The ultimate holiday guide to the Tweed Coast

 
couple taking selfies at Fingal Head, Northern New South Wales
Fingal Head beach. Photo: Destination NSW

Picture this. You wake up in the morning, glance out the window to the beach, throw on your cossies and wander across the soft sands to the sparkling blue water. If there’s a heaven on earth, you’ve found it on the Tweed Coast. Before you start thinking that this area is only about beaches….there is more. There’s rainforests, national parks, and quaint villages and seaside towns. This area is also renowned for its delicious local produce.
 
The Tweed Coast is sandwiched between the glitzy Gold Coast and bohemian town of Byron Bay which is famous for many Hollywood stars visiting (and liking it so much that they buy a house there).
 
The Tweed Coast gives you the best of everything. You’re close to the Gold Coast so you can visit the theme parks. You can then head down the road to Byron and spend the day playing there. Bottom line, you’re close to everything when you holiday on the Tweed Coast.
 

What makes this area so sensational?

Stand on your head at Greenmount Beach, Gold Coast Australia
It doesn't matter what you do and how you look at the Tweed and Gold Coast beaches, you'll have the time of your life.

The Tweed Coast is where you go for a real holiday where you can escape the hustle and bustle of your normal life. It’s not that there isn’t anything to do, it’s just that this is the perfect time to enjoy the beaches, rain forests and cute little towns that have an eclectic mix of character, charm and sophistication. And because this area is naturally beautiful, you get to have the best holiday without it costing a fortune.

So kick back and enjoy the long stretches of beaches. Dine al fresco with fish and chips, a picnic or a barbeque on the beach. (Beachside barbecues are free to use so pack your sausages and tongs and start sizzling). When you’re not at the beach, there are rivers and creeks, parks and rainforests, cafes, coffee houses, local art galleries and antique stores to check out.
 

The number 1 attraction – the beaches

Duranbah beach is a much loved playground for surfers. Photo: Destination NSW
 

The Tweed Coast has nearly 40 kilometres of beaches so it’s time to live like a local and enjoy what’s around you. These beaches are the best free fun you can have. Your beach experience starts before your plane touches down at Gold Coast airport. Your pilot will take you over the ocean before landing, giving you the best birds-eye view of what you’re about to enjoy.

Your choice of beaches include:

  • ​Kirra, Coolangatta, Greenmount. These are closest to the airport, and are officially on the Gold Coast – but they’re still there waiting for you to enjoy.

  • Head just around the point into Tweed and your at Rainbow Bay and Snapper Rocks. This lovely sheltered beach is perfect for little ones and learn-to surfers. This is a really popular spot with the locals, and you’ll see many of us down there having a swim, taking a walk around the point, or having barbeque or picnic. This beach also hosts many international surf competitions such as the Roxy Pro.

  • ​Duranbah is a couple of minutes walk and is where experienced surfers hang out.

  • ​​10 minutes down the Coast is Fingal Beach which is lovely but is an unpatrolled beach.

Snap a selfies at Snapper Rocks on the Tweed Coast
Snap a selfie at Snapper Rocks on the Tweed Coast
go stand up paddle boarding on the Tweed Coast
Go stand-up-paddle boarding in the calm waters 
 
  • Next is Kingscliff beach which is a long stretch of beach with inlets that have calm little creeks to be able to float around in. This is also perfect for picnics, barbeques, water sports and learning-to-surf.

  • Just down the road is Hastings Point which has a creek inlet from the beach and perfect for snorkeling, paddling and just floating in the water. Tip: Grab some pool noodles for $2 at any of the local shops or discount stores so you can float around Hastings. Why not book in at the North Star holiday resort which has a waterpark to keep the little ones squeeling with delight all day.
  • Cabarita Beach is a long stretch of beach that’s popular with both surfers and families. Surfers will love the swells, while familes enjoy the creek inlets with calm waters. This beach is also surrounded by nature reserves and walking tracks.

  • Pottsville is more of the same so don't forget the pool noodles and snorkels. Swim, paddle or float in and around these beautiful swimming holes that are surrounded by nature reserves. This is another popular spot for kayakers and canoers.

Kayaking on the Tweed River at Tumbulgum
Go kayaking on the Tweed River at Tumbulgum.
Photo: Destination NSW

Cool things to do on the water

Walking on Water surf school at Greenmount Beach
Photo: Walking on Water surf school
 
  • Go snorkelling or diving at Cook Island which is only 600 meters from shore. Here you’ll find green turtles, clownfish and the very harmless leopard sharks.​​

  • If you love fishing, there are many wharves and rivers to throw a line in.

  • Hire a tinnie (small boat) and go fishing, or just cruise around the river. Jack Evans Boat Harbour in Tweed has calm waters and water equipment for hire.

 
Jack Evans Boat Harbour in Tweed is a great spot to hang out for the day
Jack Evans boat boat harbour.
 
