The Roadtrip Series: southern vibes – the best things to eat, see and do in Coolangatta
Let’s go south, way south, to the most southern suburb on the Gold Coast – Coolangatta. Affectionately known as ‘Cooly’, this laid-back hub is where Gold Coast locals go to chill – it’s not as fast-paced as nearby locales like Palm Beach but it’s full of personality. Of late, Coolangatta has flourished with restaurateurs and retailers honing in on the seaside suburb’s unique vibe, but despite its progression, this little pocket has managed to retain its village charm. If you haven’t hit up Cooly for a while, then consider this a gentle nudge – here’s what to eat, see and do in Coolangatta (and the surrounds) this summer.
If you don’t often make it down as far south as Coolangatta for a dip, then you need to rectify this situation immediately. It’s one of the most pristine strips of ocean you’ll find, with protected corners like Greenmount, Rainbow Bay and Snapper Rocks as the go-to spots for a swim out of the wind – you can also sneak a little further past Snapper Rocks (just walk around the pathway) to Froggies Beach. If you venture down the backside of Point Danger along Coral Street, you’ll find Little Duranbah beach (a real hidden gem) and some great snorkelling spots. If waves aren’t your thing, follow Coral Street further around to Jack Evans Boat Harbour for a safe and sandy swimming haven that also doubles as a great picnic spot. For those that love the exercise, the pathway runs from Kirra Point all the way around the Coolangatta esplanade, over Greenmount (either go around the hill, or go over the top – the views from the lookout are amazing), past Rainbow Bay and up to Point Danger – finish with a coffee at Cafe D’bar and watch the surfers below. You can also get the calves burning and walk the short but sharp road up to the Kirra Point lookout, the site of the Kirra Community Centre, for some sky-high views to the north and south.
If (like us) food is the way to your heart, then Coolangatta will certainly tug at your strings. The past 12 months have seen a number of newcomers hit the Coolangatta dining and cafe scene – grab a coffee and corn fritters from neighbourhood cafe That Blue House, sip low-intervention wine and and snack on charcuterie boards at Tasca, munch on Neapolitan-style pizzas at Francie’s and indulge in a beachfront cocktail at Baskk. Popular vegan restaurant Greenhouse Canteen + Bar has also opened on Griffith Street, while The Strand precinct has recently welcomed Sweet Lou’s Saloon along with soon-to-open organic grillhouse Charr’d. If it’s been a little while since you were in Cooly town, there’s a bunch of established favourites to hit up like Rockleigh (a brunching hot spot), Griffith Street Larder, Gelato Messina, Eddie’s Grub House and a whole lot more – our Stumble Guide will hook you up. Oh, and seeing as Coolangatta is nestled on the border, you’re literally just metres from more cool joints that technically fall under the Tweed Heads locale – like The Bread Social, Six Things Shop, Vegan Aisle and Sozo Square.
Mark your calendar
If your idea of a Sunday well spent involves grabbing a coffee and wandering around 150-plus stalls brimming with arts and crafts and enjoying some sweet live music then the Coolangatta Beachfront Markets, held on the second Sunday of each month, will be right up your alley. There’s also the Jack Evans Boat Harbour Markets, which is being held on various Fridays and Sundays throughout January and February. For a hefty dose of (regular) live music this summer, you can treat your ears at the Seaside Sounds series, which runs every Sunday from January 21 through to February 18 at the Kirra foreshore. You’ll find regular live-music gigs at local hangs like The Cooly Hotel, Rattlesnake and Eddie’s Grub House. The beachside action will heat up in late summer when the Quiksilver and Roxy Pros roll into town from March 11–22, bringing some of the world’s best surfers into the line-up at Snapper Rocks. Coolangatta is also home to the iconic nostalgia festival Cooly Rocks On, which will transform the entire suburb with 50s and 60s cars, music, dancing and old-fashioned fun from June 6–10.