A local’s guide to the Gold Coast’s best beaches
We’re not afraid to admit that the Gold Coast has plenty of personality. But the vibrant strip just an hour’s drive south of Brisbane isn’t just a haven for people who like to party. While Surfers Paradise may be the most famous resident of the Goldie, we promise there’s plenty more to the coastal strip than just Cavill Avenue. The Gold Coast possesses a treasure trove of sandy stretches, perfectly suited to an afternoon dip, or a leisurely sunbake on the sand. Don’t believe us? See for yourself, with our local’s guide to Gold Coast beaches.
If you’ve found yourself on babysitting duties, head straight to Tallebudgera. ‘Tally Creek’, as it’s been dubbed by locals, is a firm favourite for families, who spread their towels out on mass along the sandy stretch which borders the water.
The creek itself is sufficiently calm for a paddle with the little ones, or a frolic down river, whether kayak, or Stand Up Paddle Board is your preferred mode of transport. Fishing is equally popular; cast your line off the bridge, or near the river mouth where Tallebudgera Creek meets neighbouring Palm Beach. Fisherman have flocked here since the Dreamtime: aboriginals named this district ‘good fish’ after all.
Beachgoers who delight in the sights of the city will enjoy Broadbeach, a slightly more subdued take on lively Surfers Paradise.
There’s plenty of sand to go around, but shade is far less prevalent, so don’t forget to pack your beach umbrella and slip, slop, slap throughout the day. Broadbeach is very long and can be rough but is well protected; there are eight surf lifesaving clubs and 16 lifeguard towers to protect against the hazards here.
Once tired of the sand, take to neighbouring Pratten Park where there’s ample playground to distract the kids while you utilise the bevy of free barbecues about. Shopoholics will be pleased to note that famed Pacific Fair Shopping Centre is only a ten minute stroll away.
Wedged in between the bright lights of Surfers Paradise and the border town of Coolangatta is Burleigh Heads.
Best grab your board, because this precinct is famous for its surf breaks. For those less adept at watersports, there is still plenty of swimming to be had along the 2 kilometre stretch which contains two separate patrolled areas.
Don’t forget to pack your wallet either. Burleigh also boasts blossoming dining and shopping precinct James Street. Grab lunch at Restaurant Labart before meandering the boutiques that line this stretch.
Later, toast to the day with an afternoon tipple at beachside haunts Burleigh Pavilion or Rick Shores. Or take to Burleigh Hill with a picnic, where locals gather daily under the shade of the towering population of Norfolk Pines.
As the home of world champion surfer Joel Parkinson, you’d expect Currumbin to have a wave or two.
The rather sleepy section of coastline on the southern tip of the Gold Coast is home to Currumbin Alley, one of the more recognised breaks in the district. Conveniently conditions here welcome beginners and veterans alike, with right-handers wrapping the point and gentler breaks nudging the neighbouring creek mouth.
Don’t even worry about BYO board; there’s plenty of rentals and surf schools in residence. Even calmer waters lie at Currumbin Creek, which families favour for a splash in the shallow or a stand up paddle board. Currumbin isn’t just Joel’s hometown, but that of his beer brand Balter Brewing. Within five minutes of leaving the sand you’ll be at the Currumbin Industrial Estate warehouse, pint in hand.
Surfers will need no introduction to Rainbow Bay, the beach made famous by Snapper Rocks, where a gaggle of pro surfing events take place annually.
Considered one of the country’s most reliable surf breaks, Snapper is awash with wave chasers morning, noon, and night, but should only really be attempted by veterans due to its unpredictable conditions. Those eager but less experienced can stick to the nearby shallows or Greenmount Beach, or head to neighbouring Duranbah.
No matter how successful your surfing session, don’t forget to stop off for a beer at the beachside Rainbow Bay SLSC. A trip to Snapper isn’t complete until you’ve paid a visit.
Enjoy a brush with celebrity when you greet the most famous resident of the Gold Coast, Surfers Paradise. Born back in the 1920s, Surfers is today one of the most recognisable cities in Australia.
And while it lives up to its reputation when it comes to the pubs and clubs which litter its main drag Cavill Avenue, that’s not to say that Surfers isn’t swimmable. In fact, the picturesque precinct was voted the number two beach in Australia and number 23 in the world.
While its popularity means that it’s relatively safe for a dip courtesy of the series of lifeguard towers throughout, it means that beachside parking is rare and rather expensive.
North, you’ll come to greet Surfers’ slightly calmer cousin Main Beach, which reaches up to the Spit.
A bounty of opulent resorts fringe the shore , meeting the sand dunes that snake their way down to the waves. Just be sure to swim between the red and yellow flags here; the swell can be tricky at times.
Those tired of sunbaking will also be able to join the 36-kilometre-long Gold Coast Oceanway which begins at Main Beach. Built with the sporty in mind, the track caters to walking and cycling fans.
Retro charm will greet you upon your arrival into Coolangatta. As down-to-earth as they come, this sleepy surfside suburb nicknamed ‘Cooly’ is Queensland’s most southerly town as it neighbours the New South Wales border.
After a swim or a surf on its ample beachfront, wander your way through the main strip, home to a bevy of surf shops, pubs and book stores, and a burgeoning collection of slightly more refined restaurants and homewares shops.
Those eager to stretch their legs can also make the trek up the hill to Point Danger, where you’ll find the brutalist lighthouse which marks the state border.
Get a taste of the finer things in life with a trip to one of the Gold Coast’s most exclusive neighbourhoods.
Within Mermaid Beach sits Hedges Avenue, where some of the priciest dwellings on the coast reside. While the houses themselves may be out of reach, the beach is not; Mermaid Beach is public domain and courtesy of its largely residential community is relatively peaceful.
Down the southern end, Mermaid Beach blends into fellow local gems Nobby Beach and Miami, where you’ll find Miami Headland, home to some rather dramatic 180-degree views of the coastline.