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This golden slice of paradise lives up to its gleaming moniker
Sun, surf and sand reign supreme on the Gold Coast. On its myriad beaches, honey-coloured sands melt into clear waters, board fanatics catch killer waves, and beach bums bask in sun-drenched splendour. Slow down, kick back and go with the flow in this Aussie utopia.
Here’s a typical daytime scene in “paradise”. Surfers rise with the waves to cut a striking silhouette against the morning sun. As the day lingers on, bronzed figures jog along the shoreline, people come out to sunbathe, and their children build trenches and sandcastles in the sand. Partake in the activities, or visit in the early evening as the night markets kick off.Accommodations near Surfers Paradise Beach
See the Gold Coast in all its glory. This lofty observation deck has astounding views that stretch across the city and into the horizon. Limber up the stairs for the Skypoint Stair Climb, or better yet, zoom up in the lift. Wrapped around the top of the building, this gulp-inducing ascent is not for the fainthearted. The payoff is an uninterrupted panorama.Accommodations near SkyPoint Observation Deck
At first sight, this may seem like any other convention centre. Yet what makes this place special its support for local sports and arts. Basketball games are a regular occurrence, as are concerts by Brisbanian bands like Powderfinger, The Veronicas and Savage Garden. International acts like Stevie Nicks and 50 Cent have also swung by. Check online to see who’s coming next.Accommodations near Gold Coast Convention and Exhibition Centre
Some people love to gamble – just ask the punters who flock to Jupiter’s Casino. Everyone who visits is ready to part with his or her cash in the hope of securing a win. As the day goes on, the stakes get higher – the trick is to know when to fold. When you’re done, try Osteria Vivo’s authentic Italian cuisine. From here, there’s a view of the poker tables and slot machines.Accommodations near Jupiters Casino
Chain stores galore. This mall has endless stores, a multiplex and oodles of chic salons. For proof, pamper yourself in “Lush”, try on comfy “Crocs”, buy some bling at “Swarovski”, or order a luscious wheatgrass smoothie from the plethora of juice bars. This shopping centre is entrenched in the local community, and offer regular group events and sustainable initiatives.Accommodations near Pacific Fair Shoping Centre
Don your “Billabong” thongs and hotfoot it over to this water park. This lazy river is the perfect place to seek solace from the scorching sun. Wannabe surfers can get in some practice on the “FlowRider”, where you can practice your surf without wiping out. Risk-takers should tackle the Black Hole, or experience zero gravity on the Kamikaze for one seriously rad ride.Accommodations near Wet n Wild Water World
Do you see your name in lights? The secrets of the silver screen are revealed at Movie World. Regular shows reveal how stunt drivers create action-packed car chases, which give a behind-the-scenes glimpse into how movie magic is made. One of the major highlights is the “Batwing Spaceshot”, where riders are rocketed 60-metres into the air, then returned safely to Earth.Accommodations near Movie World Gold Coast
For an iconic Aussie experience, this place is a real “didgeri-do”. It offers a peek into the country’s unique birds, mammals and amphibians. Lorikeets flit through the trees, kangaroos hop about and koalas lazily cling to gum trees. Meanwhile, crocodiles keep a beady eye on the action as they bask in the sunshine. Keep your camera handy and see who takes the first snap!Accommodations near Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary
Dream World is Australia’s largest theme park and offers plenty of white-knuckle thrills. For proof, take the “Giant Drop” – the highest free-fall ride in the world. If that’s not terrifying enough, the “big nine” rollercoasters offer serious screams. The “Tower of Terror” rockets backwards into complete darkness and breaks the 100 mph barrier in seven-seconds flat.Accommodations near DreamWorld
