Why visit Coolangatta on the Gold Coast
In many years of Solo Travels in Australia, I came across the most varied Australian landmarks, with secluded beaches and wilderness areas. But I never felt the need to visit the Gold Coast’s buzzing life, nor I felt naturally attracted to see this part of Australia. It’s only in 2013 that my curiosity about the Gold Coast started to grow more and more while listening to other travellers’ stories and their enthusiasm about it.
A few facts about the Gold Coast
I was keen to see with my own eyes the place that attracts over 5 million tourists every year from all over the world. An interesting fact 15% is that Gold Coast visitors return to visit or even buy properties there to become permanent residents. Indeed the Gold coast of Australia is the fastest-growing region in Australia, with an average growth in the population of 5% per year.
The idea of diving into a Miami-like bustling city surrounded by skyscrapers, hundred of hotels lining the beach, clubs, massive shopping malls was frightening me. At first, I did not know where to go and what to do there. Coolangatta was recommended by friends I met on my Australia Trips. I followed their tips.
Where is Coolangatta on the Gold Coast
Coolangatta is located in Southern Queensland on the border to New South Wales, to the twin town Tweed Heads. It is quirky how this geographical border is shaping the same place in two different states. A sculpture at the roundabout on Boundary Street is the only visible sign of the geographical border unless you know about it. You could not tell you are in 2 different states just by crossing the road.
This means that during the 6 months of light saving, there will be 2 different times zone within the same towns. In fact, Queensland does not have any light saving system, but NSW does, so it makes visitors’ stay a bit complicated but fun at the same time.
The funniest thing is on New Year’s Eve when you can actually celebrate the New Year twice by joining another club across the road…one hour after midnight.
What to do and see in Coolangatta
Coolangatta is different from Surfers Paradise. Although there are high buildings in the town centre, the architecture has more gentle, soft contours with plenty of natural attractions, pretty surf beaches, long wide stretches of sandy beaches, offering great walking and sighting of Surfers Paradise from afar.
The Long Beach Walk
I can highly recommend doing the long walk from the Pacific Parade or a shorter one from the Marine Parade up to the Captain Cook Memorial Lighthouse.
This walk takes you through the famous swimming beaches like Greenmount Beach to Greenmount Heathland down to Rainbow Bay, a trendy surfing spot, along with Snapper Rocks, the most eastern rocky point.
From there, you keep walking up to the hill for a grandiose 180-degrees view over the ocean. This is Point Danger. On the lookout, you can take photos of Captain Cook Memorial Lighthouse and enjoy a stunning view over the ocean, the jetty and the lovely Duranbah Beach with the Tweed River Inlets that you can see from afar.
The whole area is a green area popular for picnics with BBQ facilities.
More fun things to do in Coolangatta
Next to the bustling beachside town with lots of shops, boutiques, cafes, clubs, pubs and live entertainment, you can visit the wildlife sanctuary in Currumbin, which is only a 7km drive from town. If you need a nature escape at some stage, with a short drive inland (30km), you can reach the wonderful rainforest and do one of the many walks.
The Lamington National Park and the Springbrook National Park are very close to Coolangatta and home to an ancient volcanic area with beautiful walking trails. One walking trail takes you up to Mount Warning’s summit, which is a must when visiting Coolangatta. This is a great area to see wildlife and rare ancient trees estimated to be 2000 years old.
While my 2 days in Coolangatta were just a small taste of the Gold Coast, I think that this place is a great stopover on your East Coast Trip, walking along its beautiful beaches, watching surfers catching waves and taking photos of stunning Surfers Paradise on the horizon.
Where to Stay in Coolangatta
On my first trip, I stayed in the YHA Coolangatta, very close to the city centre. If you want a more classic hotel, here is the best site for booking hotels in Coolangatta.
First published in 2013, last updated in April 2021
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