With 300 sunny days a year, the Gold Coast is one of Australia’s most iconic destinations. And not only because of the climate and beautiful beaches. Located south of Brisbane, the Gold Coast stretches over 52 km of golden beaches. It offers an atypical landscape with its incredible skyscrapers bordering the sea. Whether you’re a nature lover or city dweller, a national park or amusement park enthusiast, a sports or relaxation seeker, the Gold Coast offers an incredible range of activities. Here are our top 10 Gold Coast attractions.
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The Gold Coast is known for its magnificent beaches whose fine sand and turquoise water will bring you to paradise. The practical side is that they are very easily accessible from the city. The beaches stretch for almost 70 km, from the southern end of Rainbow Bay to South Stradbroke Island in the north. Most of them are patrolled. You can therefore swim there and do various water sports. Don’t miss Surfers Paradise Beach, Tallebudgera Creek, Currumbin Beach, Broadbeach, Burleigh Beach, Rainbow Bay, Kirra Beach, Coolangatta or even Mermaid Beach.
Surfing and testing water sports
It is undeniable, the city was built around the passion of its inhabitants for surfing. Wherever you are on the Gold Coast, you will come across surfers of all ages, at any time of the day. If you want to start or improve, there are about twenty surf schools all along the coast. You can choose to take lessons in small groups ($45 to $75), individual private lessons (about $100 a day) or book a course over several days ($170 for 3 days). These prices are approximate and vary from school to school.
It is no coincidence that the Gold Coast is known worldwide by surfers. It has the best waves in the world and annually hosts the Quicksilver and Roy Pro surfing competition which is part of the World Professional Surfing Championship. This event usually takes place in the month of March.
Here is a selection of the best surf spots on the Gold Coast. Snappers Rock and Kirra at Coolangatta, world famous Duranbah Beach, Greenmount where you can come across professional surfers (just like at Snappers Rock), Burleigh Heads (but watch out for strong currents and rocks in the water) and finally, The Spit.
If you plan to go and enjoy the sun on one of the beaches mentioned above, you will have the choice of practicing a host of activities such as surfing, windsurfing, kite-surfing but also stand-up paddle or kayak.
For those who prefer slightly calmer waters, The Broadwater is an estuary separated from the ocean by a thin strip of land, providing an ideal body of water for water sports. You can try your hand at paddleboarding, canoeing, kayaking, snorkeling or even water-biking. Equipment rental is done either by the day or evening for a few hours.
Hiking in national parks
If the hustle and bustle of the city tires you or you just want to see a bit of green instead of blue, a trip to the Gold Coast hinterland is just what you need.
Less than an hour’s drive west of the coast, dive into the rainforest of Tambourine National Park, Lamington National Park, Springbrook National Park or even Nicoll Scrub National Park and Nerang National Park. Explore the many hiking trails in these national parks. You can discover spectacular waterfalls and impressive viewpoints in lush nature. The fauna and flora are abondant, you will be dazzled by the beauty of the wild flower moors. Burleigh Head National Park is the Gold Coast’s smallest national park, but it’s not lacking in charm. It is a mixture of rainforest and mangrove.
You will find all the information you need for your visit on the government website.
Who did not dream of seeing a kangaroo or koala in their natural habitat before coming to Australia? It’s easy on the Gold Coast; all you have to do is go for a walk in the Coombabah Lakeland’s Conservation Area. If you’re in a hurry, just stop at Shelter Road at the entrance to the Koala Trail and wait. At dusk you will certainly see kangaroos there.
If that’s too much effort, visit the Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary ($20 – open 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.), where you can see all of Australia’s native animals at once.
Meet the whales
Whale watching is one of Australia’s top activities.
Whale Watching Experience
If you have the opportunity to be there between June and November, you have every chance to see them. Note that the peak of migration is around August. More than 33,000 humpback whales roam the “Humpback Highway” along the East Coast. They flee the cold waters of Antarctica for the Great Barrier Reef. This is where they come to mate and give birth to their babies. The humpback whale is the most common but it is also possible to see southern right whales or minke whales which are smaller specimens. The luckiest will have the chance to see Migaloo recognizable by its color since as surprising as it may seem it is a white whale.
Do not hesitate to book a whale watching to see them because it is a magical and impressive experience. Impressive when you know that these mammals can measure up to 20m long and weigh up to 40 tons. The whales being very curious and playful, they will not fail to put on a show for you. Some boats are equipped and even offer you the option of hearing their song… a timeless experience.
To book an tour, you will have the choice between Spirit of Gold Coast 2.5-Hour Whale Watching Tour ($69 – departure from Mariners Cove Marina, Main Beach for 2h30) and Deluxe Whale Watching Gold Coast ($109 – departure from Surfers Paradise for 3h30).
Remember to take binoculars as well as warm and waterproof clothing as it is cold on the boat.
If you want to see the passage of whales during a simple walk, just walk along the coast, you will find superb lookouts. Keep an eye on the horizon, you will often spot them. If you have binoculars or the opportunity to buy some, it will be a little extra for you, especially since you will be able to enjoy them for several months.
Burleigh Head National Park will give you a splendid view of the entire ocean, a good spot for observation. Entrance to the park is free. North Burleigh Lookout is an excellent spot for whale watching. There is also the Elephant Rock lookout in Currumbin, then to the south, Point Danger Lookout within the resort of Coolangatta which will allow you to see whales in calm weather .
