Our Legendary Journey: 24 hours in Coolangatta
The Legendary Pacific Coast (TLPC) is a 923km stretch of road covering the eastern coast of Australia from Sydney to Brisbane. The perfect way to explore this region is by a self-drive road trip, and the length of the trip can be completely up to you. We are allowing 9 days, staying overnight in Coolangatta, Byron Bay, Yamba, Coffs Harbour and Port Macquarie before ending in Sydney.
It’s also an iconic backpacking route, and YHA’s are dotted along the coastal towns. We’ve found that YHA have the most consistent standard worldwide, and are always happy to pull in to their hostels for the night, no matter where we are.
It’s worth hiring a car for your journey – we have the Britz VW Amarok 4WD which is perfect in terms of space and convenience.
A great way to plan your journey is by using the 'Near Me Now' feature on their website which offers suggestions of places to eat, stay and activities nearby.
24 hours in Coolangatta
We began our journey along the Legendary Pacific Coast on the southern end of the Gold Coast, Coolangatta (or ‘Cooly’ as the locals call it) – a laid-back town bordering the states of Queensland/New South Wales. We checked in at the YHA which is just a couple blocks back from the beach and 500m from Gold Coast Airport – this hostel is perfectly located. As soon as we put our bags down, we checked in, we headed straight for the beach for a dip in the ocean.
From the beach you’re able to look back towards the skyline of Surfers Paradise – the heart of the Gold Coast. The northern end of Coolangatta Beach is famous for its surf, although none more famous than the neighbouring surf break Duranbah (D’Bah).
Coolangatta is an ideal blend of small town coastal living with all the luxuries of modern restaurants, cafes and shops. The beaches are our favourite part of the region – the water is made up of numerous shades of blues and the white sand beaches are like something out of a movie.
A cool little feature in Coolangatta is the opportunity to stand in two Australian states at once – teamed with the difference in time zones, it makes for the perfect place to celebrate New Year’s Eve – two hours in a row.
Derek flew in directly from New Zealand, and I picked up our Britz VW Amarok in Brisbane and drove down to meet him on the Gold Coast. This is the perfect 4WD for our journey – stocked up with camping supplies, a fridge and plenty of room for our gear. It’s super easy to drive too.
Just walking distance from the Gold Coast Airport, the Cooly YHA is conveniently located when starting out on your Legendary Pacific Coast road trip. The hostel is a short walk to the clear and warm waters of local Bilinga Beach, a little gem of a spot that you won’t find crowded with visitors.
The hostel offers regular BBQ’s, free wifi, a pool, movie room, scooter hire and even runs a free regular shuttle service into Coolangatta.
It was not hard to find Tropical Fruit World by the giant avocado towering at the entrance, a welcoming sight. After checking in, we joined a pretty interesting fruit tasting and information session, with the chance to sample a vast array of some the best fruit they had in season.
We then hopped onto a trailer that took us across the farm on a super informative tour of all the orchids with a morning tea stop that included a sampling session of a delicious jakfruit, and a few cracks at opening our own macadamias.
(Captured on GoPro)
One of the highlights that followed that really made the morning interesting was the next stop at the farm animals, where we got to hang out with kangaroos, emus, donkeys, cows, sheep horses and guinea pigs.
(Captured on GoPro)
After the stop at the animals we got onto a boat cruise along the river that winds around part of the farm - it finished up at great little recreation park with a Zipline, Putt Putt, mini train and kids playground. As we wrapped up our tour we headed back to the main entrance where we went for lunch.
With so many boutique cafés and bars on offer in the Coolangatta to Byron Bay region, here are our top picks for a bite to eat or rejuvenating coffee.
This modern café is located right opposite the ocean and has such a great atmosphere when the sun goes down. There was live-music playing and the place was lit up by soft candlelight.
We really struggled to make a choice from the menu as it all looked absolutely divine! After a recommendation from our waitress we decided to go with the Tempura Snapper and Vegetable, and share some parmesan crusted flathead and salt and pepper calamari. The meal was spot on, from the presentation, the accompanying sauces – all the way through to the flavour, it was nothing short of perfect.
Café d’bar was one of those places that we could have spent the entire night, chatting, sipping on sav and listening to the live-music. Be sure to add this café to your list – whether it’s breakfast, lunch or dinner – we promise you won’t be disappointed!
Black Sheep Espresso Bar
We were in search of a place to pick up our morning cup of coffee and immediately recognized The Black Sheep Espresso Bar on the Coolangatta beach front. We had seen it was rated #1 on Trip Advisor and after tasting the coffee, we understood why. It had a nice modern fitout, friendly staff and the coffee hit the spot.
After our tour of the farm, we stopped in at the café for lunch. There were a lot of great options on the menu but we ended up going with the farm-grown avocado on toast and fresh salad (with a twist).
We also tried the freshly squeezed starfruit juice and a mango crush. We got such a kick out of eating some of the fresh produce we had just been learning about.
Stay tuned for the next leg of our Legendary Pacific Coast road trip...