Sydney to Gold Coast – there are so many great spots on that 850km coastline route, that you could do it over and over again, and each time discover new amazing places.

This guide wasn’t created during one surf-road-trip. Lots of the places we’ve been visiting regularly for past couple years and some of them we discovered recently during our last road trip to Gold Coast.

First time we traveled this route a couple of years ago. We drove straight to Gold Coast and did a few stops on the way back, camping in the car. 

This time we traveled as a family with our 3-year old son and we had some stops on the way there and one on the way back. We stayed at Holiday parks and AirBnbs.

Depends how much time you want to spend travelling you can visit all featured places or choose just some of them. Bare minimum to do this trip is 10 days (you won’t fit all the places within that time) but the best would be if you can do it over 2,5-3 weeks, or longer! Plan to spend at least 2-3 nights at each place.

For us this kind of trips are all about surfing (disclaimer, as much surfing as we can fit in with a toddler :P). During our last trip we’ve been unlucky with a flat spell, although I still got to enjoy some ankle size waves especially at Byron and Scotts Head.

Before you go check NSW and QLD school holiday dates + all public holidays and try to avoid them, as it always gets way too crowded during that time. Perfect time to go is around October – November or February – May.

Pack your surf equipment and get ready for sweet & salty days! 

If you don’t own a van you can hire one! Camping at Holiday parks will cost you between $30-50/night to find other options check wikicamps app.

Northern Beaches Sydney Freshwater Beach
Freshwater Beach Sydney

Sydney

If you want to spend some time in Sydney check our Guide to Northern Beaches – that’s the place to be when it comes to surfing, yoga and more laidback vibe!

Caves Beach

That’s really where we started our trip 🙂 but if you’re leaving from Sydney, Caves Beach would be perfect for your first stop.

Even if you don’t stay for a night make sure to do a pit stop for lunch, ocean dip and maybe even quick surf. You can stop at Cathrine Hill Bay to see (and walk on) the pier or couple minutes more north – Caves Beach. At Caves during low tide explore the caves and rock pools.

Before you hit the road indulge in wholsome plant based lunch at The Yoga Place Cafe in Blacksmiths.

If you decide to stay for a night or two check what else you can do in the area HERE.

Cathrine Hill Bay
Cathrine Hill Bay

Seal Rocks

You can stay at Seal Rocks Holiday park, Treachery (cheaper, no powered sites) or Yagon (National park – even cheaper). 

Surf at Seal Rocks is usually crowded as it’s an easy point break wave, but you have many other spots around to choose from. Check Bluey, Boomerang and Booti Booti.

Visit the lighthouse, try food at Kembali Cafe at Blueys. For grocery shopping drive to Forster.

Diamond Head
Diamond Head campground photo by National Parks NSW

Diamond Head

Wake up to kangaroos eating grass or chilling in front of your van, goanas looking for food leftovers and beautiful beach with fun easy waves.

Campground is in the National Park and it’s super popular so check availability before your trip. If you can’t stay there, it’s worth coming just for a day of surf and chill.

Crescent Head

Just an hour drive from Diamond Head is Crescent Head, if you’re a longboarder you’re probably familiar with this spot. When it works expect big crowds and long rides (if you’re lucky).

You can stay at Holiday Park just in front of the beach or take a bumpy ride to less crowded Point Plomer

For wholesome food head to Green Room Cafe & Fruit.

If there’s no waves rent a kayak or a sup and explore Killick Creek.

Scotts Head Little beach
Scotts Head Little Beach

Scotts Head

Lovely small town with 2 breaks next to each other. Main beach with mellow right-hand longboard wave. It works only during the right swell, but when it breaks you will be rewarded with long rides, perfect for improving your longborading skills. Right next to it is Little Beach, that faces slightly different way and attracts more swell.

The Holiday park is just in front of the beach, so you can indulge in salty life fully. And across the road you will find great local cafes and a small grocery shop.

Want to see sea creatures – climb the lookout and you might be lucky to spot some turtles in the water. 

