Go There: Coolangatta, Australia
A Paradise Of Right Pointbreaks
Where: Coolangatta is at the southern perimeter of Australia's Gold Coast. You can catch a one-hour flight to Cooly from Sydney, and after landing you can literally walk from the tarmac to Kirra Beach.
What: Two miles of the best right-hand barrels available on the planet! The only thing that holds a candle to the world-class waves available in Coolangatta is its incredible list of accomplished surfers.
When: Coolangatta's bay faces northeast and unfortunately the majority of the swells that hit Australia's east coast are from the south and pass straight past. If you want to score Kirra, you're best to book for February or March when Australia's cyclone season is in full swing; this is the best chance to score those elusive northerly cyclone swells. With Australia moving into a La Niña weather pattern we are told to expect more severe and more prolonged cyclone actively. So when is it time to think about Coolangatta? Try next February.
Why: You like to get barreled, don't ya? You come to Coolangatta to surf Kirra mainly; however, if you aren't lucky enough to see enough swell, the totally crackable walls of Snapper and Duranbah should still have you up for the early. Beyond that, if you are a fan of high-performance surfing, scantily clad women, and drinking beer, Coolangatta makes a pretty nice slice of heaven.
How: Via Sydney then direct to Coolangatta is the most straightforward. A ticket to Sydney shouldn't cost you much more than $1,500 from LAX and a connecting flight to Cooly with Virgin Blue airlines can be as inexpensive as AUD$98 round trip. You can also get a nonstop straight into Brisbane, which is about an hour north, and take the bus into Cooly.
Places To Stay: By far the most happening place in Coolangatta is Komune. Owned by pro surfer Luke Egan, Komune is situated at the foot of Greenmount Reserve and is very central in the Coolangatta scheme of things. You could easily get away without needing a car whilst at Komune. The range of accommodation and applicable rates cater for everyone from the wandering gypsy to a couple on a romantic getaway. Add an awesome party atmosphere, great food and a pool deck with a view to the mix and you can see why Komune is a prime choice in Coolangatta. In general, accommodation is pretty affordable, which is good, because the food isn't.
Places To Eat: The strip along Marine Parade will having you eating a different nation's cuisine every night; and for those on a budget, all your fast food regulars are also available. The local's pick would have to be O-Sushi on Marine Parade or Wahoo's Fish Taco on Griffith. For those first-timers to Australia, Coolangatta Bakery on Griffith has you covered for all your pie needs. A meat pie is Australia's number one hangover cure.
Babes And Dudes: The Gold Coast is holding, big time. Don't try the whole "I'm a pro surfer" bit, though, the ladies here are surf fans and can sniff out an amateur. There are some great clubs in Cooly, just don't be surprised to get outdrunk by a 100-pound hipster girl.
Crowd Factor: Gold Coast surfers are phobic of surfing alone and insist on traveling in large convoys to the surf. So don't expect to surf alone in Coolangatta; the congested lineups have been crowded since the 1960's and show no sign of slowing, so bring your mates. The crowds are legendary in peak season, with drop-ins commonplace. But there's also plenty of amazing surf on both sides of Cooly where there can be holes in the crowd.
Stuff To Bring: Vaseline! The walk-around at Kirra and Snapper and continual day in trunks will erode your legs, ball bag, and stomach. Better than Vaseline is Papaw ointment available at Australian chemists (drug stores, to Americans). Even better again is bringing a springsuit to limit continual days of chafing. Sunscreen is hugely important as Australia has more cases of skin cancer per capita than anywhere in the world.
If The Surf Is Flat: The Gold Coast theme parks can be fun but pretty tame in comparison to the USA. Alternatively natural landmarks like Mount Warning and Byron Bay are worth a look and may tempt the adventurous at heart. If you run by the "When In Rome" style of mentality, flat surf in Cooly equals great drinking weather!
Helpful Websites: Try coastalwatch.com, which is great for viewing wave quality via web cams on any given day. Virginblue.com.au has affordable flights within Australia. There are other airlines, but Virgin has the best surfer empathy (least likely to sting for excess bags). Go to komuneresorts.com for all your accommodation needs.—Jock Barnes