Burleigh Heads, Queensland

10 things to do in Burleigh Heads

Nikki Parkinson Travel 32 Comments

This post has been updated on January 9, 2017

A couple of Easters ago we escaped for a few days to the QT at Surfers Paradise on the Gold Coast. Loved it. Loved it all.

On the Sunday, we’d arranged to meet up with friends on Burleigh Beach so the kids could have a swim and the adults could recover from the night before at Kurrawa Surf Club.

As we were doing a u-turn on the headland to wind our way back to Brisbane, I spotted an apartment block that embraced the spirit of old Burleigh with a stunning nod to modern beach living.

I immediately got out my phone, looked it up and found that Bujerum had a two-bedroom apartment in the complex of five available for our annual January beach holiday. I had that getaway booked before we’d even hit the M1.

Bujerum apartments | Burleigh Heads | QLD

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. I am a marketer’s dream. I’m also very quick with decisions.

And in this case I’m so glad I am/was.

Our week in a second-level apartment at Bujerum cemented our burgeoning love affair with Burleigh Heads. We’ve since returned to Bujerum at Easter and again in January and can’t imagine staying anywhere else when in Burleigh Heads.

The Gold Coast and I are not holiday strangers.

As kids, we’d spend half of the summer holidays with mum, initially in a shack not far from what is now known as Millionaire’s Row at Mermaid Beach.

The year mum scored an apartment at the Florida Car-O-Tel just down the road at Miami we really knew we’d arrived.

Whatever our Gold Coast basecamp, we’d spend mornings at the beach, rarely coming out of the water, with midday siestas to follow, my brothers firmly ensconced for the afternoon in front of the black and white TV watching the cricket.  We’d emerge for a late pool swim and rinse and repeat the next day.

That beach-holiday rhythm is something that’s very much ingrained in my psyche. All it takes is a good whiff of the sea air and I’m there.

Ok, so I may now spend more time under a beach shelter than in the water and the late afternoon swims have been replaced with wine o’clock but the pace and re-charging rhythm is otherwise still the same.

Burleigh Heads, Gold Coast, Queensland

The rhythm was indeed made stronger because this was very much a park-the-car-and-leave-it holiday location.

The car left the building only to do the initial stock-up of groceries, a sneaky rainy day trip to the SpaQ in Surfers, a wet-weather visit to Air Factory for the kids and an unplanned excursion to a board repair shop after Miss SY had her surfboard snapped in two by some big Burleigh surf.

The rest of the week, we walked. Everything you possibly need is right on your doorstep.

Burleigh Heads has managed to embrace the spirit of the Gold Coast of old as it’s grown up to become proud home to some of the best restaurants, cafes and shops on the Coast.

We barely scratched the surface of dining options but we gave it a good nudge. My favourite thing on holidays – apart from the general relaxation stuff – is to not menu plan or cook.

Burleigh Heads, Queensland, Australia

We self-catered most breakfasts and lunches but dinners were either out or simple barbecues or picnics on the headland.

I’m far from a Burleigh Heads expert – with each trip we find more things to do and enjoy – but below are my top 10 things to do in Burleigh Heads in case you’ve got this holiday destination on your next escape radar.

10 things to do in Burleigh Heads

10 things to do in Burleigh Heads, Gold Coast, Queensland, Australia

1.     Walk. Head north for a flat 40-minute round circuit to North Burleigh surf club or head south and up over the headland for a scenic walk through to Tallebudgera Creek. On our most recent trip, I’d clock up a 6km round-trip up north past North Burleigh surf club and over the headland to Miami. Need to recover from all that walking? Book in for a massage at TTR Thai Massage – can highly recommend.

Tallebudgera Creek, Gold Coast Queensland

2.     Grab a coffee. Nook is a hole-in-the-wall coffee establishment under Oskars on the beach is super popular. I’m going to give an even bigger thumbs up to the Merlo coffee at the kiosk underneath the Burleigh surf club. The line-up was not as long (mostly) and I enjoyed my coffee more. Controversial, I know.

