The Gold Coast is full of sun, surf, and sand and is one of Australia’s leading tourist destinations. It’s an area east of Brisbane that is a collection of various beach cities dotting the coast. It’s known for its sunny subtropical climate, surfing, beaches, waterways and canal systems, a skyline dominated by high-rise apartment buildings, a rainforest hinterland, and a wild night life. The most famous city in the area is Surfer’s Paradise, which is the major stop for travelers and backpackers looking to get some sun, surf, and lots of partying. My advice is to avoid Surfer’s Paradise and head to some of the better, less crowded cities like Burleigh Heads and Coolangatta.
- Hostel Prices: Dorms cost $25 USD per night for dorms and private rooms are $70 USD per room per night. Since the region is so popular among travelers, prices here tend to be a lot higher than elsewhere in the country. Surf and Sun hostel in Surfer’s Paradise is one of my favorite hostels in the country.
- Budget Hotel Prices: A double room will cost between $80 – 100 USD per night.
- Average Cost of Food: Most meals cost $25 USD or more. If you cook your meals, expect to pay $70-80 USD per week. For that price, your groceries will include pasta, vegetables, chicken, and some other basics food stuffs. An average restaurant meal will run you about $15-20 USD for no frills eating. If you are staying in hostels, most offer meals each night for around $6 USD.
- Transportation Costs: Cabs can range anywhere from $3 per person to $13 per person depending on where you are going. For example, a cab ride from the airport in a 4 passenger sedan will cost $13 USD per person. There is also a bus system that goes up and down the coast and fares vary depending on where you want to go.
Read more on the costs of traveling around Oz.
Top Things to Do
- Visit Q1 – The world’s tallest residential tower is also the only observation deck in Australia by the beach. Clearly recognizable among the many high rises, the landmark Q1 lets you gaze at the length of the coastline, which stretches out as far as the eye can see in both directions. It’s best visited during the day, although bad weather can also be a plus – visitors like to lay out on the floor during thunderstorms to watch lightning strike the Q1′s impressive 97.7 meter spire.
- Get off the beach – There is more to the Gold Coast than beaches. Head into the “hinterland” for great rivers, swimming holes, hiking, and parks. During the weekend, you can snap up some local produce at a farmer’s market as well as some arts and crafts. For the more adventurous, you can tackle one of the many rainforest walks available on Tamborine Mountain.
- Walk the Burleigh Hill - Make like the locals and stretch your legs along Burleigh’s esplanade before making your way around the hill. The track is bordered by lush rainforest on one side and stunning views north to Surfers Paradise and south over Tallebudgera Creek.
- Whale Watching – June through October sees humpback whales on their migratory journey from the Antarctic to warmer waters where they mate and give birth. Later in the season the whales are on their return journey, swimming with their calves beside them. If you’re lucky, you’ll see the whales breaching, slapping their tails and waving their pectoral fins. Also spotted on cruises are bottle nose dolphins, huge loggerhead turtles, orcas, sea birds and other marine life.
- Hit the Beaches – The region has more than 70km of fantastic beaches, and Surfers Paradise is home to the “best beach in the world” according to some. Other beaches include Southport, Broadbeach, Nobby’s, and Coolongatta.
- Learn to Surf – It’s not called “Surfer’s Paradise” for no reason. Up and down the coast, whether in Surfers or another town, you’ll find some of the best surfing in Australia. If you don’t know how to surf, you’ll be able to find cheap lessons up and down the coast.
- Party - “The Goldie” is one of the biggest party destinations in Australia. There are countless bars, clubs, and pub crawls here. You won’t be short on nightlife. Surfer’s Paradise has the biggest night life, but Coolangatta is just as good and less touristy.
- The Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary – Over 65 acres in size, this compound is massive in size and is host to aviaries, walk through areas, open displays, reptiles, and more. Since there is so much to see and experience, including wildlife presentations held throughout the day, a train tour is offered, with purchase of admission ticket.
- Karting in Paradise – MSI Racing is an awesome place to live out your grand prix fantasies by going go kart racing. Go with friends and see who can pin the fastest race, or just enjoy the adrenaline rush.
- The Infinity Maze – If you are looking to do something that you’ve never really done before, the Infinity maze is an interesting place to start. This walk through maze is filled with funky music, sound effects, and illusions – all you need to do is strap on some cotton gloves and socks, to feel your way through.
- Free transport – Some hostels provide free transport to and from the hostel to the airport so be sure and ask upon booking. If you are going to Surfer’s Paradise, they will also pick you up for free at the bus station.
Other Destinations in Australia
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