The best surf beaches in the world…water that’s never colder than 20 degrees, even in the cold heart of winter; the Gold Coast is every surfer’s dream holiday destination. Waves that break onto 57 kilometres of coastline – some separated by rocky headlands into the best point breaks anywhere in the world – and yet, the surfing’s still just a small part of what makes the Coast so dreamy for surfers.
It’s the coastal town vibe – the energy that comes from a community of people who live to ride waves – that comes through in surf-themed cafes, bars, restaurants and hotels. And so the Gold Coast is the complete surfing holiday package – right down to the bicycle paths that fringe every beach. It’s the place to come for the most gluttonous surf adventure you ever had – here’s how you can pack 48 hours of surf thrills into one break away.
DAWN SURF AT SNAPPER ROCKS
Paddle out at first light to beat the early birds to the spoils at the world’s best point break at Snapper Rocks. Even the greatest surfer of all time, Kelly Slater, lists Snapper Rocks as his favourite wave. You’ll understand why too – the wave is so long your legs will cramp mid-ride, and if you can’t get barrelled here, you can’t get barrelled anywhere. Paddle out to the rocks on the headland for the longest ride; or take it easy and sit further down the line-up, either way, you’re going to catch the best wave of your life.
BREAKFAST AT SURF SHACK, SPIKEXX
Breathe the salt in the air just a few steps away from the empty beach breaks of Palm Beach at Spikexx Espresso. Palm Beach quickly became one of the hippest neighbourhoods on the whole coast these past 12 months, and at Spikexx it’s easy to see why. This old surf shop has been turned into the ultimate surf café – with a décor and vibe inspired by Jimi Hendrix (catch some Jimi tunes here most weekends) – it’s all retro couches and stained glass windows. Compare the waves you caught this morning with other surfers over acai bowls, smashed avo on sourdough and strong Fonzie Abbott coffee.
GET YOUR LOVED ONES IN THE WAVES WITH YOU AT CURRUMBIN
Still refining your surf style? Why not let your partner or family share the surf stoke with you? There’s no better learning wave on the east coast than The Alley at Currumbin. While experienced surfers chance waves that roll across the point, the rocky headland protects learners from the full strength of the swell. There are surf schools for any ability; for surfers from five to 85. You can sneak some shade between sessions under the pandanus trees, or swim where Currumbin Creek meets the sea in water that looks like a Polynesian lagoon.
GO CRUISING AT KIRRA
The Gold Coast is one of the best places to ride a bike in Australia with over 1000 kilometres of cycle ways – the prettiest parts of which hug the 57-kilometre-long coastline. Take a cruiser bike or a skateboard from Bilinga, following the beach right beside the pandanus and the palms. Cruise past the surf clubs of North Kirra and Kirra (why not stop for a beer with a view, and some live music if it’s the weekend), before following the cycle way past the world-renowned tubing waves of Kirra and Snapper Rocks. Next you’ll pass the alfresco cafes and restaurants of Coolangatta all the way to the top of the hill at Duranbah, where you can look out across the Tweed River.
SLEEP AT KOMMUNE, COOLANGATTA
Sleep in a room overlooking the ocean. It’s the hippest surf hotel in Australia (nothing comes close) and each year when the world surfing tour hits Snapper Rocks for the Quiksilver Pro, this is where the best surfers on Earth come to party. On the weekend local and international DJs play at the Beach Club right beside the pool, and during the week the latest surf movies play on an outdoor cinema beside a sunset terrace with views all the way to Surfers Paradise and South Stradbroke Island.
EARLY SURF AT SOUTH STRADBROKE
Head to the northern end of the Gold Coast to surf the wild, powerful waves of one of Queensland’s most consistent surf spots, South Stradbroke Island. Though it’s only 200 metres across the entrance of the Seaway (which opens into the Broadwater), it’s best to catch an early morning ferry, then take a short walk past tracts of livistona rainforest and beside wild wallabies to the beach. Here some of Australia’s best waves break onto 21 kilometres of often deserted coastline, where dolphins are often your only surf companions.
BREAKFAST AT LOCAL & CO, MAIN BEACH
Settle back into the buzz of the coast and breakfast with the cruising yachties (from nearby Southport Yacht Club) at Main Beach’s Tedder Avenue. Once the playground of the uber-rich, Main Beach is now an eclectic gathering point for adventurists and sporty types with its cobbled brick streets and leafy cafes. And the best of them all is Local & Co Main Beach, the latest addition to the portfolio of Marco De Vincentiis (of Cicchetti fame). Get your strength back from all those waves with an all-day breakfast of organic zucchini fritters and cold-pressed juices.
SHOPPING, SURFING AND HANGING AT BURLEIGH
Spend some quality time at Burleigh Heads. Take a walk around the rainforest-clad national park beside the point, looking out across the ocean for whales and dolphins from high above. Nowhere captures the unique seaside surfie village feel of the Coast more than Burleigh Heads, with its funky cafes, restaurants, markets and stores. Be sure to see the coast’s best waves and surfers immortalised on print at Sean Scott Boutique and buy new surf clothes at local surf shop, Rhythm. Take a walk along the Norfolk Pine fringed beach, before hitting the waves at Burleigh Point – one of the world’s most revered right-hand point breaks, and one of the first sites for pro surfing contests in Australia.
SUP ON TALLEBUDGERA
Head around the back of Burleigh Heads to the peace and quiet of Tallebudgera Creek – its protected waters are ideal for stand-up paddle-boarding. Venture out through the creek for a play on the waves to the south at Tallebudgera Beach, or stick to the flat water and paddle beside the forested hills of the national park. Keep heading towards the mountains of the Gold Coast Hinterland – time your paddle for the hour before sunset for the best mountain vistas. The creek continues for 25 kilometres to the mountains of the Springbrook Plateau.
DINNER AND DRINKS AT BASKK, KIRRA
Finish off your perfect 48 hours with drinks and dinner at the best place to be seen on the southern Gold Coast. With a licence till midnight and DJs on Friday, Saturday and Sunday evenings, you might want to stick around long after your Hirasama kingfish, Wagyu sirloin with salsa verde and peking duck tacos have digested. Baskk at Kirra is the ultimate surf bar and restaurant because it’s all natural – it’s made of all natural materials, from the sandstone box fronting its bar to its Indonesian lime-washed furnishings and the timber recycled railway palings underfoot.