Skip to main content

Image slider

Surfing facts and history

In less than a century, the Gold Coast evolved from a string of seaside villages to one of the most famous holiday destinations in the world. Much of that growth and success has been built on the city’s reputation as the preferred destination for the world’s surfers.

The growth in the popularity of surfing during the 1950s and 1960s went hand in hand with the development of the Gold Coast. From Southport to Coolangatta, holiday houses, motels and guesthouses were built to accommodate the droves of visitors wanting to enjoy our coast.

The 1970s saw the development of a strong surfing industry on the Gold Coast, and by 1977, the city was ready to take centre stage when it hosted the Stubbies Surf Classic at Burleigh Heads. This was the first event of the modern world surfing tour which was fittingly won by local surfing legend Michael Peterson.

Since then, surfing has become a huge part of our city’s lifestyle and economy. Our world-famous surf breaks continue to attract international surfers of all ages and skill levels, as well as regularly producing home-grown surfing world champions. The Gold Coast continues to be the home of surfing industry heavyweights, and regularly hosts national and international professional surfing contests.


Management of surf breaks

The Gold Coast’s orientation and latitude mean it’s perfectly positioned to catch strong southeast swells generated by east coast low pressure systems (typically in the winter months) while tropical cyclones offer large swells from the north and northeast (typically during the summer and autumn months).

The point breaks and headlands have been shaped over millennia and are fed northward flows of sand emanating from the mighty rivers of northern NSW and together these geographic elements play a significant role in shaping the waves the region is famous for.

Nowadays surfing and surf culture is iconic to the region. With the Gold Coast’s growing population, there are more and more surfers (both local and visitor) in the water each year.

It is crucial to carefully manage the dynamic ocean beach environment and challenges facing our beaches to ensure sufficient services are in place to meet community expectations.

The Gold Coast is one of the most intensively managed and monitored stretches of coast in Australia.

The City has been actively managing, monitoring and studying the coastline for decades and consequently has extensive experience in coastal processes, geomorphology and wave mechanics. A vast store of data has been collected and is being continually added to which allows a carefully considered and coordinated approach to coastal management.

Monitoring of Gold Coast beaches is vital and provides increased knowledge for the improvement of management strategies to maintain beach health. It also provides invaluable data for the evolving condition of the beaches and the impacts of severe weather events.

The City partners with various agencies to capture wave, hydrographic survey, aerial imagery and shoreline position data to inform coastal decision-making processes.

As more people are drawn to the region, attracted by this combination of natural elements set amid one of Australia’s most vibrant cities, the need to understand and monitor the factors that influence surf amenity has grown.

The City’s surfing beaches extend from Snapper Rocks in the south to Jumpinpin, located at the northern-most tip of South Stradbroke Island. Surfers from around the globe visit the Gold Coast to surf the numerous world-class point and beach breaks.


For more information, visit the City of Gold Coast website.