Lifeguards & beach safety

Our lifeguards are legends, working hard to keep you safe year-round. You'll see their friendly faces on a beach or keeping a close eye on the water from one of our iconic yellow lifeguard towers. Council employs the largest professional lifeguard service in Australia.

Our lifeguards are innovative and progressive and have been leading the world in the development of rescue boards and wave runner jet skis.

We were also the first lifeguard service in Australia to adopt a formal surveillance tower plan along the coastal strip in 1989.

On the Gold Coast we have:

  • 52 kilometres of beaches
  • 27 beaches patrolled year round
  • 40 beaches patrolled during peak season and school holidays
  • 40 specially designed surveillance towers
  • 40 permanent lifeguards
  • 140 casual staff
  • 30 4WD vehicles
  • 10 jet skis
  • 19 ATV bikes.

Beach safety flags & signs

Always swim between the red and yellow flags on patrolled beaches.

Understand what the flags and safety signs mean before entering the water.

Red & yellow flag (Safety) Red flags (Danger) Yellow flag (Caution) Black & white checkered flag
(Surfcraft prohibited)
Yellow & red flag
Red flag
Yellow flag
Checkered flag
Swim between the red and yellow flags. Dangerous conditions. Do not enter the water. Swim with caution. All surfcraft prohibited between signs and flags.
DANGER No swimming DANGER Beach closed Surfcraft prohibited
No swimming sign
Beach closed sign
Surfcraft prohibited sign
Dangerous conditions, no swimming allowed. Dangerous conditions, this beach is closed. No surfcraft, including surfboards, are allowed in this area (indicated by arrows).

How to stay safe at the beach

  • Never swim alone or surf at beaches not patrolled by lifeguards or lifesavers.
  • Never swim when there are no red and yellow safety flags.
  • Never swim outside the red and yellow flags that mark safe swimming areas.
  • Never swim directly after a meal or under the influence of alcohol.
  • Never swim when the beach is closed, marked with 'Danger – Beach closed' sign and a red flag. Beach closure information can be found on our Media Centre.
  • Use caution when a yellow flag is flying – it means the surf is dangerous.
  • Do not swim if you're unsure of safe conditions and seek advice from the nearest lifeguard.
  • Never struggle if you get a cramp but raise one arm for help, float and keep the affected part of the body still.
  • Never panic if caught in a current or undertow but raise one arm straight up and float until help arrives.
  • Never struggle against a rip or current and float until help arrives.

Beach safety education program

Our lifeguard service facilitates a Beach safety education program for local primary schools and English language students. For more information contact our lifeguards team on 07 5581 6740.

Gold Coast patrolled beaches

Find beach patrol times and locations of our lifeguard patrol towers of the beach you're interested in. Our Gold Coast beach pages contain information about the facilities available and how to get there.

View our interactive map or see a summary list our beaches below:

Alternatively, you can download our beach patrol information sheet(PDF, 1MB)

Note: all beaches are patrolled during Queensland school holidays.

Beach closures

For beach closure information visit our Media Centre.

Shark control

For the safety of swimmers, the Queensland Department of Agriculture and Fisheries implements a shark control program along Gold Coast beaches patrolled by lifeguards or lifesavers.

Occasionally, other marine life such as whales, dolphins or turtles get caught in shark control equipment.

If you come across entangled sea life or damaged equipment, call the 24 hour emergency hotline 1800 806 891.

For more information visit the Department of Agriculture and Fisheries website.

How do I become a lifeguard?

Think you have what it takes to patrol our beaches?

We hire casual lifeguards for the summer period, starting from mid-November.

We pioneered a gruelling bi-annual fitness test to ensure all our lifeguards are in top shape to carry out their work duties.

Qualifications:

  • an ocean lifeguard qualification (such as the APOLA Professional Ocean Lifeguard Award Level 1) or surf lifesaving qualification (such as the SLSA Bronze and/or Gold Medallion) or equivalent qualification
  • a current Senior First Aid Certificate
  • a current Advanced Resuscitation Techniques
  • a paid employee Blue Card.

Experience:

  • Preferably, candidates must have some experience in ocean activities, lifeguarding or voluntary patrols with a Surf Lifesaving Club or Board Riding Club.
  • A PWC (Personal Water Craft) Licence would be an advantage.

Physical testing requirements:

  • Complete an ocean course fitness assessment conducted by City of Gold Coast Lifeguard Service in less than 26 minutes:
    • a 750-metre ocean swim
    • a 1500-metre beach run, and
    • a 750-metre rescue board paddle.
  • Complete an 800-metre swim in a 50-metre pool in a time under 14 minutes.
  • Demonstrate the ability to use a rescue board and rescue tube in an ocean environment.

Candidates are required to demonstrate a high level of competency on a rescue board as this piece of equipment is used by lifeguards in over 80% of surf rescues.

For information please phone 07 5581 6172 or email lifeguards@goldcoast.qld.gov.au.