17 Oct 2017

No holiday plans yet? We got you. Head uptown to our northernmost ‘hood to discover some cool hidden hangouts, uncrowded beaches and seriously drool-worthy dining destinations. We do consider ourselves fairly au fait with the ‘NGC’ (I mean, we do live here and all), so for an epic 24 hours – why not add these tried and tested hot spots to your itinerary?


When you’re not lounging around the palm-fringed lagoon pool (cocktail in hand, obvs.), this spiffing beachfront resort makes for a pretty smashing place to base yourself while becoming acquainted with our northern stomping ground. Grab the boardies, brolly and beach bag – it’s time for your first stop, and there should be no surprise to hear, we’re headed to the beach.


Start the day with a morning surf, beach walk or just a good ‘ol frolic in the shallows; getting salty is about as ‘GC’ as it gets. As the name suggests, The Spit is a permanent sand spit that separates the Southport Broadwater from the Pacific Ocean, making for a pretty sweet spot for surfing, SUPing, diving, fishing; plus, it’s dog friendly, so don’t forget to invite the pooch! Now that you’ve had your salt fix, it’s time to refuel with a big brekkie – but not the stock-standard ‘two eggs and bacon’ kind…


Part art gallery, part all things bagels, this trendy SoPo (local lingo for Southport) hangout is one of a handful of quirky eateries popping up in this neck of the woods; and quite frankly, it would be rude of us not to mention it. Sip your morning brew (smallz or biggie) with laid-back locals, and graze on bagels topped with the lot (and we mean the LOT). They even claim one of their menu items tastes like ‘winning the lotto… twice’. Once you’re well and truly carb-loaded up, head north for a morning either on the green or the water.


Hit a few hole-in-ones (no point ruining a good story with the truth, right?!) on the championship courses at Sanctuary Cove – you might even come face to face with a crew of roos who also call this place home. Or pack a picnic and a bottle of bubbles and head down to the marina for a morning well spent cruising the Broadwater – quick brag-worthy fact – boat owners here rank among the highest per capita in the country. Take a dip, catch some rays or throw in a line – but if you don’t have much luck in the fishing department, don’t panic, we know where you can get your hands on some of the freshest seafood in town.


You’re in for one hell-of-a-finger-lickin’ spread at this iconic seafood institution… Freshly caught, freshly shucked, freshly peeled (have we said fresh yet?!); Charis is the home of the largest seafood supply on the Coast and is famous for its harbour-side feasting. Swing by ‘round 1.30pm for the pelican feeding and gobble down your fish ‘n’ chip feed alongside chatty, feathery locals. For those after something a little fancier, head towards the Broadwater Parklands; nestled on the shore of the yacht-filled marina lies Café Catalina. Atlantic salmon, Hervey Bay scallops and grilled local prawns are all menu showstoppers and washed down with a top local drop doesn’t get much better for a five-star seafood feast. Let the kids run loose on the ginormous Parklands playground, before heading over to Harbour Town for a bit of a splash (no – not the swimming type).


Whether you’re looking to kick start a fitness regime (post-holiday of course), update your work wardrobe, deck out the kids for less, or just want to indulge (you’ve earned it) – this outlet hub will have you clocking up the credit card in no time. Don’t hit panic; it’s the biggest outlet destination in the country, so you’ll be bagging some serious holiday bargains (hello Coach, Calvin Klein, Nike, Michael Kors…) at a fraction of retail price. After all that hard work busting a few dollars, who’s ready for a drink?!


Choose from 29 taps of wine, craft beer and cocktails at one of our newest hangouts – Southport’s Last Night on Earth.  This two level bar lets you chill in a post-apocalyptic-style bunker (think Mad Max) or check out the stars on a rooftop inspired by cult film Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas (think mini-desert on the roof).  A brand new building in the space previously occupied by local fave Not Tonight, this revamped watering hole is bringing back Wednesday trivia nights, board games, live acoustics and epic grazing boards.  Divine.  Now that you’ve whet your whistle, let’s move onto main course.


If you’re looking for something that packs a little more heat, China Town’s dedicated Asian-inspired street food market will get your tastebuds lit. Our only complaint is that we can’t stuff our faces here every day of the week – though we do have a pretty good backup plan. Runaway Bay’s long-standing family-run Can Tho (pronounced gung turh) sports some funky décor and hip vibes but when it comes to cooking, sticks closely to its Vietnamese roots, serving wok classics, sour seafood soup, rice paper rolls… the de-lish list goes on.


If you’re not completely exhausted by now, we’re always up for a trip to our four thrilling theme parks – all located on the northern end.


Consider yourself a bit of a boatie? Into deck-side wining and dining or just interested to see how the other half live? Then time your stay in with the annual Sanctuary Cove Boat Show, for four solid days of all things luxury, seafood and champagne and of course… the big-ticket item – boats. And in case you didn’t already notice, we know boats round here…

Narelle Bouveng
Narelle Bouveng

A local Gold Coast mum and well-travelled Australian travel writer, Narelle has over 21 years’ experience wandering and chooses to call Mermaid Beach, Gold Coast home. A sunrise and sunset regular, you will often find her juggling a coffee and her camera, snapping for her blog and family travel inspired Instagram @alittleatlarge while youngest daughter Tiah frolics alongside.


Destination Gold Coast acknowledges the Traditional Custodians of the land on which we are situated, the Kombumerri families of the Yugambeh Language Region. 
We pay our respects to their Elders past, present and emerging, and recognise their continuing connections to the lands, waters and their extended communities throughout Southeast Queensland.