Find Your Cool in Coolangatta

Once considered the plain cousin to Gold Coast's holiday strip, Coolangatta has come of age with plenty to see and do.

Once you’ve reached Coolangatta, you’ve hit the end of the Gold Coast, with New South Wales right around the corner. But the fun is definitely not over yet. Coming of age at its own pace, ‘Coolie’ is no longer the Gold Coast’s plain and sleepy little cousin, with plenty of world class surfing spots, coastal gems, luxury accommodation, and eclectic boutiques and bars proving there’s still plenty more fun to be had.

Take the scenic walking trail around the headland
Take the scenic walking trail around the headland. (©Tourism & Events Queensland)

Things to Do Outdoors in Coolangatta

Coolangatta might have a cool, new vibe these days but one thing that hasn’t changed is the area’s natural beauty. Greenmount Hill, a 30-metre high headland covered with pine trees and lush, green foliage, forms a picturesque border between Greenmount Beach and sleepy Rainbow Bay. A walking trail takes you around the headland from Coolangatta to a long, pristine beach which leads to Snapper Rocks, the gateway to a spectacular 20-kilometre stretch of surf breaks which were recently listed as a World Surfing Reserve.

When it comes to outstanding breaks, Coolangatta has more than its fair share. It’s no coincidence this beach is home to the world famous Quiksilver and Roxy Pro surf competitions. According to surfing legend Rabbit Bartholomew, Snapper Rocks has one of the most consistent quality breaks in Australia. Nearby Rainbow Bay is famous for its sharp right-hand point break while Greenmount has a beach break that can be ridden at high or low tide. Occasionally all three breaks connect, making for an impressively long ride.

Mantra hotel, Coolangatta, Australia
Indulge in a luxury stay at Mantra Coolangatta. (Courtesy Mantra Coolangatta)

Sweet Dreams: Hotels in Coolangatta

Most of the accommodation along Marine Parade was built before Coolangatta became trendy but that doesn’t mean you need to rough it. Mantra Coolangatta personifies the area’s changing face with newly renovated one, two and three bedroom apartments featuring chic, beachy decor with matching art prints on the walls. The outdoor dining setting on the balcony offers views stretching from Kirra to Coolangatta and beyond plus there is a comfortable lounge area with in-house movies available for those who tire of watching the passing parade along the beach. Well-priced studio rooms with a small kitchenette are ideal for travellers staying overnight before their early morning flight out of nearby Gold Coast airport. It’s a great way to kick off that international holiday a day early.

Pick up some great finds at The Strand
Pick up some great finds at The Strand (Courtesy Southern Gold Coast)

Shopping On The Strip

Fresh from a $60 million upgrade, The Strand is home to the type of eclectic boutiques not usually found in suburban shopping centres. Moelleux (pronounced mweh-leu) stocks rock n’ roll inspired boutique clothing brands like Stolen Girlfriends Club while vibrant johnei&jo offers an irresistible mix of contemporary and vintage-inspired homewares. Dance enthusiasts can kick up their heels at My Juja Dance Fever, a shoe store featuring rock and roll, swing, jazz and ballroom styles and more. Not surprisingly, there’s also a cool surfwear store that is as popular with groms as it is with their hipster parents. For a blast from the past, check out the Red Cross Thrift Shop which has plenty of retro, old-school finds.

café Bellakai, Coolangatta, Australia
Next door to Mantra, you'll find trendy café Bellakai. (Courtesy Bellakai)

Restaurants in Coolangatta

In days gone by, the closest thing Coolangatta had to a ‘restaurant’ was a snack bar serving burgers with the lot. How times have changed. Now the main shopping street is home to the likes of celebrity
 chef Daniel Ridgeway’s slick new restaurant, Bin 72,
 which specialises in share plates such as prawn stuffed zucchini flowers with jalapeno dipping sauce. Bin 72 is the ideal spot for a lazy afternoon drink or long lunch overlooking Coolangatta’s pristine white beach. Next door, Delizioso dishes up Italian favourites such as pizza and pasta, with the same knockout view.

Other dining options include Griffith Street Larder which serves ‘Bread or Bowl’ options including corn meal crusted soft shell crab with Vietnamese salad or the vegetarian-friendly crumbed zucchini with mint, crushed peas, feta, chilli and watercress. For tasty Cal-Mex head to the Beach Burrito Company, a bright-and-breezy Californian-style beach shack where the margaritas and pina coladas are available by the glass or the jug.

Next door to the Mantra you’ll find Bellakai, one of the trendy cafes which lead Coolangatta’s cool revolution. It opens at 4.30 am to cater to the surfing crowd and is the go-to spot for breakfast. If you’re travelling with a four-legged friend, head to The Black Sheep Espresso Baa
 for a cute lactose-free Pupacino designed especially for dogs.

Nearby Rainbow Bay still leans towards the old-school options of holidays past with the notable exception of Little Mali, a sweet café where patrons perch on milk crates and eat organic sweet treats while they create original chalk art on the footpath. Everything old is new again 
at Coolangatta.