Welcome to the sunny Gold Coast, famed for its long sandy beaches, thrilling theme parks, surf spots and many incredible waterways. I truly love this part of the world!
Where Is The Gold Coast?
The Gold Coast is located in the state of Queensland, around 80 km away from the state’s capital Brisbane.
Hence the name, Gold Coast is a coastal area that has gained great popularity and became a hotspot for local and international visitors since the 1920’s when the Surfers Paradise Hotel was first established. Due to its significant growth over the years, it is now the second biggest city in the state after Brisbane.
And now, be prepared for all that I am sharing with you in this ultimate travel guide to Australia’s beautiful Gold Coast!
When Should You Visit The Gold Coast?
Is that even the right question to ask? Go ahead and visit the Gold Coast anytime of the year but be aware of some factors that may affect your travel experience. The best time I recommend you visit for you not to miss the real Gold Coast experience is during the months of February/March to May.
There are few school holidays, it’s not rainy at all and simply just the right weather, not too hot, not too cold. You definitely want to enjoy those long sandy beaches without burning under the sun and getting your wallets drained because of surging prices throughout holiday season.
Since the Gold Coast is such a popular tourist spot, the main reason to avoid the months of school holidays is rampant, which is during the months of November and December, around Christmas and New Years.
You want to visit and enjoy all the activities with a minimum number of people surrounding you, spending less on hotel accommodation which is usually lower priced outside those high summer months. And you may be lucky enough to experience some events happening around the region that will let you explore the outdoors to the fullest.
Aside from many outdoor activities and awesome views all around the coast, there are also some activities and events you can try out like visiting various shows, cool bars, or if you are brave enough – the SkyPoint Observation Deck.
It’s a must-do if you want to get an incredible birds-eye view over the whole coast. Take it up a notch higher and you can see yourself climbing outside of the building to the very top, swing your arms up and scream. Thrilling, that’s for sure!
Let’s go ahead and start listing out the attractions that are essential when you travel to the Gold Coast.
The Different Areas Of The Gold Coast
Before anything else, let me familiarise you with some of the best areas you can visit at the Gold Coast.
First Stop – Surfers Paradise
If you are after a one of a kind, world-class nightlife venues, this is the place to go. Surfers Paradise will keep your blood pumping crazy and fill you with that electric and energetic feeling, every day of the week.
Throughout the year, Surfers Paradise throws a series of events that includes supercar races, competitions, cultural and artistic community events, open-air concerts and beachfront markets. It is definitely a great way to party while getting your sun-kissed skin.
Second Stop – Broadbeach, Nobby Beach And Palm Beach
And of these places are perfect to soak up the sun on the beaches of the Gold Coast and learn to surf! The Gold Coast is called “gold” for a reason, right?
Broadbeach aka “Broadie” to the locals, has that wonderful sea water perfect for surfing that is also surrounded by weekend markets, parks, and weekend yoga classes. After getting your beach fix, you can roam around and shop a little at the Broadbeach Mall seasoned by wandering street artists and awesome dining.
Not only that, this place also has The Star, known previously as Jupiter’s Hotel and Casino. This 24-hour casino and hotel that has several lounges, bars, nightly shows and plenty of restaurants to choose from. If you have time, I suggest that you drop by Pacific Fair, Gold Coasts newest and flashiest shopping mall.
Make way for Nobbies! Nobby’s Beach is a great place for families, kids, and couples. Located in the middle of Gold Coast stretch, this place makes it easy for you to explore the surrounding markets and it’s also just a short walk to the well-known Nobby’s main street with its many alfresco cafes, restaurants and little shops.
Or, you can take the bus headed south to visit Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary where you can cuddle koalas and say hello to friendly kangaroos.
Many of the popular tourist destinations of the Gold Coast, such as the lush green hinterland, Botanical Gardens, Burleigh Golf Club and Burleigh Headland national park and walk are easily accessible from here and therefore make it a great place to stay on the Gold Coast.
Palm Beach is located in between Currumbin Creek and Tallebudgera Creek. Here you can find long stretched of sandy, stunning beaches, making it a surfers and beach-lovers gather. Just 10 minutes from the Coolangatta Airport and an additional 20 minutes to Surfers Paradise. What an easy access to the good life!
The Palm Beach Hotel has free based comedy on Sundays, dance classes, and offers specials frequently. If you happen to bring your kids along with you, don’t forget to take them to Laguna Park – this is the best playground for youngsters on the coast!
Third Stop – Coolangatta
If you reached Coolangatta, the southernmost end of the Gold Coast, you definitely reached the end of the Queensland’s Gold Coast. This totally sums up your vacation and a need to go for a slower, relaxing pace.
You can take a glimpse of the whole coastline and enjoy the sun break at Snapper Rocks, one of my favourite spots on the coast. From here it’s an easy jump to the neighbouring state of New South Wales. Speaking of NSW, you can trail up to Point Danger and be in two places at the same time. This is also a perfect spot to watch those whales when they migrate between July and November every year. Visit Café Dbar with its panoramic views from the second floor.
Where To Stay On The Gold Coast
Exceptional views and an amazing, luxurious interior, that’s what is awesome about the Peppers Soul serviced apartments. With only 100 meters to the beach, you could literally fall out of bed and dive right into the ocean.
Located in the very heart of Surfers Paradise you will not only get to enjoy the outside to the fullest, but you will also be able to recharge your batteries after a long and exciting day out while in the hot tub and the sauna or pushing through a great work out in the fitness center. Splurge and relax, my friend.