Nook espresso | Burleigh Heads

Merlo coffee, Burleigh Heads

3.     Picnic on the headland. We looked across to this spot from our apartment but it was still all kinds of magical to sit there watching the lights of the Gold Coast on a Friday afternoon with our friends while the kids played down on the sand and in the rock pools below. Barbecue or grab some prawns/fish and chips from James Street or Red Hot Cod

Picnic on Burleigh Headland

Burleigh Heads, Gold Coast, QLD

Burleigh Heads rock pools at sunset

4.     Down a juice or acai bowl. Next door to the popular fisho in James Street, is a small fruit and veg shop that is always pumping because of its juice and acai offerings.  New addition to the acai set in Burliegh is Kiss The Berry – do yourself a favour. (I know, I don’t know who I am either … hipster much?).

Acai bowl Burleigh Heads

5.     Look out for special deals when taking the kids out to eat. I love a surf club meal at the best of times but when the kids get to eat for $10 including a softdrink and Paddle Pop at the Burleigh Mowbray Surf Club, it tastes even better.

6.     Escape the kids and have a date night out. We swapped a date night (and kids) with our friends so we could go to The Fish House and then out to Justin Lane rooftop bar. Could not fault the food and service at The Fish House and love me a rooftop bar. Make sure you book ahead of your trip if you want to dine at either The Fish House or its sister restaurant, Hellenika at Nobby’s Beach (do yourself a favour – this is amazing Greek food). Mr SY tasked himself with this the week before. Rick Shores – right on the beach under Oskars – continues to be a fave. Never pass up those bug rolls, I say. Or the prawn curry. Enjoy during the day or, if dining in the evening, arrive for sunset. The décor and location is just stunning.

The Fish House | Burleigh Heads

Old-school prawn cocktails at The Fish House

Rick Shores, Burleigh Heads, Gold Coast, QLD

Rick Shores, Burleigh Heads

Rick Shores, Burleigh Heads, QLD

Rick Shores, Burleigh Heads

Justin Lane Burleigh Heads

Justin Lane rooftop bar

7.     Eat out at restaurants where big and little kids are extremely happy. California Tacos got very big ticks from us. The taco plates give you a Mexican fix that won’t sit heavily in your stomach. Big thumbs up for breakfast, brunch and lunch to Paddock Bakery. Dippy eggs don’t get any cuter – make sure you get the haloumi sticks as a side. Thankfully we walked the 2kms before eating a smores donut. Paddock also has a kiosk with coffee and pastries at Tallebudgera Creek.

Dippy eggs at Paddock Bakery, Burleigh Heads

Paddock Bakery

Smores doughnuts at Paddock Bakery, Burleigh Heads

8.     Shop in James Street. The James Street precinct is a bit like Hastings Street, Noosa (without the chain stores), a bit like King Street, Cotton Tree (but with more shops) and a bit like Jonson Street in Byron Bay (but with less shops). All of these precincts have a vibe and James Street certainly does as well. Lifestyle/homewares stores and fashion boutiques share the strip with uber-cool bars, cafes and food outlets. My fave stores: A Little Birdie Told Me; Blue Muse; Emte; Bikini and Me; Village; and Dragonfly Store (kids).

9.     Visit the Village Markets. I’ve blogged about these markets before and never miss them if I’m around Burleigh on the Sundays they’re on. Love the mix of homewares, fashion and food. Did someone say fresh, gluten-free donuts? Oh yes, they did.

10.  Swim or surf. Or both. The huge bonus of a Burleigh Beach holiday is that when most other parts of the Coast are blown out or beaches are closed because of big swells, Burleigh is protected by its headland. It’s also the same headland that brings surfers from all over the country and the world when the swell is on. The water is crystal clear – even after rains – and just magical to swim in. On our latest trip, I seriously had one of the best swimming and body-surfing sessions in a very long time. I like conditions to be perfect and they were that and more.

