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The city of Coolangatta represents the southern end of what is considered the Gold Coast portion of Queensland. Whereas the rest of this part of the world is considered one of the foremost places in Australia to party, Coolangatta takes its foot off the gas a bit. Here you can unwind away from the maddening crowds who are always looking for their next thrill. When you’re in Cooly, you’re not just in a beach town; you’re in a state of mind.
Coolangatta might not be as big as its northerly neighbours Gold Coast and Brisbane, but it packs its own holiday punch all the same. As the southernmost outpost of Queensland, Coolangatta can put you right at the crux of the Sunshine State and New South Wales. Securing a hire car in Coolangatta can also put you within a short drive of other outstanding holiday targets that can elevate your trip from good to unforgettable.
Although the city is named after a ship that wrecked in 1846, don’t feel like you’ll be marooned here. You have the power to be anything but stranded. With awesome, campervan hire and car rental in Coolangatta from DriveNow, you’ll be in possession of everything you need to get around in comfort and style. With so many great nearby locations and plenty of fun to be had in and around the city limits, you might have a bit of trouble deciding if you should stay or go. Luckily we’re here to help you make sure you get the most out of whichever scenario you decide to go with.
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Coolangatta isn’t a giant area, which is great for visitors who are looking for a simpler holiday. The manageable size means you’ll never be too far from the esplanade, the main drag in town where most of the best food and drink is located. It’s on or near this stretch that you’ll also find most of the best accommodation options. Funnily enough, these will not only keep you near all the great amenities and services you need for a quality holiday; they will also put you just a short stroll away from the delightful Coolangatta coastline and all that it has to offer.
The apartments at Mantra Coolangatta almost give you no choice but to relax and enjoy the phenomenal coast outside your back door. With amazing back porches that will have you feel like you’re floating above the rolling waves metres away, you might find it hard to pull yourself away from your room. But once you do (and you will), you’ll find that you’re on the esplanade, just a short walk from bars and restaurants as well as the swim and surf of Greenmount and Rainbow Bay. As great for a romantic escape as it is for that family getaway for you, your spouse, and the kids, Mantra ticks a lot of boxes.
Perhaps the greatest thing about the Ocean Plaza Resort is that you don’t have to worry about which apartment you get; you’ll have stunning views of the rolling ocean no matter which one you call your temporary home. Just a few doors down from Mantra, this high-rise is also located on the esplanade, so you’ll have many of the same benefits here. You’ll also have a collection of awesome recreational facilities, including heated pools and spas, a gym, and even golf driving nets so you can iron out those annoying kinks in your swing before hitting the links for real.
Another entry from the popular Mantra family of hotels, the Mantra Twin Towns has a different flavour than its cousin in town. Located toward the eastern part of town, this hotel sits near the Tweed River and, perhaps more importantly, near the Twin Towns entertainment venue. This hotspot is one of the biggest of its kind in Australia, attracting talented music and theatre acts from around the world.
Another outpost on the eastern peninsula part of Coolangatta, the Rainbow Bay Resort is one of the most popular places to stay for visitors of the region. You’ll be steps from two of the most popular spots in the city – Rainbow Bay and Snapper Rocks. But, as with many of the great places to stay in town, you’ll also be close enough to walk to the esplanade. A real win-win for your trip!
Nobody’s blaming you if you just want to lounge on one of the amazing beaches in and around Cooly! But, if you do decide you want some activity in your life, here are a few things to fill your precious holiday hours.
Proof that oldies can indeed be goodies, the annual Cooly Rocks On celebration is one of the most happenin’ events of the year. This cool collection of everything 50s and 60s, which started in 2011 and usually takes place in June, sees thousands dancing to classic tunes, cruising in classic cars, and rocking outfits from more than half a century ago. All of this in the luscious surrounds of the breathtaking beaches of the Southern Gold Coast region.
In addition to rockabilly bands pumping out the hits, there are market stalls, dance competitions, and parades featuring poodles and iconic vehicles from the era. Much of the event is free, meaning the family-friendly party won’t break the bank. Just remember to leave the smart devices, tight hipster jeans, and emoji at home for this one if you don’t want to look out of place.
Catching waves is the name of the game in Cooly, which has several awesome opportunities for those looking to hang ten on their trip. The best spot to catch some waves is probably Duranbah, located right on the border of Queensland and New South Wales on the northern edge of the mouth of the Tweed River. Locally known as D’bah, this spot is your best bet for consistent waves.
Coolangatta Beach makes up much of the coastline of the city and features portions that are great for frothy waves. Travelling east along the coast from there will take you to Greenmount Beach in Rainbow Bay, another favourite surf spot of the locals.
Get your hands on some Coolangatta car hire that can accommodate your surfing ambitions and you can cruise from swell to swell so you don’t waste your time paddling about in the calm.
With a sometimes rocky relationship between those living in Queensland and those in New South Wales, it’s only fitting that Coolangatta, at the crux of these two great Australian states, features a lookout called Point Danger. Here you’ll be able to straddle the dividing line between the states while keeping your eyes peeled for whales swimming in the sea below you.
With its laid back, beachy vibe and phenomenal seaside views, Coolangatta is the perfect spot to slow down and enjoy a bite to eat. While in previous years it may have been considered as more of a drive-through town, it has now well and truly put itself on the map with an array of exciting food and drink venues. The main reason for this is the reputation it has gained for top quality, fresh seafood.
