Winter break on the Gold Coast

The Gold Coast is an iconic Australian holiday destination, famed for its sandy beaches and surfing spots. The weather on the Gold Coast is sub- tropical and can be a little hit and miss in the winter months. For the most part during our trip, the temperature was between 20 -23 degrees celsius, warm during the day and cool at night. This meant that after sunset we were layering our down jackets on!

The canals of the Gold Coast

The Gold Coast isn’t the destination you normally think of for a fuss free, laid back beachside escape. It is more synonymous with a luxury holiday full of glitz and high adrenaline adventure. We decided to take an 8 day mid-winter escape on Australia’s iconic stretch of sand and B’s one request was that we were going to do nothing… This was actually a really hard concept to wrap my head around, however I managed to pack a few adventures into the trip! We divided our time between a quiet coastal break near Coolangatta before heading north to the city lights of Surfers Paradise.

You can just make out the city of Surfers Paradise in the distance from Kirra beach, Coolangatta.

Accomodation:

Iconic at Kirra Beach

We stayed five nights at the Iconic Kirra Beach apartment hotel in Coolangatta, which is relatively new. The apartments are all modern and well designed, we had a stunning view of Kirra Beach from our balcony. The apartment was directly opposite the beach and was within walking distance to the supermarket and a host of dining options in Coolangatta.

The reception of our serviced apartment on Kirra beach
Beyond the glass doors is a balcony with a view of Kirra beach.
Bedroom

Marriott Surfers Paradise Resort

For the second part of our stay, we headed to Surfers Paradise and stayed three nights at the Marriott Surfers Paradise resort. We had travelled to the Gold Coast for a close friends wedding and had the opportunity to stay in this beautiful resort during the wedding festivities. The hotel is one of the older properties on the Gold Coast. However the staff are dedicated to guest comfort and were incredibly helpful with anything we requested!

The Marriott garden

Although the rooms of the Marriott, had dated fittings they were still bright and airy. The stunning feature of this hotel is their outdoor salt water pool. It has been landscaped to look like a tropical island with green shrubs, an imposing rock walk with a waterfall and a man made beach. The salt water pool is where the hotel has created their tropical reef complete with a variety of fish species! It’s possible to grab some snorkel gear and go swimming with the fishes all in the comfort of your hotel! The pool area also includes a heated outdoor pool, spa area, water slides and a pool bar. It was the next best thing to visiting the Whitsundays!

The stunning salt water pool of the Marriott Hotel complete with tropical reef and fish. You can go for snorkel adventures or even join a group to feed the fish!

Yoga:

During our time in Kirra beach, near Coolangatta, the goal was to do very little! We spent quiet a bit of the time on the beach, soaking in the sun and admiring the beautiful sunsets.
However, I managed to find a yoga studio nearby and was able to take a few classes during our time in Kirra Beach. I visited Happy Chakra Yoga which is located in Tweed Heads (across the state border in NSW!), which was an easy 20 minute walk from our apartment. The studio was open seven days a week and offered two – three classes a day.

The view of Coolangatta and Tweed Heads (in the distance) from our balcony.

Hike:

When talking to some friends who used to live on the Gold Coast, we were recommend to visit the Tweed Heads coastline. There is a designated walking track from Coolangatta to Snapper Rocks and Point Danger which hugs the Pacific Ocean. The walking track snakes along the coastline before opening up at Rainbow Bay, one of the more picturesque bays in the southern Gold Coast. Here you can catch surfers honing their skills, happy families strolling or having a bite to eat at the surf life saving club.

Walking track to Rainbow Bay
Stunning scenery on the walking track.
Rainbow Bay at sunset

If you continue to walk past Rainbow Bay you’ll come across snapper rocks. This area is full of large basalt rocks that are located just pass the shoreline in the water. The rocks are constantly battered by sea water with each tide. It’s a ruggedly beautiful display of Australia’s coastline.

Snapper Rocks

From here you can take the walking path that meanders up the hill to view Point Danger lookout. As the name suggests, there are more rocks and sandbars along the coastline which would have caused no amount of grief to ships in times past. Looking out to your right you can also see the iconic Tweed heads sandbar which is being cleared to allow access in and out of the river. To the left is the Gold Coast coastline with Surfers Paradise in the distance.

View from Point Danger lookout, towards Tweed Heads.
Point Danger lookout.

From this lookout point you can also see the stunning mansions and apartment complexes that have sprouted up in this beautiful location. My walk brought me here at sunset and it really was a magical way to see this beautiful part of the world!

