Away from the popular tourist spots surrounding Surfers Paradise, the southern end of the Gold Coast offers the chance to live like a local. It’s here you’ll find quiet stretches of beach, charming cafes, fantastic restaurants and laid-back experiences perfect for every traveller. To help you plan an amazing trip of your own here, in no particular order, are 13 of the best things to in the southern region of the Gold Coast from Currumbin to Coolangatta.
1. Jetboat Ride
Okay, technically this experience is at Main Beach, in the central Gold Coast region. But, we stopped in to do an exhilarating jet boat ride with the team at Paradise Jet Boating on our way down to the southern end of the Gold Coast. It was a fantastic way to start our two days on the coast! The ride sees you whizzing along across beautiful water, spotting wildlife, learning about the local area and, best of all doing full 360-degree spins that will have a huge smile plastered across your face.
Book your Jetboat Ride here
2. Visit Currumbin Alley
The famous Currumbin Alley surf break is one of the most well-known on the coast. Take a walk below the lifeguard towers, along the beach and out to the huge rocks to watch surfers paddle out with the iconic Gold Coast cityscape in the distance. There’s calmer water in the Alley, if you prefer, which offers the ideal location for a relaxing swim to cool down and refresh. We visited earlier in the day but it would be ideal for sunrise and sunset. Be sure to listen to lifesavers instructions at all times and always swim between the flags!
3. Eat at Cafe dbar
Update: Cafe dbar is currently closed for renovations and will reopen in 2023.
Great views and spectacular views combine to make Cafe dbar a must-visit spot for breakfast or lunch. Open from 7 to 2 pm daily, you’ll find this gorgeous spot nestled on top of Point Danger, boasting panoramic views over world-famous surf breaks. The menu offers a range of delicious options suitable for vegans, gluten dodgers, vegetarians and little ones. Try their plant-based BLT, healthy Brekky Bowl or Big Brekky to start your day or dig into a delicious burger, fresh salad and tasty smoothie for lunch.
4. Dinner at Francie’s Pizzeria
Lovers of wood-fired pizza will want to make a beeline for Francie’s Pizzeria in Coolangatta. One look at the menu and your tummy will be rumbling! Open 7 days from 5pm onwards, you’ll want to make sure you’re wearing your stretchy pants for this one. Start things off with small plates of roasted octopus, mussels or wood-roasted sweet corn then move onto one of their amazing wood-fired pizzas. There’s a regular and vegan pizza menu, both boasting a wide range of selections with gluten-free options available too. Shut up and take my money. Find Francie’s Pizzeria here.
5. Sweet treats at Gelato Messina
Don’t you dare think about visiting the southern end of the Gold Coast without putting a visit to Gelato Messina on your itinerary. I simply won’t have it! Proclaiming themselves the makers of Australia’s best gelato, I have to whole-heartedly agree with the Messina team. You’ll find the store on Marine Parade in Coolangatta open from 2pm on weekdays and 12 pm on weekends, with doors staying open until 8:30pm The flavours are insanely good with a range of must-try specials and classics like macadamia crunch, pistachio praline, pear and rhubarb and more. They have tasty options for vegans too (I recommend the chocolate sorbet and raspberry sorbet combo!) You’ll need two scoops, at least. Find Gelato Messina here and thank me later.
6. Coffee from Little Mali
A very cool, local cafe, Little Mali Espresso and Deli is the ultimate spot to start your day. With a welcoming, friendly and laidback vibe, you’ll feel right at home. Open daily from 5 or 5:30 am to 3:30 pm, you’ll want to get your hands on a coffee then make your way through their menu. For something light and refreshing, their smoothie bowls are unmissable. For something more filling, check out the deli cabinet or try something from their tasty breakfast and lunch menus. We love to get our food and drinks to-go and enjoy them on nearby Rainbow Bay. Find Little Mali here.
7. Amazing views from Rainbow Bay Lookout
For some of the very best views of the southern Gold Coast region, make your way to the Rainbow Bay Lookout. Standing here on a beautiful, clear, sun-drenched Queensland day is nothing short of spectacular. You can soak in panoramic views of Rainbow Bay, Coolangatta Beach and the famous Superbank surf spot, Kirra and beyond. It’s another great spot to enjoy a takeaway breakfast and coffee while listening to local surfers chat about the best spots for a paddle. Find Rainbow Bay Lookout on Google Maps.
