everyone from novices to the professionals and many a photographer perched up high snapping away. The more experienced surfers jump in from the rocks to the north of Burleigh but you can also paddle out from the beach and stay in closer if you’re just learning.
Where: Goodwin Tce, Burleigh Heads
Where the creek meets the sea at Currumbin is known as Currumbin Alley and not only is it one of the most beautiful spots on the Gold Coast, it is also the perfect little surf spot for beginners and long boarders (mostly). The waves are quite mellow (surf term) and there are often lots of little people in the shallows giving it a go. If you’re keen to try surfing but haven’t yet worked up the courage, Currumbin Alley is one of the best places to start.
Where: The northern end of Currumbin Beach
Rainbow Bay / Snapper Rocks
One of the prettiest spots on the Gold Coast, Rainbow Bay has a wave that wraps around almost to Greenmount so once you’re up you can simply (maybe not simply) cruise along for a while taking in the magical views. Snapper Rocks is on the northern side of the bay and it breaks off the point so it’s often bigger and packed with those who definitely know what they’re doing. Choose your own adventure of course, but be mindful of the more experienced surfers if you haven’t been doing it long.
Where: Rainbow Bay, Gold Coast
One of the most popular surf spots on the Gold Coast, D-bah as it’s known to locals is technically in Northern NSW but we will still be claiming it thank you very much. You’ll find both left and right hand waves that are generally more suited to those who have a bit of surfing experience but if that’s you, head down there even if there isn’t much swell, you’ll usually find something fun to play around on. D-bah is also a good place to just hang out and watch those in the know in action, if you’re keen to get some tips.
Where: Coral St, North Tweed
Of course there are plenty of beach breaks up and down the Coast if you’re just looking for somewhere more relaxed to learn and/or practice. Remember to be aware of the surfers around you and learn a few of the rules about taking waves before you take to the sea.
Happy surfing dudes.
Words by Kirra Smith
When it comes to impressing visiting family and friends, is there any better way than going on an adventure and chasing a waterfall — or two? Because beyond epic beaches, and one of the world’s most renowned surfing reserves, we also have world heritage listed rainforests and breathtaking surrounds literally right on our doorstep. And the best part about these fantastic places and mind-blowing natural spectacles is they are entirely free!
So we highly recommend you clear your schedule, pack your swimmers and embark on a fun-filled sojourn into the green behind the gold in search of large pieces of falling water. Set your phone to silent and let the serenity feed your soul.
Here are a few of our favourites, all within an hour or so from the Gold Coast.
38.7km from Surfers Paradise
Just a 50-minute drive from Surfers Paradise and nestled amongst the Denham Scenic Reserve are the Beechmont rock pools — or Lip Falls as the locals call them. Once you park your car (on Doncaster Road), it’ll only take half an hour to make your way down to the falls. Be aware; these walking paths are steep and narrow and right next to deep gorges.
Where: 45-57 Doncaster Dr, Beechmont
Cedar Creek Falls
44km from Surfers Paradise
Cedar Creek Falls are one of the better-known waterfalls on Mt Tamborine and a popular destination for locals and tourists alike (be warned – it can get quite busy). Your best bet is to explore the area via the Cedar Creek Circuit (3.2km), which will take you along all the cascades and rock pools.
Where: Cedar Creek Falls Rd, Tamborine Mountain – To get there, take Tamborine Mountain Road until you get to Cedar Creek Falls Road, just past the information map stopping bay on the left. From there, it’s only a short drive down a narrow road and across a small creek before coming to the Cedar Creek Falls section and the car park at its entrance.
39.2km from Surfers Paradise
It’s a short, beautiful walk through the rain-drenched Eucalyptus forest to the magical Curtis Falls. You’ll wander past towering trees and through a canopy of ferns, down to this miniature and photogenic waterfall. There are lots of cute creatures to spot along the way too, keep an eye for resident platypuses and wallabies. The walk should only talk half an hour or less to get down to the falls, but you will likely want to stay awhile and soak up the peacefulness. It’s just a 1.1km round trip, so you can knock it over in the early morning then stop for a spot of morning tea at the Curtis Falls Cafe.
Where: 16 Eagle Heights Rd, North Tamborine – Get there via Eagle Heights Road and park right at the entrance to the walk.
