The best things to do in Burleigh Heads

Burleigh Heads is a small but gorgeous part of the Gold Coast, right between Surfers Paradise and Coolangatta. It is well renowned as a fantastic surfing destination and is the home of the one of the first surfing competitions. It is a well protected bay, with surf for all levels and plenty of activities to keep people entertained! It has heart, cafes and shops to die for, and a lifestyle to be envious of... We spent a week here, and here is my list of the best things to do in Burleigh Heads!

Get in the water - beaches and more

Oh, the beaches. Just the thought of going back makes me feel all gooey and relaxed. Burleigh Beach was big enough to find your own spot to all your own and lie undisturbed all day. There are multiple lifeguard spots though so wherever you go swimming you will be safe. The surf is great - not too cold, not too big, and more than enough room for everybody. Plus, it's been voted the cleanest beach in Queensland! Over the other side of the National Park is Tallebudgera Creek with gorgeous small and protected bays, that are stunningly blue. Keeping going to get to Palm Beach, which is mostly deserted. Heading in the opposite direction is gorgeous Nobby's Beach, Mermaid Beach and Broad Beach. The walk up to the viewing platform between Nobby's and North Burleigh Beach is well worth it with stunning views over both beaches and the rockpools below. 

Nature calls - The Burleigh Head National Park

We went running here nearly every morning we stayed here, and it's so lovely. There's a couple of kilometres of tracks to enjoy, and great views along the way. If you keep your eyes peeled you will see small lizards sunning themselves on the rocks lining the pathways, spiders and a ton of crazy looking turkeys scratching around in the dirt. You have to make the trip up to the lookout over Tallebudgera Creek - as well as the creek, there is miles upon miles of pristine white beaches. (We biked over the Tallebudgera Creek and headed to Currimbin. It's really pretty, they have a great lookout and a wildlife park too). You can sit and watch the surfers from the rocks off of the lower track too - see them launch themselves like wetsuit-clad penguins off of the rocks into the big surf. Brilliant! 

padlocks on the lookout
Frangipani near the beach
Tallebudgera Creek
burleigh beach

Yoga

There are tons of yoga centers throughout Burleigh - maybe this is why everybody is so chilled out here! We visited BSKT for an evening class and I absolutely loved it. Our teacher Brooke was amazing, and incredibly good at her job. I felt like a peaceful but sweaty piece of jelly by the time we had finished! There are also meditation classes elsewhere in the town too, one being the Buddist Centra in the plaza on James St. If you are staying for a while, treat yourself to a 5 class pass at BSKT, and make sure you stay and try one their organic breakfasts too! ($17 casual price for the yoga class, click here for their schedule).

Live Music

Friday - there is live music at Bluff CafeBurleigh Brewing Company, Zullas Bar, and the Miami Marketta.
Saturday - live music at the Miami Marketta. Check their website thoroughly first - we managed to turn up on a day when there certainly wasn't a market on! 
Sunday - Bluff Cafe. We watched a young local called Shaun Fitzgerald who was absolutely fantastic. Think, Jack Johnson tones but even dreamier! (His music is free on Soundcloud too). Bluff is straight across from the beach so head here for a drink after soaking up some rays, and there is a gelateria right next door too.

Paddle boarding and kayaking 

Head over the hill to Palm Beach and check base with the paddle boarding and kayak company in the car park (All Coast Paddle Board Hire and Currimbin Boatshed). It's reasonably cheap, and the creek is pretty flat and safe so suitable for most abilities. The owners are really safety conscious anyway so won't let you head out if it's getting a bit iffy water or weather wise. They have two stations (one on the left of the bridge in the car park, and one on the right past the campground so don't worry about not being able to find them! 

Rockpools over Burleigh Point
Ibis in Gold Coast
surfer paradise beach

Learn a new skill

Whats better than going on holiday and then coming back and showing off your new bad-ass skills? Not much! I so wish that I had known about some of the things on offer before we arrived in Burleigh because I would have totally taken part in some of the classes. Aside from the obvious water-borne skills like surfing and paddle boarding, Burleigh offers a couple of quite different skills! When you walk through James Street, stop in at the Three Worlds Shop. We walked in, and ended up staying for about an hour playing all sorts of instruments! There are dozens of different things to try and both of the staff we met were incredibly friendly and showed us how to play the cigar box guitar (exactly what it sounds like, with three strings and it's utterly magical). If you go on a Wednesday you may meet Luke, who had us completely spell bound with his skills. Micky ended up jamming on that, and was soon joined by a 4 year old on a ukelele! Another musical skill you can add to your repertoire is the bongo drums - head down to the waterfront at 6pm on a Sunday evening to catch a group of locals playing like mad things on their drums. They get really into it - some of them seem to be in a meditative trance, others dance around ecstatically and the rest just look like they are having a hell of a good time! If you hang around, they may invite you in to have a go! (Side note - there are also fire twirlers here at 6pm too, but I don't think they will let you have a go!).

