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Currumbin

Mention Currumbin and many Queenslanders will instantly forage for their photo of a rainbow lorikeet perched on their head at this suburb's famous wildlife sanctuary. It would be almost sacrilegious to start a story on Currumbin without mentioning the Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary for not only was it one of the earliest theme parks on the Gold Coast, but it has been entertaining visitors here for more than 60 years and is considered a pioneer of the tourism industry.

These days it's not all about the birds, but a range of wildlife dotted throughout 27 hectares of eucalypt and rainforest where you'll find crocodiles, kangaroos, koalas and marsupials. A new addition is the Adventure Parc High Ropes course which offers 65 challenges including a giant flying fox and a tarzan swing. Don't forget to pay a visit to nearby Superbee Honeyworld.

It would be tempting to think Currumbin is all about the sanctuary but there are plenty of other highlights to be had here too. Head off the highway and drive past Currumbin Creek Estuary and "the alley" which is a popular spot with surfers. In fact, Currumbin is also home to Surf World Gold Coast, an attraction which pays homage to the coast's surfing history.

Drive along the foreshore and you'll also encounter Elephant Rock - an iconic giant rock which, as the name suggests, looks like an elephant. Some of the coast's best dining views can be experienced here from the Currumbin Surf Club perched right on the ocean or nearby Elephant Rock Café - a bit of an institution around these parts.

Lovely steep hills roll down towards the ocean from where you can enjoy a range of watersports including kite-surfing, kayaking, board riding, surf skiing and stand-up paddle boarding. There's even some decent fishing in the Currumbin Creek Estuary. Just don't forget your lorikeet photo.

Pacific Parade
Currumbin, Gold Coast Area
Queensland
Australia

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Cook Island Dive Site

Coolangatta, Gold Coast Area
Free Entry
Lying close to shore off Fingal Head in the Pacific Ocean, Cook Island is an accessible and appealing dive site on the Gold Coast. Hard and soft corals cover the bottom in some areas; in others boulders form walls and caves descending to the sandy sea floor. You'll find an interesting mix of reef and pelagic fish; pufferfish, gropers, surgeonfish, anemonefish, leatherjackets, parrotfish, trevally, bullseyes and sweetlips. Macro-photographers will find plenty of subjects. Stingrays, turtles, wobbegongs and blind sharks, Leopard sharks abound in summer.

Kirra Reef Dive Site

Coolangatta, Gold Coast Area
Free Entry
Kirra Reef in the Pacific Ocean at the southern end of the Gold Coast consists of scattered rocky outcrops that are covered in kelp fronds. Drift from rock to rock and investigate every nook and cranny, with morays hiding in the most unexpected places. The beauty of this site is in watching the smaller species. Porcupine fish abound here and wobbegongs and macro life inhabit the reef.

Gold Coast Skydive

Kirra Beach, Gold Coast Area
Gold Coast Skydive are the only Tandem Skydive operation on the gorgeous Gold Coast! Boasting an excellent safety record, state of the art equipment and a pristine beach-side location. They have a great team full of fun and professional tandem masters who will take passengers through all the necessary training and go out of their way to make sure it's a truly amazing experience that you will never forget! They offer free transfers everyday from anywhere between Surfers Paradise to Coolangatta and to top it all off, they land on the warm sand of beautiful Kirra beach, just 500 metres away from their office.

Nine Mile Reef Dive Site

Coolangatta, Gold Coast Area
Free Entry
Nine Mile Reef off Tweed Heads on the Gold Coast is known as a "sharky" spot by the locals. Year-round residents include wobbegongs, blind sharks, bronze whalers with leopard sharks in summer; grey nurse sharks in winter; and occasional hammerheads and whale sharks. Reef fish are ever-present, and pelagic fish sometimes circle in large numbers. Turtles, stingrays, eagle-rays are regulars as well as the occasional manta-ray. The rocky reef here drops from 10-30 metres and is covered with numerous corals.

Kirra

Kirra Beach, Gold Coast Area
There's variations on what the word Kirra actually means, but some believe Queensland Aborigines named it after a boomerang. Which makes sense as Kirra wraps evocatively around the bend separating Coolangatta and Kirra beaches and in front of Kirra Hill. Surfers still flock to Kirra bend for its world-class breaks despite beach erosion issues changing the game and nature of the surf spot a bit. Still, there's plenty of character to be had in one of the Gold Coast's most laid-back beach destinations and home to Kirra Surf which surfies consider the one-stop shop for surf gear. This is not a place for glitz and glamour, you'll still find plenty of weatherboard beach shacks here among the burgeoning apartment scene. There's also a cute café scene emerging here but for a true taste of Kirra, head to the iconic Kirra Beach Hotel which has been trading for more than 50 years. There's even accommodation upstairs in this pub offering views of the ocean and the Gold Coast foreshore. There may be variations on what Kirra means, but like a boomerang, you'll just keep coming back.

