Discover Main Beach
JUST NORTH of the busy throng of Surfers Paradise, you’ll find Main Beach—a relaxed mix of cafés, restaurants, bars, resort shopping and a choice of calm or surf beaches. It’s also home to Marina Mirage and Mariners Cove Marina—the jumping-off points for all manner of water-based tours.
THINGS TO DO
Main Beach beaches are a lot less crowded than Surfers Paradise’s iconic stretches of sand. For calm, protected beach swimming head for the inside beaches of The Spit—a permanent sand spit that separates the mainland and Southport Broadwater from the Pacific Ocean.
On the other side of The Spit are lifesaver-patrolled surf beaches with flagged swimming areas—the Seaway Beach (patrolled November to April), Sea World Beach (patrolled on weekends and school holidays) and Sheraton Beach and Main Beach (both patrolled all year round). You can walk, run or ride along the Gold Coast Oceanway, a 37-kilometre network of coastal pathways stretching from the Gold Coast Seaway (The Spit) to the Point Danger Lighthouse (Coolangatta).
Enjoy a family day at Sea World— one of Main Beach’s top attractions. It’s the perfect day out with dolphin and seal shows as well as the chance to see sharks, stingrays, penguins and polar bears. The Storm Coaster and an acrobatic jet ski show will keep everyone happy!
There’s so much to do on the water— go whale watching (humpbacks cruise past from June to October) with Gold Coast Whale Adventures; do a four-wheeldrive buggy and Segway tour of South Stradbroke Island; sail, jet ski, jet board or stand-up paddleboard on the Broadwater, take a thrill ride with Paradise Jet Boating or see it all from the skies with a helicopter ride over the highrise skyline, the coast and islands with Gold Coast Helitours— all leave from Mariners Cove Marina. You can even learn to surf at The Spit with Get Wet Surf School.
WHERE TO EAT
You can mix it with the locals and experience some of the coast’s best bars and dining on Tedder Avenue. When your watch says cocktail o’clock, start with a Margarita or a local Burleigh Brewing Co. beer at Bistro Chico. Settle in for some share plates from chef Darren Baranello’s Mediterranean, Asian and Middle Easterninspired menu, or wander down the Avenue to Shuck for some serious people watching and some of the Coast’s freshest seafood— the sand crab lasagne is sensational!
For wonderful water views, join the locals for a sunset drink at Southport Yacht Club. Get a table overlooking the moored yachts and as the sun fades you’ll see the lights of the Gold Coast twinkling over the water. The meals are great too!
For casual fish and chips or freshly caught local prawns and crabs, head to Peter’s Fish Market. Outside tables overlook the fishing fleet or find a spot across the road on Main Beach.
Right next door is Palazzo Versace Hotel—offering high tea at Le Jardin, casual waterfront dining at Vie Bar & Restaurant or a gastronomic adventure to remember at Vanitas.
Glass Dining & Lounge Bar is known for its succulent steaks; Omeros Bros for supreme seafood in stylish surrounds; and Ristorante Fellini for the finest Italian fare. The best bets for breakfast are Providore Marina Mirage or local favourite Lark Café and Grocer on Main Beach Parade.
WHERE TO SHOP
High-end centre Marina Mirage offers more than 70 speciality stores (fashion, art and design, homewares and even a pooch boutique). Visit Mariora for unique jewellery featuring Australian Opals.
For designer shoes, bags and accessories you can’t go past Maryon’s on Tedder Avenue. They stock international designer labels including Emilio Pucci, Kenzo, Marc by Marc Jacobs, Marni, Nicholas Kirkwood and Sonia Rykiel.
Travel around the area via the G:link, the Gold Coast’s easy to use light rail network. It runs frequently between Helensvale station in the north via Southport, Main Beach and Surfers Paradise to Broadbeach near Pacific Fair Shopping Centre at its southern-most point. Visit ridetheg.com.au or download the My G: App.
HOME TO SOME OF the Gold Coast’s most famous surfing spots, relaxed Coolangatta is lined with white sand beaches flanked by tall Norfolk pines.
It was named after the schooner Coolangatta, wrecked there in 1846, and is the most southern suburb of City of Gold Coast sharing the border with New South Wales.
For some of the Gold Coast’s best surfing conditions, head to Kirra Beach, Snapper Rocks or Rainbow Bay, but you might also want to try throwing in a line to catch snapper, bream or tailor. There’s also plenty of whale watching opportunities from the heights of Point Danger.
With all that sand activity you will work up an appetite. You won’t have to leave the water views to enjoy a feed if you claim a spot on the huge beachfront balcony of the Coolangatta Surf Club. It’s a great spot for whale and dolphin watching and also perfect for a weekend breakfast. The restaurant features local produce with a range of steaks, seafood and salads. Finish your meal with authentic Italian gelato and enjoy their free Wi-fi. The club was awarded Best Dining in Queensland at the Clubs Queensland Awards for Excellence 2016.
At the tropically-styled Xenia Grill you’ll discover delicious, fresh Greek food created using a combination of traditional cooking methods and family recipes. Choose from share plates filled with fried sardines or char-grilled octopus and baby calamari, all infused with the flavours of Greece. Pick up an organic The Daily Ride coffee roasted in nearby Byron Bay and you’ll have plenty of energy to enjoy one of Xenia’s occasional Zorba the Greek dance sessions.
For an Italian Trattoria experience, try Brad Nascone’s Delizioso @ the Strand. Along with favourites from his Brisbane restaurant at Bulimba, Delizioso at Coolangatta pumps out a large range of Italian standards along with new and innovative dishes using a stone hearth pizza oven. The extensive pizza menu is complemented by a wide selection of risotto and pasta, but you can also tuck in to Darling Downs wagyu and porchetta served with truffle mashed potato, apple puree and gorgonzola cream.
Positioned on almost a block of beachfront land with sweeping views over Coolangatta Beach, The Strand offers one-stop dining with a range of different cuisines, price ranges and dining styles. There’s Asian, Mexican, Italian and tapas-style restaurants, cool bars and some of Australia’s most sought-after dessert options including Nick Palumbo’s first Gelato Messina ice-creamery in Queensland and chocolatier Max Brenner.
The glass-louvered facade of The Strand’s restaurant zone runs the length of the building, maximising the beachfront views. Look out for Gold Coast chef Daniel Ridgeway’s Bin 72 eatery, Black Sheep Espresso Baa’s lamb salad, Griffith Street Larder’s hand-cut chips and crumbed zucchini sliders and Passiontree Velvet’s macarons and cake.
When you are finished dining and relaxing you’ll want to make the most of the glorious stretch of beach that has etched Coolangatta into the hearts of many. If you want to make sure that your body is beach ready, Esteem Medi Spa have a team of specialist laser technicians, highly qualified registered nurses and skin specialists to help you on your way. More than a day spa, Esteem Medi Spa offers a blend of medical approaches to common issues.
There’s so much to enjoy at Coolangatta—it’s sure to steal its way into your heart as a return destination.