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Ride a wave, feel the stoke! The Gold Coast is a genuine surfers' paradise. Before you paddle out, read about our unique surfing initiatives.

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Gold Coast surfing

Did you know the first event of the modern world surfing tour was held at Burleigh Heads on the Gold Coast? The Stubbies Surf Classic took place in 1977 and was won by local surfing icon, Michael Peterson. Snapper Rocks now hosts the first tour event of the World Surf League each year and Gold Coasters flock to cheer on our home-grown champions.

Our pumping waves and stoke for surfing has fuelled some exciting initiatives that enhance our city as a centre of surfing. 


Click to enlargeCrowds at Kirra in the 1930s

Crowds at Kirra in the 1930s

In less than a century, the Gold Coast has evolved from a string of seaside villages to one of the most famous holiday destinations in the world. Much of that growth and success has been built on our reputation as a surf city.

Cars parked at Main Beach, 1940s

Cars parked at Main Beach, 1940s

By 1917, Queensland's southern coastal strip was being described as a 'surfer's paradise' and in 1933, the township known as Elston was officially renamed Surfers Paradise.

The growth in the popularity of surfing during the 1950s and 1960s went hand in hand with the development of the Gold Coast. From Southport to Coolangatta, holiday houses, motels and guesthouses were built to accommodate the droves of visitors wanting to enjoy our coast.

The Stubbies Surf Classic at Burleigh Heads in 1981. Photographer Ray Sharpe

Stubbies Surf Classic,
Burleigh Heads, 1981
Photographer Ray Sharpe

The 1970s saw the development of a strong surfing industry on the Gold Coast, and by 1977, the city was ready to take centre stage when it hosted the Stubbies Surf Classic at Burleigh Heads.

This was the first event of the modern world surfing tour. Local surfing legend Michael Peterson took out the inaugural event and is now immortalised in bronze and granite at Kirra Beach.

Nowadays it’s not surprising to paddle out alongside a world champion at our renowned surf breaks and the city regularly hosts national and international professional surfing contests.

Note: images sourced from City Libraries' Local Studies Collection, Picture Gold Coast.



Supporting our surf scene

Click to enlargeView of surfer and surf board from under the lip of a wave

We take surfing seriously. In fact, we’re so serious about the sport we’ve become the first local government in the world to formally recognise the importance of surfing to our community in a Surf Management Plan. The plan aims to protect and enhance the Gold Coast’s surf amenity.

Whether you ride a short board, mal, or SUP, here’s what you need to know. The Plan aims to:

  • educate about local surf etiquette and surf safety
  • manage beaches using world’s best practice
  • collaborate with the community to manage our surf spots.

Surfer or not, we’d love you to check out the work we’re doing by downloading our Surf Management Plan or reading our Surf Industry Support booklet.

We are a World Surfing Reserve

Aerial view of part of the World Surfing Reserve, from Snapper Rocks to Bilinga Beach Click to enlarge

Between Burleigh Point to Snapper Rocks is where the magic happens. At least that was the part of the coastline declared a World Surfing Reserve in 2015.

The Gold Coast joins an honour roll of other renowned World Surf Reserves including:

  • Malibu, California
  • Ericeira, Portugal
  • Manly Beach, Australia
  • Santa Cruz, California
  • Huanchaco, Peru
  • Bahia Todos Santos, Baja California Mexico
  • Punta de Lobos, Chile

Find out more about our World Surfing Reserve.

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