The Gold Coast has an incredible reputation as one of the best vacation destinations in Australia. With its subtropical climate and 57 km of golden sand coastline, it’s a beach lover’s dream! To help you make the most of your time here, we’ve listed the best beaches in Gold Coast.
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The Most Famous Beach: Surfer’s Paradise
Surfer’s Paradise beach stretches over almost three km and runs alongside towering skyscrapers right in the heart of the Gold Coast. The city attracts a whopping 20,000 tourists a day, looking to eat, stay, and play in one of Australia’s most popular destinations.
A beach town with a name like that can’t possibly disappoint, right? But the truth is, it can, and very often – it does. Behind the facade of a golden beach and international recognition, there is nothing more than an uninspiring tourist trap.
Surfers Paradise Beach is hardly a paradise. This popular beach is swarmed with people, tourists from all over the world, looking for the paradise that no longer exists. What they find instead is a busy beach with a few activities during the day and very average entertainment at night.
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Facilities at Surfers Paradise Beach
The beach has toilets available to the public, and the adjacent parkland has showers, tables, and shade structures. Parking is limited, but there are public transportation options available. There is also plenty of bike parking and a designated oceanway for cyclists.
Things to do at Surfers Paradise Beach
If you do find yourself at Surfers Paradise, there are a few interesting things to check out if you’re up to braving the crowds. You can take on the SkyPoint Climb, an open-air climb to the top of the Q1 Resort Building. From 270 metres above sea level, you’ll get a 360° view of the Gold Coast, which is pretty amazing. There are also lots of water activity tour operators in the area who offer parasailing, jet skiing, and scenic cruise packages.
Every Wednesday, Friday, and Saturday evening from 4pm-9pm, you can browse the stalls at the Surfers Paradise Beachfront Markets. This is not a typical farmers market, but you can find some handmade jewellery and other artisan products to pick up as souvenirs.
Sustainable Traveler Fave: Burleigh Heads
Burleigh’s famous surf break and pleasant beach atmosphere make it a much more palatable choice than the crowded Surfers Paradise beach. Burleigh has been picking up for years and has now become one of the coolest hangout beaches on the Gold Coast. The neighbourhood is home to great organic cafes, health shops, hippy boutiques, and vibrant weekend markets.
Burleigh is one of the most famous of the Gold Coast beaches, not just because of its fantastic and varied surf breaks but also because of its protected waters. When waters are choppy elsewhere along the Gold Coast, you’re likely to find a calm corner that’s sheltered by the Burleigh Headlands.
Facilities at Burleigh Heads Beach
Burleigh Heads Beach is right next to parklands with toilets, showers, and picnic tables. There is a parking lot at the surf club and on-street spots available in the surrounding area. Like most beaches, it gets busy on weekends and holidays, so be sure to plan ahead or find an alternative to car travel. The local government has created interactive travel maps with walking and cycling routes to help locals and visitors get around while reducing their carbon footprint.
Things to do at Burleigh Heads Beach
This Gold Coast beach is lined with a great park, making Burleigh one of the most popular places to visit in Gold Coast, not just with the laid-back surfer crowd but also with families. Burleigh Head National Park is a natural headland that features pathways along the rocky foreshore and through rainforest.
Best Off The Beaten Path Beach: Coolangatta Beach
The North-facing Coolangatta Beach offers sheltered conditions for swimming and picturesque views of the Surfers Paradise skyline on the horizon. Located on the southern Gold Coast, Coolangatta Beach doesn’t have big surf breaks, which makes it especially appealing to those looking for beaches that offer an easy swim and a great spot to catch the sun rays. Head more inland to find a variety of cafes, pubs, and fish and chip shops perfect for a pint and a bite to eat after a day in the sun.
Facilities at Coolangatta Beach
There are public toilets accessible to beachgoers, and the surrounding parklands have tables, shade structures, and beach showers. Plenty of on-street parking is available along the beachfront, and there is a parking lot at the surf club, Translink public buses run one street back from Coolangatta Beach.