  • For something different, hire a BBQ boat and potter around the Tweed River. The boats come equipped with fishing rods, BBQ, esky and a canopy to keep you shaded. Cook a few sausages, jump in the water and try your hand at catching dinner.
  • The Tweed Coast and Gold Coast beaches are ideal for playing in the water. Why not learn to surf  at one of the many surf schools. One of my favourite surf schools is Walk on Water at Greenmount Beach. All are great so choose a surf school near where you're staying. 

  • Hire a boogie board and ride the waves. Or maybe hire a kayak, canoe or stand-up paddle board and float around the calmer waters.

  • ​Alternatively, book a tour on the river, and choose from a cruising, kayaking and stand up paddle boarding. ​

fishing on the banks of the Tweed Riverfishing by the river. Photo: Destination NSW

  • Go cruising on the Tweed River. For a different kind of experience, take a catch a cab cruise where you get to hand feed pelicans and other birds, go yabbie pumping, mud crab catching and do a bit of fishing. There are plenty of other cruise options as well if you want to sit back relax and let someone else do the hard work while you cruise the Tweed River.​
Join the catch-a-crab crew for a great day cruising the Tweed River
Photo: Tourism Australia

Tours, museums and galleries

Check out the local artist work at the Tweed GalleryCheck out the local artist work at the Tweed Gallery. Photo: Destination NSW
 
  • Explore the Tweed Regional Gallery and its program of art exhibitions, concerts, and artists’ talks. The gallery has a wide range of contemporary and historical exhibitions by national and local artists. Check out the gallery’s collection of portraits representing Australians from all walks of life.  

  • Visit the Tweed Regional Museum and get a glimpse into how industry and agricultural have shaped the area. It's free and open every day except Mondays.

  • ​While you’re in Murwillumbah, take a self guided historical walk through this old country and its many art deco buildings. Finish up at the Austral Café for a milkshake (which has been there since the town’s earliest days).

  • Visit the Minjungbal Aboriginal Cultural Centre at Tweed Heads and explore the museum, sacred bora ring followed by a half hour bushwalk.


Food and dining

taste the northern rivers local produceTaste the delicious local produce on the Tweed Coast. Photo: Kirra Pendergast

This is a rich farming area known for its dairy farming, sugar cane, bananas, fruit and vegetables and fishing industry. You’re in luck, you can get this local produce at the many markets, farm shops and roadside fruit stalls selling local fruit and vegetables in season.
Harvest Festival on the Tweed Coast
Enjoy the annual Harvest Festival on the Tweed Coast. Photo: Nellyle Comte
  • Book a food and art tour which starts at the local farmers market for local goodies and a chat with the farmers and growers. You'll then visit the best local restaurants and sample tasting plates of signature dishes before viewing the latest exhibitions at the art gallery and an afternoon tea by the river.
  • Another popular food trail tour takes you to the historic towns and farms where you'll meet the local farmers and sample their local organic produce and bush tucker. This is a truly delicious day out!

If you want to set your own food trail, there are plenty of farms, markets and restaurants to visit. Just a few suggestions include:

  • Farm and Co (near Kingscliff), has fields of sunflowers to explore, and delicious local organic produce to buy. Bring your own picnic or pick your goodies straight from the fruit and vegetable patches.
  • Madura tea estate is nestled between rainforests, farms and streams. Take a guided tour and get to know the story of tea, from plant to pack.

  • ILNAM winery is the Tweed Coast's only winery. Cellar door is open Friday to Sunday between 11am-4pm, and waiting for you to sample their whites, reds and fortified wines. Aim to visit on the last Sunday of the month so you can sip away to live music playing.


Get lost in the sunflower fields at Farm & Co

  • Watch this space - Husk Distillers will be opening a cellar door in mid 2019. This distillery is set on the family cattle & cane farm near Mt Warning, and produces innovative craft spirits including the delicious Ink Gin.

Tropical Fruit World on the Tweed Coast
Photo: Tropical Fruit World
  • Visit Tropical Fruit World and sample local seasonal fruits. Make a day of it and book a tour which includes a plantation safari tour, orchard discovery walk, wildlife cruise and train ride.

  • Cheese-lovers must visit the newly opened Tweed Valley Whey in Burringbar (near Murwillumbah). These local dairy farmers have been serving the community for over 100 years, and have recently opened a café and store selling delicious home-made gourmet cheeses. 

  • House of Gabriel café serves up food and views of the Tweed River at Tumbulgum. This is family-friendly with a cubby house and plenty of things for kids to explore while you're dining.

  • Flutterbies Cottage Cafe is at the bottom of Mount Warning is as as old-world-charm as it gets. A key feature is its teahouse and delicious high teas.

Flutterbies cafe at Wollumbin, Tweed Valley
Photo: Flutterbies cafe
  • Mavis's Kitchen is a lovely old homestead at the foothills of Mount Warning. The restaurant is surrounded with vegetable patches and produce is picked fresh and used to create delicious dishes.