“Above the jungle, the mighty jungle”. This canopy climb through untamed rainforest showcases the Gold Coast’s natural splendour. Cross a 30-metre high walkway above unspoiled creeks and pristine rock pools. The buzz and squawk of the rainforest’s resident critters gives the sense of being immersed in wild nature. At night, it’s also a stellar place to stargaze.Accommodations near Tamborine Rainforest Skywalk
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Looking for surfer chic? Head inland to Cavill Avenue to find all the surfing paraphernalia that you could ever need! Once you’ve stocked up on board wax and ankle ropes, boomerang back to the beach to put your new gear to the test. When your body can’t take any more waves, join Gold Coast’s fun-seekers in nightclubs like Vanity or SinCity.Accommodations in Surfers' Paradise
Broadbeach is a beach ‘n café-lovers haven. Rise with the sun, then fuel your morning with coffee from the chilled-out “No Name Lane Café”. Afterwards, stroll for hours along Broadbeach’s picture-perfect shores, and go for a dip in its sparkling waters. Later, retreat to “Grocer & Grind” Café for a leisurely lunch of locally sourced delights.Accommodations in Broadbeach
Surf’s up in Coolangatta. Kirra Beach is famous for having some of the best breaks in the world, and you’ll see everyone from amateurs to pros practicing here. Just after sundown, swarms of locals flock to the Secret Deck Café. This slightly off-the-grid café is where you’ll hear surfers regale a captive audience with stories about their latest wave-riding exploits.Accommodations in Coolangatta
In a city that teems with beaches, Burleigh Heads offers a few inland treasures. The Burleigh Head National Park’s paths wind through mangrove forests and coastal heaths, perfect for an outdoor outing. Further inland, the Commune Café serves up vintage flair and vegan feasts, while the Paleo Café does a roaring trade in kale frittatas. Delicious!Accommodations in Burleigh Heads
Apart from its namesake, this old-school ‘hood has a heap of hot restaurants. “Pavilion 34” is a renovated bathing tower that serves fish-and-chips with a ‘60’s twist. Around Teddy Avenue, a vibrant café culture has sprung up and attracts everyone from surfers to socialites. The Marina Yacht Club is where big spenders come out to play.Accommodations in Main Beach
Japanese Koichi spent his university years in Queensland and loves a classic Aussie BBQ with mates.
If you like to bag a bargain, then you’ll love Harbour Town Shopping Centre! Australia’s largest brand outlet is home to over 220 stores including Hugo Boss, Nike and Ralph Lauren. If shopping’s not your thing, you can catch the latest releases at the adjacent Reading Cinemas.Accommodations near Harbour Town Gold Coast
Sarah learned to surf at Burleigh Heads Beach and has visited the Gold Coast over 50 times.
Burleigh Headland is the prime spot to watch surfers take on the waves of this famous point break. If you’re feeling active hit the walking trails for a rainforest hike that connects you to hidden beaches, snorkelling spots and lookouts with panoramic ocean views.Accommodations near Burleigh Headland Walk
After a recent move to Australia from New Zealand, Cayla enjoys family holidays on the ‘Goldie’.
Escape the jostle of the shopping malls, and head out to Carrara Markets for some weekend fun. There are over 400 stalls to browse as well as heaps of fun for the family including a reptile show, mini golf course, pony rides and bungy trampolines.Accommodations near Carrara Markets
Juliet has been with booking.com for almost 2 years. She enjoys exercising, playing beach volleyball, reading books and traveling.
Nestled within the lush rainforest of the Springbook National Park, the Natural Bridge is a beautiful sight. A waterfall runs through the rock arch, forming part of a larger cave. It’s just a short hike to reach the spot, and you can even see glow worms once the sun goes down.Accommodations near Natural Bridge
When Ellena’s not relaxing on the beach, she loves watching movies or reading a good book.
If you’re bird watching passion extends beyond the cheesy lorikeets at Currumbin, then O’Reilly’s Rainforest Retreat is chirping your name! Located in the Lamington National Park, the retreat is home to over 160 bird species. There’s also a treetop walk, bird feeding and a flying fox.Accommodations near O’Reilly’s Rainforest Retreat
New mum Cristina’s favourite travel moment was a cruise down the Nile River.