Things to do at Coolangatta Beach
You won’t find too many tourists here, but there’ll be plenty of locals enjoying their lazy Sunday afternoons in this local Gold Coast gem. Without having to battle the crowds, you’ll be free to explore more beaches in the immediate area, like Greenmount Beach and Rainbow Bay Beach, which are both directly to the east of Coolangatta Beach and Kirra Beach to the west.. If you continue east on the Oceanway Path, you’ll come to the scenic Snapper Rocks and the lookout at Point Danger.
The Sophisticated Choice: Broadbeach Gold Coast
Broadbeach is located right next to Surfers Paradise Beach, but it is much more polished and sophisticated than its acclaimed neighbour. Broadbeach, or “Broadie” as it is lovingly referred to by the locals, is the new hot spot of the Gold Coast beaches, slowly but surely drawing the visitors away from the crowded Surfers Paradise.
Facilities at Broadbeach
There are amenities nearby, including toilets for beachgoers and showers, shade structures and tables, and the adjacent park. While there is plenty of on-street parking available in the area, this beach is becoming more and more popular, so you might want to plan ahead to avoid driving/parking hassles.
Things to do at Broadbeach
Surfer Paradise isn’t the only place to catch some waves. Head to Broadbeach Gold Coast and pick up some Surf Lessons at Broadbeach on the Gold Coast. Afterwards, you can stick around and enjoy the other treats along this Gold Coast beach. The nearby Pacific Fair Shopping Centre offers over 400 shops to browse and over 100 restaurants and cafes to choose from. Or, you can stay closer to the beach and visit Kurrawa Park, a beachfront park with a boardwalk, sheltered picnic areas, and beach access. Kurrawa Park also hosts the monthly Broadbeach Arts & Crafts Market, held the first Sunday of each month. Broadbeach Gold Coast offers a perfect blend of shopping, upscale dining, entertainment, nightlife, and relaxation.
Best Upscale Experience: Main Beach Gold Coast
Main Beach is located on the other side of Surfers Paradise. Similar to Broadbeach Gold Coast, Main Beach is a bit more polished and slightly less touristy, with not as many hotels littering the beach. Main Beach, Gold Coast is nice and clean, with lots of free public BBQ’s available for use, a benefit that is definitely missing from Surfer Paradise.
Main Beach is also known as a wealthy suburb and makes for an interesting place to visit in Gold Coast, even if you aren’t a self-professed beach bum. You will often find high-end luxury cars parked on Tedder Ave waiting for their owners to catch up over drinks and appetizers.
Facilities at Main Beach
In addition to public BBQ’s, Main Beach has public toilets, beach showers, and tables with shade structures available in the parklands next to the beach. There is parking available, and make sure to check for signage and line markings before leaving your vehicle. This beach tends to get busy during weekends and holidays, so a backup plan isn’t a bad idea.
Things to do at Main Beach
There is an abundance of great restaurants on Tedder Ave. If you are looking for something special, head to Shuck’s Restaurant where the head chef, Kristian, prepares some of the best seafood dishes on the Gold Coast. If you’re up for exploring, check out the Federation Walk Coastal Reserve, a protected natural area with 93 hectares of coastal dunes, native vegetation, and pathways that lead to wonderful views of the Pacific Ocean.
- Palm Beach is a great spot for water sports, as it’s bordered by Tallebudgera Creek to the north, Currumbin Creek to the south, and the Pacific Ocean to the east. The Palm Beach Parklands have scenic walking paths and a calm lagoon.
- Miami Beach is popular with the locals, and has a burgeoning food scene and night markets featuring local art and street food vendors.
- Mermaid Beach is another local gem with an eclectic blend of dining options and a laid-back beach village atmosphere.
- Currumbin Beach is a beautiful mix of golden sand and natural rock formations. The adjacent Currumbin Creek is a popular spot for paddleboarding, kayaking, and kite surfing.
Burleigh, Coolangatta Beach, Broadbeach, and Main may be our favourite beaches in the Gold Coast, but the truth is the entire Gold Coast strip is laden with amazing beaches. Each of the Gold Coast beaches are unique and special in its own way.
Every local Queenslander has their favourite Gold Coast beach hangout. Some prefer the calm waters of Coolangatta Beach, others the sophistication and nightlife at Broadbeach.
The question is, which of the hidden gem beaches in Gold Coast will appeal to you?