Tallebudgera Valley

Tallebudgera Valley, Gold Coast Area
Its formal name is Tallebudgera Valley but in true Aussie minimalist style, you'll probably hear locals around these parts refer to it as the Tally Valley. However you prefer to wrap your mouth around it, this lush valley at the back of Tallebudgera Beach leads you into emerald-green farmland and natural forests and the relaxed ambience for which the southern Gold Coast is renowned. Because it is so flush with nature, this region has lent itself perfectly to quality health resorts and eco-retreats in which you can completely escape through yoga, pilates, plunge pools, massages and facials. Nearby bushland provides the perfect place through which to calm your mind while moving your muscles before returning to a feast of fresh and organic food. Other accommodation around the area is sympathetic to the style here with farmstays, holiday rentals and bed and breakfasts. There's also three top golf courses and a driving range in the region and horseriding is another popular activity. Keep heading west and you'll hit Springbrook National Park. So take your time and dilly dally in the Tally Valley.

Currumbin

Currumbin, Gold Coast Area
Mention Currumbin and many Queenslanders will instantly forage for their photo of a rainbow lorikeet perched on their head at this suburb's famous wildlife sanctuary. It would be almost sacrilegious to start a story on Currumbin without mentioning the Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary for not only was it one of the earliest theme parks on the Gold Coast, but it has been entertaining visitors here for more than 60 years and is considered a pioneer of the tourism industry. These days it's not all about the birds, but a range of wildlife dotted throughout 27 hectares of eucalypt and rainforest where you'll find crocodiles, kangaroos, koalas and marsupials. A new addition is the Adventure Parc High Ropes course which offers 65 challenges including a giant flying fox and a tarzan swing. Don't forget to pay a visit to nearby Superbee Honeyworld. It would be tempting to think Currumbin is all about the sanctuary but there are plenty of other highlights to be had here too. Head off the highway and drive past Currumbin Creek Estuary and "the alley" which is a popular spot with surfers. In fact, Currumbin is also home to Surf World Gold Coast, an attraction which pays homage to the coast's surfing history. Drive along the foreshore and you'll also encounter Elephant Rock - an iconic giant rock which, as the name suggests, looks like an elephant. Some of the coast's best dining views can be experienced here from the Currumbin Surf Club perched right on the ocean or nearby Elephant Rock Café - a bit of an institution around these parts. Lovely steep hills roll down towards the ocean from where you can enjoy a range of watersports including kite-surfing, kayaking, board riding, surf skiing and stand-up paddle boarding. There's even some decent fishing in the Currumbin Creek Estuary. Just don't forget your lorikeet photo.

Currumbin Valley

Currumbin Valley, Gold Coast Area
Heading into the Currumbin Valley is a little like entering an Aladdin's Cave of adventure. From the coastline, head southwest into another world along Currumbin Creek Road which leads to Tomewin Mountain Road winding up to Tomewin Mountain. At 457 metres high it offers a great vantage point over the entire valley as well as north to Mount Tallebudgera and west across the World Heritage-listed Rainforest mountains of Cougal and Springbrook. The drive itself into the valley is something special, you'll pass farms, eco villages, fruit stalls, bed and breakfasts, homesteads, gardens and cottages. It's easy to see why the descendants of early settlers, who came here for the red cedar timber and to raise dairy cattle and farm bananas, still call this lush valley home. Highlights of this valley include the cooling Currumbin Rock Pools for a swim and Camp Eden for the health conscious. The Mount Cougal section of Springbrook National Park sits at the end of Currumbin Creek Road. There's also plenty of galleries teaming with pottery and arts and crafts in which if, you look carefully, your own genie may await.

Palm Beach

Palm Beach, Gold Coast Area
If the Gold Coast had a middle child it would possibly be Palm Beach, nestled between Tallebudgera Creek on one side and Currumbin Creek on the other. But don't for one minute think this destination is dull. Similar to its Florida namesake - which was named America's best place to live in 2013 - Australia's Palm Beach has thrice been crowned Queensland's cleanest beach. In another US link, borrowing from New York in this instance, Palm Beach's avenues are also numbered, in this case from first to 28th, making navigating this corner of the coast a cinch. But that's possibly where the similarities with the Big Apple exist. For their Palm Beach is one of laid-back living and is one of the best examples of where rambling beach shacks still survive, perched petulantly on million-dollar blocks. Surfers and sunbakers flock to Palm Beach for its wide, sandy and spectacular beach. There's also a variety of eating options here and you can't go past the Palm Beach Surf Club for a feast. Accommodation options consist of everything up to the top end of town, but they reckon you can't go past a beach shack for a bit of coastal character.

Tugun

Tugun, Gold Coast Area
Just when you thought the Gold Coast couldn't get any more relaxed you arrive over the hill and into Tugun. This southern Gold Coast suburb is so laid-back that locals fondly call her Tugz (pronounced choog-s) while ancient Aborigines referred to Tugun as a place of "breaking waves". Certainly, it boasts one of the biggest and some say best beaches on the Gold Coast and on a good day, you may bag a breaker or two, but the real charm of Tugun lays in its homey streets, café culture and fish and chip shops. That's not to say there aren't luxury oceanfront apartments - there's plenty of those - plus affordable holiday units. For this is the Gold Coast without the glitz or the vinegar. It's simply a salty suburb for strolling and sunbaking, hanging out at the surf club and mixing with the locals. Just don't be surprised if by the end of a stay here, you too, will be calling her Tugz.
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