Situated in New South Wales, the Gold Coast is Australia’s sixth largest city. It boasts a vibrant ecosystem with more than 1,300 species of animals and 1,750 types of plant. The region receives 287 days of sunshine per year, which, along with its 40 miles of beaches, attracts over two million visitors annually, and hosts some of the world’s foremost surfing events.
The white sandy Burleigh Beach stretches for a mile and a half, and is the venue of the ASP World Surfing tournament. To the rear of the beach are exercise and play areas, and a three-mile walking and cycling track that extends to a nearby rain forest. White-bellied sea eagles, whistling kites and ospreys are among the bird life, while the water is home to sharks, dolphins and migrating whales.
Not only does Currumbin Beach offer spectacular views of the Pacific Ocean, but it rests adjacent to the estuary of the Taylor River and a nearby lake. A popular family and fishing location, there are numerous public barbecue areas, and a rock wall walkway. Lifeguards patrol the beach year-round.
Home of the Quicksilver and Roxy Pros surfing championships, Snapper Rocks is the area’s foremost surf spot and attracts the sport's elite. Relatively secluded, with big waves and no lifeguard patrol, the beach has few amenities, so it's not ideal for families.
One of Australia’s most iconic destinations, Surfers Paradise is a two-mile golden sandy strip overlooked by beachfront markets, and towering hotels and skyscrapers. The vibrant stretch of coast is the nation’s beach-volleyball capital, and as the name suggests, a surfing mecca. Surf schools are on hand for the uninitiated.
Patrolled by lifeguards year-round and sheltered by rocky outcrops, the benevolent waters of Rainbow Bay are perfect for families and weak swimmers. A trail from the rear of the beach leads to Point Danger, which affords stunning views of the ocean and across to the neighboring state of Queensland. It’s also the site of a lighthouse erected in honor of legendary explorer Captain Cook.
Surfing, sunbathing and swimming aside, Main Beach is home to attractions such as SeaWorld (seaworld.com.au), farmers’ markets (farmersmarkets.org.au) and the shopping complex Marina Mirage (marinamirage.com.au). Its jetty makes for a pleasant seafront stroll, as does the Federation Walk, which snakes from the water’s edge to a rain forest. Mariner’s Cove offers great fishing, but if you don’t manage to catch anything, there’s a host of bars and eateries on hand.
Fun for all of the family, Broadwater Beach is set within its eponymous parkland, and hosts regular concerts. Rockpools playground (gcparks.com.au) and Washington Water Park (lovegoldcoastdeals.com.au) with their swings, jumping pontoons, water-jets and waterfalls will keep the kids amused, while the 330-foot pier is ideal for fishing. There are numerous water-sport activities on offer along the beach, which is part of the route for the World Triathlon Championships.