Visiting Coolangatta is like opening the Gold Coast’s very own front door! It greets you with its stunning beaches, an abundance of cafes and restaurants and a surf history that’s as deep and rich as any in the world.
Like when Barack Obama said “It’s hot in Brisbane BUT it’s Coolangatta” we were all nodding we know Barack… that’s why we come here… geez, don’t tell everyone.
Coolangatta’s secret is out and why not break down some of this town’s surprising gems into bite sized pieces for everyone to share and enjoy. Here’s our pick of all the best things to do in Coolangatta.
Sitting like a sweet little farmhouse in the middle of busy Griffith Street, Rockleigh Cafe is our top pick for breakfast in Coolangatta! Grab a table outside under the shady tree and order our favourite: a mixed confit of mushrooms with kale, goats curd, walnut crumb, pickled cucumber and salsa verde on sourdough. Are you picking up what we’re putting down? Good.
The Bread Social
The gang from Byron have come north and brought with them their mouth-watering baked goods! Technically sitting just across the border in Tweed Heads, The Bread Social offers up one of the most impressive pastry cabinets perhaps on the entire Coast. Choose from a crispy pork and fennel sausage roll, lemon myrtle meringue or a loaf of their insane sourdough and you’ll forget that you ever just popped in here for a coffee!
Griffith St Larder
Whether you’re on the run or have time to sit and relax, Griffith St Larder has your caffeine fix sorted. Order your takeaway through their sweet little side window or step inside to enjoy a smooth brew with beans from the local folks at Blackboard Coffee. The ideal brunch spot, try their ‘bread or bowl’ options or their famous Eggs Benny on a Hash Brown and curl up into a little food induced, brunch coma.
So, you’re salty, sandy and left your thongs over the road at Greenmount Beach, but the crew at Little Mali won’t mind in the slightest! A perfect little pit stop to pick up a refreshing Coco-whip bowl, freshly made salad or just a coffee to take back to your beach umbrella, Little Mali is a must visit when beachside in Coolangatta.
Pop up over the hill to this well-known Coolangatta classic and you might just spy a famous local surfer or two. Upstairs gives stunning ocean views and is the perfect way to enjoy one of their signature burgers (our favourite is the southern fried chicken) or try the chilli spanner crab linguini. Stroll through Cafe DBar's adjoining art gallery to really make an afternoon of this famous part of Coolangatta.
Coolangatta and Tweed Heads are twin towns sharing the state border, meaning we like to lay claim to each other’s things in true sister style. SOZO Square is just one example sitting on the Tweed side of the border but frequented by all in the area. A vegan cafe specialising in all things green and clean, stop in and try their massive vegan nacho plate. Cashew cheese is a thing people and it’s tasty as hell.
Now this one is for the serious coffee lovers! Sip some of Zephyr’s signature roasted beans of goodness OR they can create a custom roast to take home specific to your liking and packed full of bragging rights to your next house guest. “Did you know this is my personal signature blend? Yes and I have many leather bound books…” We will also let slip that they make a Reuben sandwich toasted jaffle. SOLD!
The Black Sheep Espresso Baa
The first thing that’ll strike you about The Black Sheep is the size, it’s somewhat of a hole in the wall. Yet don’t let the size deter you, as they deliver a mean breakfast despite the limited real estate. Their buddha and poke bowls are worth seeking out as are their baked goods, with muesli flapjacks, sweet and savoury muffins and coconut raspberry slices regularly pulled from their oven.
Restaurants & Bars
As soon as you step inside Tasca you realise it’s more than just a cute little wine bar. Boasting a modern, simple Mediterranean-inspired menu matched with continuously changing wines and the faaaareshest of cocktails (try the Jalapeno Margarita!) you WILL make a return visit here, we bet our last squid ring on it.
Describing itself as having Neo Napoletana-style pizzas, Francie's has been a hit with locals and visitors ever since we kicked down their door with anticipation. Think crispy handmade bases, the freshest of ingredients and a woodfired oven just like your Nonna’s—only more Instafamous. Did we mention it also has an extensive vegan menu? Totes 2018 Francie's! Bellisimo!
Eddie’s Grub House
Ummmm, what’s a grub house? Well, child, let’s step inside Eddie’s and discuss it over a shot of whisky and the best triple cheeseburger your grubby little hands can struggle to hold. The vibe? Well, if Lemmy, Mick and Muddy all wanted a place to chill, eat smoky hot wings and play a game of darts over a Jameson or two, this is where they’d come. Step inside to eat, drink, be merry and make mayhem.
Baskk At Kirra Point
Open for lunch and dinner, Baskk is where all your seaside dining dreams come true. This newly renovated, beach house-inspired offering sits right on the cusp of Coolangatta and Kirra’s shoreline. Blue swimmer crab with fresh apple, avocado and crisps will have you reaching for the menu to order more. Monday night Roast Night is famous and so are the cocktail creations from their bar. Reserve a table quick for sunset drinks, this place is trés popular!
The Tiki gods have spoken and they said, “We want a Hawaiian bar with Mexican food and super kitsch decor and we Tiki gods want it noooooow!” To avoid having cocktail umbrellas rain down from the heavens, the crew at Tupe-Aloha have created such a place and boy are we glad they did. Order a Pina Colada (now get the song stuck in your head, mmwahaha!) while you enjoy super tasty burritos and check the surf from across the road. Tiki Gods, be stoked.
