Getaway from the Gold Coast on Couran Cove Island Resort

South Stradbroke Island, it’s a place where the rigidity of the Australian culture heavily reliant on rules doesn’t exist.

Where you can just walk or ride your bike unencumbered and chill to the beat of your own drum.

There are no cars and the only traffic you have to watch for is the hopping agile, or rare golden swamp, wallabies.

South Stradbroke Island is home to Couran Cove Island Resort, and like our favourite Fraser Island, is one of only 15 sand based islands in the world.

South Straddie is made up of 1,800 acres of conservation park, so you know you’re walking into pristine nature.

There’s no better way to help you unwind.

beach chairs in a row on the sand

Couran Cove Island Resort on South Stradbroke Island lies across the Broadwater from the north Gold Coast area. It is easily accessible by ferry, water taxi, boat, or jet ski. It’s paradise tucked away beside the city.

The Island offers calm inner waterways on the western side, untouched native bushland in the centre, and on the eastern side, a pristine surf beach with hardly a soul in sight.

The surf beach offers spectacular views of the beautiful Gold Coast, and sightings of humpback whales as they migrate north to breed from June through to late October is common.

It’s one of the few places on the East Coast of Australia where you can see the sun rise in the east of the island and set on the west.

palm trees on the beach

Everything on South Stradbroke moves to the beat of island time.

There was a noticeable click into present moment enjoyment as we stepped off the water taxi. Groove to your own vibe should have been the welcoming sign.

Our guide, Sean, took us for a half-day 4WD tour on the beach. Unlike Fraser Island, there were no other cars in sight. We had the long stretch of white sand to ourselves.

waves going onto a beach

We drove south to the Gold Coast Seaway to watch the surfers bravely paddle across from Seaway Spit on the other side to come to South Straddie where the waves are epic.

And of course, due to the lengths one has to go to to get to the waves, there’s far less competition for the epic barrels it’s known for. (It is notoriously sharky though so be alert – surfers amaze me with their dedication to riding great waves)

A rocky beach next to a body of water
cars on the beach

Then we drove 20km up the beach to the channel that separates north from South Stradbroke. Sean told us the story of how these two islands were once joined and are now separated.

It is said that a bunch of dynamite sank with a ship that ran aground in a narrow passage off the island. To keep things as safe as they could, they thought it was best to detonate them.

They didn’t realize how much dynamite was actually there and it blew a hole in the thin strip of land down the centre of the island. Then nature came in with cyclonic waves and winds to drive the two islands further apart. And now there’s a great wide channel between the two.

Sean’s happy the two sides to Straddie are divided. He reckons the South is the pristine magical part. North Stradbroke is a little more developed – they even have roads there.

little girl chasing seagulls on the beach
birds on the beach

On South Stradbroke, you’ve got only Couran Cove Island Resort, a resort for the visitors and next door, Couran Point a small village for residents, except most of the properties are rented to holiday makers.

Couran Cove Island Resort

Ramada Couran Cove Island Resort has recently undergone a multi-million dollar refurbishment in order to offer lavish facilities, five-star cuisine and stunning coastal scenery.

It’s unpretentious, friendly to the environment and perfect for families who want to escape the Gold Coast pace of life, unwind and connect with each other and nature.

houses along the water

Explore it by the bikes you can rent from the resort, by foot, or by joining the 4WD tours offered by the resort. They’ll pack you a picnic and show you the wild beauty of the area. It’s wild and free and so beautiful.

You can stay overnight, or visit for a day!

There is not much to distract you here. The activities and facilities are created to bring you back together: bike rides, kayaks, mini-golf, tennis, squash, bushwalks, and huge pools.

bikes chained on a pathway
people bike riding through a forest
pool chairs next to the pool

We saw families laughing and playing together – barely a tech device in sight.

Executive chef Chris McIntyre has created a delicious menu based on locally sourced produce and cuisines from around the globe. You can enjoy the dinner over-looking the marina.

His dessert, the White chocolate Brule with chocolate Persian fairy floss and praline ice cream, was seriously one of the best desserts I’ve ever had.

Other standouts were the scallops, Grilled king prawn, sticky black bean and chilli butter for entree and barramundi with Israeli cous cous salad, poached leek puree, baby capers main.

magnetic island queensland

There is a pool with more casual dining on offer and a cafe with great coffee and cakes. The Boardwalk Cafe is a lovely spot to enjoy a drink at sundown overlooking the marina.

walkways over water
people sitting on tables on a dock

Couran Cove Island Resort has many options for accommodation from cabins located within the Banksia forest to apartments and luxurious four bedroom villas.

We stayed in a 2 bedroom apartment overlooking the marina. It was comfortable and clean and had everything we needed. I loved sitting on the deck for my morning meditation session with only the sounds of the morning birds to help bring me some Zen.

pathway towards houses
A dining table on a house boat
woman cooking dinner in a kitchen
living room in a house boat
houses along a body of water

Some unfinished business

After being closed in the past for a period of time and then re-opened under new ownership, at time of writing the resort is not quite at 100% of its peak.

The Surf Club is closed and needs to be re-developed and whilst our apartment was comfortable and spacious I thought the interior decor, especially the bedding, was a little dated for a resort.

But I see great potential for Couran Cove once fully-restored.

Read More: Moreton Island is also a great place for 4WD and laid back charm.

The Details

  • Getting there – The Resort runs a 40-minute ferry service to South Stradbroke Island for guests and non-guests from Hope Harbour, 45 minutes’ drive from Gold Coast Airport and an hour from Brisbane Airport. The return ferry costs $30 adults, $15 children. Day trips are an easy option and ther Gold Coast departure options include Sanctuary Cove Marina and Marina Mirage at Main Beach.
  • Accommodation – Choose from either a studio or 1 & 2 bed apartment, a 4 bed villa, or an Eco Cabin.
  • Website – Learn more at Book your stay here through our partner Only pay after you stay!
  • TripAdvisor – Read what other travellers have to say here
  • Disclosure – We stayed at Couran Cove Island Resort in partnership with Gold Coast Tourism.

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5 thoughts on “Getaway from the Gold Coast on Couran Cove Island Resort”

  1. Sounds perfect – moving there later in the year so I’ll head that way at some point. Especially love the pictures with the birds 🙂

  2. We took a tall ship cruise from the marina near SeaWorld (can’t remember the name) to South Straddie in 2011! It was a lovely day but I’m not sure where we actually ended up…I thought it was at a resort but it looked nothing like the photos here. Maybe they did a lot of redevelopment?

    I did enjoy my time there but things were slightly more expensive than I expected, and because we were only there for the day we really couldn’t explore the island. Based on that I’d probably recommend people stay on South Straddie instead of just taking a day trip. 🙂

  3. This look just gorgeous. I have travelers at our accommodation Gold Coast who ask me about Stradbroke and other places to visit. I will recommend they look this up. What amazing photos.

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