How to surf the Gold Coast

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It’s one of the world’s best surfing locations – ah, come on, let’s just say it… it’s the world’s best surfing location. Where else can compare? Hawaii’s North Shore? The waves there only break for half the year and when they do, they can kill you (and that’s without mentioning the heavy locals).

The Gold Coast can boast 57 kilometres of pristine coastline that’s home to some of the world’s most famous surf breaks – like the Superbank that stretches from Snapper Heads to Greenmount at the coast’s southern end (home each year to the Quiksilver Pro) and the infamous Burleigh Point – arguably the world’s best right-hand point break.

But there’s also 500,000-plus locals vying for waves… and that’s not counting visiting surfers.

The best way to surf the Gold Coast is to get a little off the beaten track.

Tips for finding an uncrowded wave

Photo by Luke Shadbolt

Forget the points, go for a beach break! While there might be 500 guys in the water at the Superbank, chances are just up the road at Tugun you’ll surf perfect waves by yourself.

Because of rapidly shifting sand, perfect beach break waves can be found anywhere on the Gold Coast, and they can change overnight.

For your best chances of snaring some, try driving along Tugun’s Golden Four Drive and checking any side street that takes you to the beach.

Keep heading up to Palm Beach and do the same, and if it’s crowded, paddle 100 metres further up from the crowd – on the Gold Coast, people tend to cluster.

Also try the beach breaks of Broadbeach, they’re remarkably empty, or go beyond Main Beach to the Gold Coast Seaway for the emptiest waves of all.

Go further beyond

Surfing the Gold Coast

South Stradbroke Island has some epic beach breaks – spread out over 30 kilometres of empty coastline. Paddle across the seaway and walk to the beach, or if it looks too intimidating (there’s a lot of boats and it’s sharky), you can take a boat across.

Drive to the Southport Spit (past Sea World) and take a water taxi (if there’s a group of you, or wait till they fill it up with other guests) or take a ferry from Runaway Bay Marina every day at 10.30am.

Best apps and websites

The best websites to check all conditions for surf on the coast, which include live surf cams, swell predictions and surf reports, are Coastal Watch and Swellnet. You won’t even have to drive to check the waves.

Download the Hurley Surf and Seabreeze apps – these will give you surf reports and photos at beaches up and down the coast and predicted wind and swell heights from Coolangatta up to the Seaway at Southport.

Best feed after a surf

The best thing about Gold Coast feasting is its surf clubs – where else on earth has so many public clubs spread-eagled on the most expensive real estate? You’re guaranteed reasonably priced burgers and hearty bacon and eggs – the best being the Rainbow Bay Surf Lifesaving Club with its views over the Superbank; the Palm Beach Surf Club, built a few metres from the sand; and the Southport Surf Club.

LIttle St Kilda Gold Coast

Photo of Little St Kilda by Naked City Guide

For a few bucks more, the best post-surf feed on the coast is at the Little St Kilda Café in Palm Beach. Try the brekky stack with baby spinach, bacon, sautéed mushrooms, tomato, and hash browns all stacked with a fried egg on top and drizzled with aioli.

For a cheap local’s feed with the best burgers on the southern end of the coast, try JJ’s in Tugun. You can get an old-fashioned burger for less than $7.

And if you’re keener for a beer than a burger, head to QT Hotel in Surfers Paradise – the $3 Taco Tuesdays in the Stingray Lounge are a must.

What’s your favourite surf spot on the Gold Coast?