Story: Tanya Joslin
Looking for a laidback Gold Coast short break? An easy-breezy escape with boutique accommodation and plenty of sun, surf and sand? We’ve found it! Just cruise on past the hustle and bustle to discover the Southern Gold Coast, home to some of the most beautiful beaches in Queensland.
With its mellow vibes, incredible scenery, and fresh foodie scene, this area offers a refreshingly relaxed beach holiday or weekend getaway for couples. And, with Coolangatta Airport right there, interstate visitors can fly in for a Gold Coast weekend and be on the beach in no time.
We were smitten by the old-school charm during a recent stay on the Southern Gold Coast, which unfurls from Palm Beach to Coolangatta. Bunking down in retro-modern beach hotels with a leisurely agenda of ocean swims and gourmet adventures made 48 hours seem much longer. And the uncomplicated feel reminded us of classic Australian beach holidays of our childhood — but with some of the best Gold Coast restaurants at our fingertips!
The clincher? The region’s proximity to another holiday gem: the enchanting Gold Coast Hinterland. It’s hard to believe this area of astonishing natural beauty is less than half an hour away.
Here’s how to make the most of 48 hours on the Southern Gold Coast for couples. Follow our lead or cherry-pick your favourite experiences for a custom GC escape.
Day one: Sip & soak
Before checking into your Gold Coast accommodation, head to beautiful Currumbin Valley and wind down with a bite to eat at Pasture & Co and a healing soak at neighbouring wellness sanctuary, The Bathhouse. Both are located at Ground, a community of like-minded businesses operating within the lush surrounds of Currumbin Valley’s EcoVillage.
With its rustic vibe, serene green setting, and giant 100-year-old fig trees, Pasture & Co. offers a delightful dining experience. Look out for wild kangaroos as you sip your Mermaid Smoothie and feast on a tempting menu featuring fresh, locally sourced produce and a focus on both quality and sustainability. Their free-range Eggs Benny is our tip!
Now, time to soak. The moment you enter the wild surrounds of The Bathhouse, you’ll feel your stress start to fade. Nestled amongst a luscious natural landscape, the collection of cedar hot tubs, spas, saunas, and mineral-rich plunge pools invites you to melt into your Gold Coast short break with a steam, steep or dip. We double-dare you to try the invigorating ice bath (okay, we weren’t quite brave enough for this one!).
We can recommend the outdoor ‘far-infrared’ sauna, combining the healing power of infrared light with colour therapy lighting to improve everything from sleep quality to muscle recovery. We found ourselves returning to its comforting warmth several times (a perfect mid-winter treat).
Day 1: Sleep
Remember we mentioned those boutique Gold Coast hotels? Well, it’s time to meet the lovely Crystal Pacific. Originally built in 1967, this Palm Beach property has just been elegantly updated with two-bedroom apartments, modern amenities, and a clean, coastal style that draws from the surrounding surf culture and landscape.
Crystal Pacific effortlessly captures the essence of a Gold Coast beach getaway. The heated magnesium pool is sure to be a favourite spot while lazy afternoons are best spent on your private deck, curled up on the cushy hanging daybed. Sure, we love a sprawling five-star resort as much as the next couple, but Crystal Pacific really won us over with its chic aesthetic, exclusive feel, and touches of nostalgia.
And because a Gold Coast short break is all about the water, you also have the beach just 50 metres away and glorious Tallebudgera Creek (Tally to the locals) within easy strolling distance. There are also heaps of fantastic restaurants and bars nearby.
Day 1: Dine
Which brings us to dinner! Our pick is Palm Beach’s Balboa Italian, recently awarded a chef hat by the Australian Good Food Guide. Did I mention the Southern Gold Coast has become a bit of a foodie haven? The warmly inviting industrial-luxe interior features exposed brick and beams offset with statement lighting and greenery. For a romantic night out, ask for a table in one of the intimate nooks or private seating areas.
Classic Italian techniques and quality ingredients come together in a menu that riffs on modern and traditional dishes. Among the delicious lineup of antipasto, pizzas, pastas, gnocchi, risotto, and desserts, there’s plenty of vegan and gluten-free options too. We can vouch for the Confit Lamb Shoulder (melt-in-the-mouth tender) and the Crispy Skin Pork Belly with Zucchini Spaghetti. Indulge your tastebuds and sip your way around the extensive wine and cocktail selection. Saluti!
Day 2: Stretch & stroll
Start your day in paradise with a unique experience: a stand-up paddleboarding yoga session … at sunrise! Join Pure Aloha Yoga at Tallebudgera Creek and witness the breathtaking break of day as you paddle upstream. Then, anchor at a small sand cay and immerse mind and body in a gentle flow of ‘floating’ yoga poses. Our tip? Get into the moment and embrace the elements as you find balance and tranquillity on the water. Pure Aloha Yoga provides equipment and guidance, whether you’re a beginner or an experienced yogi. Oh, and they also offer a sunset session if you don’t fancy the early start!
Now that your muscles are feeling relaxed, you may want to keep them moving with a walk through the pristine Burleigh Heads National Park, just north of the estuary. Known as The Point, this headland serves as the starting point for the park’s various walking trails. Our pick is the popular Oceanview Track, a flat and easy trail around the headland, taking in breathtaking ocean views. The park is also home to diverse ecosystems, including coastal rainforests, heathlands, mangroves, eucalyptus trees, and pandanus plants plus plenty of cheeky wildlife. Another sensory treat for body and mind.
