The Gold Coast has been Australia’s playground since the 1950s when Bris-vegans would head to “The South Coast” for weekends away on the golden sands that stretch for miles. The home of dozens of beachside hotels, caravan parks and campgrounds, it was the budget-friendly destination for millions of Australian families. Everyone remembers a past road trip to The Goldie – ours was an 11-hour drive up the Pacific Highway with us cramped in the back with bikes on the back rack and surfboards on the roof with Dad grumbling about the “yuppies” driving past us with their fancy caravans and trailers filled to the brim with necessities for their week away. We always stayed at the same holiday apartment on the canal – I live directly across the water from the same resort now and still have fond memories every time I look across the water at the old Del Ray!
The area has certainly grown up over the decades with 5-star hotels, great dining options and of course the Theme Parks on the Northern end of the coast. With most of the major resort chains centred around Surfers Paradise and Broadbeach, there is still a huge range of small privately run resorts and hotels stretching the whole length of the coast.
Starting in the south is the amazing Halcyon House. Situated just over the border in Cabarita it’s easily accessible from the Gold Coast Airport. Located right on the beach with timeless Miami inspired décor, it’s a one-stop-shop with on-sight bar and restaurant – Paper Daisy. Our Virtuoso guests receive an upgrade on arrival (if available), breakfast daily, one-way private airport transfer, wi-fi, a welcome cocktail along with a local cheese plate and bottle of Processo in your room on arrival. If you want to venture away from the beachside luxury you can hire the in house Audi A1 and explore the Tweed Coast and Southern Gold Coast – check out the nearby Husk Distillery for an award with locally made spirits and liquor or The Bread Social in Tweed Head for the best baked goods on the coast, or even take a drive through the World Heritage Listed Mt Waring National Park.
Across the border is beautiful Coolangatta, with the world-famous surf breaks of Snapper Rocks, D-Bar and Rainbow Bay. The huge Twin Towns Club dominates the area but there is also a host of small bars, pubs and eateries such as the awesome Eddies Grub House, The Pink Hotel and the classic Coolangatta Hotel that plays host to live music and everyone from the Hollywood famous, to beach bums and backpackers.
Further north along the Gold Coast Highway is the beachside suburb of Palm Beach. Palmy is home to a host of great cafes and restaurants such as The Collective, Balboas Italian and the top surf club right on the sand with cheap beers and great pub grub.
Burleigh Heads and Currumbin are amazing places to visit, stay and eat in. Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary is a National Trust run nature park and wildlife hospital where you can get up close and personal with native Aussie Wildlife and get swamped by hundreds of Lorikeets during the feeding sessions. Burleigh Heads has a huge range of eating places – Jimmy Wah’s, Justin Lane, The Burleigh Pavilion and The Fish House are all standout places along with a heap of cheap and cheerful places such as the Bistro at the Bowling Club. Just off the Highway in Burleigh Heads State School grounds is a weekly farmers markets held every Saturday from 6.30 am with local produce and handy crafts available. For those who love Market eating should head to BBQ Bazaar on Friday and Saturday nights for a range of food stalls and entertainment, along with full bar facilities.
Broadbeach has a huge range of accommodation options – from Mum and Dad run operations to the Sofitel, Peppers and a range of options at The Star Casino, including The Darling, with its huge suites and 17 – at The Star Restaurant up top, along with The Dorsett next door (currently under construction). This, combined with the casino, restaurant and bars, makes it a destination itself! There is also world-class shopping next door at the recently re-developed Pacific Fair with everything from Tiffany and Rolex to K-Mart and Target in the sprawling complex.
Further North along the highway has you arriving into Surfers Paradise, with accommodation options once again covering all budgets. The beautiful Jewel development is almost complete and will soon host a 5 star Langham Hotel and Beach Club right on the sand, with a view from the upper suites that range from Point Dangar and Mount Warning in the South to South Stradbroke Island and the hinterland. Surfers Paradise has plenty to keep the family busy with weekly markets, various bowling and gaming arcades, bike and scooter high and the almost open slingshot that has relocated to the very centre of Cavil Avenue to keep the patrons flying into the sky with hundreds of spectators looking on. Food options range from Maccas, KFC & Hungry Jacks on the beach to some of the best burgers and wings you’ll ever have at Longboards or House of Brews. If you’re starving, then the Buffet at QT or The Marriot are some of the best chow down options you’ll find, with the accommodation at both properties being great value and both having great pools and bars on site.
Just along the spit from Main Beach and Surfers Paradise, for great family fun, is SeaWorld. Not to forget, the fabulous Sheraton Grand Marina Mirage and the over the top opulent Versace, with great views of the Broadwater with all the glitz and glamour, you’d expect from Versace.
Dreamworld, Wet’n’Wild, Paradise Country and Movie World are all located on the northern end of the Gold Coast and are surrounded by cheap hotels and caravan parks, but most people stay closer to the beach and drive to the parks for a day out. There are also great transport options with buses and G-Link trams. The area also hosts the Outback Spectacular and Top Golf to really cater to everyone. Close by is the Intercontinental Sanctuary Cove, for those wanting to stay in style while surrounded by native flora and fauna – every time I’ve visited I’ve seen Wallabies, Echidnas and Koala within the grounds! The true Australian experience!
The Hinterland of the Gold Coast has a number of spectacular drives and hiking trails that can lead to amazing vistas, beautiful caves and waterfalls such as The Glow Worms Cave and Purling Brook Falls. The area is also home to some great little pubs and the Canungra Pie shop is a must!
Between the Hinterland and the Coastline, there are the sprawling suburbs of the Gold Coast, with a huge network for canals running of the Nerang River giving direct water access to thousands of households. The area also has a huge range of golf course spreading the length of the coast.
The Gold Coast really does have something for every traveller and every budget. With direct flights from most major Australian cities along with international destinations such as Auckland, Singapore and Kuala Lumpur, it’s a great spot for a quick getaway or extended stay. There are plenty of car rental options and parking, and with the ever-expanding G-Link Trams accessibility is getting better by the month.
For more information on the Gold Coast, or to plan your next adventure, contact me to make an appointment.
(07) 5556 7222