Moderately hazardous: 4-6
Highly hazardous: 7-8
Extremely hazardous: 9-10
Coolangatta-Greenmount Beach is an 800 m long, north facing beach wedged in between the Greenmount groyne, that extends for 200 m off Kirra Point, and the prominent, 30 m high Greenmount Hill (Fig. 4.168). The beach derives its name from the green hill and the wreck of a ship named Coolangatta, which was named after Mount Coolangatta on the Shoalhaven River in New South Wales, where the ship was built. The Gold Coast Highway skirts the western end of the beach and Marine Parade runs the length of the beach, with a seawall protecting the road from episodic erosion.
While the beach faces north and is partially protected by Point Danger from the prevailing southerly swell, it remains a very dynamic beach. This is as a result of large pulses of sand that move from New South Wales across the Tweed River mouth and around Point Danger. They manifest themselves as large sand waves moving slowly around Greenmount over a period of weeks to months and finally attaching themselves to Greenmount, before moving on eventually around the groyne and on past Kirra to North Kirra Beach. Depending on the size, shape and degree of progress along the beach, bar, surf and rip conditions can vary considerably.
Typically the beach has an attached inner bar, possibly cut by rip channels, with a deeper trough paralleling the beach and an outer bar/sand wave further out. There is often shallow sand around the base of Greenmount and a strong permanent rip against the Greenmount groyne. Waves average 0.5 to 1 m, usually being higher at the western Coolangatta end.
This is a moderately safe beach owing to the usually low waves. However, even under low wave conditions, deep rip channels and troughs occur along the beach and are intensified when waves exceed 1 m. The safest swimming is in the two patrolled areas and clear of the Greenmount groyne.
The best surfing is off Greenmount Hill. When the bars are right, it produces a long, easy right-hander. There can also be good beach breaks over the inner and outer bars, with conditions depending on the bar shape.
There are usually good holes and gutters along the beach, plus the Greenmount groyne and rock fishing off the rock around Greenmount Hill.
This is a heavily developed and somewhat modified beach since the construction of the groyne. It is continually changing as sand waves move through and past the beach, making it an interesting beach to observe. It has all the usual tourist facilities in backing Coolangatta plus the added safety of usually low waves and two surf lifesaving clubs and lifeguard towers.
- Formal parking area