A skill I am especially gutted to have missed out on (I found out about it the morning we left) was a silversmithing class run by a local jeweller in her studio. Suzie, the owner and face behind The Jewellery Studio runs classes regularly, and with the first three hour intro class you will have made a stunning ring. The classes are only $80! (The materials are extra, but it's still crazy good). Her pieces of jewellery are stunning and I only wish I could have been a part of a class. (I'm pretty sure I will have to make a trip back to Burleigh...). If jewellery making isn't your deal, still go and check out her stunning shop ;)

bongo drummers burleigh
bongo drummers burleigh
bongo drummers burleigh
bongo drummers burleigh

Markets

Farmers Market - 7am - 12pm every Saturday at Burleigh Heads State School. This market was great - big enough to spend maybe an hour wandering through, with great local foods and wares. Some were a bit kitsch even for me, but there was some gorgeous jewellery stalls and absolutely great organic food. 
Miami Marketta - Usually Friday and Saturday, but check their website. They have live music, street food and handmade crafts and other goods. It's set in a little alley way filled with funky graffiti - check it out :)
Art & Craft on the Coast - They go through most of the coastal towns so check their website for when they are back in Burleigh. We caught the tail end of this market, after having spent the day on the beach blissfully unaware of the goodies on the esplanade above us! We did manage some sneak peeks at some of the stalls before they packed up and there was stunning local wares. My favourite was a stall filled with stunning glossy seashells and crystals (yep, I'm a rock fiend). It is under the trees along the waterfront, take some cash with you :)
The Village Markets Gold Coast - Ooooooh I absolutely loved this! It is every first and third Sunday at the Burleigh Heads State School. It was my kind of market heaven - handmade local jewellery plus small jewellery designers from further afield, designers, artists and illustrators selling originals and prints, divine home wares (candles, cushions, rugs... You name it, you'd find it), crystal stalls and so much more. I happily spent a morning exploring them all at least twice (I tested my boyfriends' patience here a bit hehe) and left feeling so inspired by all of these creative businesses and entrepreneurs. This market is unmissable! If you don't believe me, check out The Village Markets website or Instagram :)

Must-see stalls:

  • Violet Gray Design - intentional handmade jewelry, I already have a citrine and silver ring made by the two lovely sisters. It was so nice to meet them in person!
  • Frankly My Dear - unique bohemian-style statement jewellery handmade by two Aussie friends
  • Cleopatra's Bling - raw crystals and metals fused into jewellery by a Melbournian who now lives in Instanbul
  • Wild Heart Jewellery - pieces with strong Native American, tribal and spiritual influences
  • Divine Creatures - beach inspired pieces, lots of beads, mother of pearl, quote pedants
  • Sea and Stone Designs - candles, crystals, beachy jewellery, plus element and zodiac pieces 
  • Lani Paxton - this chick makes absolutely breathtaking art, and a limited number of some of her prints are available for sale
  • Marta Kamilla - her prints are profounding spiritual, and very attractive. I love her Chakra set, and hope to have my own set one day!
so many dreams to catch - handmade dreamcatcher
Gypsy and the Thief Henna
Gypsy and the Thief artwork
cleopatras bling
stalls at the village markets

Shopping

There's two things that the township of Burleigh Heads does really well - great eateries and marvelous boutique shops. We had a few cloudy days so spent quite a few hours exploring the two! James Street is where the main action is at, but check out the streets either side too. One thing I noticed while shopping here - the shops all smell incredibly delicious, and the owners are all super friendly. It's an all-senses extravaganza shopping here! 

I highly recommend checking out:

  • La Pearl - for the hippies! If you love crystals, gorgeous printed maxi dresses, bohemian jewellery and stunning leather handbags then this is the place for you. It is only a small shop, but there is so much here that you will be wanting to take home with you! Unfortunately they don't have a website, but they do have Facebook and Instagram :)
  • The Freedom State - more bohemian deliciousness. They stock over thirty different labels so there is so much to choose from - clothes, candles, homewares, swimsuits, shoes, and unique silver jewellery. I'm in love with their Grace Bijoux bodychains. They have a fab website which is a bonus!
  • Emte - epitomizes classy and stylish accessories and clothing. Visit the stunningly minimalistc store for signature pieces that are reasonably priced from great designers.
  • Carmels Designs - the clothes are very comfy-beach chic inspired, but it was the homewares and body lotions that I loved in this store. Great for gifts if you want to bring something home for someone - check out their Instagram for more of an idea of what they sell :)
  • I Just Love That Fabric - if you make clothes or cushions etc for yourself, treat yourself to some gorgeous fabrics from here! They are so colorful and unusual - think exotic illustrations of animals and unusual patterns. There are also ready made things like cushions and lampshades for you to buy if you aren't crafty :) 
  • Pashin - this shop is just a little bit different, with oriental designs and trinkets. If you are a fan of Buddha, elephants, colorful sashes and large chunky jewellery then Pashin is your kind of shop :)
lizards gold coast
skateboarding
surfers paradise
currimbin creek
seagulls by the beach
elephant lookout

There are tons more shops to check out, but these were a few of my favorites. I would highly recommend staying in Burleigh Heads because it is such a wonderful place to relax and unwind. The people are as friendly as they come, and the lifestyle is turtle-like - slow, purposeful and delightful. There's no reason to rush, nature to enjoy and explore, and delicious food to revel in everyday. Go to Burleigh. Relax. Enjoy :)

Have you done any of the above things in Burleigh? Is there anything you think I've missed off the list? Check out my post about our AirBnB in Burleigh too!