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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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?).
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.
Old-school prawn cocktails at The Fish House
Rick Shores, Burleigh Heads
Rick Shores, 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.