SkyPoint Observation Deck
With its 322 m, SkyPoint is THE tallest building in Australia. Its 77 floors also propel it to the rank of 5th tallest tower in the world after the Burj Khalifa or the Empire State Building. Hang on because it has one of the fastest elevators in the world! This one will take you to the top in just 43 seconds. This observation tower offers a 360° panoramic view of the city of Surfers Paradise and its skyscrapers as well as the Pacific Ocean. A little extra: we advise you to go there at sunset, a breathtaking spectacle!
For those who are a tad more adventurous, it is also possible to climb up to 270 meters onto the tower. This is the highest outdoor ascent in Australia and obviously offers an unparalleled view of the Gold Coast and beyond. Several packages allow you the great thrill of day and night but also at sunrise or sunset (count between $84 and $109 for the climb).
You can also go there to enjoy the view for breakfast, over a meal or simply for a drink.
Opening hours and fees
SkyPoint is closed on Tuesdays, but also on certain occasions. Remember to check before you go. In addition, the hours vary depending on the day. Follow this link to check them. To access it, you will have to pay $21 per person.
Experience thrills in one of the theme parks
The Gold Coast is home to Australia’s largest theme parks. Lovers of rides, get ready to get your fill of thrills! Each park will offer you different shows and activities, there is something for everyone and something to satisfy young and old.
Come dive into the heart of the Marvel universe, Looney Tunes, Scooby-Doo or even Marilyn Monroe at Warner Bros Movie World. Cinema fans will be won over by the sets, attractions and shows. you can also meet your favorite characters! ($89 per day – open from 9:30 a.m. to 5 p.m.).
To see marine life, go to Sea World ($89 a day – open from 9:30 a.m. to 5 p.m.). Paradise Country allows you to come and discover the farm animals and soak up the camping atmosphere ($49 per day – open from 10 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.).
If you want to cool off while having fun, Wet’n’wild Gold Coast and its water games is for you! ($79 per day – open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.).
You can also choose to buy a pass for Movie World, Sea World, Wet’n’Wild valid for 3 days for $159.
There are also other parks such as Dreamworld ($109 per day – open from 10:30 a.m. to 4 p.m.) or WhiteWater World (remember to check the schedules which vary during week days and weekends as well as the opening days, the park being closed during colder months).
We advise you to buy your tickets online for better deals.
Go out and party
The Gold Coast has restaurants and bars as far as the eye can see. If you enjoy the hustle and bustle of tourist areas, Surfers Paradise offers day and night entertainment. Stroll the streets and discover the nightclubs on Orchid Avenue.
If you prefer quiet restaurants to lively bars, you will definitely find them further south. Whether on Oracle Boulevard in Broadbeach, the Gold Coast Highway on Mermaid Beach or on the lively Nobby Beach, which is popular with locals. Burleigh Heads, Palm Beach and Coolangatta are also great places for going out and eating in.
Also visit Miami Marketta, a place with street food stalls from around the world. You also get local beers and cocktails. Every weekend there are concerts of local bands that create a fun and relaxed atmosphere in an alternative environment.
Finally, to gain height, go to one of the most beautiful rooftops in the city. You can enjoy a sensational view around a dinner. A little extra: to be amazed, prefer to go there in the evening to admire the city’s lights. Here are some of the best rooftops on the Gold Coast: The Island Rooftop (Surfers Paradise), Wildernis Cafe and Bar and Frida Sol (Palm Beach), but also Nineteen at the Star (Broadbeach) or Mr P.P.’s Laneway and Rooftop ( Southport). The list is obviously not exhaustive because there are many other good addresses.
With more golf courses per square kilometer than any other region in the world, the Gold Coast is a golfer’s paradise. Whether you’re looking for a driving range for a simple game or a world-class championship course, you’ll find what you need. That said, only a dozen courses are open to the public (others are for members). Among them 9 are in the Australia Top 100. Find all the information on the different routes on this official website.
You can also try TopGolf ($50 to $90 per hour). It is a new concept of entertainment derived from golf. Invented in England in 2000, it has developed strongly in recent years. Australia’s first TopGolf opened in 2018 in Gold Coast. It is more or less a classic practice area that can accommodate up to 6 people. The novelty of this game is that the golf balls are equipped with microchips. This allows players to view their statistics live on a screen (a bit like bowling) for each shot (distance, precision and score). This is about shooting bullets at targets. Each field is equipped with 9 to 11 targets.
Taste local beers
The Gold Coast will delight beer lovers. Indeed, the local breweries are not lacking, here are some that we have selected for you. Come and thrill your taste buds at Balter Brewing located in Currumbin. The brewery was created by 5 professional surfers including Mick Fanning. The atmosphere is guaranteed with DJ and games on Sunday afternoon. Taste one (or more) beer(s) from the Burleigh Brewing Company while enjoying one of their live concerts.
For a new tasting, go to Black Hops Brewing which offers limited beers every 2 months. Fortitude Brewing Company offers a relaxed atmosphere in a very natural spirit. Finally, Lost Palms Brewing Company located in the industrial district of Miami is worth the detour. Lost Palms will surprise you with its touch of femininity as soon as you arrive. You will quickly see its premises in pastel pink and mint colors.