GOLD COAST is another name for ‘Holiday Paradise’ with umpteen holiday activities packed in on lovely place. All this coupled with never ending list of white sandy beaches makes it a world famous holiday destination. The most famous beach is Surfer’s Paradise which itself has so much to offer to tourists and fun seekers. Be it entertainment theme parks, shopping, hiking, wild life, surfing, watching whales , dolphins and turtles, bars, eateries, pubs, clubs, dinner cruises and the lists is never ending. Infact Gold Coast is famous for its crazy joints and night life. You will even find a lookalike of Disney World that children would love to visit and stay on for the whole day.
The once tallest residential tower of world the Q1 (Queens land number one) sky scraper (now 6th tallest) with 78 floors and 322.5 m structural height is also located here at Surfers Paradise. Coolongatta Nobby and South port are the other popular beaches.
Located east of Brisbane and moving southwards the Gold Coast is one place you must visit while at this subtropical location.
1. Surfers Paradise Beach
Even calling this beach a ‘paradise’ may well be an understatement as it has much more to offer than you can hope for or even dream of. This 3 km long stretch along the Gold Coast coastline is the most popular and highly developed tourist areas of Queensland, Australia. Apart from the lovely golden sand beaches, the rising waves most suitable for surfing and the numerous locations that are fairly safe for swimming. The inland portion along the beach has plenty of entertainment and shopping tucked in almost every corner of Surfers Paradise.
The best of accommodation with a vast range of variety starting from tentage to the once world’s tallest tower Q1 spa and resort are located at Surfers Paradise.
Shopping attractions are plenty and highly active from dawn to dusk and beyond. At the Cavill Mall you just cannot miss the ‘Ripleys Believe it or Not’ section that houses about 16 different themed galleries offering unbelievable interactive artifacts and exhibits that keep you entertained for hours. It is pure 200 percent fun to say the least.
For moving around you have public transport buses and taxis but you can also hire a bike or car.
Every night the beach area is beautifully lit up along the coast line where you can have a stroll or even shop on Wednesdays, Fridays and Sundays at the Beachfront Markets where you can find over a hundred stalls lined up selling anything and everything be it souvenirs, craft work, art work, fashion clothes and jewellery, photographs etc.
There are plenty of bars, cafes and restaurants with a wide range of cuisine as well as fast food items for grabs.
For those venturing into the water, try to stay between the red and yellow flags at all times even though you will be protected by a very experienced brigade of life guards that patrol the area 24×7 all days throughout the year. There are 3 high lifeguard towers where these guards will be keeping a tight vigil with sharp binoculars. It is advisable to swim on in areas which are under close surveillance of guards and patrols.
Fishing is yet another activity you can indulge in and hope for interesting angling time.
For the surfers, sky is the limit for practicing their surfing skills. At ‘Narrow Neck’ a surfing reef is in the planning where excellent wind conditions produce some very high quality bars and breaks.
2. Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary
This is indeed Gold Coast’s best wildlife park that offers a unique lifetime experience and entertainment to kids and grownups alike. As it is owned and run by the National Trust of Queensland, a non-profit organization the entry ticket costs peanuts and can be bought online, plus there is a free hospital for birds and animals. They even conduct free bird shows.
You can test your skills on the segway tour or you can take the toy train that takes you around the place. What you will enjoy most is viewing and interacting with most colorful birds, the rainbow colored lorikeets that will eat out of your hands, perch on your arm, shoulders and head for you to take some lovely pictures as memories for folks back home. You get a chance to get close to kangaroos, crocodiles as well as koalas.
This place is open from 0800 – 1700 hours and the fee for entry is 49 AUD for adults and 33 AUD for kids (4- 14 years).
Location: 28 Tomewin St., Currumbin. 20 minutes drive from Surfers Paradise and just 5 minutes from Gold Coast Airport.
3. Burleigh Heads Beach
Burleigh Beach has a peculiar characteristic of staying calm even when rest of the ocean along the coast is rough and choppy; you can still enjoy a great surfing experience out here. Should you decide to stay inlands, well it has plenty to offer to make your day. Apart from the picturesque landscape and coast line it presents with towering rows of pine trees, there are plenty of picnic spots for partying and barbeque. There are a number of restaurants serving variety of fish preparations that will totally mesmerize your taste buds as well as shops selling attractive local arts and crafts items.
