Golden sands, theme parks, hip hotels and fine lagers: the Gold Coast isn’t a premiere tourist destination by accident
See and do
The beauty about the Gold Coast is there are so many great surf beaches and even on a cooler winters’ day, a dip in the ocean will be a great way to start the day or kick a hangover. The three main beaches are in Surfers Paradise, Broadbeach and Main Beach. If you want to avoid the crowds, head south to the relatively quiet Tugun. Popular Coolangatta generally has the best surfing conditions, while Burleigh Heads has a national park with walking trails and good picnicking options.
Haven’t surfed before? Get some lessons from the team at Surf in Paradise and soon enough you’ll be catching a few waves. The Spit, Gold Coast 4217. 1800 22 57 47.
While down in Burleigh, swing by the Burleigh Brewing Company for a bottle of Hef or the Duke. On the first Friday of the month f5-8.30pm, they throw on a Brewhouse Bash for beer, sausages and music. On every other Friday, the brewery is open at the same times for a quiet lager or three. 17A Ern Harley Dr, Burleigh Heads 4220. 07 5593 6000.
If you’re into theme parks then the GC is the place to be. There’s Warner Bros Movie World for buffs, Dreamworld for thrillseekers, Sea World for dolphin lovers, Wet’n’Wild for waterslides, and WhiteWater World for – well, more waterslides. Buy tickets online to avoid the queues.
Eat and drink
Sydney’s Helm Bar has opened an outpost in Surfers Paradise and like the popular Darling Harbour establishment, find bistro fare – including shared plates, meat and cheese boards, and pizzas – cold beer and plenty of Mojitos right on the river. 30-34 Ferny Ave, Surfers Paradise 4217. 07 5538 9677.
Inside the hip QT Gold Coast hotel is Stingray, where the cocktails are top notch – make ours a Dirty Martini, please bartender – and the service is highly hospitable. Upstairs at Bazaar restaurant, find an interactive experience where for $72 per person, you can eat up a storm, selecting from fresh seafood to roast meats, veggies and dessert. 7 Staghorn Ave, Gold Coast 4217. 07 5584 1200.
At Osteria Vivo at Jupiters, find traditional Italian fare including Maltagliati alla Bolognese, polenta crusted lemon sole and seasonal gelati alongside an extensive wine list. Broadbeach, Gold Coast 4218. 07 5592 8100.
Luke Mangan’s mod-Oz menu at Salt Grill inside Hilton Surfers Paradise is loaded with local produce and you’ll find it hard to go past the Rangers Valley meat and barramundi. Also in the Hilton is Fix, a bar with an emphasis on classic cocktails (an Old Fashioned is a perfect after-dinner order) alongside international guest DJs. 6 Orchid Ave, Surfers Paradise 4217. 07 5680 8000.
Featuring modern and spacious rooms, the impressive accommodation on offer at Jupiters Gold Coast in Broadbeach makes it a must-consider option for any GC break. Alongside the food, find live entertainment at the hotel-casino’s auditorium. Broadbeach 4218. 07 5592 8100.
QT Gold Coast has hip, comfortable, rooms that feature views up and down the Coast. Check-in for a massage in the day spa. 7 Staghorn Ave, Surfers Paradise 4217. 07 5584 1200.
For longer stays, Peppers Broadbeach features a range of modern luxury apartments a short walk from the beach. The hotel is surrounded by restaurants, cafés, bars and shops.