Welp, you know what time it is: “Time to fuck the WSL!” No, we kid, calm down. But for reals, lots of our friends and enemies will have their eyes on Snapper and the Gold Coast the next few days, and since we enjoy a little shindig as much as the next guy, we thought we’d give our own tour of the town that is heaven and hell, and somewhere you must go.
The Gold Coast should be a right of passage for every 18 year old surfer. There is so much surfing. So much dancing. So much bad. So much good. So many girls. So many boys. There is a lot of trouble to get into. So much to explore and so much life to live there. You just have to do it. But keep in mind, it’s also place where it’s very easy to overindulge, get stitched up, snaked and skunked — here maybe more than almost anywhere else in the world. It is so many things to so many people: from the ridiculous high rises, the man-made Superbank, D-Bah, the crowd, the tourists, the way the sand squeaks underfoot as you run across it staring at bare breasts sun baking on the sand. It’s an absolute dream and shit show all at once and there is no way you should miss it.
Before we begin, watch as we tag along with Jack Freestone to get a lay of the land:
Where to surf: Jack Freestone’s advice: “Not Snapper.” And he’s probably right. While you’ll have to do the bucket list drift at least a couple times, the number of waves up and down this area is way too good to limit yourself to slaloming humans and WSL surfers like Wiggoly Dantes and Nat Young. But what you’ll realize your first time to Australia is that the coast is so damn full of nooks and crannies, you must know two things: swell direction, and wind direction. Here is an elementary guide, put it in your phone and no matter what happens you’ll find something to surf:
Small south swells head to Duranbah or cross the state border into Cabarita Beach (that’s where Chippa is from) / Pottsville stretch.
Even further south, Ballina will pick up any south. If it’s flat at Snapper, you can surf in Ballina.
If the wind is south: the points (Snapper, Rainbow Bay, Kirra, Currumbin Alley), Cabarita, Duranbah and North Wall Ballina are the call.
Large swell: try points and head to Byron Bay if it’s real big.
E swell: surf is everywhere.
If the wind is north: Hastings Beach and NSW back beaches (always try the back beaches for uncrowded waves, north wind helps). Beaches to the north of Coolangatta, towards Surfer’s Paradise.
West wind is offshore, it’s a tooooob fest at the beachbreaks.
And finally, there are some really good beach breaks near, and across some key waterways if you dig around. Find them and you’ll be handsomely rewarded.
Where to Eat: Australian cuisine is all over the place. They have virtually everything, but it always tastes like a remix of the real thing. Meaning it’s always a bit off. They do pastries and pies amazing. And the list below is pretty on point. Avoid the tourist trap chains throughout Coolangatta and take a drive for some solid meals.
Justin Lane:Come here for gourmet pizzas. Bring some friends, order a bottle of wine and let the pizzas come in hot.
Burger Lounge: In Kirra, this place rules and usually plays good music.
Hachi: This is a little hole in the wall Japanese joint outside town thats worth the drive. Last time I went there I saw Audrina Partridge so you know it’s Hills approved or whatever.
Sun House Surf: Sometimes it’s as simple as good food, good atmosphere and cold beer you dig on tap. That’s what Sun House Surf does: And they have Cooper’s green on tap
Where to Drink: There’s really no shortage of options here. Just do be prepared to be judged for your beer choice. It’s really more fun to let you figure that out. But maybe stay away from the Bourbon and Cola’s in the cans. Wait, never mind, sometimes they hit the spot too.
One of the truly rad experiences with a beer in Australia though is drinking in the Surf Club post surf. There’s a pretty classic one overlooking Currumbin. Get a schnitzel and pint and gaze off into the sunset. All day long. Many a day have been lost in the surf club, and it’s a great way to get the night started. Rainbow Bay Surf Club is the ticket if you’re in Coolangatta.
Where to get Coffee: Coffee in Australia is like the food. It can be good, but it’s always missing something. These spots however, have it dialed. And remember, if you just like black coffee, a “long black” is what it’s called down under.
Where to Dance: If you like shit shows, and we’re sure you do if you’re 18, then you’ll have to do a night out at Surfer’s Paradise. It is everything your mom always warned you about. Try to navigate the chaos and find a dance floor you fancy.
Jupiter’s Casino: One thing they don’t really tell you until you get there is that going to the casino is probably your greatest shot at a wild night on the dance floor. It looks sus as you pull up, but once inside you’ll find a few spots inside that will provide everything you’re looking for.
Where to meet girls: Outside and at the beach is probably your best best. But if you need the cloak of night, and music and libations, then Kommune is where they’re going to be each night. The music will be loud and the lights will be neon, but they girls will be there. But we already know you’re going to use Tinder.
…And now a brief anecdote by C.S. Louis on his inaugural Gold Coast visit at age 18:
The Gold Coast Changed My Life
By C.S. Louis
Prior to arriving I envisioned a Shelter-esque (the movie) commune vibe and I would perhaps grow a beard to fit in with the hippy granola chicks and sing “kumbaya” around the campfire while Jon Swift taught us about nuclear non-proliferation and the intricacies of foiling the rails on retro fishes.
Then we arrived and bought a carton of VB stubbies and got burned thousands of times at Snapper. Then we met Mick (Rabbidge) and we wore his “going-out” collared shirts because his 16-year-old girlfriend’s mum might be at the bar and we were to look like gentlemen. And then we were gentlemen at a gentlemen’s club in Surfers Paradise after doing the opposite of striking out at Shooters whilst hooking up with other people’s girlfriends “aussie style” — which is to imply gregariously about pleasuring someone else’s Sheila raw-dog in her parents’ high rise holiday apartment. Then taxiing home to Rainbow Bay while racing the sun for the dawnie at D’Bah to wash it all away.
Praying to wash it all away in fact. All the city’s allure and traps and heavies wielding crow-bars around the corner in the bushes by the bbq’s (“like the ones they have at Hungry Jacks”). All the spiders and snakes and bushpig net-ball players about six-foot high who look like the Red ‘Roo, which I learned right then “that’s where boxing comes from, and don’t you forget it young C.S. Louis,” Mick would say toasting tallies with me on the hill above Point Danger each and every night. God that sounds fun.
Where to watch the Quik Pro: Let’s be honest, if you get over there and the Quik Pro is on, you’re gonna wanna check it. But be warned, there is nowhere worse to watch the comp from than the beach. If you have a pal or know a pro or can pull a Spy Game and get someone to let you watch from their veranda, watching from the roof with a beer and Fuel TV blaring, that’s the ticket.
And one cool thing is that every surf club and most bars across the Gold Coast will be playing the comp as if it’s a soccer match or an NBA game. So rallying around at the bar with your friends to watch surfing is actually a thing in Australia.
Gold Coast dangers: The Gold Coast goes out of it’s way to camouflage most classic Australian dangers. But that doesn’t mean they aren’t there. Australia is fucking filled with things that can hurt you. So don’t get too comfortable because everything is “so pretty.” Here’s a list of things to run through your head before you dive straight in:
-Sketchy people: usually only if you put yourself in suss situations. We hope you don’t.
-Suss crew in nightclubs: Just don’t be an idiot, know your limits, and realize not everyone is “so stoked” you’re there.
-Sharks: They are seriously very much around.
-Surfers Paradise: Many a young man have been spit out by this place. Do not let the name fool you. There is really nothing there you need. Don’t be that guy.