Gold Coast: Beach Of The Bunch

If you’re heading to the Gold Coast, chances are hitting the famous, world-renowned beaches are high up there on your list of things to do is this city-meets-beach paradise but with long sandy white beaches taking up most of the real estate along the city’s 35kms of coastline, how do you decide on which of these glorious patches of sand to dip your toes into?

Well, here are some personal experience pros and cons of some of the more famous beaches that take centre stage along the Gold Coast:


Surfer’s Paradise

This place smack bang in the between Main Beach and Broadbeach is the beating heart of all things Gold Coast. From the famous Cavill Mall directly opposite the beach to the Slingshot and Vomitron Fun Park to Dracula’s and Ripley’s Believe It or Not to the Q1 to the meetup for all sorts of tours, Surfer’s Paradise is tourist central. 

Gold Coast skyline at night
Heading into Surfers Paradise

It’s great if you want to jam-pack in as much as humanly possible while you’re here, but it’s near impossible to land a parking spot on the street, especially on Wednesday, Friday and Sunday when the Beachfront Markets take up a lot of prime parking real estate from 5 pm. It’s also pretty expensive!

Once you’re here, you’re greeted by a beautifully refurbished beachfront walkway and the famous Surfer’s Paradise walk-under sign that sits directly opposite Cavill Mall. After snapping a shot with the 2018 Commonwealth Games games mascot koala, Borobi (I don’t know if he’s still there) and maybe seeing a Meter Maid, it’s beach time. 

One whale fin and one whale tail breaching the surface.
Whale watching tours are mostly leave from the Spit, north of Surfers

Welcome to Australia‘s most famous beach. Three kilometres of pristine, golden yellow sands up against the backdrop of the Gold Coast‘s stunning and unmistakable skyline. 

Pros:

  • Gorgeous, world-famous beach. 
  • A stunning backdrop.
  • Incredible views from the observation deck at Skypoint in the Q1 Building.
  • Close proximity to many attractions within walking or driving distance.
  • Meet-up point for a lot of tours.
  • Vibrant nightlife.
  • Vodafone Gold Coast 600 Supercar Race – Usually late Oct.
  • A lot of high end and low budget accommodation options.
  • Beachfront Night Markets – Wednesday, Friday and Sunday from 5pm.
  • Plenty of eating options.
  • Good public transport system. Easy to get here from Brisbane.

Cons:

  • Often very busy.
  • Very tourist orientated.
  • Hard to get parking spots and is expensive and limited. (Some places do have free or affordable timed parking)
  • Influx of rowdy teenagers during Schoolies with the main beach infront on Cavill Mall closed during that period. (Around mid-late Nov for 2 weeks.)
  • Some closures and diversions during Vodaphone Gold Coast 600.

Burleigh Heads

Sitting just on the south side of the Gold Coast and capping off the end of the continuous stretch of beach that began at Main Beach, Burleigh Heads is an absolutely stunning beach location and my personal favourite.

Being so far away from the main hubbub of the north, Burleigh adopted a much more laid back beach vibe similar to places such as Noosa and Byron Bay

The forefront is lined with beautiful pine trees which separate the beach from the buildings giving it a more natural and secluded feel. Walk alongside the adjacent Burleigh Heads National Park and see the skyscrapers of Surfers Paradise in the far distance. 

Continue up into the National Park and the dense rainforest is a natural reprieve from the often hot, sunny days. 

At the first lookout, you’ll have beautiful views looking north up the coast while the second looks east across the ocean and is a great place to spot whales from the shoreline during whale season. Stop by the third lookout and incredible views of the vividly blue Tallebudgera Creek entrance will have you begging to go for a swim.

Luckily if you’ve packed your swim trunks, you can continue down the way you were heading and stop off at Echo Beach for a secluded swim. (If you didn’t, you can head back in the car and stop by on the more popular south side.)

All-in-all, Burleigh Heads is a fantastic beach to beach as it has beautiful views every way you look, whether it’s the city skyline in the distance, the treelined beach or the dominating Burleigh Heads National Park. The fact that you can also access the sheltered beach on Tallebudgera Creek is an added bonus.

