The must-see natural attractions on the Gold Coast

If it’s nature you seek, the Gold Coast delivers in abundance. Beyond its golden beaches, you’ll find watering holes to cool off in, up-close encounters with wildlife, and hectares of hinterland with endless trails to explore. With every inch of the Gold Coast offering something unique, it’s the kind of place you can visit again and again and never get bored – especially for a nature lovers. Whether you’re a first-time visitor or you’ve been so many times you’re practically a local, these are the natural attractions on the Gold Coast to add to your itinerary.

Bask in the sun on the best beaches

surfing Burleigh Beach Gold coast natural attractions

Naming the best beach on the Gold Coast is like choosing a favourite child – we couldn’t possibly pick just one. Truth is, you can do no wrong. They’re all beautiful and each offers their own quirks.

Burleigh Beach has incredible surfing and up at Burleigh Hill you’ll find one of the best picnic spots to watch the sunset. Currumbin Creek’s protected inlet beach is the ideal place to jump on a stand-up paddle board or enjoy a calm wave-free swim.

Or, park your towel down at Nobby Beach and forget about making plans to go anywhere all day; you’ve got everything you need for a relaxed day right where you are. The quiet beach is off the tourist track so you can take a leisurely dip between the flags without the crowds.

When you’re done, venture just a few steps to some of the Gold Coast’s best restaurants. For a morning coffee and wholesome breakfast, tucked away off the main beach road is The Yard. Bine Craft Beer Bar has the perfect recipe for a lazy afternoon: local beers on tap, live music and loaded burgers and parmis. And if you find yourself still in Nobby’s neck of the woods come sundown, The Cambus Wallace is an institution for rum and whisky drinkers.

Looking for the perfect Gold Coast beach to match your mood? Check out this list.

Swim off the beaten track

Lamington National Park | 5 natural attractions of the Gold Coast

Green Mountain section of Lamington National Park. Photo by @paulyvella

Cool down away from the surf and sand in one of the many swimming holes of the Gold Coast, including Currumbin rock pools, Cedar Creek rock pools and Tallebudgera Creek (Echo Beach on the northern side is a favourite among locals for swimming, SUPing, kayaking and fishing).

Take your hiking boots and wander the waterfalls of Lamington National Park to immerse yourself in the Gondwana Rainforests of Australia World Heritage Area – the most extensive subtropical rainforest in the world.

For something really special, make the most of your time in Springbrook National Park and discover Natural Bridge, created over millions of years by water tumbling through the roof of a basalt cave.

Keen to discover more waterfalls? Check out Queensland’s 10 best waterfalls.

Come face-to-face with Aussie animals

Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary | 5 natural attractions on the Gold Coast

Photo by @sabbiak

Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary was opened as the Currumbin Bird Sanctuary in 1947 as a way to stop the local lorikeet population destroying the flower plantations. Today the lorikeets still flock to the sanctuary twice daily to be fed by visitors and the park has grown to one of the largest collections of Australian native species in the world.

Get up close and personal with a Tasmanian Devil, see snakes in the reptile house and explore the largest walk-through aviary in the Southern Hemisphere. You can also meet a local or two through the dingo encounters, watch free flight bird shows and crocodile feeding of the park’s massive saltwater crocodile.

If it’s marine animals you want to see, hop on board a whale watching cruise. Between June and October, Whales in Paradise take small groups out on the water to watch humpback whales in their natural habitat. Their specially-designed, eco-friendly boat ensures everyone gets a front-row view, plus, they offer a 100% guarantee that you’ll see a whale.

If you want to make a day of it, Sea World Whale Watch offers lunch and dinner cruise packages.

Discover the green behind the gold

You could get lost for days (in a good way) exploring the Gold Coast Hinterland’s many trails. If time is not of the essence, make your way through this list of the best Gold Coast hinterland hiking trails, including Toolona Creek’s 18.5km circuit and the three-day Gold Coast Hinterland Great Walk.

For something less strenuous, locals love the Curtis Falls track on Tamborine Mountain – an enchanting 1.1km return walk through the wet eucalypts of the Joalah section of Tamborine National Park, the third oldest national park in the world. The walk is easy although be prepared to tackle over 100 steps.

Along the way, celebrate the remnants of the former Mount Warning volcano and look up to see the gorgeous strangler figs and giant stinging trees. From the large rock pool at the base of the falls, you’ll notice the huge basalt columns, a legacy of the region’s volcanic history.

Look for basking turtles on fallen logs, see fish and eels in the rock pool, and if you’re lucky you might spot the local platypus. At night, you can also look for glow-worms in the surrounding cliffs.

Want to explore further? Check out our insider guide to Mt Tamborine.