Burleigh Heads, Gold Coast, QLD

Burleigh Heads, Gold Coast, QLD

The only downside to how fabulous Burleigh is? Everyone wants to visit. In peak times, parking is at a premium and traffic is crazy. Keep this in mind if you’re thinking about a day trip.

Bujerum apartments

The design was inspired by the 1930s residential apartment block that provides the bones for the bottom two levels of the Bujerem complex. It was completely renovated in 2013 with an additional level – the three-bedroom penthouse added on top – but the spirit of the Queenslander style lives on in its weatherboard cladding and strong lines.

Bujerum apartments, Burleigh Heads, QLD, Gold Coast

Bujerum apartments, Burleigh Heads, QLD, Gold Coast

All apartments have been decorated in a timeless, coastal style with white walls, timber flooring, the use of mirrors and windows to capture the views and enhance the space and canvas prints on the walls by local photographer Sean Scott.

Bujerum apartments, Burleigh Heads, QLD, Gold Coast

You’ll find all your holiday kitchen needs too – including platters, salad bowls and Champagne glasses. Trust me the glassware issue is important. Just ask my family about the holiday house we stayed in one year on North Stradbroke Island and my horror that the only glass for my afternoon vino was a plastic one … with pink polka dots.

My favourite spot in the apartment was watching the passing parade – and the surfers – from the balcony.

Bujerum apartments, Burleigh Heads, QLD, Gold Coast

We loved our stay at Bujerum so much that we’ve already re-booked for two more escapes.

I feel a family holiday tradition coming on.

More information here.

So tell me, are you a Burleigh local or regular? Where can you recommend people eat, drink, shop and play? Or tell me if you have a favourite summer beach getaway spot? Where is it and why do you like going there?

PS. Looking for ideas on what to back for a summer beach holiday? Check out this post.

  • barbarabriguglio

    I have booked the family in to Broadbeach for our April trek to Queensland. From what I remember, Burleigh Heads isn’t all that far south from where we are going to be staying. I have taken on board all your suggestions and we will definitely visit Burleigh during our stay. Fish House sounds pretty good 🙂

    • Fantastic – and yes, it’s about 15 minutes or so depending on the traffic. Do book Fish House!

  • Luc

    Burleigh is by far the best place on the Gold Coast – we regularly duck down there for a sneaky weekend away. Love it. We stay at Burleigh Beach Towers (right opposite the beach, and just behind the Fish House!) Perfect location to walk everywhere.

    • Our friends stayed there this year! Awesome location. And very handy for the kids to go between our apartments.

  • Guess what? I’ve booked! xx

  • Kathy Marris

    I’m a Burleigh local and have to say you have done a good job of rounding up Burleigh. I would add the coffee culture in Burleigh with so many great coffee shops/cafes to choose from. Standup paddle boarding on Tallie Creek or just swimming at Echo Beach, walking along Tallie Creek to Fleays Wildlife Park, yoga in the park on Saturday mornings, drinks on the balcony at Burleigh Surf Club, Mexican food at Montezumas and the list goes on …….

    • Oh thanks Kathy! I really will try more of the cafes/coffee shops next time. It was just easier for us to self cater breakfasts and lunches around early morning and mid morning beach swims but on my walks I saw a lot I’d love to try! We did go to the surf club but on the only night it was raining. Still great but could see the potential on a gorgeous summer evening. x

  • LOVE THIS, Nikki… we’ve not done a family holiday on the Gold Coast (except a wee expedition to Seaworld)… this post would make planning a stay a piece of cake. Sharing on FB later today, great one for Sydney families in need of a wee escape.

    • Oh thanks so much Seana – nice and close to the Gold Coast Airport too for flying in and out!

