Splashing Out on Australia's Gold Coast

Prepare to get wet with the Gold Coast’s myriad of water-based activities.

What is the Gold Coast’s No. 1 attraction?

If you answered its theme parks, world-class resorts, incredible entertainment options or the stunning hinterland you’d be close … but wrong.

No, the thing that everyone loves most is the water. Visitors flock to the Gold Coast from all over the world, and it’s the gorgeous warm water of the Pacific Ocean washing onto the golden sands of the myriad beaches that draw them here. They want to lie beside it, gaze upon it, paddle across it, fish in it, look beneath it, float on it and generally let it wash away their cares.

Whatever water-based activity you’re into, the Gold Coast is one of the best places to do it. Here’s how to … 

A surfer at sunrise on Surfers Paradise Beach, Gold Coast, Australia
A surfer at sunrise on Surfers Paradise Beach (Courtesy Gold Coast Tourism)

Go Surfing

The waves that peel around the headlands and line up along the beaches have nurtured some of the great names of pro surfing. World champions Mick Fanning, Joel Parkinson and Stephanie Gilmore all grew up learning their craft on the Gold Coast. But you don’t have to be an expert to have fun on a board.

There are plenty of places for beginners to hone their surfing skills, as well as world-renowned point breaks like Burleigh Heads and Kirra for the experienced riders. Try Palm Beach, Broadbeach and Surfers Paradise for beach breaks and Currumbin and Greenmount for easy point waves. Burleigh Heads can get very crowded but the waves are stunning. The beach at the Southport Spit sand-pumping jetty is also a lovely out-of-the-way spot to find both left and rights.

Learners are well catered for, with plenty of surf shops hiring out boards and surfing schools operating the length of the coast. Book a lesson with the Get Wet Surf School and get your surfing career started.

Go Under 

There are reefs and wrecks to explore, abundant marine life and easy access to a list of excellent dive sites. They include the Gold Coast Seaway, wreck of the Scottish Prince, Kirra reef and the Tweed River. Sign up for a dive course and finish your holiday as a certified diver, or if you are happier staying close to the surface there are also guided snorkeling tours.

Go for a spin with Paradise Jet Boating, Gold Coast, Australia
Go for a spin with Paradise Jet Boating. (Courtesy Gold Coast Tourism)

Go Fast

If it’s a rush you’re after, let Jet Ski Safaris take you on a tour, or for a maximum thrill, take one out on your own.  It’s a terrific way to explore the coast as well as great fun.

For those who just want an adrenaline fix without the sightseeing, a jet boat experience could be for you. The Broadwater is where most of the action is for these super-quick, acrobatic craft that will have you whooping in a shower of spray and gut-wrenching manoeuvres. Book an action-packed ride with Paradise Jet Boating, who have a free shuttle to their Mariner Cove base.

Duffy Down Under, Gold Coast, Australia
Relax onboard Duffy Down Under. (Courtesy Duffy Down Under)

Go Slow

Kayaking and sailing offer more genteel ways of exploring the water’s delights. You don’t have to be ridiculously fit to enjoy kayaking and it is a wonderful family activity. Hire kayaks and poke around yourself or join a kayak safari to South Stradbroke Island from the Broadwater. Keep an eye out for dolphins, stingrays and turtles.

Try Australian Kayaking Adventures for kayak hire. Stand-up paddle boarding is increasingly popular as a great activity to get core-fit and a fun way to explore the canals and estuaries. Try Go Vertical to get you started.

Yet another option for getting around on the water is to hire an electric “floating limo” from Duffy Down Under. These comfortable cruising boats are easy to operate, can hold up to 10 people and are a great way to relax. At the other end of the spectrum, blue-water adventurers can let the breeze and the skipper do all the work on a sailing charter, or learn to take the helm yourself with some sailing lessons. Getaway Sailing offer two- or three-hour cruises and sailing lessons.

A fisherman at sunrise on Surfers Paradise Beach, Gold Coast, Australia
A fisherman at sunrise on Surfers Paradise Beach (©Roshan Sukhla)

Go Fishing

Anglers are spoilt for choice on the Gold Coast. The variety of target species is incredible. With bream, flathead and mangrove jack in the canals and estuaries, whiting, jewfish and tailor on the beaches, and deep-water favourites like snapper, cobia and mahi mahi prevalent around the offshore reefs, you’re sure to hook into something exciting.

Many holidaymakers bring their own gear for a great day out fishing with the kids in safe places like the Broadwater or Tallebudgera Creek, but the best way to maximise your fishing opportunities is to book a place on a charter or hire a guide. All the gear is supplied and they cater for every level of experience. Most importantly, the guides know where to go, when, and what method works best.

Fun is guaranteed at Wet'n'Wild, Gold Coast, Australia
Fun is guaranteed at Wet'n'Wild. (Courtesy Wet'n'Wild)

Go For The Day

The Gold Coast’s famous theme parks offer plenty of watery fun. Wet‘n’Wild is packed with slides, rides and pools, while Sea World showcases the ocean’s many wonders in its shows, aquariums and exhibitions. WhiteWater World, located at Dreamworld, is filled with action-packed water rides.


Remember to always swim between the flags, Gold Coast, Australia
Remember to always swim between the flags. (©Matt Harvey/Gold Coast Tourism)

Just Go For A Swim

It’s the simplest of joys. Pick a beach, any beach, and jump in. But make sure you always swim between the flags where there is a lifeguard on duty.