Venturing inwards to the west takes you to a huge industrial park where you find a modern market place for shopping as well as classic restaurants that treat you to delicious preparations. You can spend a couple of days exploring the Burleigh Art and Craft markets, the Village Markets, the Brewing Company, Restaurants, theme parks like the John Laws Park, Justin Park, the Burleigh Head National Park or the Fish House. Infact moving south from Surfer’s Paradise and heading for Coolangatta Beach, mid way or only 20 minutes drive away you will find this Burleigh Head Beach where it is worth stopping over and enjoying all that this place has to offer.
4. Springbrook National Park
This park is a rain forest that was formed over millions of years after an explosion or quake that took place then and gave rise to this plateau. It has thick vegetation, huge rocks and even a cave. There is also a natural Rock Bridge formed by gradual erosion of softer part of the rock.
Due to the nature of the ground there are numerous brooks and streams that flow and end up into waterfalls. A number of vantage points and lookout sites exist where visitors can climb up and take a breadth taking view of the scenery right up to the cost line and beyond.
The park is home to a variety of flora and fauna. You can be lucky to hear the enchanting performance of the sky Albert’s Lyrebird. The most overwhelming site is that of hundreds of glowworms that seem to light up the cave area.
You can choose from two formats of tours of this park.
1. The Springbrook & Tamborine Rainforest Tour including Natural Rock Bridge and Glowworm Cave: This is a half day hiking tour with an experienced guide who will give a running commentary as you pass through different attractions of this park. It is only a one km long hike that is fairly easy and can be undertaken by all ages. You get a free pick up from your hotel and back as well as a free cup of tea.
2. The Full Day Bush Walking Tour : You need to be fairly fit and young at heart to take this tour as the physical energy required to traverse the heights and slopes for a whole day is fairly high. The group is limited to approximately 15 people for ensuring personalized attention. You are picked up from Brisbane and move through the Numinbah Valley to reach the National Park in about an hour.
You can even take a dip in one of the fresh water pools. So do carry a change with you. On this tour you could spot some wild inhabitants of the forest like the Australian Water Dragons (lizard), the Australian Brush Turkeys, you may sight a platypus or wombats or spotted quoll.
You will visit the rock bridge, the cave, many waterfalls, the glowworm cave etc.
A picnic lunch near Purlingbrook Falls is organized for you to replenish your energies. Here you get to see some very old trees which are over 2000 years old. You would be advised to carry a rain coat as water keeps dripping from the tall trees of this rain forest.
5. Sky Point Obeservation Deck
This place gives you a breathtaking awesome view of the coast line of Gold Coast as well as the inland reaching deep into the green tropical rainforests. You get a bird’s eye view of the town beneath from a height of approximately 230 meters. The Q1 residential tower, the tallest in Australia has a 360° observation tower on the 77th floor where you can reach in just 43 seconds in a super fast elevator. From here you get a unique perspective of the entire beach line at Surfers Paradise as well as all the other areas you may have visited while at Surfers Paradise. Hence this place must be visited during the last phase of your stay at Surfers Paradise. It is fun trying to locate and identify the places you have visited. You will be clad in a harness while you take the 90 minute walk around the observation deck.
While on the 77th floor, you can have a bite at the Seventy 7 Café as well as a get a detailed presentation on a screen of the various tourist attractions and a peep into the history of this place.
The café has a glazed window with view finders placed all around where you can get a closer look at the places beneath. It is indeed a very interesting and memorable activity that one must go through while at Surfers Paradise, Queensland.
6. Lamington National Park At Gold Coast
This preserved rain forest that is over 5000 years old has a golden treasure of exquisite flora and fauna that cannot be found anywhere else on this planet earth. Those who have a great love for nature and natural plants and animal life will find this place a total fantasy to say the least.
Just venture in there and explore the expansive World Heritage Areas that has over a hundred and fifty kilometers of walking trail, a 20 plus km track, your eyes will be treated to views of beautiful waterfalls, caves which have openings overlooking the Coomera Valley, Antarctic Beach and trees which are thousands of years old with extensive roots.
For the bird watchers you have a variety of king parrots, pale headed rosella’s, red-browed tree creepers, cockatoos, sooty owls to name just a few. You are certain to bump into many exotic reptiles, mammals, lizards and frogs. Have your cameras on your shoulder to catch natures beautiful creations.
There are two specific organized tours to choose from.
- The O’Reilly’s Lamington National Park and Tree Top Canopy tour: Here you get to walk on a tree top canopy or a bush walk where you get a chance to hand feed the king parrots and other native birds. You also get to visit an alpaca farm.
