Sponsored by Gold Coast Tourism
Ahh the idyllic South Stradbroke Island, it’s a place where the rigidity of the Australian culture heavily reliant on rules doesn’t exist.
It’s where you can just walk or ride your bike unencumbered and chill to the beat of your own drum.
When we chose to stay at Couran Cove Island Resort, we were attracted to the simplicity of island life, to the sound of the ocean breeze and the stillness of the air.
There are no cars on the island, and the only traffic you have to watch for is the hopping agile, or rare golden swamp, wallabies.
You will find Couran Cove Island Resort nestled in the heart of South Stradbroke Island Conservation Park, and like our favourite island, Fraser Island, it’s 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.
But does a stay at Couran Cove Island Resort live up to the hype? What is a stay there really like? Below you will find our honest review of our stay at this tranquil island resort.
About Couran Cove Island Resort
Couran Cove Island Resort on South Stradbroke Island lies 20km 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, and yet only takes 20 minutes by ferry.
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 are common.
It’s one of the few places on the East Coast of Australia where you can see the sunrise in the east of the island and set on the west.
Getting to Couran Cove Island Resort
Those staying at the resort can take the 40-minute ferry shuttle service to South Stradbroke Island from the Marina’s Cove ferry terminal, located on Seaworld Drive Main Beach on the Gold Coast.
You can also get a ferry from Hope Harbour, which is 45 minutes drive from Coolangatta Airport and an hour from Brisbane Airport.
The return ferry costs $30 adults, $15 children. Day trips are an easy option and the Gold Coast departure options include Sanctuary Cove Marina and Marina Mirage at Main Beach.
Guests are allowed to bring 1 20kg suitcase per person which costs $29 per adult and $14.50 per child. Any additional luggage has a surcharge of $20 per piece. You can take prams and strollers but they need to be folded before boarding.
Day trip guests are only allowed to bring one small backpack per person.
If you don’t want to board a ferry with a group of people, you can also book a water taxi, but you should contact the Couran Cove Island Resort reception beforehand to put in a special request for this.
Couran Cove Island Resort has many options for accommodation for guests to choose from, whether they choose eco cabins located within the Banksia forest to apartments and luxurious four-bedroom villas.
You can choose from either a studio or 1 or 2 bed apartment, a spacious 4 bedroom villa, or even an Eco Cabin.
Each cabin or apartment comes with a fully equipped kitchen with a smoke detector, lounge area, balcony, king bed, flat-screen TV, all bed sheets and towels provided, free toiletries, and a hairdryer in the en suite bathrooms.
You can also request extra beds for children aged 0-2, but only rollaway cribs and infant beds are available and will incur some additional charges.
We stayed in a 2 bedroom waterview apartment which has a water’s edge balcony overlooking the lagoon.
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.
It also had a lot of space. The kitchen was huge for resort standards (see image below) and had all the appliances we needed to cook our own meals. I especially liked having the breakfast bar so our kids could sit and watch me cook.
As a resort, you can expect it to be full of amenities and activities to keep you entertained. The resort is surrounded by tropical gardens and natural forest.
One of the most popular spaces in the resort is of course the outdoor pools, there is a large lap pool and a children’s pool with water slides and inflatable water toys.
For the adults, there is a poolside bar and poolside café to get a refreshment from.
Kids will also love the playground with trampolines and a treehouse.
There is also a beach volleyball court, outdoor tennis courts, basketball courts, 24-hour fitness center, and a spa which is the perfect place to find relaxation.
There is also a general store where you can get your supply of groceries, and a coffee shop.
- Learn more about Couran Cove Island Resort from their website CouranCove.com.au, or you can check prices and availability through our partner, Booking.com.
- Read what other travellers have to say on TripAdvisor
Our Experience Staying at Couran Cove Island Resort
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.
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 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.
Then we drove 20 km 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.
On South Stradbroke, you’ve got only Couran Cove Island Resort, a resort for visitors, and next door, Couran Point a small village for residents, except most of the properties are rented to holidaymakers.
What Is Couran Cove Island Resort Like?
Ramada Couran Cove Island Resort has undergone a multi-million dollar refurbishment in order to offer lavish facilities, five-star international 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.
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.
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 overlooking 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.
There is a pool with more casual dining on offer and an on-site café with great coffee and cakes. The extended Boardwalk Cafe is a lovely spot to enjoy a drink at sundown overlooking the marina.
Final Thoughts of Couran Cove Island Resort
After being closed in the past for a period of time and then re-opened under new ownership, at the time of writing the resort was not quite at 100% of its peak.
The Surf Club was closed and needed 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.
This is what it looked like when we stayed…
Since then, the resort has undergone a full refurbishment and I can see those dated interiors I complained about have been fixed. It now has white walls, a fireplace, plush comfy seating, and generally a brighter space.
This is what it looks like now…
I see great potential for Couran Cove. The changes they have made since our stay can only enhance its comfort, and it was already comfortable.
I also love their continued enthusiasm for sustainable and eco-friendly tourism. The design of the cabins uses sustainable materials, and they even collect drinking water from the natural springs on the island.
Disclaimer: We stayed at Couran Cove Island Resort in partnership with Gold Coast Tourism, but all thoughts, ideas, and opinions in this guide are our own.
Stradbroke Island Tours
While we suggest staying on the island on South Stradbroke, you can visit North Stradbroke Island on a day trip. Check the following tours with Get Your Guide. We prefer this company for tours as they have a solid cancellation policy and reputation.