After Owen Wright’s recent success in the Quiksilver Pro at Snapper Rocks, Australia’s Gold Coast has been pushed to the foreground. Home to many unbeatable surf spots, from reef breaks to beach breaks, it’s easy to see why surfers flock to this part of the world to catch waves.
The Gold Coast, extending away from its namesake city in Queensland, is a 52 kilometre stretch of pristine sand, incredible waves and picture-perfect sunsets. With plenty of sunshine (300 days a year) and warm water temperatures, this is the ideal place for a surf break any month of the year. Here’s our guide to the Gold Coast’s best surf spots.
Dubbed ‘D-bah’ by locals, Duranbah Beach is one of the most popular surfing spots on the Gold Coast, although it technically treads into the border of New South Wales. The beach hosts many international and professional surfing competitions as its enjoyable left and right-handers regularly churn out barrels. Duranbah is definitely geared towards the more experienced surfer, but if you’re just visiting the beach, it’s fun to watch the surfers shred too.
Regularly in the spotlight, most recently during the Quiksilver Pro, Snapper Rocks is a fun wave which regularly produces barrels. Forming part of The Superbank, a large sand bank which extends along the coast and runs into other sections of the beach, the wave starts from behind the rocks and peels into the bay. Due to the quality of the wave on a good day, it gets fairly crowded with shortboarders, longboarders and the occasional bodyboarder looking to take advantage of the long wave.
Currumbin Alley is one of the most famous breaks in the area, providing consistent, world-class waves. Although often the wave is most suited to experienced surfers who are prepared to tackle the peaks, the gentler waves hidden in the white water are ideal for beginners. The beach is sheltered from southerly onshore winds, making it a great place to learn if you’d like to pick up a new skill on your Australian cruise holiday. Don’t be surprised to see longboarders, stand-up paddleboarders and even kiteboarders at Currumbin Alley.
Home of the famous ‘Burleigh barrel’, Burleigh Heads offers consistent waves with three distinct breaks. In perfect conditions, the waves connect to create one amazing long ride and as the beach sits in front of the Pandanus Trees National Park, you’ll be hard pushed to find a finer view while you’re hanging ten. Don’t paddle out if you’re unsure, as this wave can produce fast, thick, hollow barrels that break over the sand.
Surfer’s Paradise offers a fairly reliable wave on the Gold Coast. With crystal clear water and waves peeling left and right, locals and visitors head here for guaranteed surf.
Despite its name, this beach is also a popular spot for swimmers, so pay attention to the lifeguard flags and stick to your zone.
Beginners can enjoy practising here and more experienced surfers can expect a decent session, provided it’s not too crowded. Unlike a lot of Australia’s beaches, Surfer’s Paradise is surrounded by high-rise hotels and buildings. Its close proximity to the city means it’s nice and easy to get to.
At the southern end of the Gold Coast, Greenmount is a firm favourite among surfers looking to get barrelled. World champion locals Joel Parkinson and Mick Fanning regularly surf here.
Greenmount is at the eastern end of Coolangatta beach and its tree-lined point creates long right-handers and a bit of protection from the South East winds. This beach has a rich longboarding heritage and can draw crowds, but it’s definitely a fun wave. It forms part of The Superbank along with Snapper Rocks, Little Marley and Kirra.
The Pass, Byron Bay
This gentle right-hand wave is perfect for beginners. The Pass might not be the most thrilling for experienced surfers, but it rolls around 300 metres into the bay and enjoys a beautiful setting backed by lush green hills. If this spot is hit by a large south-easterly swell, it can be known to rival The Superbank, around 30 minutes north on the Pacific Highway, but most of the time it’s popular with locals and travellers looking for an easy surf.
Narrowneck and Fingal, Fingal Head
After an artificial reef was built to help prevent the beach from being inundated by storm wells, locals were delighted when waves started peeling into the bay. Though not the most exciting wave, it does offer a right-hander in South East swells and a left in North East swells. Nicknamed ‘Naz’ by local surfers, Narrowneck does have its good days, but as it’s close to Brisbane, it can get quite crowded.
Fancy catching a wave on Australia's Gold Coast or simply watching the locals strut their stuff? Take a look at our Australia cruises below.
Image credits: Tatters, Rod Marshall, Camila Se, Petra Bensted