- Lamington National Park Hiking Tour from Gold Coast: Picnic Rock or Box Forest Falls: A guide takes you around the park and rain forest and tells you all about the waterfalls, ancient trees and wild life that lives here. Here again you can further choose from two hikes. One is moderate walk to Picnic Rock and Elabana Falls and the other is a tedious lengthier tread to Box Forest Falls. This is limited to 12 people to ensure you derive the maximum and stay cohesively together all through the hike.
7. Gold Coast Theme Park
Movie World, Sea World and the Wet and Wild are never ending fun joints at the Theme Park at Gold Coast. In addition to this should you wish to experience some interesting Australian farm life then the Paradise Country tour is something that can keep a whole family or group amused for a whole day with a variety of activities.
However the Movie World, Sea World and the Wet and Wild are most popular theme parks where your entertainment ranges from theatre, roller coaster rides, close encounter with trained dolphins, seals and other sea animals including sharks to the splashy rapid rides can keep you busy for two weeks. The organizers Warner Bros have three different passes i.e. for 2 days, 7 days or 14 days unlimited entry to all three parks. The 14 day pass also entitles you to an entry into Paradise Country.
What all can you expect to experience:
You can pick and choose from different activities such as the high adventure Green Lantern Coaster that has the highest and steepest drop South of Equator and send your excitement skyrocketing. Other options are the Batwing Spaceshot, Harry Potter themed set up, the enjoyable Scooby-Doo spooky coaster ride and of course you get a chance to see your favorite Hollywood heroes and stars at the theater.
Here you can enter the water, snorkel or get close view of dangerous sharks at the Shark Bay, interact closely with cute Penguins in the Frozen Tundra region. You can even watch a dolphin show at the dolphin nursery. This place is very close to Surfers Paradise.
Wet – N – Wild
This is a very popular theme park and has many water slide options of which you can choose depending upon your choice and level of adventure you are looking for. Whether it is the ride on the Terror Canyon or rush through the huge falls in a six- person tube or fun and adventure at the play ground at Buccaneer Bay it is full excitement and never ending fun all the way. Ask a friend to take a movie for you to relive the experience back home.
8. Gold Coast Helicopter Flight & Jet Boat Ride
The jet boat ride comes first and you should be prepared to get wet. This lasts for about an hour that will make you experience high speed turns including 360 spin cutting across bumpy waves and along the pristine waters of the Gold Coast beaches. The experienced driver of the boat will maneuver the boat at top speed through narrow lanes and close to Wave Break Island.
After this one hour thrilling experience you get transferred to the Gold Coast Sheraton Mirage Heliport for a short 10-15 minutes chopper ride. You will be taken over numerous popular landmarks such as Royal Pines, Q1 Building, Broad Beach and Jupiter Casino etc. Thereafter the chopper turns towards Surfers Paradise, South Stradbroke Island and Sea World. Keep identifying the locations on ground as very soon you will land. Starting 10 AM the chopper ride is every two hours up to 3 PM.
9. Mount Tamborine Wine And Winery Tour From Brisbane Or Gold Coast
This is an 8 hour tour to Mt. Tambourine which is about an hour’s drive from Brisbane. You are taken in an AC minivan and the group is generally restricted to 12-15 guests with a view to achieve one to one interaction and very personalized attention by the guide as well as the winery staff you visit. The wineries you may visit are at Cedar Creek Estate, Heritage Estate wines, and Witches Falls winery or Mason Wines. The tour includes upto 5 tastings, a bottle of water, a gourmet 2 course lunch at one of the winery’s restaurants and some snacks on the move in the van. For lunch there is usually a variety menu of fresh garden produce, sea food pasta, steak etc.
You will get to taste some very delicious locally made red, white and sparkling wines. If time permits you could even taste some locally made liquors, vodka fudge and cheese.
You may also visit a husband wife team who brew eaux-de-vie, schnapps and some very exquisite award winning preparations at one of the wineries.
10. Jet Ski Safari
This is indeed the ultimate water skiing experience you can ever dream of. It is an 80 km Safari that lasts for almost 2 ½ hours passing through the high tide passages, then on a zig zag route through untamed mangroves for couple of miles and on to the flood planes at top speed. It’s extremely thrilling and cannot be imagined until you get on to the Jet Ski.
While on this 80 km track, on the home turn you pull into a small Island Pub for a break and have a soft drink with a bite.
What really gives you the extreme thrill are the high speed turns on the hair pin bends and watching the flora and fauna that you cross at every turn.
On your way back you can stop over at South Stradbroke Island for lunch for refreshments or even take the Sunday Morning Breakfast Tour. The complete adventure lasts for up to 3 ½ hours and you will have professional photographers who will capture your thrilling moments for you to carry back home.
