From the rain forested mountains of the Hinterland to the pristine, picturesque coastline, the Gold Coast is abundant in nature-based activities for the adventurous spirit to explore.
Hike hinterland trails through National Park to magical waterfalls, stopping at scenic lookouts along the way. Surf world-class wave in crystal clear water, scuba dive a unique reef and explore creeks and canals that wind their way to the ocean. Here’s our top picks of naturally wonderful places to explore across the Gold Coast.
1. BURLEIGH HEADLAND
Before you embark on the bush walk up around Burleigh Headland, visit the Jellurgal Aboriginal Cultural Centre located on the Gold Coast Hwy next to the bridge over Tallebudgera Creek. Here you learn about the Dreamtime stories of the Yugambeh speaking people and gain insight into the First Nations culture of this special spot.
Take a leisurely stroll along the banks of Tallebudgera Creek, around the headland to Burleigh Beach and back again, taking in the colourful coastal flora and fauna along the way. Scenic lookouts are dotted along the pathway and are the perfect spot to take a picture at sunrise or watch the sunset colours over the ocean.
Burleigh Headland captures the essence of the coast’s natural lifestyle, from the national park to the spectacular views across the Pacific Ocean.
2. WONDER REEF
Book a dive into the world's first floating reef, rising spectacularly over 20 metres from the ocean floor. Located a couple of nautical miles offshore from the Spit at Main Beach, the artistically designed Wonder Reef is created from nine fluted spiral sculptures that move with the energy of the ocean.
A fusion of science, engineering and creativity, the purpose-built reef is thriving with marine life and coral species. Qualified divers can explore at their leisure or book a tour and dive with local operators, Gold Coast Dive Adventures.
3. NATURAL BRIDGE
The seventh wonder of the Gold Coast is a world-heritage listed site, formed by geological forces millions of years ago. An easy and accessible walk along a boardwalk takes you to the unique rock formation, formed by the force of falling water wearing a hole through the arched ceiling of an ancient cave.
The grotto beneath is home to a thriving glow worm colony. The glow worms at Natural Bridge can can only be seen at night and the later you go, the more glow worms you’ll see. The best time to see their ethereal light show is between December to March. Be sure to turn off torches, avoid using flash photography and follow all directions to ensure this incredible natural phenomenon can be enjoyed by other visitors.
4. A DREAMY COASTLINE
The pristine coastline that frames the Gold Coast creates a sense of place and is an integral part of the local surf culture and beach lifestyle. From the breathtaking views and world class breaks in the south to the long stretches of beach in the North, the Gold Coast’s expansive coastline spans a variety of beachside experiences.
Immerse yourself in the buzz of busy Surfers Paradise beachfront, take a bike ride along a coastal boulevard north up to The Spit, or stop for coffee or a surf club meal in Southern Gold Coast villages like Burleigh, Miami, Palm Beach and Tugun.
Whether you want to play in the waves at a patrolled beach, watch whales pass by from a headland or wander coastal pathways stopping at lookouts along the way, our oceanfront location is one of the Gold Coast’s best assets.
5. WINDING WATERWAYS
Here’s a fun nature fact: the Gold Coast has nine times more canals than Venice! Our picturesque waterways weave through the region from Currumbin and Tallebudgera to the south, to Nerang River and the Broadwater up north.
Discover Gold Coast creeks and canals with a diverse array of water activities. Book a river cruise, hire a boat, paddle a board, jump on and off the HOPO ferry or take a gondola around the canals, Italian style.
6. PURLING BROOK FALLS
Just over an hour’s drive from the coast you can take a 4-kilmotre hike through Springbrook National Park to the majestic Purling Brook Falls. At the base of the waterfalls and you’ll be rewarded with an invigorating spray from the tumbling cascade.
The towering waterfalls are surrounded by Gondwana Rainforest and Eucalyptus forests and flow all year round. Hot tip - the best time to visit is after rainfall.
7. SCENIC SPLENDOUR
There are plenty of scenic lookouts to inspire wonder across the coast, capturing the sun as it rises over the sea and sets over the Hinterland. Take a day trip up to Mount Tamborine and stop off at dusk to absorb the breathtaking views from Hang Glider Lookout at Robert Sowter Park. (Pictured below. Image - Tourism & Events Queensland) Or visit Best of All Lookout at Springbrook National Park, which certainly lives up to its name (featured in main image).
Point Danger in Coolangatta provides expansive, scenic views across the sea and Northern Gold Coast. Drive up or take the bracing walk from Snapper Rocks up the steep hill. It’s the place to be as the whales head north during their annual migration between June and October.
Love what you're reading? Check out these Gold Coast nature stays for accommodation by the bush, beach and Hinterland.
ACKNOWLEDGEMENT OF COUNTRY
Destination Gold Coast acknowledges the Traditional Custodians of the land on which we are situated, the Kombumerri families of the Yugambeh Language Region.
We pay our respects to their Elders past, present and emerging, and recognise their continuing connections to the lands, waters and their extended communities throughout Southeast Queensland.