Day Trips from Coolangatta
Coolangatta is the gateway to the Gold Coast and many of Australia's biggest attractions and experiences. A little forward planning can go a long way when choosing the ideal activities to match your interests and finding out what's on during your visit, so you make the most of every day in Australia's entertainment capital.
1. Mount Tamborine
One of Queensland's natural wonders, there are plenty of options for visiting Mount Tamborine from Coolangatta, whether you prefer to head there yourself or sign up for a guided tour. Joining a tour group is the best way to make sure you don't miss any of the region's highlights – whether you're drawn to the magnificent waterfalls or glow worm caves, you're eager to take on the dizzying Rainforest Skywalk or you prefer to take your time exploring local flavours along the way with stops at award-winning wineries and restaurants.
2. Australia Zoo
World-famous as the home and lifelong passion of the late Steve Irwin the Crocodile Hunter, Australia Zoo is the country's number one wildlife attraction and is easily reached from Coolangatta by boarding the air-conditioned Croc Express. During your six-hour guided tour of the zoo, you'll have the chance to see Australia's most amazing animals up close, have your photo taken with a koala, feed a crocodile and watch talented crocs, tigers, elephants, snakes and free-flying birds showing off their stuff in daily shows.
3. Whale Watching Cruise
If you haven't had enough nature yet, the Gold Coast also offers the best vantage points in the country for spotting majestic humpback whales as they pass by on their annual migrations. You might even spot whales offshore in Coolangatta if you're lucky, but for guaranteed sightings, nothing beats getting up close on a whale watching cruise. These three-hour cruises run every day between June and November, aboard purpose-built boats that offer 360-degree panoramic views with lively commentary from your expert guide.
4. Byron Bay
Heading further north on the way to Surfers Paradise, Byron Bay is renowned for its chilled-out atmosphere, which you can absorb even on a short trip. No visit to Byron is complete without hiking up to the Cape to see its iconic lighthouse and stand at the most easterly point of the Australian mainland, and you'll have time to spend on the beach, browsing the endless art galleries or visiting the Crystal Castle before heading back.
5. Great Barrier Reef Day Trip
If you haven't seen the Great Barrier Reef yet during your time in Queensland, don't miss the chance to combine sightseeing with world-class snorkelling and diving on a day cruise to Lady Elliot. These guided tours are suitable for all ages and depart every day from Coolangatta, offering plenty of opportunities to get up close to tropical fish, turtles, rays, dolphins and other colourful marine creatures at one of the Seven Natural Wonders of the World.
Known as “the Biggest Little Town in Australia”, Mullumbimby is just a 40-minute drive from Coolangatta and a short hike away from Byron Bay. While Byron Bay has become a tourist mecca, Mullumbimby retains that sleepy corner feel of what Byron was once known for back in the day. The town holds a farmer’s market every Friday morning, showcasing colourful creations and wholesome organic food products. You can explore the Mullumbimby Community Gardens and take part in growing your own vegetables. A day trip to Mullumbimby wouldn’t be complete without a visit to the Crystal Castle & Shambhala Gardens. It’s here you’ll find some of the biggest crystals in the world, including the largest amethyst cave in the world.
7. North Stradbroke Island
For an easy and activity-filled day trip from Coolangatta, head to North Stradbroke Island. You can drive your car or catch a train up to the ferry port, and from there you can take a ferry or water taxi over to the island. Getting around “Straddie” is easy since most of it can be done by foot or bus. Grab a bite to eat at one of the many fish and chip shops or cafes, or simply bring your own picnic lunch and head to Point Lookout to take in the views of the island and ocean. Work off lunch by taking the North Gorge Headland Walk toward Cylinder Beach for a swim in the patrolled surf beach.
8. Mount Warning
Located between the Gold Coast and Byron Bay, Mount Warning was forged by volcanoes more than 23 million years ago. The extinct volcano is the first to capture the sunrise in Australia, so you’ll want to make a day trip out of it by hiking to the summit before sunrise to capture the once-in-a-lifetime view. If that’s a little too early for you, you can camp overnight or stay at one of the many rainforest retreats and accommodation options in the valley and nearby townships. Nearby attractions include the Minyon Falls, Tropical Fruit World, and the township of Uki in the Tweed Valley.
A little over an hour from Coolangatta you’ll find the quirky township of Nimbin, NSW. Known for its hippie culture, hemp products, and a colourful parade of locals, Nimbin is a must-see. The town of roughly 1,500 people has been known for decades as a hub for alternative living. The colourful town centre boasts rainbow flags and signs of ‘peace’ and ‘love’, along with street performers and its own hemp bar.
10. South Bank
An easy train ride from Coolangatta will take you to the state’s capital, Brisbane, just an hour away. Brisbane’s South Bank is a cultural hub full of activities and fun for the entire family. Located on the southern banks of the Brisbane River, South Bank boasts parklands full of free swimming facilities, walking tracks, picnic areas, and more. South Bank is right at the heart of Brisbane’s art hub and cultural precinct, providing easy access to the Queensland Museum and Sciencentre, Maritime Museum, and the Queensland Performing Arts Centre.
Coolangatta’s premier shopping, dining, & cultural precinct
Whatever you’re doing on your visit to Coolangatta, make sure you pop into The Strand at Coolangatta for beachside dining, shopping and entertainment options.