Burleigh Waters, a residential suburb built around several lakes, is immediately west of Burleigh Heads on the Gold Coast. Until the early 1970s an extensive wetland, Stephens Swamp, came to within 700 metres of the beach between Burleigh Heads and Miami. The extreme eastern edge of the swamp bordered the Burleigh Heads drive-in cinema, now the Burleigh Town Marketplace shopping centre.

Residential development travelled from east (Burleigh, Pelican, Miami Lakes, c1972) to west. An undeveloped part between the shopping centre and Marymount Catholic College (1968) remained so until the late 1990s. It has been developed mostly with detached houses, some with waterfront position, mixed with townhouses and units. The estate was marketed as Burleigh Cove. Burleigh Waters thus has housing stock ranging from 3-30 years old. Overall, three-quarters of the dwellings are detached houses and 20% are townhouses.

Burleigh Waters' community is slightly more aged than Gold Coast generally, indicating a spill over of retirees from Burleigh Heads. Comparative median ages of residents are: Burleigh Heads 49 years; Burleigh Waters 41; Elanora 38; and Stephens/Varsity Lakes 32 (2001 census).

There are State primary schools in Burleigh Waters (1987) and Burleigh Heads (1917) and State high schools are further away in Palm Beach, Mermaid Waters and Varsity Lakes. Bond University is closer. Marymount Catholic primary and secondary schools each have enrolments of about 1000.

In addition to the shopping centre next to Burleigh Cove there is a local centre in Christine Avenue, near the community centre, library and football club.

Burleigh Waters' census populations have been:

Census DatePopulation
19813808
19865734
19969540
200112,294
200612,725
201113,868