From Brisbane we have access to two epic coasts, the Sunshine Coast, north of Brisbane, and the Gold Coast, south of Brisbane. While I prefer the Sunshine Coast, one can still find charm along the Gold Coast. This coast is known as the Las Vegas of Australia, filled with gimmicky restaurants, clubs, and casinos. But there is no denying that it is home to some of the best beaches in the world, you just might have to look a bit harder for authentic experiences. Luckily I made it easy for you and thought I would share jaunt and flaunt’s picks for the Gold Coast and surrounds.
North Stradbroke Island
Located along the delta of the Brisbane River, this island is the second largest sand island in the world. It is accessed by ferry from Cleveland, offering the quintessential Australian island experience. Head to Cylinder Beach to stay, walk, surf, swim, the list goes on. Point Lookout offers basic shops, and restaurants for breakfast and fish and chips. Though the short North Gorge Walk offers the best views in South East Queensland, at one point my brother and I spotted whales, dolphins, rays, turtles, and kangaroos in just 30 minutes. I also really enjoyed going to the Point Lookout Surf Life Saving Club at sunset to watch the hard-core surfers battle the huge waves. Another good spot is the Stradbroke Island Beach Hotel for classic bar fare overlooking Cylinder Beach. But one can’t miss out on fresh oysters, along with every other seafood, from Amity. Ask the locals and they’ll point you in the right direction for purchasing the catch of the day from one of the many local fishermen. And if you’re adventurous, go snorkelling or scuba diving at Flat Rock, just ensure it’s a calm day (I speak from experience).
I enjoy this beach, as it’s one of the less popular beaches and secluded from the Gold Coast Highway. Though it still offers the expanse of what Gold Coast beaches are known for. It also has a great Surf Life Saving Club, and cute cafes and restaurants for something to eat!
This is my favourite suburb of the Gold Coast, located between Surfer’s Paradise and Coolangatta. With a mix of beach and forests along Tallebudgera Creek, it has a great, small town feel! I love browsing the shops, cafes, and restaurants along James Street, while devouring an Acai berry bowl. Although, the Wood Box and Plantation House Cafes in West Burleigh along Tallebudgera Creek Road are worth the short drive inland.
I think this Gold Coast suburb represents the Gold Coast of past, present, and future. Go here for the most authentic Gold Coast experience. Even better visit during the Roxy/Quiksilver Pro Gold Coast at Snapper Rocks to see the likes of Kelly Slater surf for the championship. The whole town is surf centred, making it the perfect place to learn to surf, which I did many years ago!
Springbrook National Park
Each coast has beautiful hinterland, that only adds to the South East Queensland coastal experience. Springbrook National Park has been on my list for a while now, as I can’t get past the photos of the Natural Bridge with glow worms in Cave Creek, along with all the other waterfalls.
For more hinterland experiences, head to Mount Tamborine. It is a bit more developed with artisan shops dotting the main road, along with vast selections of bed and breakfasts. But the trails will not disappoint. And if you don’t feel like exhausting yourself with bush walks, but still want the classic experience, the Tamborine Rainforest Skywalk is the place.