Surfers Paradise is undeniably the most famous part of the Gold Coast, but there’s so much more to see. There are several small beach towns along the coast, each one more charming than the other. Get away from the big tourist spots and visit the local gems – here’s a guide to my favourite places along the coast.
This is a favourite among many locals. Nobby Beach is a small area with great cafes and a few cool bars, unseen by most tourists. My favourite cafe here is called BSKT Cafe and has a great atmosphere. It’s also pretty cool to eat at the Surf Club located right by the beach. Speaking of which, almost all beach towns here have their own RSL clubs where you can have food or coffee overlooking the ocean with a great atmosphere – highly recommended!
My personal favourite! Burleigh is a small laid-back town with a great atmosphere. The beautiful beach is surrounded by pine trees, and there’s a national park right next to the beach. There are a lot of cute cafes here, and a few dining opportunities right by the ocean. My favourite place to eat is the Surf Club situated quite far north on the beach – you can enjoy your coffee or meal with an amazing ocean view.
A fan of beer? Burleigh offer great locally brewed beers by Burleigh Brewing Company. They have a cool range of beers and also offer opportunities to visit the brewery – it’s definitely on my to-do list. My favourite beer of theirs is called Bighead, a low carb beer that almost tastes even better than regular beer (and the bottle design is pretty funny).
If you’re planning a trip to Burleigh, I would especially recommend going there on a Sunday. They always have different performances at the esplanade during Sunday evenings, and many of the younger locals spend these evenings hanging out on a small hill right next to the esplanade. Super cosy and a great way to meet locals!
Coolangatta, or “Cooly” as the locals like to call it, is located far south on the coast, on the border to New South Wales. Strolling down the Marine Parade (the street right by the beach), you’ll find tons of great cafes. Locally owned, charming, and atmospheric, I always get the urge to try every single one of them!
Head up to Point Danger Lookout to catch a stunning view of the coast. You can choose to either drive up, or use the walking trail up to the hill. At the lookout, you’re able to plant one foot in Queensland and the other one in New South Wales. Due to the summer time difference, you’ll find yourself in another time zone! Point Danger is also a good place for whale watching.
The surf in and around Coolangatta is great, especially on the northern parts of the beach. Situated nearby is Kirra Surf, one of the coolest surf shops on the coast. Definitely a pit stop for the surfing enthusiasts!
Probably one of the most beautiful places on the Gold Coast and a great place to just stroll around and look at the nature. The clear blue water and white sand makes this place a favourite for photographers. If you’re in the mood, Currumbin offer a wildlife sanctuary, popular among both locals and tourists. Except for looking at animals, there’s a place called Adventure Parc High Ropes where you can test your physical and adventurous skills. Surprisingly fun!
The best part of Currumbin, according to myself, is Currumbin Rock Pools. However, it’s quite far inland so you’ll need your own transport. It’s been described as a secret swimming hole, mainly popular among local families and teens. Surrounded by forest and hidden in a valley, you’ll feel like you’re out on an adventure in the middle of nowhere (in a good way, that is).
One of my favourite beaches, just north of Burleigh. It’s usually pretty scarce with people, despite it being a beautiful beach with clear blue water and cool rocks to climb. Walking on the esplanade from Miami to Burleigh is one of my favourite walks; start on the Marine Parade in Miami and continue on The Esplanade in Burleigh.
Right between Miami and Burleigh, there is a lookout point which you can reach by just a short climb (there are cool and quite steep stairs on the Miami side, which you can also use as a pretty effective workout). Simply enough, the place is called Miami/North Burleigh Lookout, and it’s my absolute favourite place to just sit, think, relax, and admire the view.
Situated between Burleigh and Palm Beach, this place is perfect if you want to experience a quiet place with lots of stunning nature. The forest is lush and the water is usually a deep sea green. Because of the calm nature of this place, it’s a popular retreat for yoga and meditation.
A small beach situated between Broadbeach and Miami. This is one of my favourite retreats; it’s usually scarce with people and definitely not a tourist spot. Lay on the beach, hang out on the grass field nearby, or play beach volleyball at the permanently set-up net. The net’s not right on the beach but rather 10-ish meters off, surrounded by some bushes which creates a bit more closed-off environment. As someone who plays a lot of beach volleyball, this is one of my favourite places to play, and one of the few places on the coast that always have a net up for everyone to play. Just bring a ball and have a fun day at the beach!
All of these places have something in common – they’re much more natural and laid-back than the tourist spots. If you’re in the mood to experience “the real Gold Coast” in an unhurried pace, I highly recommend you to try these places. I’ll guarantee you’ll be amazed by the beauty and atmosphere of this spectacular coast!