Whether you use the Gold Coast’s iconic Oceanway to commute, exercise or socialise, this 36 kilometre network of pathways is unique in that it connects The Spit in the north to Point Danger in the south.
It’s a hive of activity from dawn until dusk and there’s stacks to see and do along the way, as Emily Toxward discovered when traversing the coastline by foot and bike.
Every day thousands of Gold Coasters walk, run or bike along parts of the Oceanway. Some use it to get to work or visit friends in neighbouring suburbs, while others take advantage of the free exercise equipment provided and uninterrupted ocean views. There’s stacks of hidden gems and iconic spots along the way, you just have to know where to look.
10 top spots to explore along the Gold Coast’s Oceanway
My journey started at The Seaway on The Spit on foot, but not before I watched jet skiers on the Broadwater, dipped my toes in the surf alongside dozens of delighted canines at the off-leash dog beach, and spent a few amusing minutes watching people taking surf lessons. Then it was time to head south through one of the city’s most picturesque places; Federation Walk.
Federation Walk Coastal Reserve
In stark contrast to the city’s magnificent but manmade skyline, Federation Walk is a stunning natural track nestled among 93 hectares of coastal dune. It’s a gorgeous mixture of native vegetation and animals, ocean views and it’s a hit with cyclists of all ages and abilities. Popular with bird watchers, picnickers and nature lovers, you can travel this reserve all the way to Main Beach and the Southport Surf Life Saving Club.
Once I reached Narrowneck, between Main Beach and Surfers Paradise, I crossed the road to check out Macintosh Island Park.
Macintosh Island Park
This hidden gem is much-loved by those in the know because it’s an established park that’s well shaded, offering an oasis in the middle of the bustling city. Accessed via a quaint bridge on one side, and a path on the other, it offers plenty of picnic spots, a stream that adds to the serenity and a shaded playground for kids of various ages.
Mindful of the long journey ahead of me, I got on my bike and put the pedal to the metal and navigated my way through pedestrians, exercisers and runners along the sealed Oceanway path.
Stopping for a swim at Surfers Paradise beach is a must if you never have, and a stroll through Cavill Ave is always interesting, especially in February during the annual Sand Safari Arts Festival where life-sized sculptures dominate the landscape.
Once you hit Broadie why not take a selfie with the Gold Coast 2018 Commonwealth Games mascot Borobi or treat yourself to cake at the recently renovated Kurrawa Surf Club. Keep heading south along Hedges Ave and you’ll pass through the less frequented Mermaid and Nobby’s beaches. There’s no funkier place around these parts to quench your thirst than at BSKT Café – I can highly recommend the Real OC as a refreshing drink!
Just a few metres south of here cyclists can get back on a waterfront shared pathway with pedestrians, but only until you reach Miami Beach Surf Life Saving Club. Actually, you can go over the hill but it will mean carrying your bike up some steep steps. I left this for walkers and instead biked around the road using a designated bike path and re-joined the Oceanway at North Burleigh.
Get Active & Healthy in North Burleigh
The City of Gold Coast’s Active and Healthy program delivers locals and visitors free and low-cost events and activities, including four at North Burleigh. These are 6am Yoga on Wednesdays, Stroller Fitness on Tuesdays and Thursdays at 9am, Core Inspired Fitness on Thursdays at 9.15am and Get Raw Mums Fitness on Fridays at 9am and 9.30am. Prices range from $3-$7 per session and really are a bargain!
With the beautiful Burleigh Headland firmly in my sites I started to pick up pace along the Oceanway.
Once I reached Burleigh Heads Beach, I had a rest and watched surfers leap out from the rocks to take advantage of the world-famous break. I made my way to the picturesque Burleigh Head National Park. There are a few different walks through this 27-hectare park, but I chose the easy Oceanview Walk.
Oceanview Walk, Burleigh Head National Park
During this easy stroll you skirt the coastline and walk around the rocky headland from the southern edge of Burleigh township to Tallebudgera Creek. A great whale-watching spot in winter and spring; keep an eye out for native critters in the bushes and be mindful it’s for foot traffic only.
Once you’re through to Tallebudgera there’s so much to do, have a picnic and a swim at Echo Beach, hire a stand-up paddle board or throw a line in the creek under the bridge. You might also like to learn a little more about Aboriginal culture and take a free tour thanks to the Jellurgal Cultural Centre.
Jellurgal Cultural Centre
Tucked on the Tallebudgera side of Burleigh Head National Park; you can visit this centre for free to gain an insight into the spirituality and society of the Yugambeh Aboriginal people, one of the oldest living cultures in the world. You can take a guided tour of Jellurgal, learn about the Aboriginal history and culture of the Gold Coast, and meet a traditional land owner and hear the dreamtime stories associated with the creation of the mountain.
