City Girl Guide: The Gold Coast with Claire Parsons

Claire Parsons first found a love for surfing in her Canadian homeland, but has been able to hone her craft in warmer waters around the world. She’s currently located on Australia’s famed Gold Coast and gives us some tips on where to go and what to see on the other side of the world.

 Claire wearing the La Bamba Shortie, shot by Izzy Hobbs.

Where are you from?
Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada. But I’m currently living in Rainbow Bay, Coolangatta, Australia.

How long have you been surfing?
I’ve been surfing on and off for about 6 years. I used to shortboard and lived in Costa Rica, but then I took a three years off surfing to go back to school and focus on my career (public relations and marketing). I started mainly longboarding and surfing single fins about a year and a half ago, and I’ve fallen in love with it. I’ve been lucky to have surfed some of the world best longboard waves in the last year, from Byron Bay and Noosa to Batu Karas and Canggu, in Indonesia.

What was your first time surfing like? How did you push past the fear or anxiety?
My first time surfing was pretty mellow, a little reef break back in Canada. I even have a photograph from that first surf. So there was no fear or anxiety that day, but I do think that no matter how many waves you have surfed there will always be some kind of fear. I usually tell myself in my head it’s not that scary and to just get over it. It usually works, too. But at the end of the day it’s out of your control – the ocean is powerful and panicking won’t help anything.

Tell us a bit about your time in Australia. Why did you choose to live there?
I moved to Australia to surf as much as possible. The first wave I surfed in Australia was The Pass in Byron Bay. And is probably the most crowded wave I’ve ever ridden. But after awhile you get used to the crowds. Living on the East Coast of Australia, I’ve been lucky enough to have surfed almost every day for the past year. I currently live around the corner from Snapper Rocks, one of the best and most crowded waves in the world. I’ve traveled a lot, and the Gold Coast would probably be a place I could settle down and live forever. You have all of the benefits of a city and the ability to surf before and after work. I even have friends who surf on their lunch breaks. You’re also only 3 hours from Noosa and under an hour from Byron Bay.

What surprised you about the city?
Hmmm, I think mainly how easy it is to get around and how centered the city is around the ocean.

What’s something you can’t live without when traveling to Coolangatta?
My phone, I hate to say it. But being able to check the surf webcams is something to do regularly. Always have the fear of missing out. Conditions and wind change quickly, so being able to check the cams is key. 


Claire's Guide to the Gold Coast


via @southeastespresso


SouthEast Espresso is close to where I live and surf. They have the best coffee.


via @boardriderscoolangatta


Coolangatta Boardriders Café – always friendly, and I love being able to grab coffee, lunch, and shop in the same place.  



via @pennantsurfstore


Pennant Surf Store is one of the only independent surf shops on the Gold Coast. Big surf brands tend to dominate the city.



via @bondigrillecooly


Bondi Grill’e – Best ribs you’ll ever have, small little restaurant, with friendly staff.

Other favorites:
Bay Street Thai – Super fresh, healthy, fast, and affordable.
Francies Pizza – If you’re into pizza, there’s nowhere else on the Gold Coast to go.
California Tacos – First place I ate on the Gold Coast and the best fish tacos.



Claire wearing La Bamba NYC at Rainbow Bay, photo by Izzy Hobbs

Snapper Rocks / Rainbow Bay – My home break.
Kirra Point – More mellow and less crowded on the bigger days at Snapper.
Currumbin Alley – The banks have been unreal, the crowd can be a lot to handle at times.
Cabarita – Dreamy clear waters, smaller crowds and tends to pick up heaps of swell.
Fingal / Dream time – The place to go when the wind is howling northerlies.
Tweed River – Super fun, and a different kind of surfing, always nice to mix it up. Has to be the right swell direction.



via @eddiesgrubhouse


Eddies Grub House is a great local pub. We spend most of our time here.

Komune – Sunday sessions, 5 drinks and a taco for 10 dollars.
Burleigh Pavilion – New to the Gold Coast and over looks Burleigh point. 


 Claire at the national park, photo by @naomi_adbib

Currumbin Rock Pools - The first tourist destination I went to on my very first day on the Gold Coast, great little swimming holes and a cool rainforest walk.

Cabarita Headland - Amazing views from both sides.
Lamington National Park - Heaps of waterfalls.
Nimbin - A very unique experience, wild characters, and friendly faces.
Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary - Koalas (whatever you do, don’t call them koala bears, like I do).



Follow Claire's adventure on her instagram, @claire.r.parsons.