Emerald Beach

We stayed at the Moonee Beach Holiday park but if we go again we would think about staying at Emerald Beach. Moonee is picturesque, great for fishing (if you’re into that check the little bridge on high tide!), with bush walks and little hidden beaches but surf at Emerald Beach was way more fun.

Additionally there are plenty of cafes at Emerald Beach if you want to treat yourself.

If you haven’t met any wild kangaroos yet, here is the place you will see them for sure!

Red Rock

Have a short stop here on your way to Yamba. There is the main beach with waves and a small bay right next to the channel.

You can surf or relax, swim and make your little hideaway under the trees on the beach. Believe me on a hot summer day there is no better place to be!

Angourie

We stayed in a cozy airbnb in Spooky Beach, if you decide to camp there’s a Holiday park in Yamba.

During our 3-day stay there we had no luck with waves, but Angourie is a perfect point break when there is a right swell (only for experienced surfers). You can also surf at Spooky beach and Yamba.

There are a few cafes and a restaurant in Spooky and even more to choose from in Yamba.

On a flat day you can enjoy swimming and jumping off the rocks into Angourie pools.

Broken Head Byron Bay
Broken Head photo by Prescott Horn

Byron Bay

Byron is such a famous spot I probably don’t have to write too much about it. Easy waves, long rides, lots of longboarders, delicious food, YOGA and sometimes definitely too crowded.

We stayed a couple of minutes away from Byron at Broken Head Holiday park and I couldn’t recommend it enough. 

Although we didn’t surf there (only because there were no waves during our stay) it’s a great place to escape the crowds and enjoy the nature.

Within a short drive you can surf at The Pass or Wategos Beach. And you’re close enough to all that Byron has to offer.

  • Yoga at Creature Yoga. You can choose to move your body during a flowing Vinyasa class or relax and release your surfed out muscles during Yin / Restorative. Check their website for events and workshops.
  • Lighthouse Walk – a beautiful trail that starts at The Pass, winds along Wategos Beach and leads all the way up to the most easterly point of Australia. 
The Pass Byron Bay
The Pass photo by Prescott Horn
  • Markets – there is some to choose from Community Market happening on the 1st Sunday of the month, Twilight Market every Saturday night from October till April and Beachside Market, that takes place only 4 times a year
  • Visit Stone & Wood brewery, check hours and how to get there HERE
  • Enjoy the sunset from the viewing area on the corner of Hinterland Way & Coolamon Scenic Drive
Cabarita beach
Cabarita Norries Beach

Cabarita

Only 30 minutes drive from Byron are Hastings Point and Cabarita. Two little coastal towns with the most blue and clear water you can imagine.

We had a short stop there on a way to Rainbow Bay but I wish we could stay for couple nights. In Cabarita your place to go is a small beach nestled on a right side of Norries Head.

If you decide to stay longer you check Holiday park in Hastings point.

Rainbow Bay

Welcome to the city! After days or weeks spent on laidback strolling thru small coastal towns Rainbow Bay is a perfect place to ease into more busy lifestyle.

We stayed at airbnb just across the beach in Rainbow Bay, but there are a few Holiday parks in Gold Coast and lots of hostel options.

There is plenty of spots to surf, starting from iconic Snapper Rocks and D-Bah on the right side of the headland. Moving north you will find Greenmount, Coolangata, Kirra and finally Currumbin Alley with more mellow wave.

It gets really busy on the weekends.

Rainbow Bay photo by Veri F

Burleigh Heads

Burleigh Heads is as far as we would explore Gold Coast. Anything further north is just too big and busy for our small town souls 😉

But Burleigh Heads is definitely worth visiting! You will find here another right-hand point break nestled at the bottom of Burleigh Heads headland. When not surfing explore the National Park, or check local markets – The Village Markets and Burleigh Market.

And here our Sydney to Gold Coast surf road trip ends 🙂 Hope it helps you plan your trip. If you have any questions feel free to add them in comments… And maybe share with us how your journey went!

P.S. If you have more time to do this trip you can add couple more stops: Hat Head, Valla Beach, Evans Head, Lennox Head… Just like I said at the beginning there are too many beautiful places to discover them all during one trip!

Sydney to Gold Coast map

Helena Richardson Created by Helena Richardson Jan 17, 2020