How does a 42-kilometres strip of long white sandy beaches combined with an inviting climate and countless shopping and dining options sound? Welcome to the city of Gold Coast in Australia!
It has stepped up its hospitality game with venues taking advantage of farm fresh locally sourced Queensland produce, which has raised the bar from the back street cafes right through to the glitter strip fine dining restaurants. With an airport expansion, flights are now cheaper than ever, as this city warms up to host the 2018 Commonwealth Games.
Add these 10 MUST-DOs to your bucket list when venturing to this sunny destination!
1. Sky Point Climb
Did you know the Gold Coast has more canals than Venice? The best place to see this maze of waterways is from on top of the tallest building climb in Australia, the iconic Q1 Resort Broadbeach. 360 degree views allow you to take in the lay of the land, from the coastal stretch of Stradbroke Island to Coolangatta and across to the surrounding mountains and hinterland. This 90minute open-air adventure is truly awe-inspiring and the Q1 Observation Deck is a great place to celebrate with a drink (while the adrenaline levels drop back down) following your climb.
2. The Super Bank
Arguably one of the most famous waves in the world. On any given day you can see the likes of world champion surfers, Mick Fanning, Joel Parkinson and Stephanie Gilmore surfing the super bank which runs from Snapper Rocks through to Rainbow Bay on the southern end of the Gold Coast. A near perfect wave breaks metres from beach, setting up the perfect opportunity to photograph surfers up close.
3. Elk Café Broadbeach
If Urth Café Hollywood is where you go to spot celebrities in Los Angeles, Elk Café is the equivalent on the Gold Coast. With blockbusters such as Pirates of the Caribbean, Thor, King Kong and The Shallows being filmed just up the road at Movie World, everyone from Blake Lively and Ryan Renolds, Hugh Jackman, Tom Hiddleston and Taylor Swift and even Orlando Bloom and son Flynn have been seen dining here. Known for their premium freshly roasted coffee and gourmet breakfasts, this eatery is a must. Hot tips include Coconut, Lime & Beetroot Panna Cotta with puffed grains, seeds, nuts, fruits and yoghurt and The Very Green Salad, sautéed kale, Silverbeet, Peas, Asparagus, Broccolini, Roast Pumpkin, Beetroot Lebnah, Toasted Hazelnuts and free range Poached Eggs.
4. The Theme Parks
Gold Coast is famous for fun, with Dreamworld, Movie World, Wet’n’Wild, SeaWorld and Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary all on the coast, you will never run out of things to do with the children. Feeding the kangaroos, riding the roller coasters, cooling off on waterslides, swimming with the dolphins, or watching world-class stunt acts, there’s something for everyone.
5. Day trip to Lady Elliot Island
How does breakfast on the Gold Coast, a snorkel and buffet lunch on the Great Barrier Reef, than back to the city for dinner sound? With the new Gold Coast airport it’s possible to see the Great Barrier Reef in a day! Flights to Lady Elliot Island, home of the Manta Rays and hot spot for turtle encounters, leave from Coolangatta airport.
6. Hot Air Ballooning
The thrill of ballooning is something very difficult to put into words, and this age-old form of flight should be on everyone’s Bucket List. Start your day watching the sunrise, as you float like a cloud over the hills of the rolling Gold Coast hinterland. Bring your own camera to capture the sun shimmering over the canals, reflecting off the high-rises and take it the beaches as you calmly drift east. Hot Air Balloon Gold Coast is a truly unforgettable experience. Following your flight indulge in a delicious country-style hot breakfast at O’Reilly’s Canungra Valley Vineyards & Grand Homestead.
7. Nightfall Wilderness Camping
Rustic luxury in the bush. This is what Australians call ‘glamping’ in the wilderness. Nightfall opened last year, and is set amongst the rapids and mountains of Lamington National Park. Sleep under the stars in a king size bed, with kangaroos in your front yard to greet you when you wake. Vintage tin bathtubs, organic toiletries, gourmet hampers, secluded picnics, massages in the rainforest and campfires will take you back in time, with a modern touch.
8. The Gold Coast Hinterland, Purling Brook Falls
During the Queensland wet season (December to March) the rush of waterfalls throughout the Gold Coast Hinterland can be truly breathtaking. The falls at Currumbin Rock-pools and Mt Tamborine prove popular with tourists, but if you stretch your legs a little further into Springbrook National Park, you can find the perfect photo opportunity without the crowd. A scenic walk leads you to the central Purling Brook Falls, located in the heart of the rainforest. You can view this waterfall from the bottom, but need to be careful after heavy periods of rain, as falling rocks are common. This is nature in its untouched raw state of beauty.
9. Burleigh Headland National Park
This central Gold Coast headland offers a national park walk with picturesque views of Surfers Paradise to the north and of Coolangatta to the south. Take in the long white stretches and crystal clear water clarity, while walking through a rainforest full of indigenous heritage. A great spot to watch the whales glide by metres from the coastline from the months of June to September.
10. Humpback Whale Watching
From June to November each year, you can have an intimate experience with the largest mammals on the planet whilst on the Gold Coast. 100% guaranteed sightings or your money back is all the confidence you need to set aside a day for this truly incredible boating experience. These majestic animals have to be seen up-close to truly appreciate their size and personalities.
Do you have any recommendations of what to do on the Gold Coast that didn’t make the list? We’d love to hear from you!
Join The Asia Collective – “Luxe Travellers” group on Facebook to share your insider-tips and ask for advice from like-minded travellers.
This article was co-written by Gold Coast weather and lifestyle presenter @lizcantor for @theasia.collective.