Greenhouse Canteen & Bar
You don’t have to be vegan to enjoy the fresh and innovative menu at Greenhouse Canteen & Bar. The Greenhouse crew have created a leafy sanctuary right here in the heart of Coolangatta. Sit out in their light filled atrium and try the antipasto board or a deconstructed beetroot burger (soooo good!). Finish it all off with one of Greenhouse’s signature cocktails and rest easy knowing you have tread a little lighter on this good, green earth.
Looking for somewhere to cure those post surf hunger pains? Bondi Grill’e serve up burgers that can cure any ailment while saving you the hassle of having to eat for the next 24 hours or so. Try one of their ‘Surfer’s Choice’ burger options or their famous slow-cooked ribs if you’re feeling especially drained after a big day of waves.
A Coolangatta staple, like a friend who never lets you down and feeds you sticky pork belly and braised beef check...you know, the best kind of friend. BIN 72 not only boasts a view from Kirra to Greenmount, it also has gorgeous bar seating perfect for sipping your Jalapeno and Guava Margarita at. Yep, best friends forever!
Rattle Snake Nightclub
So, you’re too far down the rabbit hole to call it a night, and the only way to ward off those future-me-is-gunna-hate-me feels is with an all-night booty shake on the D-floor. If you’re on the hunt for some late action come weekends, a long-standing favourite with the 20-something crowd is Rattle Snake nightclub.
Take A Walk Around The 'Superbank’
Want to work off all the eating you’ve done in your new favourite Coolie cafes? This easy stroll is your best bet. Winding from Kirra all the way up and over to Duranbah Beach, take in the spectacular ocean front views whilst checking one of the most famous surf breaks in Australia. There’s a coffee stop, bathroom stop, surf check stop and beer stop all along the way. What more could you want from an afternoon stroll?
Sink Frosty Pots At The Rainbow Bay Surf Club
The ‘best television in the world’ is what Coolangatta locals like to call their waterfront loungeroom view from the Rainbow Bay SLSC. Cold beers flow on tap, giant chicken parmis waft out of the kitchen and if you listen closely enough, tales of waves surfed past and present bounce from wall to wall in this iconic Coolangatta location. Order a schooner of local Balter beer, sit back and listen to some surfing tales told, both tall and true. A visit here is our top pick among the best things to do in Coolangatta.
Wander The Beachfront Art & Craft Market
This little crafty gem is on every second Sunday of the month and is held in Queen Elizabeth Park, which is Coolie talk for right on the beach front! Pick up a handmade candle or some locally made goats milk soap, all while feasting from a bevy of local food trucks.
Learn To Surf
Okay, so by now you’ve realised Coolangatta has some pretty epic surf breaks and you really need to get in and amongst the action! The best in the business is Dave Davidson from Learn to Surf Coolangatta. A long time local and not to mention former professional surfer and Australian open surfing team coach, Dave will have you up, surfing and, most importantly, smiling within 20 minutes of your lesson! Yeeeew!
Catch A Band At The Coolie Hotel
Known for housing some of Australia’s biggest touring musical acts, Coolie Hotel is where to go to get your live gig fix. Upstairs in the Coolie Band Room, a wide range of different local and international musicians will entertain a wide range of music lovers. Check their current gig guide to see if your favourite band is in town.
Sky Dive Over The Beach
If you’re looking for one of the most extreme things to do in Coolangatta, Gold Coast Skydive is located just mere minutes from Coolangatta and is the only sky dive centre on the Coast! Take off from the Gold Coast Airport and fall effortlessly over the Coolangatta, Kirra and Tugun coastline. Pick the right time of year and you might even see a whale or two…worthy of keeping the eyes open for!
Watch The Whale Migration
Every year between June and November we are lucky enough to welcome these majestic creatures to our coastline. If you’re looking for a free, easy and romantic way to see them, head to the top of D’Bah Hill. Our tip: pack a picnic rug, bottle of sparkling and take in the free nature show. Leave the binoculars at home folks, you won’t need them!
Take a little beach chic home with you from this stunning Coolangatta boutique. Located inside The Strand Arcade, this homeware and clothing store stocks brands such as Ahoy Trader, St. Agni, Bonnie & Neil, Posie and Zulu & Zephyr, just to name a few. Buy a keepsake from your trip or redesign the entire interior of your house, Salt Living can do it all.
Step inside this moody, monochromatic store and be sure to find something unique and classic. A crisp white shirt from Viktoria+Woods or perhaps the softest Italian leather bag from Dylan Kain; these brands and many more sit in harmony within Moelleux’s slick designer walls.
Maverick Hair & Art Space
Not only does this stunning warehouse space hold some of the friendliest hairdressers in town, it’s also home to a super trendy art space and bookstore! Maverick Hair and Art Space boasts ever changing exhibitions, events, workshops and one of the most impressive collections of creative art and travel books we’ve ever seen. Cruise up the staircase off Griffith Street for a super friendly surprise.
20TH Century Antiques & Collectables
Rainy day in Coolie? Fancy yourself a bit of an undercover Antiques Roadshow geek? It’s okay, we won’t tell anyone, but be sure to lose yourself for hours in the classic, kooky and kitsch wonders in this seemingly never-ending store. Early 1900s cedar church pew? Oh, you shouldn’t have!
Think tropical palm motifs, rattan pendant lights and earthy toned interiors. Village Stores will have you lusting after a piece of coastal property just so you can fill it with all their wares. Check out their sister stores a little further up the Coast, and you’ll find yourself asking, “Can we move in, guys?”
Worked your way through the best things to do in Coolangatta? How about exploring Currumbin next?