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So much more than sand, skyscrapers and surfers (okay those as well), the Gold Coast’s top ten beaches are pure excellence.
1. Surfers Paradise
THE ICONIC ONE
She’s the pin-up chick for the entire Gold Coast; a long sliver of golden sand guarded by shiny skyscrapers. This is Surfers Paradise and para-dyllic she is (that’s paradise and idyllic FYI). The wide boulevard lines the entire stretch and beckons walkers, skaters and cyclists alike to use its picture-perfect pathway. Saunter down on a Wednesday, Friday or Sunday night and you'll discover Surfers Paradise Beachfront Markets. A collaboration of over 100 stalls and live music, the eclectic range of goods are extensive. As are the bars, restaurants and ice-cream vendors serving drippy Mr Whippys.
HOT TIP: Make Surfers your morning objective; come 3pm the sun slinks behind the towering high-rises and things get a little shadowy.
2. Broadbeach beach
THE LOCAL’S FAVOURITE HANGOUT
Or ‘Broadie’ if you want to sound like a bonafide GC resident. As much of a hunk as Surfers Paradise, this equally good-looking beach is fun but not as loud. It boasts oodles of GC glitz, but you’ll find that most locals prefer to frequent here, rather than mix with the “outta towners” down at Surfers. The ambiance is dialled down a notch or two, but relaxed doesn’t mean it’s dull. To the contrary, Broadbeach is sprinkled with restaurants, casinos and bars, while nearby Pratten Park boasts a large playground and free barbecues, for you know, “throwing a shrimp on the barbie” and all that.
HOT TIP: The recently refurbished Pacific Fair is just a 10-minute meander from the sand. As one of Australia's most refined shopping malls, you won’t be able to resist its pulling power.
3. Main Beach
THE ALL-ROUND CROWD PLEASER
Main Beach considers itself, well, the main beach. But for good reason - there’s a little bit of something for everyone here.
Situated at the northern end of the Gold Coast, sun-seekers make a beeline for the expansive golden sand, while those after a trim soy latte head to walkable Tedder Avenue, complete with its neat collection of cafes, bars and boutiques. The Spit, which is the pier-like platform extending into the sea, provides an awesome viewpoint for keen photographers, while families like to take advantage of the beach’s shady park.
HOT TIP: The old bathing pavilion has been rejuvenated and transformed into a casual beach café, which is well worth a visit.
4. Miami Beach, Miami
LAZY AFTERNOONS AND ECLECTIC DINING
In contrast to Main Beach, Miami Beach is often overlooked. But with its wide stretch of sand, grassy banks and absence of any overbearing high rises, it’s instantly lovable. There is a playground for the kids and plenty of coffee shops for all-day refreshment.
HOT TIP: Make your Miami Beach trip coordinate with the weekly Miami Marketta. Held every Wednesday, Friday and Saturday, this street-food inspired foodie event is dripping in good vibes. Grab a bite, a locally brewed beer and listen to live music. Open from 5pm.
5. Mermaid Beach
COME FOR THE BEACH, STAY FOR THE GOLF
Low key Mermaid Beach is next to busy Broadbeach and blends effortlessly into Miami. Highlights include not one, but three themed 18-hole golf courses at Putt Putt Golf Mermaid Beach, and a beach which is often, surprisingly empty.
HOT TIP: Discover an eclectic assortment of dining venues. If you’re as much a foodie as you are a beach-lover, the diverse range of Asian and Australian cuisines will polish off a perfect day at the seaside.
6. Burleigh Beach, Burleigh Heads
GOOD TIMES AND BOHEMIAN VIBES
Boasting the three Bs everyone wants out of a top-notch holiday spot: breweries, bakeries and great brunch spots. Lest we forget the biggest B of them all – beach! And a beautiful one at that. Burleigh Beach is a bit more bohemian than its sandy neighbours, with surfy pockets of coolness, which, along with the essential chilled vibes, makes it a mecca for socialising locals. You’ll find a slick bunch of cafes, arcades and shops, classy restaurants and lush Burleigh Headland is a stone’s throw away. With waters protected by the southern point, it’s also a great beach for swimming and surfing.
HOT TIP: Fish n’ chips is a must. There are plenty of options, but for something fancy, try The Fish House. The price tag screams special occasion but so do the spectacular views. For cheaper eats, Burleigh Heads Fishmongers is simple counter-service, and don't miss Rick Shores. Much talked about for its contemporary Asian flavours, the beach is just inches from the dining room.
7. Currumbin Creek
AN INLAND WATERING HOLE
This one’s the wild card, simply because it’s so different to most GC beaches, plus it’s 25-minutes inland. Stripped of any east coast glitterati, it offers a more laid-back water-filled creek for lazy paddles and canoeing. With more ‘small town’ vibes than any other suburb, it’s an all-natural, family friendly hangout with calm water, plentiful wildlife (dolphins like to pop over for a quick hooroo) and ample opportunities to paddle board, bathe or laze.
HOT TIP: A handful of shorefront businesses hire out SUP boards, whereas surfers prefer to head out to ‘The Alley’. This is where the waterway meets the sea and where the best surf breaks are found.
8. Currumbin Beach
LEARN TO SURF
Not to be confused with Currumbin Creek, Currumbin Beach is 20 minutes by car from its namesake creek, and offers all the expected niceties of a GC beach. A dream scene of golden sand and crystal-clear water, there are shark-netted swimming areas, parks and communal barbecues. The aforementioned Alley is just a two-minute walk away, with decent waves for decent surfers, and multiple surfing lesson schools for those just starting out. Operating most weekends.
HOT TIP: Open Friday through Sunday afternoons, Balter HQ is the brainchild brewery of four local surfer boys. Less than five minutes’ drive from Currumbin Beach and located on the Currumbin industrial estate, pop over for a cold one.
9. Kirra Beach
SCENIC WALKS AND VIEWS TO MAKE YOU GO OOOOH
It’s hard to decipher where Currumbin Beach ends and Kirra Beach begins (or vice versa) but it’s a delicious toes-in-the-sand stroll and a nice way to soak up the sunshine. Good walking paths and scenic views will satisfy those who are getting restless on the beach, while the R T Peak Memorial Park offers a bijou recreation area with barbecue facilities and sheltered picnic tables, perfect for those fresh out of the swell and feeling ravenous.
HOT TIP: Kirra Beach is a goodie for swimmers and beginner boarders because the waves are closer to the shore and relatively small.
10. Coolangatta Beach
FOR THE SURFERS. THE GOOD, THE BAD AND THE NEARLY
Tittering on the very southern tip of the Gold Coast, once you hit Coolangatta, you’re at the very end of the Queensland line. Any further, and you slip into New South Wales. It’s a great place to get a shot of the very photogenic Surfer’s Paradise skyline, and an even better place to surf. Those who can carve up the waves better than a dolphin with a tummy full of tuna, enjoy the spectacular surf off the northern corner of Coolangatta Beach, as well as the headland around Greenmount, and the world-class surf break that is Duranbah.
HOT TIP: To blend in with the locals, refer to Duranbah as D’Bah.
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