The world’s best surf beaches, a stunning but mostly deserted hinterland full of freshwater rock pools and rainforest, paddle-boarding with dolphins – there are so many ways to spend a day on the southern Gold Coast.
You could hang out with hundreds of Australian animals at Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary or paddle-board in a creek with water as clear as Bora Bora’s. You could down beers at a brewery owned by the world’s best surfers or while away a sunny morning in one of our gorgeous cafes. The southern Gold Coast gives visitors a taste of a sub-tropical life amongst a live-to-surf community. With that in mind, we’ve put together a foolproof way to spend the ultimate 24 hours on the southern Gold Coast.
COFFEE AT SALT MILL, CURRUMBIN
Say yes to a cup of the best coffee on the southern Gold Coast at Currumbin’s most famed café – The Salt Mill. There’s usually a line-up because it’s that good – local surfers perch on fruit cartons, wine barrels and rough-hewn bench seats out front, watching the waves roll in. While the coffee’s king, the smoothies, juices and the organic food and sweets (and let’s not forget the Gold Coast’s mandatory acai berry bowls) have earned The Salt Mill its iconic reputation.
SUP CURRUMBIN CREEK
Paddle-board with dolphins in the mirrored waters of Currumbin Creek. While waves crash onto the point just a few hundred metres away at The Alley, paddle-boarders and swimmers can enjoy the sheltered waters of Currumbin Creek, which runs for 24 kilometres all the way out to Currumbin Valley and to the bottom of Mt Cougal in Springbrook National Park. Joggers and walkers use paths by the creek, and rowers and kayakers from rowing clubs ply the waters daily so you’re never lonely for long.
SWIM IN THE HINTERLAND
Take a short drive west and you’ll find yourself in the middle of a rainforest, travelling between the rocky escarpments of a long-extinct volcano. The Currumbin Valley is the easiest hinterland escape to access – it’s just 12 minutes drive from Currumbin past organic farms and stunning rainforest. Stop in at the Currumbin Rock Pools – freshwater swimming holes where families come to escape the heat in summer, picnicking on grassy banks as rope swings launch kids into the cool waters of the rock pools.
MEET WILDLIFE AT CURRUMBIN SANCTUARY
It’s much more than a zoo – Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary has been saving injured and sick animals since it opened 70 years ago. While it’s most famous for the resident rainbow lorikeets, the sanctuary is also home to hundreds of native Australian animals – from salt-water crocs (you can watch a 4.8 metre crocodile being fed) to Tasmanian Devils and kangaroos. There’s also a bird show featuring wedge-tailed eagles and Aboriginal dance shows every afternoon. Watch vets help sick and injured animals in the sanctuary’s animal hospital, which admits 8000 animals a year.
BEER AT BALTER BREWERY
Best use Google Maps to find Balter Brewery, otherwise it’s likely you’ll think you’ve taken the wrong turn. Located in the middle of an industrial estate, Balter Brewery is now the hippest Sunday hang-out on the coast. Little wonder really. Four of the world’s best pro surfers (including world champions Mick Fanning and Joel Parkinson) came together to create the ultimate surfie hang-out, serving beers brewed by their very own master brewer. You might share beers with the planet’s most famous surfers, though that hardly matters – just enjoy the chilled vibe at the coast’s most unlikely bar.
DINNER AT THE COLLECTIVE
Why go to one restaurant when you can choose from five exquisite menus all in the one place? The Collective has transformed Palm Beach’s old post office into a hip open-plan space where the best restaurants on the southern Gold Coast operate in a co-operative environment. You can choose between Japanese, Mexican, modern Australian, Italian and American diner options in an open setting that’s also home to the hippest rooftop bar on the coast (with American style seating at the bar).
OVERNIGHT AT NIRVANA BY THE SEA
Catch the sun rising across the Pacific through the floor-to-ceiling windows of your luxury apartment at Nirvana By The Sea. Built right on the beach at Kirra, you can see all the way to Surfers Paradise and South Stradbroke Island, while just below, surfers battle some of the best waves on Earth on the point at Kirra. Kirra’s streets are lined with cafes and restaurants, though you might consider cooking for yourself in the apartment’s designer kitchen – it would be worth it just for the views.