Sustainable Travel: Your Gold Coast Eco-Tourism Guide

Sustainable Travel: Your Gold Coast Eco-Tourism Guide

19 Apr 2024

With landscapes, beaches, waterways and mountains as gorgeous as the Gold Coast’s, it’s a given that we care deeply about our environment and are big believers in eco-tourism. Our natural attractions captivate visitors and locals alike on the daily and we’re passionate about preserving them for future generations. Our outdoor lifestyle means we share a deep connection and appreciation for our stunning surrounds, and are mindful of the impact we have on it.

Lately there’s been a growing movement of Gold Coast eco-tourism operators who are all about creating a greener way to travel.  We’ve put together a list of epic experiences that showcase the organic nature of our region, with careful consideration for the planet too.

Storytelling, Jellurgal Style

The Gold Coast’s first dedicated Aboriginal Cultural Centre, Jellurgal, is owned and operated by the local Aboriginal community, and is a welcoming place to gather and learn about the rich Indigenous history the Gold Coast has to offer.

The stunning location on the banks of Tallebudgera Creek in Burleigh Heads National Park makes Jellurgal the ideal place to learn about the natural environment and First Nations culture. It’s the same place where members of the Yugumbeh language-speaking group would come together to fish, feast and celebrate thousands of years ago, and there are many Dreamtime stories associated with the surrounding landscape.

Jellurgal is home of Indigenous storytelling on the Gold Coast. Take a guided walk along the picturesque rainforest walkway with a traditional land owner, who will share stories of what life was like for the First Australians pre-contact. The centre is committed to providing an authentic experience with a moral responsibility to preserve and share Aboriginal culture, from the ground up.
Location: 1711 Gold Coast Hwy, Burleigh Heads

Eco Island Hopping


Island life is only a short plane trip from the Gold Coast. Jump on board a fixed wing aircraft and immerse yourself in the natural surrounds of the renowned Lady Elliot Island located on the Southern Barrier Reef. The island is home to an abundance of marine life including giant manta rays, turtle colonies, fluorescent coral and migrating whales with a small eco resort ensuring a light footprint is left in and around the island.

A pioneer in eco-friendly practices, Lady Elliot was the first island on the Barrier Reef to ban single use plastic, opting for drinking fountains and reusable bottles instead. All accommodation on the island is designed to minimise the environmental impact, using solar for power and a desalination plant to convert seawater to pristine fresh water.

Since 2005, the resort and island have been transformed from a degraded, rundown landscape to a world-leading eco-tourism business with sustainability programs firmly in place. Lady Elliot Island is an incredible place to connect with nature and the perfect of example of how actions we can take today can help preserve the Great Barrier Reef for future generations.

Eco/ Retro Motel

The Mysa Motel

The Mysa Motel in Palm Beach blends nostalgic charm with a new era of sustainability. When local couple, Eliza and Jase, bought the motel with the plans to update and refurb it, they wanted to ensure it was going to  have a sustainable future. While the exterior remained unchanged, upcycled and second hand materials were used wherever possible in the renovation to reduce environmental impact, including the retro breeze blocks and recycled tiles around the pool and in some of the bathrooms.

The Mysa Motel is a solar powered property and rainwater tanks are used in the toilets and gardens. Inside, eco-friendly considerations include filtered water so guests can fill up instead of resorting to single-use plastic bottles. Recycling bins are found in every room and appliances are energy-efficient and the rooms were redesigned to maximise natural ventilation and light. This eco-friendly Gold Coast accommodation is registered with the EarthCheck Climate Action Project and each year their iconic neon sign goes dark during Earth Hour, in a show of solidarity to inspire more action on climate change.
Location: 1100 Gold Coast Hwy, Palm Beach

Wildlife Warriors

David Fleay Wildlife Park

Nestled beside Tallebudgera Creek in West Burleigh, David Fleay Wildlife Park gives visitors the chance to observe iconic Australian animals in enclosures that closely resemble their native habitat. Wander along the boardwalks, through native bushland to see kangaroos, koalas, dingos and tree kangaroos and visit the nocturnal house to witness possums, bilbies and a platypus swimming around his aquarium, that would be very similar to his waterhole in the wild.

Managed by the Queensland Department of Environment, Science and Innovation, the park combines community education, ecotourism and wildlife conservation. Known as Australias ‘Father of Conservation’ David Fleay was an Australian scientist and zoologist who became the first person to breed platypus in captivity. Establishing the park in 1951, he insisted that birds and animals should be kept in conditions similar to their natural habitat. The naturalistic enclosures you see today reflect the philosophy that has now been adopted by most wildlife parks around the world.

