Surfers Paradise Beach, Surfers Paradise
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The quintessential Gold Coast beach: acres of crisp, white sand wedged between the Pacific Ocean on one side and towering skyscrapers on the other. It’s not actually the best surfing beach on the coast — save that for elsewhere — but it’s a great place to swim, relax and people-watch. Arrive in the morning as the sun is rising over the ocean — things get a little gloomy in the afternoon when the high-rises cast shadows across the beach.
Cabarita Beach, Cabarita
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Cabarita is just a 45-minute drive across the Queensland-New South Wales border from Broadbeach, but might as well be in a different country entirely. Boxed in by nature reserves on one side and the Pacific Ocean on the other, this seaside village is an ideal spot to shut out the outside world. The beach itself is terrific for surfing, while whale-watching from the headland or Surf Life Saving Club are local pastimes.
Broadbeach beach, Broadbeach
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The beach itself is much like Surfers Paradise to the north — beautiful sand, beautiful waves, beautiful people — but everything else about Broadbeach is dialled down a notch or two. There are more locals here, and the suburb behind the coast is more relaxed and refined. After a swim, picnic in one of the handsome surrounding greenways, or venture a couple of blocks inland to the recently refurbished Pacific Fair — that rare case of a shopping centre done right.
Burleigh Beach, Burleigh Heads
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Burleigh is on the move. Always a community-minded, circuit-breaking alternative to the tourist strip of Surfers Paradise and Broadbeach further north, in recent years its neat collection of shops and arcades centred around James Street has become a hive of classy coffee hangs and hip restaurants. The beach itself is protected by the southern point, making it a terrific all-round spot for swimming and surfing.
Currumbin Creek, Currumbin
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In the rush to head south away from the hoi polloi of Surfers Paradise and Broadbeach, it can easy to motor straight past Currumbin. But this beguiling spot is exactly what you make of it — lazily paddle or canoe around the creek, which fills with wildlife at higher tides; or head out to where the waterway meets the sea — affectionately known as The Alley, it’s one of the best surf breaks on the coast.
Kirra Beach, Kirra
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Kirra is perhaps the real surfers’ paradise. Just northwest of Coolangatta proper, the beach is the location of a series of competitions throughout the year. It’s inclusive too — there are smaller waves closer to the shore for swimmers and beginner boarders. Elsewhere, Kirra boasts scenic walks and a winsome view from R T Peak Memorial Park, atop the point.
Miami Beach, Miami
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An often forgotten patch of the Coast, Miami is an excellent spot to discover — the strip of sand north of the small headland of Mick Shamburg Park harking back to a simpler time (the relative lack of high-rises helps). Swimming tends to be a relaxed affair along here, and afterwards you can hit a bunch of coffee houses or boozy boltholes. If you’re there on a Friday or Saturday night, visit Miami Marketta for street-food, locally brewed beer and live music.
Rainbow Bay beach, Rainbow Bay
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Surfers may flock to Snapper Rocks, its eastern bookend, but Rainbow Bay is also a mecca for families and laid-back couples. The inclusive vibe here is more Sunshine than Gold Coast, the skyscrapers of which can just be seen through the haze in the distance. The north-facing, sheltered beach rarely suffers from the rips that can be a menace further up the coast, making it ideal for people who paddle rather than swim.
Kingscliff Beach, Kingscliff
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One of the first major seaside villages you come across south of the Queensland-New South Wales border, Kingscliff has a happy knack of retaining its sleepy village atmosphere even in peak season. The beaches themselves are inclusive swimming spots, boasting consistent surf all year round, with a southern reef break to satisfy the more experienced boarders.
Hastings Point Beach, Hastings Point
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If you like your beaches more relaxed, make the short trip across the Queensland-New South Wales border to Hastings Point on the Tweed Coast. The choice is yours: swim on the southern beach where the headland offers shelter from the summer northerlies, or take a paddleboard and push your way around in the crystal clear creek on the other side.