11. Mt. Tamborine National Park 4 Wheel Drive Nocturnal Rain Forest & Glowworm Tour
This is an evening tour that lasts 4-5 hours where in you move out of your hotel in a luxury 4WD vehicle before dusk and reach the summit of Mt. Tamborine in less than an hour. On the way stop over at a view point to get a beautiful view of the Gold Coast cost line and the fading structures of the city till the lights start twinkling. At the summit too you get a breathtaking view of larger panorama. Here you can taste some homemade cakes and biscuits at some café with cappuccino, tea or even hot steaming chocolate.
As it gets dark, your guide will take you on a nighttime bush walk through the subtropical rainforest. Keep your low voltage torch handy to guide your steps and witness the spectacle of the forest coming to life with the emergency of nocturnal creatures from their hideouts. With the help of the high powered LED torch of your guide you will be shown some very exquisite flora and fauna as you tread the path through the jungle. You will suddenly reach a wow site of a waterfall that is somewhat illuminated by thousands of glowworms. This is something to admire as a gift of nature. After about 60-90 minutes of this experience you would return to your vehicle for the journey back to the hotel.
12. Hot Air Ballooning including Breakfast
This activity is indeed one of the most thrilling experiences you get to witness while at Gold Coast. The 100 odd feet tall colorful balloon with a majestic basket below looks just fantastic. You can choose from two formats i.e. a 30 minute or a 60 minutes flight that starts early morning and you are back to the start point by about 10:30 AM. You get picked up from Surfers Paradise or Broadbeach hotel in a pickup van.
As you reach for the sky you start viewing the beautiful landscape below in the hinterland of Gold Coast cruising steadily over forest land, vineyards, lakes and vast pasture grasslands where you even spot grazing cattle. There is never a dull moment as your state of the art balloon is maneuvered by highly skilled and experienced pilots who keep narrating the scenes below and bring you back to a soft touch down. Here you also experience the task of deflating and packing the balloon. You get onto your van and head for a very sumptuous breakfast with sparkling wine at O’Reilly’s homestead and Vineyard. Have a great helping of Austrian breakfast comprising ham, sausages, bacon, eggs, fresh fruit, pastries tea /coffee etc. You can even visit the cellar and learn how the wine is stored, matured and decanted.
13. Infinity Attraction
This is kind of a maze that holds great excitement for all ages 10 and above. Sudden sporadic occurrences some funny some scary sends you into fits of laughter and some to high shrill screams. The bizarre and mindboggling light and sound effects with interlude music adds to the fun manifold. Infact you will see others and yourself going and coming out of exceptional emotions as you move through bizarre effects of infinity maze. At the same time witness the awesome overwhelming beauty of various exhibits that change in color and shape due to Laser beams and other dazzling lights. Visit the Mystery Zone, Electron Maze, Cyclotron time warp, Laser Zone or The Infinity Light Canyon. You are sure to witness a unique experience full of fun and thrill. Enjoy each section with family and friends in small groups. Watching the expressions of fear and awe of each other adds to the fun manifold. This place is indeed a popular destination for all ages and a must visit. Add a photo package to your visit with 10 percent discount to carry back memorable pictures taken by expert photographers.
14. Gold Coast Tandem Skydive
As the name suggests you get a thrilling experience of jumping off a plane at a height of about 12000 feet ofcourse in tandem harnessed along with an experienced instructor/ sky diver. After a free fall at 200 plus km/hr speed for about 40 to 50 seconds the chute opens and you steadily glide the balance 4000 to 5000 feet to touch down in about 4 minutes. These 5 minutes will have your adrenaline at an all time high. First of all you will be given instructions on the ground by expert sky divers as to how to maneuver and control the speed of descend during the free fall by bending/stretching your arms and legs in different directions. Also you will be taught how to handle the chute chords for maneuvering once it is open so as to guide yourself right on to the designated landing area. You will also learn how to land safely on both feet through some ‘dirty dives’ at the practice arena on ground.
As this is an all day activity, you will be picked up around 6 AM onwards from your hotel and taken to the take off air strip where after the practice session you get into a harness for sky diving and board a plane that will lift you to the skies in 20 minutes. Here again you will be given some tips from your tandem partner, your gear will be given a final check and off you go floating in thin air. It’s an amazing experience, an amazing view of the beaches, concrete buildings, parks, the coast line etc. The glide with the chute gives you ample chance to watch the ground below in detail while you partner guides you down to Kirra Beach which itself is a great place. After this you are taken back to the start point from where you return with your tour operator’s vehicle to the hotel.