A healthy local’s guide to the Gold Coast

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The Gold Coast of today is an “I’ve-just-come-back-from-a-retreat” version of its former self, which isn’t so surprising given its beachy roots.

As a Burleigh Waters local, I’m all about the wave of healthy eats and Instagrammable sunrises and sunsets Mother Nature dishes up on the daily here. But without one of these local guides, it can be hard to figure out exactly where to head for the best acai bowl or spot to lay down your Turkish beach towel.

Start with this list and you’ll be just fine.

Eat

Salted caramel acai bowl at Niche & Co., Tugun | Locals Guide: Gold Coast

Salted caramel acai bowl at Niche & Co.

If you love acai bowls, I’ve tried and tested just about every damn bowl on the coast and recommend Niche & Co in Tugun as my number one. They have a pretty extensive menu but their salted caramel acai bowl is amazing. They add vanilla protein, caramel sauce and chocolate coconut yoghurt. So good!

You can also get your purple berry fix at Borough (Greens) in Burleigh – instead of the traditional blended acai bowls, these guys have whipped acai. It looks and tastes like ice-cream and is a real winner on a hot day (no melting!).

Blendlove in Southport do a pretty mean acai bowl with chocolate muesli. Usually, I’ll grab one of their raw vegan cheesecakes too!

The Salt Mill Currumbin | Local Guides: Gold Coast

The Salt Mill, Currumbin

In the peak of summer, I also love going to the Salt Mill in Currumbin. The acai bowls are simple, delicious and located just opposite one of the most beautiful stretches of beach on the coast. Grab your bowl to go and sit across the road in the park or on the beach, such a quality spot.

Lastly, order the peanut butter acai bowl from RAW Energy Burleigh. I love this café so much and I go there so regularly, the girl behind the counter just laughs because I always order the same thing.

Paddock Bakery | Local Guides: Gold Coast

The best breakfast on the Gold Coast, hands down, is at Paddock Bakery in Miami. I love how you can see their chefs at work in the kitchen and also how they make everything on site. Order the dippy eggs and make sure you add avocado.

Unlike traditional bakeries (who have chefs start at 2am to bake), Paddock has chefs working around the clock turning out fresh bread all day long. I have tried a few of the cookies and I think the best would be the white chocolate and macadamia nut cookie, always fresh from the oven.

Poke bowl } Local Guides: Gold Coast

Right now, the Gold Coast is mad for poke bowls – for the best one on the coast, head to Caffeine Kings in Miami. Make sure you arrive at about 12:00pm as they close early-ish. I love their vegetarian poke with ponzu sauce – fresh and delicious.

If you’re looking for other top vegetarian eats, RAW Energy have a really great lunch menu which is not that expensive and I also love, love, love, The Pocket in Burleigh. Their falafels are the best!

If you’re shopping at Robina, I usually visit Coming Home Co. for paleo and Naked Treaties for vegan eats – they’re both part of the new foodie precinct, The Kitchens. Cardamom Pod at the Brick Works Ferry Rd also has a really incredible vegetarian menu. I usually order the Buddha Bowl because I love anything with sweet potato.

For date night, you can’t go past Sparrow in Nobby’s (Nobby Beach) for a tapas-style dinner. They have great wine and a real intimate atmosphere. Greenhouse Canteen for the best vegan eats PLUS Stone and Wood on tap (keeps the other half happy), and Little Plate in Burleigh for something a little different but very satisfying.

Also, I am just putting it out there that North Burleigh Surf Club has the best chicken parmigiana on the coast. I’m considering becoming a member for it. Haha! 

Drink

Nook Espresso Burleigh Heads | Local Guides: Gold Coast

I absolutely love my morning coffee at my Nook Espresso. They make the most delicious and creamy cappuccinos! Plus it’s right next to the Burleigh headland, so it’s a nice morning ritual to drink your coffee whilst watching the surf.

For cocktails with an unbeatable view, head to Rick Shores at Burleigh Heads. I really like their espresso martinis. If you can grab a seat on the deck chairs outside overlooking the beach, then that’s the dream.

Justin's Rooftop | Local Guides: Gold Coast

Cocktails at Justin’s Rooftop, Burleigh Heads

Justin’s Rooftop is the best bet for after sundown, always. Order the ‘Adeline’ cocktail, which is on tap, made with kombucha and Aperol. (PS. Their seafood pizza and the Bolognese pasta are the best if you’re tempted to stay for dinner, too).

It’s a bit of fun getting into Lockwood Bar in Burleigh – a speakeasy-inspired bar – and once in it’s pretty cool and laid back. They have some good craft beers worth trying.

At Ze Pickle in Burleigh, I like to start with margaritas and then sweet potato fries. Winning combination!

And, of course, beers are always good at the local surf club – I love the views at Vikings in Currumbin the most.

STAY

La Costa Motel | Local Guides: Gold Coast

La Costa Motel, Bilinga

If you want to stay in the centre of the action (in my universe, anyway), book into Bujerum Apartments in Burleigh Heads. The two and three-bedroom apartments are right on the waterfront and make living like a local feel completely natural.

To get your design-centred heart beating faster, check out Bon Sol in Burleigh and for a retro treat, head to La Costa Motel in Bilinga.

There are also some really cool guesthouses to be found on Airbnb if you search around Tugun.

(Psst! For a list of other top places to stay on the coast, check out this post.)

PLAY

Burleigh Head National Park | Local Guides: Gold Coast

There’s no better way to start your day than with an early morning walk in Burleigh Head National Park. When you reach the Tumgun Lookout at the top it’s incredible. It’s a really peaceful place early morning, plus, they just re-opened the ocean track after a little facelift which has made the path a little wider now.

If you really want to sweat, head to HOT YOGA Burleigh Heads – my favourite sweaty workout is their HITT Pilates class. My fiance won’t come anymore cause he is convinced he almost had a heart attack!

One of the best free things to do is find a patch of grass to watch a sunset or sunrise on the weekend. Burleigh headland gets a bit crowded at sunset so head to North Burleigh lookout or stay down on the beach. Miami is a really beautiful spot also.

You definitely can’t go past Tallebudgera Creek for a dip. If you take the track through the Burleigh Headland National Park there is a turn off to a really small cove that most people usually miss as it’s a little more hidden. It’s just before you start the incline section of the walk, you can’t miss the blue water and white sand peeking through the trees. (*It also depends on the tides.)

SHOP

Salt Living Coolangatta | Local Guides: Gold Coast

Salt Living, Coolangatta

For homewares you cannot go past SALT LIVING in Coolangatta at The Strand; I often dream about buying the entire contents of this store for my house. They have a number of cute designers from Byron in their mix such as Zulu and Zephyr and St Agni.

I also love Freedom State (stocking Spell Designs), Bikini & Me and ANUK in Burleigh. Bikini & Me always have the most gorgeous summer pieces (as the name suggests, bikinis!) and often they will stock something a little different (like a new unheard of designer or Italian leather etc.). I picked up a beautiful sarong here once that was hand-block printed in India; it’s one of my favourite pieces.

For fresh produce, head to the Burleigh Farmers Markets on Saturdays. I take my dog Tallow and he gets pats so he likes this too.

Local’s tip

It’s sometimes near impossible to get a park at Currumbin Alley in summer, but it’s also worth the minor road rage.

Also, you have to do Burleigh headland on a Sundays afternoon once in your life.

What are some of your fave things to do on the Gold Coast? Share with us below.