The Gold Coast didn’t earn its name on account of its gold-star beaches – but it could have done. This beachy paradise, approximately an hour’s drive south-southeast of the state capital Brisbane, became popular in the 1920s after the establishment of the iconic Surfers Paradise hotel, booming as a major tourist destination in the 1980s. Reasons to visit still abound: crystalline waters, surfing beaches, a flourishing food and drink scene, lively nightlife and the lush rainforest hinterland. Here are five of the best beaches for your hot list; just add sun lotion, your favourite swimwear and an ice-cold tinny or two...

Surfers Paradise

You can’t come to the Gold Coast without visiting Surfers Paradise, aka the 'Glitter Strip', where you can catch major waves, pose on the shore or make the most of the myriad shops, bars and nightlife. Don’t miss the Surfers Paradise Beachfront Markets, which are held every Wednesday, Friday and Sunday (3pm–8pm).

Burleigh Beach

Queensland’s answer to Bondi has something for everyone: protected waters for swimmers and surf breaks around the headland. Even when other Gold Coast beaches are experiencing choppiness, there’s likely to be a peaceful patch of Burleigh beach to dip into. The rugged Burleigh Heads National Park surveys the ocean, offering visitors scenic walking trails and wildlife encounters.

Nobby Beach

Diminutive Nobbys is a small patch of sand with a lot of charm – and plenty of choice when it comes to bars, restaurants and surf hangouts. The beach is edged by a headland, which becomes barbecue-central in summer.

Rainbow Bay

Take a break from the crowds and high-rises and slow the pace at Rainbow Bay and the adjoining Snapper Rocks Beach, the southernmost beaches in Queensland. Thanks to its protected location and low waves, Rainbow Bay is a popular swimming beach.

Currumbin Creek

Go dolphin-spotting at this scenic creek, which is also a great place for kayaking and stand-up paddle boarding. Go fishing for flathead and bream off the rock wall, or surf the right-hand surf break and enjoy a meal (parma, perhaps?) at the Currumbin Surf Life Saving Club, afterwards. The Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary is just metres from the beach.

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