Have you been spotting those jet skis being towed up and down the Smith St Motorway, GC Highway or the M1 and are curious to know where they ride?
Well, I got you covered with this guide, even if you’re not out there riding just yet.
Best Jet Ski Riding Spots Gold Coast
I love the Gold Coast! Heck – I lived there for 4 years right on The Spit with hundreds of jet skis going past every weekend.
And while I moved up to the Sunny Coast, you can’t stop me from coming back month after month to find some epic riding.
When I lived in Southport, I was always out there looking for the next best spot to go riding and exploring. You wouldn’t ever see me list a ski with low hours. I’m out there to have fun!
Needless to say that this pretty well qualifies me to help you discover some good local places.
Sometimes I like to say that the Gold Coast is the jet ski capital of the world.
With the sales volume that goes through JSW Powersports monthly, I’d probably be on the mark there.
Anyway, you’re here for some places to ride this weekend. Let’s begin!
1. Southport to Tippler’s
Drop your ski in at Broadwater Parklands or across the seaway at Muriel Henchman (next to Sea World) and head out for a ‘Tippler’s Run’ with the return trip taking about an hour. Perfect for a beginner who’s unsure where to ride on their first time.
There is plenty of space in front of the cafe to pull up and anchor, though on weekends it can get a bit busy. If you’re doing a weekend ride then I’d be at the ramp by 8am before the locals and Brisbanites make their way down.
2. Tangalooma Run
The Tangalooma Run is almost like a monthly pilgrimage for local jet ski riders. It’s a decent trip so the rec-lite skis sometimes don’t have the fuel range, but most skis can make it there and back on 1 tank. You can do Jumpinpin Bar between North and South Stradbroke Island while you’re here.
Pack the snorkelling gear because there are some epic sights under the water here and the sharks/stingers are seldom found. The place gets busy on weekends so be mindful, with some riders preferring to beach their jet skis instead of anchoring.
If you’re not into swimming then you previously could have parked at the Tangalooma Island Resort for a bite to eat, after securing a Casual Day Visitor Pass. Unfortunately, they don’t allow non-staying (casual) guests anymore. There is a reserved spot to park boats and jet skis which is away from the swimming area.
I’ve created a separate article on the popular ‘Tangalooma Run’ here which includes the best boat ramps to launch from to reduce your fuel burn so you can do the trip in less than one tank.
3. The Spit and Coral Sea
After going through The Spit (look out for the surfers crossing to South Straddie), you can take your jet ski north or south depending on the conditions.
What I’d aim for is the wind direction. You’d want to go into a headwind and return on a tailwind…assuming you’re going out in the morning to mid-afternoon.
There are plenty of unrestricted riding (read: no speed limits) and you might even spot a whale! If you are heading out there then take an EPIRB as you never know.
Often riders get together and do a group run. This means that you’ll feel a bit safer. If you’re up for some thrills then look out for the jet ski riders jumping waves at South Straddie.
4. Tweed River and Terranora Creek
Right – this means you’re going quite a distance south, but the Tweed River has some good riding potential without the crowds. Speeds aren’t that fast and it isn’t so run, but well worth if if you’re needing something different.
The Tweed River is actually rideable right up to Murwillumbah though the water levels do drop considerably so keep that throttle relaxed.
Terranora Creek is certainly worth the visit too. It is tidal dependent so aim for the higher tides here and look out for the canoes and fishing lines.
5. Nerang River
You can certainly take your jet ski through the Nerang River and check out many of the canal homes, but some knot restrictions apply. You also won’t be able to go all that far, but clearly some people live here and leave their skis parked on their pontoons.
Bring your phone or a GPS because there are a lot (and I mean a lot) of canals to explore here. You might even want to go upstream past Benowa and even up to Nerang if you’re keen on a high tide.
Don’t go swimming anywhere near here as there the bullshark population is pretty high in the Gold Coast canals, with even some deaths over the years. You’re pretty safe on a ski though and even some people take their stand up paddleboards through here without an issue.
6. Coomera River
You can ride in the Coomera River but the council recently put up some more speed limits (argh…) which means it isn’t as fun as it used to be, but still worth a visit.
Chances are that you’ll come across many multi-million dollar homes. Some of Australia’s rich and famous actually live throughout here.
Keep in mind that there is a lot of traffic around these parts so keep the speeds down and reasonable. I’m not fond of the dirty water conditions so much here despite the fact that it’s pretty flat.
7. Logan River
You can certainly take your jet ski riding in the Logan River, though like the Coomera, the dirtiness of the water always has me a bit concerned about big logs lurking beneath. That said – there is a local group of riders who go here often to get away from the ritzy crowds. That same crew sometimes does a night run through the Brisbane River on their jet skis.
There are a lot of great islands worth exploring at its outlet and you’ll get some solitude and away from the traffic from the main channel. Also some good spots to pull up for a break or even a bite to eat up at Redland Bay.
Places You Can’t Ride
Right – how about some of the spots where you can’t ride. You know – the government red tape has made them illegal.
I’m not able to audit every single spot just yet (running this site has been a mission in itself) but here are some spots worth excluding from your list:
- Hinze Dam. Jet skis aren’t welcome here nor are any boats apart from those paddlin’ or fishin’. It’s been like this for years.
- Tallebudgera and Currumbin Creek. Correct me if I’m wrong, but I’m pretty sure are banned for jet skis to enter Tallebudgera and Currumbin Creek’s. However, you’re welcome if you have a house here on one of the canals and simply park your ski here on your own private floating dock. 6-knot limit applies.
As for crossing into NSW, here’s where you can’t ride jet skis:
- Southern and western side of Ukerebagh Island
- Kerosene Inlet (across from Tweed Hospital)
- Cudgen Lake
- Wommin Lake (Fingal)
- Wommin Lagoon (Fingal)
Other Spots to Consider
While the Gold Coast has world-class riding areas for jet skis to let loose, you should hook up the trailer, throw a tent in the back and go exploring for a few days.
Somerset Dam, Lake Borumba and Moogerah Dam are great for jet skis though Lake Wivenhoe is certainly off-limits there. Heading up to the Sunny Coast is great or even down into Broadwater in NSW. I would avoid Noosa as the river itself is very restrictive to PWCs.
A safety note here is that jet ski riders have a bad name for themselves on the Gold Coast unfortunately due to a small minority simply not respecting the speed limits especially in some of the anchorages. Keep an eye on those signs!
Also, it costs just $77/year to join VMR Southport and it’s well worth it in my opinion, with these thoughts echoed by a lot of local riders. Their response range is pretty extensive from Point Danger in the south (on the NSW border) right up to Bribie Island, plus 30nm west which pretty much covers everywhere on this list.
Essentially, if your jet ski breaks down out there on the waterways then VMR will tow you back free of charge as a member. Remember that VMR = Volunteer Marine Rescue so the members give up their weekends unpaid for the safety of all waterway users, and the fees go towards their small fleet of boats which you’ll find at the outlet of Loders Creek.
Finally – have I missed anything here? I’m aiming to make this the best guide for Gold Coasters to get out there and explore responsibly. After all, we want to advocate for keeping these spots open to all.