Lamington National Park
67.4 km from Surfers Paradise
Elabana Falls are certainly a hidden gem located amongst Lamington National Park close to O’Reilly’s Rainforest Retreat (a great spot to grab a bite to eat after your waterfall adventure). Park your car at O’Reilly’s and make your way through the rainforest, past Picnic Rock and further downhill for another 400 metres until you reach the cascading falls. Make sure you refresh yourself with a snack or sit down before embarking on your way back up; it gets pretty steep!
Where: Lamington National Park Rd, Canungra
Springbrook National Park
47 km from Surfers Paradise
As you probably know, Natural Bridge is a heavenly cave-like rock formation at Springbrook National Park that is home to glow worms and a colony of tiny bent-wing bats – it’s also one of the most photographed spots on the Gold Coast. Start the short one-kilometre rainforest walk clockwise to the Natural Bridge rock arch to get down to the action. Fancy a bite to eat? Natural Arch Cafe and restaurant is just a short drive up the road for that post-hike feast!
Where: Nerang-Murwillumbah Rd, Springbrook – It’s super easy to find; just follow Nerang-Murwillumbah Road until you get to the car park signage at Bakers Road.
40.6km from Surfers Paradise
Start your 4km journey through the sub-tropical rainforest from the Tallabana picnic area or Canyon lookout in an anticlockwise direction. You’ll reach a small bridge, flowing water and immense rock formations after a couple of minutes (perfect for an Insta snap). Keep hiking down the track until you come across two rushing waterfalls. At the base of Twin Falls — after a worthy hike — you’ll find a large rock pool perfect for a rewarding swim!
Where: Canyon Pde, Springbrook
Purling Brook Falls
37km from Surfers Paradise
The Purling Brook Falls are immense, towering at over 100 meters in height and are naturally best visited after rainfall. Start your 2 hour hike clockwise along a scenic and elevated path into a subtropical gorge to view the amazing falls from below. Venture further down the track until you reach waterholes that are great for swimming. When you have had enough, prepare for a steady climb up through the rainforest, which will bring you back to the picnic area.
Where: 63 Gwongorella Parade, Springbrook
113km from Surfers Paradise
Yes, we know the following two locations aren’t on the Gold Coast, they aren’t even in Queensland, but it will take you a short drive along what is probably the most breathtaking scenic drive, until you reach Nightcap National Park in Northern NSW. Make sure you come prepared because getting to Minyon Falls can be quite the journey (well worth it, though). We recommend you start with Minyon Falls Lookout, providing you with outstanding views before adventuring further downstream towards the base of the falls.
Where: Nightcap National Park, Newton Dr, Nightcap
108 km from Surfers Paradise
Killen Falls are undoubtedly one of the most epic waterfalls to dive into with its large swimming hole and rock pools. The rock has been eroded significantly behind the waterfall, forming an impressive cave. Ever wanted to take a waterfall shower? Well, at Killen Falls, that’s not a problem as you can swim across the pool and climb up the rocks just to sit right underneath the falling water.
Where: Killen Falls Dr, Tintenbar – Killen Falls are super easy to find, just minutes off the Pacific Highway near Byron Bay.
But it’s important to remember, whilst it’s tempting (and refreshing) to go for a swim in the rock pools and lagoons, it’s prohibited in some, so please adhere to any safety signs and be 100% sure it’s safe to swim before diving in. Also, be sure to pack closed-in shoes, plenty of water, mozzie repellent and sunscreen (the sun will still get you between the canopy).
Last but not least, take nothing but photographs and leave nothing but footprints behind!
Words by Alex Mitcheson.
Well now, aren’t we the lucky ones for being fantastically spoilt with endless glorious beaches here on our golden coast. Kilometre after kilometre of pristine sand awaits you around every outcrop, headland, and creek; creating the rather envious — and ever-present — predicament of what beach you might lay your towel on.
It’s the finer details, the nuances if you will, which separate the good from the great. By that we mean not just the beach itself — but the amazing places you can grab something to eat/drink from nearby! As official beach experts, we take great pleasure in outlining the finest patches of shoreline on the Gold Coast for your sun-kissed reading pleasure.
For all readers living north of Surfers Paradise, Main Beach is a huge drawcard when it comes to getting yourself some beach time. And there is little reason why you wouldn’t find yourself here on a perfect day with your favourite book and sunblock. This quiet and sprawling section of sand is backed by some of the Coast’s most luxurious resorts before finally coming to an end at The Spit, which offers you peeks of South Stradbroke Island. Often empty and within striking distance of most northern suburbs, this is a stellar choice for spending an hour or three.