As you would hope from a town so close to the sea, the restaurants in Coolangatta maximise on the fantastic array of local seafood available just on the doorstep. The town has become famous for delicious lobster, prawns, and oysters, but you can assume that any seafood you have there is going to be straight off the boat and of top quality.
If seafood isn’t your thing, you’ll still be catered for in Coolangatta. There are just as many great spots for pizza, pasta, burgers, or even just an ice cream. With car rental in Coolangatta, you’re free to taste test them all! Here are a few highlights to check out during your travels.
With its blue and white décor, outdoor seating overlooking the water, and a Greek inspired seafood menu, this restaurant certainly wouldn’t look out of place on the Mediterranean coast! George’s Paragon offers consistently good value on fresh seafood in a laid back, casual setting. Strong favourites on the menu are the lobster, served in a variety of ways, or the fresh Atlantic salmon. Kids and vegetarians are also catered for, and there is a great selection of Greek style share plates and appetisers if you are after just a light snack and glass of wine.
If watching whales and surfers while tucking into brunch sounds like your cup of tea, then you will more than likely be a fan of Café Dbar. This café is located in a fantastic spot in Rainbow Bay with panoramic views of the ocean below. The menu offers a mix of healthy gourmet style dishes for both breakfast and lunch, including seafood platters, salads, and calamari. You can enjoy your meal outdoors to make the most of the view or relax upstairs in the comfortable lounge area. Once you’re done eating, you can browse the adjoining art gallery and shop before heading back down to the beach. Whether you fancy just a coffee and cake, full blown lunchtime feast, or just want to sip on some wine, this café will make sure you’re set.
This restaurant and café is another spot that really ticks all the boxes for any taste, occasion, or time of day. Open from 5:00 for the early bird breakfasters and cranking out dishes until late in the evening for dinner, you can find yourself seated next to anyone from business people, to locals, to beachgoers. Located just opposite the Coolangatta Hotel, Bellaki is in a prime location for watching the world go by and close enough to nip back to the beach after your lunch or coffee. The menu offers a huge range of modern dishes from various cuisines, including Mexican dishes and seafood. This is a great place to try out delicious local oysters however you like them. For great service, quality food, and a warm welcome, this is one to add to your list.
Sometimes the best places aren’t the most expensive restaurants or fine dining venues. The consistent queue outside the door of Scales definitely testies to this. This multi-award winning seafood market has more than 100 fresh seafood products, including prawns, mussels, bugs, scallops, and fish. You can choose to buy the seafood fresh to cook at home, or have one of the staff cook it right in front of you to eat as a picnic on the riverbank. Scales also serves up delicious fish and chips, calamari, and other tasty battered snacks. For a real taste of fresh, local seafood, you can’t go wrong with this famous market!
Once you’ve relaxed into the chilled out lifestyle of Coolangatta, you’ll most likely be tempted to cancel all your plans of exploring elsewhere. But if you can manage to tear yourself away, you couldn’t be in a better location to head out in your Coolangatta rental car and discover the rest of the Gold Coast.
Whilst the tranquillity of quiet beaches and empty roads is part of the Gold Coast’s charm, to get a true taste of this subtropical paradise you’ll want to sample some of the bright lights too. The iconic seaside town of Surfers Paradise is only 30 minutes’ drive from Coolangatta, but is quite the contrast to the relaxed vibes you’ll have just left behind. The city was once known as Elston until a clever stroke of marketing granted the name change to reflect its status as a sought after tourist destination. It’s now known as one of the main hubs of the Gold Coast, regularly hosting international music acts and sporting events. The vibrant nightlife also draws in visitors from all over the area, as those looking for a night out on the tiles have a huge selection of bars and clubs to choose from. However it’s not just for the night owls. There are plenty of things to keep you and your family occupied during the day, including a theme park, jet boating tours, and a haunted house.
If you plan to pack in a few destinations during your trip to Queensland, make sure Noosa is one of them. It takes around three hours to drive from Coolangatta to Noosa, but you could break the journey up with a stop in the beautiful seaside town of Maroochydore. Once you arrive at Noosa, it’s worth staying a few days to make the most of the beautiful scenery and things to do. Surrounded by beaches, rivers, national parks, and hinterlands, there are endless ways to explore the area and plenty of tours and expeditions to assist you in doing so. Paddle boarding, surfing, diving, hiking, swimming with humpback whales…the list goes on! Start making yours today.
Continuing up the coast from Noosa is another spot that’s well worth adding to your must-visit list. Hervey Bay is considered by many as the “jewel in Queensland’s crown,” thanks to its picturesque location and surrounding natural beauty. The small town is bordered by more than 44km (27 miles) of pristine white sandy beaches, and within easy distance of both Fraser Island and Lady Elliot Island. Being so far up north means it’s never too cold to swim, so it’s a failsafe year-round destination for those looking for a beachside or water sports based holiday. Another of Hervey Bay’s main attractions is its reputation as one of the best spots in Australia for whale watching. Thousands of whales come past the town on their annual migration from July-October, and you can choose to spot them yourself from the shore or head out with a guide to see them up close.
Whilst the attraction of the stunning coastlines of this region is obvious, it’s worth venturing inland now and again to see what life’s like away from the beaches. The lovely Toowoomba is a town that hasn’t lost its old school country vibe despite being one of the biggest towns in Southern Queensland. Toowoomba is a great place to come and enjoy a relaxing few days, whether it’s hiking in the mountains, enjoying locally brewed beers, or wandering in one of the 150 fantastic public parks and gardens. This sounds like the blossoming beginning of a beautiful trip!