If you haven’t had the chance to stay in a Sofitel Hotel yet, the Sofitel Gold Coast Broadbeach is the perfect opportunity to do so. Situated opposite the biggest shopping center in the Southern Hemisphere, the Pacific Fair Shopping Centre, and only 50 meters from the beach, this luxury hotel represents an excellent choice for those of you who are into food, shopping and lifestyle. Take in the breathtaking views towards the ocean or the river on your very own private balcony and let your soul dangle.
Travelers, check out The Wave Resort and stay in one of the fully self-contained apartments with private balconies and fantastic views towards either Broadbeach or the Gold Coast. Plus, while staying there you should definitely check out the amazing rooftop infinity pool and spa. Need I say more?
Free parking, free Wi-Fi and less than a five-minute walk from Kurrawa Surfing Beach, but that’s not all of what the spacious apartments at South Pacific Plaza have on offer. With a fully equipped kitchen you might enjoy a quiet night in while taking in the scenery on your private balcony. Or you could opt for a perfect night out at one of the great restaurants nearby. Make sure you work on your tennis skills while you’re there!
Located in the real heart of the Gold Coast, right in the buzzing center of Surfers Paradise, this hostel offers a wide range of rooms and is great value for money. Stay in a double or twin room, bring your family, or save some money and crash in the 4, 6 or 8-bed dormitories with ensuites. Meet fellow travelers in the shared kitchen and lounge area, relax in the pool or the hot tub before getting ready for a night to remember out in the streets of Surfers Paradise.
A bit South of the Gold Coast hustle bustle, this hostel is situated in Bilinga which is awesome for surfing and beach walks – surfboards and bicycles are available for rent in the hostel. It’s only a 10-minute walk from the airport and the hostel offers a free shuttle service to various locations nearby. How about you spend the money you’ve saved on accommodation for snorkeling, surfing or whale watching tours? You won’t regret it, I promise.
Things To See And Do On The Gold Coast
I have mentioned quite a number of places for you near the beaches but there’s still a lot more for you to try! Since this is the Gold Coast travel guide, I will be more than happy to introduce you to the following things:
- Best Gold Coast beaches to visit: Palm Beach, Broadbeach, Nobby’s Beach, Coolangatta Beach, Mermaid Beach, Kirra Beach, Currumbin Beach
- Learn to surf at any of the beaches
- Visit the shops at Caville Avenue or go to Pacific Fair Shopping Centre
- Sky Dive over the beach or climb your way up to Sky Point Observation Deck at Q1 Hotel for a birds-eye view
- Nature lover? Visit the Hinterland and go on a trip to Springbrook, Tamborine, or Lamington National Park
- Snuggle a koala at Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary (I know you want it!)
- Bring your special someone to the Burleigh Heads National Park and have a picnic at Burleigh Hill while waiting for that perfect sunset
- Enjoy the nightlife and dance the night away at one of the many Surfers Paradise nightclubs
How To Get Around The Gold Coast
The Gold Coast is near two international airports, and it is so well positioned that you won’t miss anything regardless of the mode of travel you choose. Well, as I mentioned earlier you have an option to take a bus and but I highly recommended that you rent a car instead. Expedia has usually some great deals on rental cars in Australia.
Why? Even though the Gold Coast has many options for public transportation like buses, trains and taxis, I believe in the leisure of self-driving so I can freely go around at your own time. But hey! It’s your choice if you want to explore every bit of Gold Coast and try the public transportation – it’s the experience that matters!
Where To Eat
You must be famished after all these activities? I am too. Just writing about these places makes me want to grab a bite of great food. Just in time for me to show you some good places to boost that energy and fill-up those hungry tummies.
Here are my top 10 favourite places to try on the Gold Coast:
- The Yard Café – Serving garden-fresh seasonal Australian meals that gives a new approach to that old lifestyle cuisine.
- BSKT Café – Pronounced as “biscuit”, this health food restaurant turned café will make you turn vegan as they serve healthy foods in the most spectacular way.
- Little Mermaid – Talking about under the sea. Little Mermaid is just a few meters away from the ocean that offers great food all day long!
- Justin Lane – If you are craving now for some carbs to eat, join me here at Justin Lane to have a bite – or maybe more – of their extensive pizza and pasta menu.
- Social Brew – Located at Paradise Point as well as another branch in Burleigh, Social Brew is just a combination of everything we ask for in a café – great drinks, affordable prices, good food and a lovely atmosphere with greenery dangling over your heads while you eat.
- Rick Shores – One of Gold Coast’s most iconic places that delivers on Pan-Asian flavours and will just make you want to share the whole menu.
- Hellenika – Looking for some authentic Greek home-cooked style of food? This is the place to be!
- Aloha Bar and Dining – A place for tiki cocktails, amazing bar design, and a wide choice of drinks. A hidden gem in Broadbeach! (It actually took me a while to find it down a small alley.)
- The Loose Moose – Simply an awesome place if you ask me. This will fill your stomach and a lot more!
- Cardamom Pot – Exquisite dishes and desserts. Creative and tasty made on the day, vegetarian and vegan options available.
- Plus: Beachside Pavillion: This corner-restaurant at the end of Broadbeach Mall serves up delicious fresh fish & chips the non-traditional way as well as cocktails and also check out their breakfast menu, it will surprise you!
Honestly, I can’t get enough of listing these wonderful places and there’s actually more for you to check out.
Bring on your next vacation, the Gold Coast is definitely worth a visit. I have been so lucky to housesit around different areas over the past months and it still keeps me coming back again and again.