Fleay’s is the only place you can see the shy bridled nailtail wallaby in captivity, thought to be extinct for over 30 years! Meeting and chatting with the Queensland Parks and Wildlife Service Rangers who care for the park’s unique and beautiful wildlife is always a highlight, is the Fleays in Flight show, where the large birds of prey wow visitors with their spectacular wing spans and speed.
Location: Loman Lane, Burleigh Heads

A Garden of Eden

Multi award winning Eden Health Retreat is Australia’s oldest wellness retreat and is all about the digital detox and reconnecting with nature. The environment that surrounds you here is healing in itself – the fresh air, songs of the natural wildlife and the pure tranquillity.

Nestled in the lush surrounds of Currumbin Valley, Eden is tranquil and mindful that people need to switch off to switch on again. From outdoor mud baths and morning meditations to long rainforest walks, accompanied by nutritional meals showcasing the freshest valley produce, this place takes full advantage of nature’s bounty.
Location: 1815 Currumbin Creek Rd, Currumbin Valley

Whale Watching For Research

On a mission to be one of the most environmentally aware eco-adventurers in Australia, Cooly Eco Adventures is conscious of their role in preserving the marine life they are so passionate about.

Offering an array of educational experiences such as whale watching, swimming with the whales, dolphin and turtle safaris, they believe you can have fun in nature whilst being mindful of the impact on the environment. Their Citizen Science Research Expedition gives you the chance to participate in a unique experience, where you’ll be spotting whales and dolphins, and your observations will contribute to increasing knowledge and awareness of our marine creatures, while helping to improve conservation efforts.

Cooly Eco Adventures is on a mission to educate and inform budding seafaring adventurers, and spread the love for our ocean ecosystems and marine life.
Location: 114 Dry Dock Rd, Tweed Heads

Binna Burra's Beauty

After the devastating fires of 2019 Binna Burra Lodge is back, giving Gold Coast eco-tourism a great reputation. Set amongst the picturesque World Heritage Listed Lamington National Park, this hinterland retreat is perched  in the hinterland 800 metres above sea level, making this dreamy location the ideal place to escape (and admire the views).

Binna Burra was listed in the Top 10 Eco-lodges in the world by Smarter Travel, with an integrated sustainable tourism plan that includes waste management and a shared responsibility to preserve the cultural and natural heritage of the National Park. Eco Certified and the first private Australian company to receive the International Green Global standards for its best practice environmental performance, it’s safe to say Binna Burra have an on-going commitment to preserve this special property for future generations.
Location: 1069 Binna Burra Rd, Beechmont

Surf With a Message

Australian Surf Adventures are renowned for all things surf covering the Gold Coast and Tweed. From surf lessons and camps to surf yoga retreats with the EcoGuide Australia tick of approval. Their most popular activities are the group lessons where they teach you to be a surfer in paradise, whilst having a whole lot of fun along the way.

Surfing is a way of life that connects you with nature and the crew at Australian Surf Adventures are passionate about preserving the environment and respecting the culture of the places they are blessed to work and play in each day.
Where: 74 Chainey Ave, Miami

Retreat in the Valley

Gwinganna Lifestyle Retreat is ideally located in the Tallebudgera Valley – a serene and stunning area of the Gold Coast. Australian owned and operated, the retreat is eco-tourism certified and in a world of busy, it’s a wellness destination that encourages guests to slow down, tune in and bliss out. It was recently awarded Best Eco Spa in the World Luxury Spa Awards.

A stay at Gwinganna combines organic living, a luxury spa, movement and relaxation with delicious organic cuisine and vital wellness seminars in a dedicated low tech environment. The 33 room spa sanctuary is the largest in the Southern Hemisphere is set amongst age-old towering gum trees and designed with nature in mind – contemporary pavilions seamlessly transition from inside to outdoor living. Gwinganna is part of the Land for Wildlife program and is committed to preserving the native flora and fauna of this stunning location and leaving as light a footprint as possible.
Location: 192 Syndicate Rd, Tallebudgera Valley

Oganic Farm Feast

Freemans Organic Farm has been a working farm since 1915 and is perched high atop Tomewin Mountain Road in Currumbin Valley, with views all the way out to the ocean.

More recently, the farm has evolved into a meeting place for the whole community, where you can stock up on organic produce, do a spot of yoga or grab a coffee and a bite to eat under the ancient trees dotted around the property. Keeping it in the family, the Freemans are all about the natural environment and how people interact with it.
Location: 618 Tomewin Mountain Road

The future of sustainable travel is alive and kicking, with a growing number of Gold Coast eco-tourism operators focused on quality experiences that intend to last a lifetime and beyond.

If you enjoyed this story you might also like Where to Scuba Dive & Snorkel on the Gold Coast.

Got Gold Coast on your mind? Subscribe to our email list below to receive holiday inspiration and exclusive deals direct to your inbox.

Kylie Mitchell-Smith
Kylie Mitchell-Smith

After more than two-decades in the media game, Kylie Mitchell-Smith (@travellingsenorita) digs deeper and goes underground to find the story. Frequenting far and wide to unique destinations all over the world, Kylie recounts her travels in her weekly Travelling Senorita blog and podcast adventures which are always laden with plenty of local food and wine bars.


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.