Sunset at Tweed Heads

Whale Watching:

Between the months of June to October, humpback whales can be seen off the coast of the Gold Coast. This area is colloquially known as the ‘humpback highway’. The humpback whales migrate over 5000km from their summer feeding grounds in Antarctica to their winter calving areas in the warmer waters of the Pacific Ocean. The reason for this annual migration is that their food supply of Krill is in abundance in the cooler waters of the Antarctic however young baby whales don’t have the layer of blubber to survive the cold waters of Antarctica. Humpback whales complete this annual 10000km round trip to meet their feeding needs every year!

Views from our boat trip through Nerang River.

We booked a whale watching tour with Whales in Paradise. The boat departed from the Surfers Paradise marina on the Nerang river. During our boat ride we made our way past many canals coming off the main river and the tour guide gave us a run down on all the celebrity mansions lining the banks of the river canal. Most of these houses cost over $5 million dollars! The tour guide also pointed out that the Nerang River is full of bull sharks and we should avoid falling in or swimming in the river at all costs!

View of Surfers Paradise from the Pacific Ocean.

The catamaran meandered it’s way out to the Gold Coast seaway to meet the Pacific Ocean, which is the deepest and largest ocean in the world! In Australia, whales are a protected species, all whale watching activities need to be completed from a distance and whales can’t be tailgated. Spotting whales requires patience and a steel stomach, the engines of the catamaran are switched off causing the boat to sway with the ocean currents. I had thankfully taken my travel sickness medications on departure. This would be the number one tip! Be prepared and take the medication early if you are prone to travel sickness.

These two whales came over to say hello to us on our boat!

The tour guides taught us quite a bit about the signs to look out for when whale watching. There were a few research groups on board so we also had lots of opportunities to ask questions about the whale behaviours we were witnessing. We were fortunate enough to have two whales curious about our boat. They swam right upto the side of the boat to check us out and stayed with us for over 10 minutes. Such a magical experience to see these gentle giants in action!

Dolphins in the Pacific Ocean.

Along with all the humpback whales we also spotted two different dolphin varieties. The bottleneck and the common dolphin.

Food:

Coolangatta’s mainstrip has a bunch of different restaurants and take away joints that can cater to any appetite, taste and budget. In the shopping centre on the main strip, there is also a food court full of lots of options. Although opening hours were a little difficult to find.

Xenia Grill
This was a highly rated restaurant on google in the Coolangatta area. It is an open air style Greek restaurant. The food options are diverse and really tasty. They do gyros wraps for a quick and easy lunch or dinner option. We ordered their saganaki cheese, dolmades, oysters and a main meal of lamb shoulder. The meat was cooked perfectly!

Saganaki Cheese
Oysters Kilpatrick
Lamb Shoulder with vegetables, this was cooked to perfection!

Lam Lam Thai
We also went to this little Thai restaurant on the main strip of shops in Coolangatta. The atmosphere was really laid back and casual. The food was fantastic, we ordered tamarind prawns which were cooked with large king prawns. We also ordered a fantastic curry. The Thai milk tea was super sweet, yet refreshing.

Tom Kha Soup
Pad See Ew noodles

Sunhouse Surf Kiosk
This was a random cafe that I happened to walk pass. The coffee was ok, however the decor, the loud music and the general laid back vibe was incredibly enticing. They had lots of snacks to have with coffee.

Surfers Cafe
Interior of Surfers Cafe

Critique, Marriott Hotel
The restaurant Critique is known for its seafood buffet on the Gold Coast. The food options were plentiful as you could imagine in a buffet. There were lots of oysters, prawns and crab legs available. They also had a roast of Tasmanian salmon that they were serving in the hot section.
The dessert buffet was also incredible! Loved the chocolate mousse cake!

Prawns, Crab legs, Oysters galore.
Desert buffet

Pool bar, Marriott:
To truly savour the tropical resort experience I had to spend one afternoon by the resort beach! This of course also entailed cocktails. I ordered the Pina Colada which arrived in a young coconut. The cocktail was strong but quite refreshing in the sun! It was a perfect last day of our mid winter get away!

Pineapple juice with mint
Pina Colada in a young coconut.

Transport:

Getting around the Gold Coast can be tricky especially if you are staying further south. Bus and tram services are available although can be a little difficult to navigate. To get to our accomodation in Coolangatta we decided to walk from the airport. It was an easy 20 minute walk overlooking the coast. We later found out our accomodation offered airport shuttle service though! The drive from Coolangatta to Surfers Paradise is 35 minutes we ended up catching an Uber.

Kirra beach with Surfers Paradise in the distance.
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