Eat: The Seafood buffet at the Sheraton Grand Mirage Resort is a must-try either for lunch or dinner. Open to outside guests of the resort and serving the freshest seafood straight from the trawlers.
Do: Peruse the shops at Marina Mirage, then walk to Fisherman’s Wharf (affectionately known as Fisho’s) for a sunset drink overlooking the magificent Broadwater filled with yachts in the Marina. If you’re out late, take a moonlit walk along the beach after dinner to finish off a perfect evening.
The one and only. One of the main reasons why tourism exploded here in the latter part of the last century was indeed Surfers Paradise. A suburb that is a lot of things to a lot of people, but almost certainly the most recognisable part of our coastline for visitors. Although the busy end of town, you will always find a piece of the beach to yourself — finding a car park however is a different affair altogether (catch the tram)! The pedestrianised pathway along the beachfront is the perfect opportunity to pull out your skateboard or dust off your roller skates/blades and experience the beach, in a slightly different way, whilst being active. Regardless of the crowds, if the weather is playing ball, the beach here is one of our best.
Eat: There’s a myriad of options here, however, we suggest you head to Mos Burger (a stones-throw from the beach) to tuck into some Japanese-inspired burger goodness.
Do: We all know shopping is a type of therapy and therefore good for you. Once you’ve had your share of sun, sea, and sand why not shower off and head to Paradise Centre or Soul Boardwalk – you’ll find some of the Coast’s best retailers and sweet ice-cream shops perfect for a hot day.
Further down you’ll find Broadbeach, which can be defined as being a slightly more relaxed and slower version of the vibrant Surfers Paradise stretch. For a morning walk with some incredible sunrise light, this is where you need to be at. When you’ve had enough of getting sand in all of your small places — there’s a spattering of green areas and parks with some great BBQ facilities and seating areas. Still, with its fair share of extravagant looking high rises the shadows begin to creep across the beach (depending on the time of year) around the 3pm mark. By this time, it could very well be time to grab a cocktail anyway…
Eat: A Gold Coast institution, Elk Espresso is the answer to all of your breakfast and lunch dreams. And being positioned on the corner of Oasis Shopping Centre and merely metres from the beach is nothing short of perfection in our eyes.
Do: Feeling like the midday sun is getting to you? Head inside the Oasis and you’ll be met with a tonne of shopping options, making it a tough call to go back to the beach.
The jewel in the crown? Quite possibly, and for good reason. Burleigh has, we think, exceeded all expectations of what a modern Gold Coast suburb should be. With its admixture of surfy/bohemian/laid back vibes and a plethora of shops and eating options, you can easily spend a whole day here and want for nothing. Lush greenery meets golden shoreline as the iconic point and National Park frame the beach at the southern end before it winds a parallel line with the Pacific Ocean towards Miami Hill in the north. Take the day off, grab your sunscreen and put your phone on silent, because this part of our coast is truly a special one.
Eat: With the same eye-watering view, Rick Shores, The Burleigh Pavilion and The Tropic are the ideal places to grab something to eat, and or drink, and remember how lucky you are to be here.
Do: There’s no arguing that the beach here is fantastic. Do as the locals do and head up Burleigh Hill as the sun begins to set and you get to savour those last parts of sunlight as it cascades towards the horizon.
Controversial inclusion or not, being not technically a beach in the sense it isn’t backed by the ocean, Tallebudgera Creek beach is still one of the best places you can get some sun on your skin whilst submerging yourself in pristine water. Being a creek with shallow sand bars, the way the sunlight enters and refracts around the water always provides you with so many different variations of the colour blue! The real magic about this location is the fact you have two different sides of the creek to explore; both have their advantages for when the sun, and wind, start to move throughout the day.
Eat: Nearby Custard Canteen is the creation of husband-wife duo Ben & Ursula Watts of Bam Bam Bakehouse and Cubby Bakehouse fame. Need we say more?
Do: Take a wander down into nearby Palm Beach and treat yourself to some rooftop action either at Frida Sol or Las Palmas.