  • Fins restaurant at Salt (Kingscliff) serves up a 7 course degustation menu.

  • ​Grab a cheap and cheerful meal at one of the many licensed clubs and surf clubs that are dotted along the beaches.  

  • There are plenty of restaurants and cafes to choose from, so just wander along the streets and let your sense of smell decide what's for dinner.


Rainforests and walks

Bushwalking on the Tweed Coast (Border Ranges)
Go hiking around the Tweed Coast. Photo: Destination NSW
 
  • A key features of the Tweed Coast is Mount Warning (also known as Wollumbin) which is a much loved hike for many visitors and locals. This walking track is known as the summit and is not for the feint hearted. It’s 8.8km, steep and takes around 5-6 hours to walk. When you reach the top, you’re rewarded with 360 degree views of the Tweed and Gold Coast.

  • If you want to do something special, climb Mount Warning and be at the top by sunrise. Mount Warning is the first place on mainland Australia to get the suns first rays every day. Don’t worry, you won’t be alone – you’ll meet plenty of other sunrise walkers along the route.

  • An easier and shorter track and also free is the kid-friendly Lyrebird track which is only 0.6km and takes up to 45 minutes to complete. If you’re a bird-watcher, pack your binoculars.

Walking along the Greenmount headland
The Greenmount to Rainbow Bay beach walk

  • Go whale watching between June and November. This is the time to watch the whales frolicking and breaching as they head up the East Coast to the warm waters with of the Whitsundays. I promise you’ll never get tired of watching these gentle Giants at play. You can take a whale watching cruise or watch them for free at one of the many great vantage points along the beaches.
The view from Mount Warning summit.
Photo: thesaturdaypaper.com.au
 
  • ​There are plenty of beach walks to enjoy, just choose a beach, and follow the signposted walking track.

  • Do the Coolangatta coastal walk which takes you from Coolangatta, Greenmount and Rainbow Bay beaches to Point Danger lookout. Continue on the track past Duranbah beach and down to the Jack Evans boat harbour and back to Coolangatta. This is a daily ritual for many locals and walking groups, and is one of my favourite walks. Now it’s time to reward yourself with a swim!​

  • Not quite hiking, but the Tweed Coast is a golfers delight, and does involve walking. Some of the most popular golf courses are the Tweed Coolangatta, Club Banora, and Chinderah.
Enjoy a round at the Tweed Coolangatta golf course.
Photo: Golf Advisor

​Fancy a little pampering with the local spas

 enjoy a spa treatment at Byron Bay
Photo: Tourism Australia


If you love a bit of pampering, welcome to heaven. The Tweed Coast, Gold Coast and Byron Bay are filled with great bath houses and spa treatments. 

  • I'm going to share my favourite spa with you...It's called Kiva Spa and it really is amazing. Kiva is in a rainforest setting and you’d swear you were miles from anywhere. This bath house has spas, saunas, steam rooms, plunge pool, plus a great choice of treatments. After a visit to Kiva, I promise you'll leave so relaxed that you pretty much float out the door.
People loving the Kiva Spa house at MullumbimbiPhoto: Kiva Spa
Byron at Byron spa and treatments
Photo: Tourism Australia

Where to stay on the Tweed Coast

Take your pick of amazing places to stay on the Tweed Coast from apartments, resorts, motels, holiday parks and campsites. Then the next decision is whether you stay by the beach or in a national park and rainforest retreat.

A few recommendations in the heart of Tweed Heads and Coolangatta include Tweed Ultima apartmentsMantraReflections by the SeaCalypso PlazaBlu C, or the Big 4 holiday park. If you're looking at rainforests, consider EcOasis resortMount Warning Rainforest Retreat or Mavis' Cabins.
 
Booking.com

How to get to the Tweed Coast

The Tweed Coast is easy to get to from anywhere, so fly, drive, or catch a bus.
 
Flights: Fly to Gold Coast from anywhere in Australia, then pick up a hire car, catch an airport shuttle or a taxi down the road. The other nearest airport is Ballina/Byron Bay which has fewer flights that cost more.
 
Drive from Sydney (which takes about 10 hours), or from Brisbane, which is about an hours drive.
 
There are buses to the Tweed Coast, and many have a hop-on-hop-off option so you can explore the towns along the way.

Getting around when you’re on the Tweed Coast

I definitely recommend having a car the get around. There is some public transport but it’s limited. And really, this is the kind of place you want to get off the beaten track, explore.
 
Having your own wheels will make life easier to get from beaches to towns to rainforests to cafes to everywhere and anywhere. You can catch taxis but the Tweed Coast area is spread out so it’ll cost you a pretty penny exploring.

Sitting by the water at Tyalgum
Visit Tyalgum. Photo: Ryan Fowler, Destination NSW