Day 2: Brekky + lunch
Okay, you’ve definitely earned breakfast now! So, head to the Custard Canteen, a super cute eatery just footsteps from Tally Creek. They offer a delightful all-day brunch menu and delicious homemade pastries. I was given a hot tip to try the Portuguese tart and think it’s worth passing on!
After a bit of a lounge back at Crystal Pacific, it’s time to check out and head off for lunch (lucky you got that extra walk in!). When deciding where to eat on the Southern Gold Coast, why not check out new golden girl, Siblings Kirra? Founded by brothers Jarrod Kyle and TJ Cianci, the location is unbeatable (just a coin toss from the waves) and the heritage-listed building is a local landmark. Once home to a Pizza Hut, the Kirra Pavilion has been completely reimagined inside with a coastal-cool fit-out, splashes of peach and pistachio, and a nod to Miami’s 1950s beach clubs.
Order a glass of Prosecco (the expansive Liquid Journey menu is all kinds of awesome) as you check out the offerings from head chef Blake Fewtrell. Seafood, share plates, and mouthwatering desserts feature on a Modern Australian menu that draws from Asian, European, and American flavours. So good. The freshly shucked oysters and Steak Frite (black angus sirloin with skin-on frites and miso bearnaise) come highly recommended — and the vegan menu also looks delish. Even during the winter months, the Gold Coast weather (almost!) never fails to impress, and watching the waves while indulging in a delicious meal is holiday heaven in our book.
Day 2: Sleep
Tonight, we’re moving slightly further south to enjoy another of the Gold Coast’s newly renovated 60s boutique hotels. With a plum location right on Bilinga Beach (close to famed Snapper Rocks), Tessa’s on the Beach combines classic Palm Springs style with a relaxed GC ambiance. True to its name, you’ll have direct access to the sandy shores and sparkling ocean whenever the mood strikes.
Mid-century vibes have been brought into the now throughout the 16 rooms and four suites: all individually decorated with retro-modern furnishings and a fabulous tropical flavour. Our ground-floor Sandy Toes Seafront King Room offered an ensuite and lounge, stellar ocean views, and access to the sun-kissed outdoor area with white picket fence, lounge seating and sun umbrellas. Highly recommend!
Spend the afternoon soaking up the exclusive yet relaxed oceanfront ambience. It reminded us of carefree childhood days spent at beach hotels where we could wake up and step outside for a swim. A memory updated with grown-up cocktails as there’s also a bar & café! Lounge, read, and enjoy the sea breeze or take a dip in the silky waters of the magnesium swimming pool.
If you’re flying into the Gold Coast, this adorable beachfront boutique hotel is located less than two kilometres from the airport, so you can get away without hiring a car. Exploring this highly walkable area is a breeze, and you can also rent a bicycle from reception.
Things to see & do
If you do want to venture out from Tessa’s on the Beach, here are a few ideas:
- Cycle or SUP. Hire a set of wheels from Tessa’s and cruise along the seaside path that runs alongside some of the Gold Coast’s most beautiful southern beaches. Tessa’s also hires out paddleboards for all your ocean-borne adventures.
- Stroll to the lookouts. If you’d prefer a leisurely walk, the Rainbow Bay and Point Danger lookouts are approximately five kilometres away and offer breathtaking views from the most southern part of Queensland.
- Raise a glass. Fancy a drink? Head to Currumbin’s upbeat Balter Brewing Company for a cold beer or Gin Fizz.
Day 2: Dine
There’s nothing like a walk along the beach at dusk to bring the night in. Head down to bustling Kirra again, this time to Agave Rosa, a bold new ‘restaurant & taqueria’ created by chef and restaurateur Franz Zdesar. Painted by local artist Bastian Allfrey, the interiors feature a striking use of pink, plush booth seating, and a playful ‘Let them eat tacos’ mural.
This fun, fresh restaurant offers a creative menu to match, fusing Mexican fare with Japanese flavours (think Tuna Sashimi Tostada and Popcorn Prawn Tempura). If, like us, you can’t decide what to order, opt for the set menu. Paired with a jug of Sangria or a Classic Margarita or two, we promise it will be a culinary adventure to remember!
Need a nightcap? Stop by Bar Evelyn. This cosy wine-focused pizza bar serves up delicious pizza, pasta, cocktails and tipples from Surf Parade, Coolangatta (Cooly).
Day 3: Brekky + beach
Wake to the sound of ocean waves and enjoy a morning walk from Bilinga to Kirra before fronting up for breakfast at beautiful Dune Cafe, Palm Beach (Palmy, of course!). Alternatively, head straight to brekky if you had a late-nighter at Bar Evelyn.
We highly recommend spending the rest of the day around Kirra Beach — it wouldn’t be a Gold Coast trip without an afternoon at the beach! With its world-class waves, sparkling sea, and clean stretch of sand, Kirra has long been a favourite with beach-lovers and seasoned surfers alike. Whether you’re bobbing in the sea, strolling the shore, or checking out the area’s sun-drenched cafes, Kirra embodies the spirit of a relaxed Southern Gold Coast getaway.