Pros:

  • Great for swimming, bodyboarding, surfing and stand-up paddleboarding etc.
  • Patrolled.
  • Quieter and more laid back.
  • Nearby Burleigh Heads National Park with short trails and lookouts.
  • Views and access to Tallebudgera Creek.
  • Lots of accommodation options.

Cons:

  • Beachfront parking is still hard.
Tumgum Lookout, Burleigh Heads National Park
Tumgum Lookout, Burleigh Heads National Park

Currumbin

Heading closer to the Queensland border with New South Wales is the outstandingly beautiful suburb of Currumbin, where two stunning rock formations, Currumbin Rock and Elephant Rock jut out of the sands and dominate the landscape, making this stretch of beachfront a fantastic place for photography. 

Jagged Currumbin Rock at sunrise of the Gold Coast
Currumbin Rock
Currumbin Rock and Elephant Rock in front of the Gold Coast skyline.
Elephant Rock and Currmbin Rock with the Gold Coast Skyline

People love to congregate here to capture the stunning formations as the sun bathes them in soft, dewy lighting as well as big ocean waves as they crash into the surrounding rocks when there are huge swells.

If you’re sporting a large lens or just like plane spotting, Elephant Rock is a fantastic elevated viewpoint to watch aircraft as they take off and land at the nearby Gold Coast airport.

Also featured here is the sheltered Currumbin Creek which is an ideal location for relaxing water activities like kayaking and stand-up paddleboarding. It’s also close to Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary which allows you to get up close and personal with some of Australia’s most iconic animals.

But if you’re thinking about bringing your own fur-buddy along, there’s a great place on the north side of the river (technically Palm Beach) where your puppy can frolic to their heart’s content.

Pros:

  • Patrolled Beach.
  • Laid Back Vibe.
  • Easy to get a parking space.
  • Stunning rock formations.
  • Fantastic photography spot.
  • Sheltered waters for youngsters and kayaking and stand-up paddleboarding.
  • Dog-friendly beach.
  • Great getaway/nature activity spot.
  • Close to Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary and Superbee Honey World.
  • Close to the Gold Coast Airport.

Cons:

  • Limited variety of eating establishments.
  • Far away from many tour/activity operators.

Coolangatta

The gorgeous Coolangatta is not only known for being the southernmost and easternmost point in Queensland but is very famous for its world-class surfing locations. Snapper Rocks and the pine tree-lined Kirra Beach are two areas that former World Surfing Champion, Mick Fanning have been spotted at, so you know the waves here are golden. 

Water touching the rocks at Snapper Rocks, Gold Coast
Snapper Rocks

If surfing ain’t your teabag, Coolangatta‘s got you covered. Greenmount and Rainbow Bay are the Gold Coast‘s only northward facing beaches, providing shelter from the winds and offer a less undulating ocean swim experience. 

Head on up the hilltop and you’ve reached the great divide. Earmarking the border between Queensland and New South Wales is the Point Danger lighthouse but it doesn’t look like your typical lighthouse, more of a giant compass to get your bearings straight. It also offers fantastic views both up and down the coastline. 

Point Danger Lighthouse, Gold Coast
Point Danger Lighthouse

North sees the vast extent of the Gold Coast with the hazy skyline of Surfers. Paradise lingering in the background. South offers views to Duranbah Beach and the Tweed River while looking eastward grants you vast ocean views making this an exceptional spot for spotting whales off the coast.

Nearby to the north is Kirra Lookout which offers similarly incredible views up the coast and is guarded by an eagle sculpture. It’s also a great spot for surfer spotting, so if Mick Fanning or his band of surfer men are riding the waves, this is the place to be.

Golden Sunset over the ocean, Gold Coast
Views from Kirra Lookout

Pros:

  • World Surfing Champion approved waves.
  • Sheltered beaches for calmer ocean swimming.
  • Has a more city feel but a lot more laid back.
  • Easier to get a parking space.
  • Borders NSW.
  • Amazing lookouts.
  • Great spot for different types of photography.
  • Very close to Gold Coast Airport.

Cons

  • A long way south.
  • Very close to Gold Coast Airport.

Gallery: Gold Coast
Gold Coast: Beach Of The Bunch
Gold Coast: The Green Behind The Gold
Free Things To Do On The Gold Coast
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