Australia's Gold Coast is the mecca for vacation-goers who long for white sand beaches, surfing and 300 days of sunny weather. Located 62 miles southeast of Brisbane, Gold Coast was once infamous for being an over-the-top party town, with a high crime rate and seedy reputation.
But those unsavory days are long gone. Today, Gold Coast is known for its sophistication, with chic hotels and trendy restaurants luring tourists to the city. Here's an inside look at why Gold Coast should be at the top of your Australian bucket list.
Gold Coast Beaches
If you’re looking for the opportunity to walk across white sand as the waves crash against the shore, you can’t go wrong with Gold Coast. With 35 miles of pristine sand stretching along the coast you'll have plenty of fun activities to enjoy during your stay.
Parasailing, jet boating, fishing, surfing and whale watching are just a fraction of the water activities you can do in Gold Coast. If you're looking to take a dip, find your way to Tallebudgera Creek, a scenic spot between Burleigh Heads and Palm Beach. Several surf schools operate here and you'll be standing up on a board in no time. And those looking for a romantic way to enjoy the water can book a private gondola and glide through the gentle canals of Surfers Paradise or Main Beach.
Gold Coast isn’t just famous for its lovely beaches — it also has several theme parks to up the adrenaline. If you want extreme thrill rides you can't go wrong with Dreamworld. With rides like the BuzzSaw, a roller coaster featuring a 15-story drop coupled with a 360-degree heart roll, will keep your heart thumping all day.
Check out the extreme water slides at Wet ‘n’ Wild or take the kids to Warner Bros Movie World where they’ll come face-to-face with their favorite cartoon characters in between riding family-friendly attractions. And if none of those parks work for your family, you can also take them to Sea World or Paradise Country where you’ll discover Australian wildlife and farm animals.
Buzzing Restaurant Scene
Gold Coast boasts restaurants that can rival those of Sydney and Melbourne. Whether you’re looking for a casual coffee shop, fine dining or anything in between, you can count on finding something that will satisfy your belly.
Enjoy Cuban cuisine at El Patio de Cuba where you can feast on Mojito Chicken, Cuban Lamb Shank, Paella Cubana and other mouthwatering dishes. Seafood lovers should check out the Fish House where coral trout and Patagonian toothfish are on the menu. Go chic and classic at Paddock Bakery, located in a lovely restored home and serving up delicious croissants washed down with your coffee drink of choice. When the sun starts to turn, head to Balter Brewing Company to sample some Australian brews.
Get in touch with nature and visit one of Gold Coast’s incredible national parks. Lamington Park provides you with a rainforest experience where you can walk through ancient trees and cross little footbridges, making you feel like you’ve entered a magical world. Or head to Springbrook National Park where glowing mushrooms, waterfalls and some of Australia’s oldest trees greet you upon arrival. Stand atop an ancient volcano or get lost in lush vegetation.
Numerous luxury and chic boutique hotels have sprung up in recent years to accommodate the growing influx of tourists arriving on Gold Coast's shores. Retro surf vibes can be found at QT Gold Coast, where bright colors and fun designs dominate. If it's luxury you're after, the opulent Palazzo Versace might strike you as a little too over-the-top, but it definitely delivers an unmatched five-star experience. For privacy, head inland to the isolated rainforest retreat at Mouses House for a private chalet in the middle of Springbrook National Park. Finally, if you want to stick to your budget but still embrace style, try La Costa Motel, a 1950s-era spot between the airport and Bilinga Beach.