The Gold Coast has become what it is today because of its perfect surfing beaches. Without its wave-nourished point and beach breaks, this special corner of the world simply would not be – a ‘surfers paradise’. The Gold Coast is just one big beach, with a salty metropolis attached.
Over the course of nearly a century of people enjoying its surf, this once small coastal settlement has grown into the world capital of surfing culture – more so than California, Hawaii, France, Manly or Torquay. There are more active surfers per capita here than in any other city on the planet. So now in 2012, it is deservedly and honourably enshrined as a National Surfing Reserve – and soon to be recognised as a World Surfing Reserve.
There are three distinct breaks with a fourth that can connect in the right conditions to produce an amazingly long ride for those that know how to negotiate the differing sections.
Begins from Jew rock out in front of the headland and runs through to The Cove. Sharkies is a fast, hollow, thick barrel that breaks in very shallow water and is very demanding and dangerous; suitable only for very experienced surfers. Sharkies breaks boards and bodies on a regular basis.
• The Cove
Starts at the end section of Sharkies in front of VT’s rock and runs through to the take-off at the Point. It is much like Sharkies but a little less demanding and slightly more makeable. The Cove has a hazardous rocky bottom that becomes exposed at low tide and catches many unsuspecting surfers out; suitable only for the experienced.
• The Point
Starts where The Cove ends and is still a fast, hollow, and demanding wave but usually smaller than Sharkies or The Cove and tends to be a little more user friendly. The Point breaks across a mixture of rock and sand and can be very shallow at times, hitting the bottom there is a common thing; only suitable for an experienced surfer.
• The End Section
The End Section is the last part of the point as it runs off towards the beach. This section can sometimes be very fast and hollow and usually ends in a closeout. The End Section is where most beginners and intermediates start out but when it’s bigger can still be a wave of consequence and more suited to an experienced surfer.
A right-hand point break and subject to the right conditions can be a world class surfing venue on its day. The best time is January to June. The wave starts in front of “Razorback” and breaks off the point rocks into the entrance of Currumbin Creek, over a sandy bottom. In 4-8 foot SSE swells it becomes a hollow and powerful barrel at take-off and workable all the way across the creek mouth to Laceys Lane in southern Palm Beach. The rip at this size is very strong and some serious paddling is required to keep position in the line up. When the swell exceeds this, an offshore bar comes to life and The Alley is the favoured location for tow-in surfers.
• Behind the Rock
This section is referred to as “Razorback”. Many a surfer has ended up with serious cuts and board damage trying to jump off the front face. The first 40-50 metres of the ride can be quite nasty. The wave responds accordingly with fast, steep, walling barrels that sometimes close out. If that section can be made, the wave continues to roll all the way across the creek mouth.
• The Rock
Since the construction of the southern groyne in 1973, surfers generally take-off at the northern end of the rock and when there is little sand, have to negotiate the “suck rock” to continue the ride across the creek mouth and down into Laceys. During good weather patterns, the sand transported by the shore current is trapped by the Currumbin rock groyne, stopping the flow of sand to Palm Beach and building up behind the rock, leaving good banks.
Named after Laceys Lane, this is the nearest entrance to southern Palm Beach. Depending on the sand conditions, the wave can run all the way from “The Rock” down the line across the creek mouth to the beach (at least 250 metres). At other times various banks are set up off the northern groyne, and even further north, producing fun waves and even some gnarly beach breaks at Laceys.
Since the early 1900s the southern beaches of the Gold Coast have attracted surfers of all persuasions. The sheltered bays are an idyllic set up for swimming and surfing with a north-easterly aspect, the predominant south-easterly swell patterns wrap into the 3 bays with differing breaks. The best conditions are E/SE swell with SE/S/SW winds.
• Snapper Rocks
Known as the “Superbank”, a consistent and popular break with a barrelling back wash take-off and clean inside line up.
• Rainbow Bay
S fun wave area running from the Snapper line up, which is ideal for learner surfers and swimmers.
• Greenmount/ Coolangatta
Traditionally a softer, feathering, rolling wave over the sand shoals, forming left and right hand breaks and spread out the ever increasing crowds.
More exposed to the SE swell line wrap and has a bigger wave size as the swell evens out. From deeper water hits, the angle of the groyne and inner sand bank consistently tubes across Kirra Point. The Point groyne provides a steady to the sweep line and channels the set down the sand back line up.