The Gold Coast of Australia has been the scene for blockbuster movies and world-class surf events over the years, so it comes as no surprise that this charismatic city has drawn visitors from all over the globe.
That’s why when you holiday in this famous coastal strip in Queensland, you can be certain of an exciting time packed with activities and experiences. With over a dozen golden sandy beaches, there’s something here for everyone – from serious surfers to families and foodies.
If you are visiting this coastal city for the first time, here’s an itinerary to help you make the most of your Gold Coast vacay.
Day 1: Surf’s Up, Baby!
Named after the hotelier Jim Cavill who effectively started the tourism boom in Surfers Paradise, Cavill Avenue and Cavill Mall are the focal points of Gold Coast.
The street stretches from the famous “Surfers Paradise” sign next to the beach on The Esplanade and here you can eat your way through an array of restaurants, shops and nightclubs.
Start your day with a meal at the many surf clubs that dot the Gold Coast coastline. Tuck into your Eggs Benedict or Fish and Chips and enjoy your breakfast (or lunch/dinner) with a view.
If you are staying in Surfers Paradise, you would like BMD Northcliffe’s beachfront location. This surf club is known for its lifesaver breakfast, Carlton Draught Tank Beer and grain-fed steaks as well as global surf sports accolades.
Take a pic at the famous Surfers Paradise arch at the main beach to show your mates what they are missing. Find a spot to lie down on your towel to catch some Aussie sunshine. Then check out the action from behind your sunglasses.
If you are inspired to try some surfing, lessons are available at about A$55-60 for a two-hour session.
On Wednesday, Friday and Sunday evenings, the popular Surfers Paradise Beachfront Markets sets up shop at The Esplanade (next to the Surfers Paradise Arch) featuring over 100 stalls and live entertainment that sets the mood for a great time.
One of the largest markets on the Gold Coast, you can find a variety of premium and unique products to bring home as souvenirs.
At the SkyPoint Observation Deck, Australia’s only beachside observation deck, you can take in 360-degree panoramic views from the 77th storey – from Brisbane to Byron Bay, from the sea to the hinterland and beyond.
When the sun goes down, here is the perfect location to see the shimmering Gold Coast nightscape.
SkyPoint is one of Gold Coast’s most popular attractions. For extra thrills, do the SkyPoint Climb where you step outside of the observation deck at 230m and climb 298 steps to 270m. Once you are at the top, do the “lean back” selfie and try not to go weak in the knees.
Day 2: Best. Ride. Ever.
Think you are a veteran of theme parks? Yes? But have you taken a ride on the longest, fastest and tallest hypercoaster in the Southern Hemisphere – the DC Rivals HyperCoaster at Warner Bros Movie World?
Have you journeyed to the depths of the ocean at Sea World’s Creatures of the Deep? Done all the BIG 9 thrill rides at DreamWorld? Enough said.
Day 3: More Outdoorsy Stuff
Hot air ballooning: Float up to 3,000ft to watch the sun rise over the rolling hills of the Gold Coast hinterland. Cast your eyes on Tamborine Mountain, Lamington National Park and to the east, the shimmering tall towers of the Gold Coast skyline.
Just so you know, some flights come with champagne breakfast in case you want to be atas.
Jetboating: It’s like a rollercoaster on water. Experience 360° spins, high speed drifting, incredible beach buzzing and other exciting manoeuvres in shallow water.
The Australian Outback Spectacular night show: This is an Australian dinner and show featuring various animals, songs and bush tucker (food native to Australia). The performance tugs at your heart with stories about real struggles many Aussie farmers deal with today.
Day 4: Ladies, Time For Some Retail Therapy
Pacific Fair Shopping Centre: The biggest shopping centre in Gold Coast boasting an outstanding collection of luxury, high-street fashion and dining and bar experiences, plus a world-class indoor/outdoor leisure and entertainment precinct and around 400 specialty stores.
There are free shuttle pick-ups from major hotels across Surfers Paradise, Broadbeach and Nobbys Beach. Be sure to visit Betty’s Burger for the burgers (duh) and milkshakes.
Harbour Town Outlet Shopping Centre: Australia’s largest outlet shopping centre housing more than 240 stores. Bag up to 70% off the recommended retail price on Outlet stock every day. You’ve got Michael Kors, Coach, Ralph Lauren, Hugo Boss, Victoria Secret and Nike as well as Australian brands Oroton, R.M. Williams, UGG and more.
Visitors can catch the free Outlet Shopping Shuttle to Harbour Town seven days a week and receive free services and facilities at the Tourism Lounge as well as a free Tourist Discount Card. Now that’s hospitality!
Day 5: Awww … Koala-ty Hugs Only In Gold Coast
Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary: Queensland is one of only two states in Australia where they let you handle koalas. So take the kids to Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary and let them cuddle the marsupial and other native animals, including the roos and Taz (kangaroo and Tasmanian Devil).
Farm stay: Experience local Aussie hospitality when you book a farm stay. Recommended ones include Bestbrook Farm Stay that offers the “genuine farm experience” and Cedar Glen Farm Stay for a “truly original Australian farmstay experience”.
At farm stays you get to feed the animals. Here’s a tip: forget the chicken feed, that’s kids stuff. You should go for the horse if they have one. Feed the horse an apple. Grip the apple firmly in your hand and let the horse bite chunks off it. You’ll find that horses have really strong teeth.
Seasonal: Where There’s A Whale, There’s A Way
Gold Coast has the longest whale-watching season on the east coast of Australia (June to November). Try not to worry about being seasick as this opportunity to get real close to the largest mammal on Earth is so worth it. Watch them do the breach, wave their pectoral fins or slap their tails.
If you are lucky, you get a bonus sighting of dolphins as these friendly, playful creatures race alongside your boat.
Getting Around Is Easy
To get around, a GoExplore card (A$10) gives you unlimited one-day TransLink Gold Coast bus and tram travel. You reload the card with up to eight days’ travel passes at any TransLink bus or at tram stations. Check out the details on https://ridetheg.com.au/.