Bohemian Burleigh is home to one of the most iconic and beautiful beaches in Australia. Burleigh Beach - a jewel in the Gold Coast’s crown - boasts clear blue waters and idyllic sand-bottomed swell, uniquely protected by a sacred fauna-and flora-covered headland.
Book-ended by Cape Burleigh Head to the south and South Nobby Headland to the north, north-east-facing Burleigh is spectacular and if you’re going to pick just one beach to visit on the Gold Coast, this best-all-around beach is it!
Forming the northern point of the World Surfing Reserve, Cape Burleigh Head provides a famous long right-hand break, which consistently serves up clean well-formed barrel waves. Closer to shore, the sheltered beach in front of Mowbray Park, patrolled year-round from 8am to 5pm, provides gentle waves that are ideal for swimmers and families. The beach is typically teaming with pink-clad Nippers on summer Sundays.,
Known to locals as simply Burleigh - home to the Gold Coast’s legendary Burleigh Boardriders club who take on the famous Burleigh barrel - this iconic beach is a surf haven ideal for all skill levels, offering four surf breaks along its length. These open beach breaks offer an excellent variety of conditions - straight out from the boulders that line Burleigh Headland, the point break is popular with experienced board riders, further north at Fifth Avenue the outer bar offers both a left and right-hand break, and friendlier beginner's waves are found closer to the beach in front of the famous Burleigh Pavilion.
You’ll find a number of options for surf lessons, including the Godfathers of the Ocean Surf School established by former World Professional Surfer Michael ‘Munga’ Barry, and the Cheyne Horan School of Surf which promises to get you to your feet on your very first surf lesson.
This protected beach offers safe swimming in the inner bar clear of rip channels, marked by patrolled areas at Burleigh’s Lifeguard Towers - Tower 18 in front of the Burleigh Heads Mowbray Park Surf Life Saving Club (on Goodwin Terrace) and Tower 20 in front of the North Burleigh Surf Life Saving Supporters Club (at Kratzmann Avenue). There is another swimming area also patrolled year-round 8am to 5pm, parallel with Fourth Avenue on the Esplanade, marked Lifeguard Tower 19. Burleigh also provides beach access points with matting and platforms for wheelchairs and the Burleigh Heads Mowbray Park Surf Life Saving Club has two types of beach wheelchair available for use (Hippocampe and Mobi), supported by an accessible change room (with an adjustable height change table plus a ceiling tracking hoist and shower).
Burleigh ‘s headland, locally known as The Point, is a kickoff point for exploring beautiful Burleigh Head National Park via the delightfully flat Oceanview Track, which curls around past the brazen bush turkeys and bearded dragons to Echo Beach at Tallebudgera Creek; and the more challenging Rainforest Circuit which climbs the hill to the spectacular summit at Tumgun Lookout with views to Snapper Rocks. At the southern end of the Oceanview Track, you’ll find The Jellurgal Aboriginal Cultural Centre, which offers experiences to preserve and promote Aboriginal culture.
The headland is home to a teaming array of flora and fauna, and also provides the perfect vantage point for spectators to watch surfers and majestic humpback whales as they make their migrations, from May to November. The shaded views from the grassy headland make it very popular for picnics, barbeques and wedding ceremonies, and on Sunday afternoons it’s the chill-out spot of choice to watch local musicians and fire dancers do their impromptu performances.
Stretching the length of Burleigh Beach is a grassy foreshore, popular with dog-walkers and local yoga groups, that is punctuated by Mowbray, Justins and Ed Harry Parks, plus the Gold Coast’s famous pedestrian and cycling Oceanway - which runs the length of Burleigh’s Esplanade.
Burleigh’s beach parklands and Oceanway are dotted with all the modern amenities and facilities you might need, including public and disabled toilets, tables with surfboard-shaped seating, shaded barbeques, bike parking, children’s playgrounds, exercise equipment and beach showers. A mature stand of Norfolk pines, originally planted by the Justin family founders, shades the foreshore and plays home to the areas native birds - the distinctive rainbow lorikeets who punctuate Burleigh sunsets with song.
Along the foreshore, the numbered blocks of the Esplanade provide an array of high-rise apartments with stunning ocean views that cater for most of Burleigh’s visitors. There is also ample bike and car parking provided along the foreshore and at the surf club. The foreshore also hosts the Art and Craft Markets on the last Sunday of every month.
For those needing a caffeine fix, stop at the hole-in-the-wall Nook Espresso in Burleigh Pavilion for the best beach-side coffee. If you’re feeling peckish, you can step off the sand and into the Burleigh Heads Mowbray Park Surf Life Saving Club, which offers a Beach Kiosk, Sports Bar and Restaurant. The Kiosk is open daily from 5:30am and offers quality coffee, freshly-squeezed fruit juice, traditional beach breakfast, seafood, burgers and toasties. Alternatively, head upstairs to the restaurant to sample the extensive surf and turf menu and wine list, served with the complimentary spectacular ocean view.
If you’re seeking a more curated culinary experience, with quality cuisine clustered around the beach - from the Pan-Asian delights of Rick Shores and the crafted seafood of The Fish House, to the elevated menu of Burleigh Pavilion’s Tropic - you will find yourself spoilt for choice.
Walking distance from the beach is Burleigh Village - a hive of hip coffee hangs, quality-yet-casual dining spots and neat-but-quirky shops. One such hip café is Borough Barista on the Esplanade, which offers its own brand of coffee and a wide range of wholesome, appetising meals. The nearby Stones Throw is a funky little café with lots of healthy, vegan and carnivore friendly options. The pumping Social Brew is just one of the many cool café’s in the Big B Arcade, offering a creative menu of fresh seasonal produce under a green canopy.
If you’re after simple and traditional fish and chips, you can’t go past the Burleigh Fish Mongers, or for the best burgers try Ze Pickle. Nearby Scoop Gelati is the go-to for handcrafted traditional style gelato with gluten free, dairy free and vegan options. A block away, the grounds of the Burleigh Heads State School play host to the Burleigh Markets every Saturday from 7am till noon, as well as the Village Markets, held on the first and third Sunday of the month from 8:30am till 1pm.
The happening James Street precinct is also home to a throng of equally amazing restaurants, including Jimmy Wah’s, Mr Hizola’s, Izu, Ragdoll, Osteria del Mare, Justin’s Lane Establishment and Harry’s Steak Bar and Bistro. For a sunset beverage, sip a cocktail on Justin’s Rooftop Bar or for an experience to remember, search out the hidden laneway whiskey and cocktail bars of Lockwood and Nightjar.
If you find yourself at the northern end of the Esplanade, the North Burleigh Surf Life Saving Club offers modern Australian cuisine and icy cold beer, or for an inspired vegan experience head to Greenhouse Canteen. The Black Hops Brewery and Paddock Bakery are also well worth a visit.
By Michaela Lyons