Having learned a little more about the traditional landowners of Australia, you can make your way south to the Oceanway walk in Currumbin via the bustling suburb of Palm Beach. You can either walk along the beach or cycle down the path beside the Gold Coast Highway then turn onto Jefferson Lane. Don’t forget to visit the Dune Café alongside Palm Beach Parklands, especially if you have children along for the ride, the pirate ship-themed playground is epic!
Currumbin Alley is visual symphony as surfers, kayakers, boaties, kite surfers and stand-up paddle boarders dominate the waterway. Why not hire a stand-up paddle board in Currumbin Creek for a few hours? In September this part of the southern Gold Coast is abuzz with people attending the Swell Sculpture Festival where massive structures are set atop the beachscape from local and international artists.
Climb Elephant Rock
You can’t go past this part of the Gold Coast without climbing the steep yet rewarding Elephant Rock. At the top you’re treated to unrivalled views of the Gold Coast skyline and south to Point Danger; my final destination for the day. A funky range of cafes adorn the Currumbin area, and they’re best accessed via bike or foot because parking is limited.
As I make my way past Elephant Rock I soon join the recently completed Currumbin Oceanway, connecting me all the way to Coolangatta without having to hop back on a road. Woohoo! This leads me to the next stop on my journey, the Tugun to Bilinga section of the Oceanway. This new section cost $4 million and completes the 8 kilometres of high-quality pathway between Currumbin and Coolangatta. It just recently opened and is extremely popular with cyclists and families. I stopped and talked to an older couple in Kirra who said their daughter in Tugun loved that she was now able to push her baby to visit them on a safe, surfaced walkway.
Look out for Skydivers
Offering sweeping ocean views, path lighting, new beach showers, clean toilet blocks and water stations, this section of the Gold Coast Oceanway is my favourite. Not only because it’s a lovely surface to cycle on, but because everyone you come across is smiling or having fun. Look up in the mornings as you travel along Kirra for skydivers spiralling down to make their beach landing.
For a trip down memory lane, why not dine in at Kirra Pizza Hut like the good old days, it’s one of only four such restaurants in Queensland.
Just around the corner is Coolangatta or Cooly, and a lovely boardwalk overlooking the water will get you there. Uniquely maintaining its southern charm and with skateboarders aplenty, Cooly springs to life in June during its trademark event, Cooly Rocks On; Australia’s favourite nostalgia festival celebrating the 50s, 60s and 70s. At the eastern end of Coolangatta Beach is Greenmount Beach, a favourite with locals for its sheltered and calm waters.
Have a bite at Rainbow Bay Surf Life Saving Club
Nearing the end of my 36 kilometre journey south on the Oceanway, I take in gorgeous sights of Rainbow Bay, a sheltered beach anchored by Rainbow Bay Surf Life Saving Club Restaurant and Bar. If you stop for some sustenance don’t be surprised if you run into regulars such as surfing legends Joel Parkinson, Mick Fanning and world champion Stephanie Gilmore. Apparently, the club serves a magnificent parmigiana! The world famous Snapper Rocks is a must-visit with a pair of binoculars in hand, especially before, during and after Quiksilver Pro where you’ll find some of the world’s best surfers doing their thing!
Make a wish at Point Danger
Puffing up the hill to the end (or start if you prefer) of the Gold Coast Oceanway, I finally reach Point Danger which marks the border between NSW and Queensland. It’s high on a peak overlooking Duranbah Beach, a popular surfing location. It’s been reported that Captain Cook named the area when he first sighted it in 1770 to warn later mariners of dangerous coral reefs off this section of the coast.
Here you’ll find a memorial for Cook, moulded from cast iron actually jettisoned from the Endeavour in the 1960s. A perfect locale to see whales during the season, there’s views from Surfers Paradise to Byron Bay. Don’t forget to throw a coin into the wishing well and make a wish, all profits go to local charities!
Treat yourself at Café Dbah
I celebrated the end of a rewarding journey down the Gold Coast’s iconic coastline with a double shot almond chai latte at Café Dbah – it really hit the spot. Not just serving fine fare and fabulous views, it’s also home to a funky art gallery and is always bursting at the seams because it’s just that good.
Did you know the Tugun to Bilinga section of the Oceanway opened in December 2018, creating that missing link between Currumbin and Coolangatta? This 1.7 kilometre stretch of new Oceanway starts just after the Tugun Surf Life Saving Club and runs down to the Bilinga SLSC.