  • Jacqueline Mitrovits

    We had the holiday from hell in Burleigh when my kids were little – long story short ended up in hospital on two separate occasions with both kids … shocker. But your post has enlightened me – maybe its time to put the past behind and try it again!!

  • Alina Oldfield

    Just 20 mins down the road for me ☺️ I’m a lucky girl!

  • Looks and sounds amazing. Waaay better than the beach house Mrs Woog stayed in. Thanks for sharing and the recommendation. Apartments on the beach are the way to go for a beach family holiday. xx

  • Oh looks like the perfect beach getaway! Thanks so much for sharing your intel! x

  • merilyn

    love the look of Burleigh heads! … what’s not to love thanks nikki!
    as a child we went to port Elliot beach for annual holidays!
    I’ve travelled through burleigh heads on the way to the gold coast!
    but it looks nicer much more kick back and great for a family holiday!
    love the places where you ate and the little bird told me boutique!
    we tend not to go away when everyone else is away! … as we can!
    I love the sunshine coast, airlie beach, nelson bay! there are soo many beautiful beaches in Australia!
    enjoy your day! love m:)X

    • Yes, good call travelling when others aren’t! We’re stuck on school holidays for a while but this time will pass.

  • Wendy

    I love Burleigh. Will be there for a week next week in fact. It is our regular go to place. I love all your suggestions on things to do and have been to many of them. It’s great to see Burleigh Heads becoming more chic. I love James street and all the new cafes. The only thing I would add is get your groceries delivered for the day of arrival. I’ve just done mine, so I can be sitting wine in hand waiting for someone else to cart them up to the unit. Don’t get me wrong, I love love shopping, but grocery shopping is not on my list to do while on holidays.

    • Wendy, I had it in my head to do the grocery delivery thing but totally forgot. Mr SY drove to Stockland for us!

  • Definitely somewhere I want to visit after your nudge about this lovely area. Sounds like you had a great holiday 🙂

  • Lisa Mckenzie

    I’m not sure if I’ve even been to Burleigh before,certainly as an adult I haven’t but may have as a child,it looks beautiful though!
    I love beach holidays my parents in law have a holiday house down the coast at a little town called Manyana,but you have to drive to the beach and it’s quite small,we used to take the kids there when they were little nearly every holidays but I much prefer north,we’ve been to the Gold Coast numerous times and Noosa a few times but the place that I really love is Byron bay and Illuka and surrounding areas so pretty and such beautiful beaches.Thank you for sharing your beach holiday with us Nikki Burleigh looks beautiful Xx

  • Kelly

    Love Burleigh. Growing up my grandparents lived at Palm Beach on a canal and my aunty had a holiday house on the beach front … like walk out the back door onto the sand! The absolute best. We used to walk around to the creek and up through the scenic walk and over to Burleigh. Such great memories. Another to add to the list is Coolangatta. I recently went there for a short break and that place is amazing. It might also help I went by myself and didn’t do much but eat mexican and go to the beach 😉

  • Kathryn

    Your holiday looked wonderful, and the photos are making me hungry! I haven’t been to Burleigh for years. As kids, we used to camp at Kingscliff twice a year, it is so different now. They were fantastic holidays, Mum and Dad were so relaxed. This year we are planning on going to Pottsville, I love it there. I’ve been really sick since Christmas Eve, so a nice relaxed holiday is what I need. We Aussies are so lucky, the whole coastline is magic isn’t it?

    • We ate SO well! Pottsville is gorgeous. I’m so sorry you’ve been sick – that’s just not fair. Get better soon. x

  • Miss Chardy

    Hi Nikki. Gosh, I think you have sold me on Burleigh …. sounds fantastic. I was a bit turned off by the Gold Coast when we holidayed there a couple of years ago… did nothing for me, was wishing we were up at the lovely Sunny Coast the whole time or Maggie Island… turns out we should have been at Burleigh. Great post Nikki, I always love your holiday posts!!! xx