Having some of the squeakiest and whitest sand along our 70km coastline, Coolangatta Beach was a dead fire inclusion on this list. Unbeknown to some people, the north-facing aspect of this beach, provides some great protection from the southerly winds – meaning no unexpected blasts of sand to the face. Much like Burleigh Headland, Greenmount adds a rustic green backdrop to the beach and acts as a great lookout so you can appreciate the nearby surfing going down at Rainbow Bay. If surfing isn’t your thing then you may well be lucky enough to catch glimpses of dolphins which are known to gracefully glide their way past on any given day.
Eat: Amble your way from the beach to Little Cooly just inside The Strand, with some much-loved pasta and pizza and their signature Sip Sessions from 3pm daily. It’d be rude not to!
Do: Take a stroll to nearby Kirra, walk to the top of the hill to truly enjoy the views of the Gold Coast from a southern perspective. Once you’ve done that, and burned enough calories, it’s time to head to Ottimo for some of the best handmade gelato this side of Italy.
Words by Alex Mitcheson.
We’re not good with secrets. Maybe you know some of these, maybe you don’t. Here we’ve listed our top five hidden gems on the Gold Coast.
Tallebudgera Creek – Ocean Parade
Most of you will be familiar with Tallebudgera Creek, the once hidden oasis that is not so hidden anymore. However, there are some secret spots along the Creek that not many people know of (not even the locals)! I would recommend taking a car but if you’re good on your feet or love riding your bike, a short stroll along the Creek will also get you to Ocean Parade’s secret beach.
Where: If you’re on the Gold Coast Highway coming from Palm Beach take a left at Ikkina Rd and follow the road until you head onto Elanora Dr. From there take a right onto Pindari Ave (turns into Ocean Pde) and follow all the way up. From the West Burleigh Road side, head onto Tabilban St and take the second right onto Ocean Pde. Park your car at the crossing Ocean Pde/Vantage Point Dr’ and go discover this hidden gem for yourself.
Tugun Lookout – Burleigh Heads National Park
It’s no secret Burleigh Heads is one of the more popular suburbs on the Coast. From James Street offering countless breakfast options and little boutiques to Burleigh Point, it’s the perfect place to spend a sunny Sunday arvo watching the surf and having a picnic with family and friends. But there are also some ‘not-so-known’ places in Burleigh and if you are looking for some exercise go hike up Burleigh Heads National Park. Don’t take the obvious track towards Tallebudgera Beach though, take a right through the rainforest and walk up to Tugun Lookout which will take you no longer than 10 minutes, if you’re lucky you can spot Humpback Whales in winter and spring or white-bellied Sea Eagles riding the ridge updrafts. Whether it’s overcast or sunny, Tugun Lookout always offers breathtaking views over Surfers Paradise’ Skyline to the north or Coolangatta to the south.
Duranbah beach or “Deebah” is the most northerly beach in NSW and located in Tweed Heads, right next to famous “Snapper Rocks” and the Captain Cook Memorial Lookout. Dbah is well-known amongst surfers and you might be lucky to spot Mick Fanning or Joel Parkinson doing their thing at their local surf break. If you’re not a big fan of surfing or you’re looking for a calm and quiet beach get away, then our third secret oasis is exactly what you’re looking for: Little Dbah beach. Situated between Duranbah beach and the mouth of the Tweed River, this spot is surprisingly peaceful with barely ever any waves, which makes it a popular destination for families with little kids. Bring your snorkelling gear and discover little Dbah’s flourishing under-water world or just sit back, relax and enjoy this untouched and uncrowded secret oasis.
Currumbin Valley Rock Pools
Away from the coast and into the green. If you’re looking for something more adventurous and exciting to do, Currumbin Rock Pools are exactly what you’re looking for. The beautiful scenic drive through Currumbin Valley is almost enough of an attraction in itself, taking you straight to the hidden natural swimming pool located just next to Currumbin Valley Primary School. The destination offers a wide variety of activities. Whether you just want to cool down and splash in the clear, blue watering hole or enjoy some family time over a BBQ at the designated picnic area, you decide!
Mt Cougal Cascades
A mere 10 minutes further down the road from Currumbin Valley Rock Pools you’ll end up at Mt Cougals Cascade, where you can walk along a 1.6km track to an old 1940’s sawmill, have a swim in the cascading waterfalls below or jump into the rock pools from one of the rope swings hanging in the trees. Toilets and a picnic area are located next to the car park.
Where: It only takes 20 minutes to get here from the M1. Just follow Currumbin Creek Rd to its end.
By Louisa von Ingelheim