Prepare to be mind-blown as you enter a realm of fantasy at Infinity. Fun for all ages, this futuristic maze-like attraction is filled with mirrored rooms, haunted-house walks, bouncy castles and laser lights. It’s something unique and truly out of this world.Accommodations near Infinity
Elif bakes up a storm in the kitchen, and her cute puppy always tries to steal her treats!
For the most fun you can have on water head to Aquasplash. This inflatable park will entertain the kids, or having you laughing like one in no time! Bounce on the water trampoline, clamber up the climbing walls, race down slides or send your friends flying on the giant launch pillow.Accommodations near Aqua Splash
Sun lounging by day and club-hopping by night, the ‘Goldie’ is a favourite destination for Martine.
Renowned for its party atmosphere, Surfers Paradise comes alive at night. Club LIV is a go-to spot, featuring pumping music and an interior covered in thousands of flashing lights. For a classier nightlife experience head to Broadbeach, where Platinum Nightclub attracts well-known DJs.Accommodations near Club LIV
Booking.com asked travelers...The beach means different things to different people. What did the beach in Gold Coast mean to you?
In awe of the ocean, the waves, tides, sandy beaches lovely to walk or laze on, shells and the sounds of water, birds and happy people. Soaking up the sun with my 50+ sunscreen on, and the warmth. Swimming in 25 degree water, even I can just dive into that every day...See all 148 answers
Booking.com asked travelers...Tell us how you made the most of your time at the theme parks in Gold Coast.
Take your own lunch with you, ques are sometimes over fourty-five minutes long, but rides are well worth the wait, awesome fun had by us all, great place to spend the daySee all 96 answers
Booking.com asked travelers...Tell us about your most relaxing moments in Gold Coast.
Just sitting at Burleigh Hill watching sunrises/sunsetsSee all 44 answers
Booking.com asked travelers...Is there more to shopping in Gold Coast than just brand-name stores?
HarbourtownSee all 40 answers
Booking.com asked travelers...What was the most entertaining thing you saw in Gold Coast?
River cruiseSee all 34 answers
Booking.com asked travelers...Describe what other people like you would like about shopping in Gold Coast.
Harbour Town is cheap outlet shoppingSee all 33 answers
Booking.com asked travelers...What did your kids enjoy the most at the beaches in Gold Coast?
More variety and plenty of shopping centresSee all 28 answers
The fastest way to travel from the Gold Coast Airport is by taxi. It is a 20-minute drive to Broadbeach for a flat fare of $49 and a 30-minute drive to Surfers Paradise for $59. A cheaper option is the Gold Coast Tourist Shuttle, which offers door-to-door transfers for $21 one-way. Tickets can be pre-booked or purchased at the airport. There are 6 rental car desks located at the airport. A public bus service is available however is slow and tricky to navigate.
Surfside Buslines are a cheap and convenient way to explore the city, with over 60 routes running from Tweed Heads up to the Gold Coast Marina. There are connections to major attractions including theme parks, shopping centres and Jupiters Casino. Services run between 01:00 and 00:00, every 15 minutes. Buses are yellow in colour and stops are easily sign posted on the street. Tickets are best to be pre-purchased from convenience stores, with fares starting at $3.
Hiring a car is an effective way to explore the coast’s many attractions, as well as outlying areas like the National Parks. Car hire can be arranged at many hotels or rental desks in major shopping centres and tourist areas. Prices start at $65 a day, with additional costs for insurance and petrol. Parking is abundant on the coast, including some free parking, hourly street parking or car parks for about $3 per hour.
Taxis are a quite expensive way to travel around the Gold Coast, however are an efficient way of connecting to the airport. White in colour, taxis can either be hailed from the street or found at ranks across the city. Fares usually start at $2.20 per kilometre, and can increase in price on weekends, in the evening or with large groups.
There is no train system servicing the Gold Coast, however the Brisbane Airtrain does depart from the outer suburb of Varsity Lakes. Trains run from 05:00 to 22:00, every 15-30 minutes. The trip time from Varsity Lakes to Brisbane Airport is just over 1 hour and 45 minutes. A one-way fare is $17, tickets can be purchased online, from a station or you can use a ‘go card’.
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