The Gold Coast gives you all the benefits of a big city like incredible dining, a buzzing culture scene and thriving nightlife. But part of our city's unique appeal is its proximity to pristine wilderness and natural beauty. This itinerary covers coastal and hinterland locations where you can immerse yourself in the ocean or hike deep into untouched rainforest. And of course, some of the best places to stay, play, eat and explore with a sprinkle of the unexpected to keep things interesting.
Staying close to the ocean is always a good idea – sea breezes, spectacular sunrises, pristine beaches and world class waves on your doorstep. If you’re keen for a beach run or a pre-breakfast paddle, take your pick of sandy stretches and perfect point breaks when you stay at The Pink Hotel in Coolangatta. Full of character and quirky rock n’ roll touches, this refurbished retro hotel boasts its own rooftop bar (plus a secret speakeasy for guests).
The Mysa Motel in Palm Beach is another retro gem, just a stone’s throw away from the sand. It’s a modern twist on retro Gold Coast and it’s absolutely delightful. A sustainable, luxury motel on the highway, the space has been artfully restored with vintage design elements to maintain its original motel vibe but with a stunning new aesthetic.
For an inner city stay, The Island in Surfers Paradise lends a little luxe to your experience and gives you the best of both worlds. While it’s set in the heart of a thriving dining and entertainment precinct, you only need to walk a couple of blocks for a sunbake and swim at Surfers Paradise beach.
Discovering Gold Coast’s dining scene is the kind of culinary adventure that everyone wants to take. If you’re hankering for Italian, head directly to Gemelli in Broadbeach. Their wood-fired pizza and homemade pasta is as authentic as it gets. Don’t expect there to be anything left of your meal – every morself will be devoured. Their ‘baby brother’ restaurant, Gemellini, in Nobbys Beach serves up the same delicious fare and if you don’t feel like eating out, you can order take away or have Uber Eats deliver to your door.
Another Broadbeach favourite is Asian fusion resturant Hideaway Kitchen & Bar – the perfect spot for top notch cocktails and hawker style street food in a bright, buzzing atmosphere. The hanging umbrella installation that covers the ceiling an eye-catching addition. Snack on share plates – think duck pancakes, sticky lamb ribs, fried crab wontons, green papaya salad and duck red curry. If you’ve worked up an appetite, opt for the banquet where to get to taste a little bit of everything.
Further to the south in Kirra, Siblings is situated in a beautifully refurbished 1920s pavilion set in a stunning beachfront location. Sip on a chilled white or perfectly prepared cocktail in the refined yet relaxed venue which showcases modern Australian cuisine with a focus on fresh seafood and share plates. While the food’s fantastic, friendly, attentive staff and the unbeatable location make this a must-do dining experience.
Get up close and cuddly with all matter of furry, feathered and scaly friends at Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary. You can wander through open-air enclosures and enjoy animals as they roam freely, feed kangaroos and marvel at the beautiful birds in the free flight bird show. There are a number of experiences available that allow you to get closer and learn more about animals like red pandas, dingoes, capybaras or koalas – a must for any animal lover. (Book ahead as numbers are limited.)
Surfers Paradise foreshore is a bustling beachside precinct popular with walkers, cyclists and skateboarders taking advantage of this beachfront boulevard vista overlooking the surf and sand. Hire a bike and go for a cruise down the wide, flat cycleways for a cruisy mode of exploration and sightseeing. Or perhaps you’d rather throw down a towel on the sand, soak up the sun and play in the waves of the Pacific Ocean. With beachside shopping, fabulous cafés, restaurants, bars and attractions, Surfers Paradise comfortably maintains its position as the good-times hub of the Gold Coast.
With its iconic beach, many excellent cafés, array of restaurants and bars and the beautiful headland to hang out with a National Park included, Burleigh is hard to beat. There’s so much packed into this happening coastal hub. With rooftop bars, seaside dining, coastal strolls and cute boutiques, weekend markets, great waves and perfect picnic spots, Burleigh is one of Gold Coast’s best assets.
There’s some kind of magic in the hinterland. It’s hard to describe but easy to experience – just hop in the car, drive up the winding roads, find a quiet spot in nature and spend some time soaking up the serenity. One of the best places to do this is at O’Reilly’s Rainforest Retreat – perched on a mountaintop at the edge of Lamington National Park, it provides easy access to incredible hikes and waterfalls plus abundant native wildlife. You can even explore the canopy on the Tree Top Walk via nine suspension bridges strung between the branches. Nearby Morans Falls is worth walking to for truly breathtaking views.
Currumbin is a suburb that stretches from the beach to the lush hinterland, and exudes the kind of coastal chill that the Gold Coast is famous for. Whether you’re looking for adventure, relaxation, fresh produce, fine dining or a beachside stay, Currumbin is the kind of place that can make everyone happy. Visit the farmer’s markets on the weekend, try your hand at a variety of watersports at the protected beach (The Alley) and creek, or drive out to Currumbin Valley to explore walks and waterfalls at Cougal Cascades.
More of a watersports kinda person? Check out our guide to getting wet
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ACKNOWLEDGEMENT OF COUNTRY
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.