8. Swim at Tallebudgera Creek
Without a doubt, Tallebudgera Creek has to be my favourite spot for a swim on the Gold Coast. The sparkling water here is nice and still, perfect for families or those who enjoy a more laid-back swim (me!) as opposed to waves crashing on the shore. Full disclosure, it’s incredibly popular on the weekends and school holidays so, to avoid the crowds, be sure to plan your visit for a weekday outside of school holidays. You can hire a paddleboard for a fun activity, laze on the beach or dive in for a refreshing dip. Find Tallebudgera Creek here.
9. Make friends at the Dog Beach
The happiest place on the Gold Coast is, without question, the Tallebudgera Off Leash Dog Beach. To find it, you’ll want to head to Tallebudgera Creek and follow the path leading you out to the coastline. The off leash area starts at the rock wall, you can’t miss it! I think we tend to look a bit weird as we’re the only people there without a dog but, who cares! We’re there to watch other people’s dogs frolic and play. It’s pure joy and a sure fire way to put a smile on your face.
10. Breakfast at Dune Cafe
You’ll find Dune Cafe overlooking the serene Currumbin Lagoon offering great views over the water, fantastic food and coffee and a quiet spot to unwind. Open daily from 6:30 am to 3 pm, Dune has a range of bites for breakfast through to lunch with options for kids, vegans, vegetarians and gluten-free folk. Their organic spelt pancakes, golden potato & quinoa hash and tasty granola bowl are ideal for the morning while the burgers, pulled pork tacos and lemon pepper calamari hit the spot for lunch. Find Dune Cafe here.
11. Explore Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary
The heritage-listed Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary is a Gold Coast and Queensland icon, built back in 1947. It began with Rainbow Lorikeet feeding, which it is still renowned for, and has since expanded to include a range of educational shows, animal encounters and gorgeous animals, of course. This spot is perfect for big and little kids alike and could easily fill an entire day of your itinerary. We loved the WildSkies free flight bird show, getting up close with our marsupial mates at the Kangaroo Outpost, saying hi to koalas, creepy crawlies, a wide range of birds, echidnas and more. We booked our visit to Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary through Klook, here!
12. Eat at Goodness Gracias
Get your hands on some truly delicious plant-based goodness at Goodness Gracias, located in Palm Beach. Open Wednesday through to Sunday from 11 am to 8 pm, it’s a top spot for lunch and dinner. With limited seating spots inside and outside you may like to plan to grab your meal to-go and enjoy on the balcony of your accommodation, a gorgeous lookout spot or on the beach. The menu had my tummy doing happy summersaults with tasty treats including burritos, nachos and tacos with fillings like smokey chipotle jackfruit, plant-based mo’lay chicken, plant-based bbq beef and bacon and so much more! Find Goodness Gracias here.
13. Beers at Balter
Started by 7 great mates who happen to include surfing legends Mick Fanning and Joel Parkinson, Balter Brewery is a celebration of doing something you love just for the thrill of it. Lucky for us, in this case, ‘something’ happens to be beer! Head down to Balter HQ in Currumbin Waters, open Wednesday to Sunday from either 3 pm or midday until 8 pm to sample from the truly wonderful wall of brews. Be sure to check the Balter website for their schedule which includes food trucks, $5 tacos and tinnies specials, live music and more! Find Balter here.
Where to stay
For our one-night stay on the southern end of the Gold Coast, we stayed at The Pink Hotel Coolangatta. Hailed as a completed restored mid-century architectural masterpiece, it’s impossible not to be impressed by how cool the hotel is! We loved the retro vibes inside and out, especially the super cool decor in our room. Located very close to the beach and easy walking distance to a great range of shops and restaurants in Coolangatta, it’s a fantastic place to stay that’s quirky and very comfortable. See more of The Pink Hotel, including a full room tour and David Duchovny’s chest hair, in our video guide at the top of this post!
Book your stay at The Pink Hotel here
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