Some say the surfers prefer beaches elsewhere and paradise has been tragically lost, but there’s no denying this wild and trashy party zone attracts a phenomenal number of visitors (20,000 per day!). Cashed-up tourists swarm to Surfers for a heady dose of clubs, bars, malls and maybe a bit of beach-time when the hangover kicks in.
Southport & Main Beach
The northern gateway to the Gold Coast, incongruously named Southport is a low-key residential and business district. It’s sheltered from the ocean by a long sandbar called the Spit, which is is home to one of the big theme parks, Sea World. Directly southeast is glorious, golden Main Beach, where the apartment blocks begin their inexorable rise towards Surfers Paradise.
Burleigh Heads & Currumbin
The true, sandy essence of the Gold Coast permeates the chilled-out surfie town of Burleigh Heads. With its cheery cafes and beachfront restaurants, famous right-hand point break, beautiful beach and little national park on the rocky headland, Burleigh charms everyone. Beginner surfers should head to Currumbin Alley, 6km south of Burleigh.
South Stradbroke Island
This narrow, 21km-long sand island is largely undeveloped – the perfect antidote to the chaotic Gold Coast strip. At the northern end, the narrow channel separating it from North Stradbroke Island is a top fishing spot; at the southern end, the Spit is only 200m away.