North Gold Coast is having a moment. Newcomers of the culinary kind are popping up all over the place. Between Southport and Sanctuary Cove, you’ll discover Mediterranean-inspired wine bars, dessert digs, family-friendly taprooms and bakehouses that will send your taste buds into a spin. There’s plenty of entertainment and adventure on offer in this neck of the woods too, from the water to the race track – and we just can’t get enough. Here’s our guide to North Gold Coast.
FOOD & DRINK
Our European vacay dreams have been put on the back burner for a while yet, but the next best thing can be found in north Gold Coast. Destino is a Mediterranean-inspired wine bar that’s just opened its doors at Sanctuary Cove. By day, this little gem churns out Campos coffee while you peruse hand-crafted homewares from the coolest local and international artisans. Stick around though, because once the arvo rolls in, Destino transforms into a cool evening hangout that oozes Greek and Spanish flair. Sip on sparkling spritzers, French champagne or a signature cocktail (the Mykonos Mule gets our vote), while grazing on Mezze-style share plates and charcuterie boards.
Where: Masthead Way, Sanctuary Cove.
Looking for somewhere laidback and local in north Gold Coast for an arvo bevvy with friends? Award-winning brewery, Black Hops, recently launched their second tap room in Biggera Waters, open from Wednesday to Sunday. This local craft brewery is the brainchild of three Gold Coast mates who – put simply – love beer. This watering hole is home to 16 (preservative-free) tap beers, with a drop to suit every taste – from the crisp and easy-to-drink East Coast Haze, through to their irresistible Super Hornet, which packs a serious punch. Black Hops prides itself on being family friendly (dogs are welcome too), so bring the whole tribe along for some good times. Food trucks roll in from Friday – Sunday for a great feed in a relaxed pub-style setting.
Where: 671 Pine Ridge Rd, Biggera Waters.
If you have an insatiable sweet tooth, be sure to hot foot it to the northern end’s newest gelato bar, Rosé Gelateria, now open at Sanctuary Cove. So much more than an ice cream parlour, this delightful dessert shop offers the sweetest line up of sugary concoctions, from buttery pastries to locally-made macarons, melt-in-your-mouth affogato and perfectly-poured coffee. If you’re simply popping in for a scoop or two, the gelato cabinet will not disappoint, with 24 carefully curated flavours ranging from the traditional (Cookies & Cream) to the utterly exotic (Vienna Coffee). There’s vegan and dairy free options too so everyone can get their frozen fix.
Where: Masthead Way, Sanctuary Cove.
When it comes to northern bakeries, there’s no going past Burleigh Baker – a recent addition to Paradise Point (the original bakery is in southern suburb of of Burleigh, hence the name). Famous for their freshly baked, hand-formed loaves of sourdough, this is carb loading of the best kind. First timers can’t go wrong with the signature Burleigh Special loaf, Olive Loaf, or Willi’s Rye – but good luck leaving with just one. If you’ve got time, why not dine in and soak in the sunshine from the outdoor seating area while munching on an epic loaded sandwich (the Bahn Mi is a serious crowd-pleaser), signature sourdough croissant or custard tart, and a cuppa.
Where: The Esplanade, Paradise Point.
Caffeine enthusiasts will already have this coffee hot spot on their regular hit list, but if you’re yet to visit Daark Espresso, punch it into your Google Maps ASAP. A renowned Chirn Park (Southport) gem, Daark is open daily for all-day dining and drinks, offering a drool-worthy menu of comfort food alongside some lighter options too. Think Southern-fried chicken waffles or smoked salmon and feta croquettes for brekkie, and a slow-cooked beef brisket toastie or Thai chicken salad for lunch. Wash it down with a cold brew or G&T, depending on your mood.
Where: 41 Musgrave Avenue, Labrador.
BUOY OH BUOY
Healthy, grab and go bites with excellent coffee to boot? There’s one place you need to hit when hunger strikes, and that’s Buoy Oh Buoy, positioned just a stone’s throw from the Paradise Point esplanade. From sweet and savoury bowls (acai, poke, choc-almond – you name it, they’ve probably got it) to loaded sangas, brekkie rolls and freshly prepared salads, this northern newbie is the ultimate healthy hub. There’s street side seating and a modern fit out if you want to dine in, while it’s enviable location makes the nearby park perfect for a picnic in the sunshine. This thoughtful bunch even offer curbside service for takeaways so you can dial in ahead of time.
Where: 27 Falkinder Ave, Paradise Point.
ATTRACTIONS & ENTERTAINMENT
GOLD COAST WAKE PARK
Quench your need for speed, spills and thrills at the Coast’s only purpose-built wake park, Gold Coast Wake Park, located in Oxenford. This place certainly knows how to pull a crowd, with both beginner and experienced cables on offer. First timers can try their hand at kneeboarding – a more gentle option that still delivers maximum fun. There’s also a kids club running every weekend, so parents who prefer to stay dry can watch from afar with two feet firmly on the ground while the pros take care of the coaching. Spectating is just as much a sport too, with wake-boarding wonder kids taking on the jaw-dropping obstacle courses – watch from the comfort of the fully licensed onsite bar and restaurant. Gold Coast Wake Park also doubles as an aqua park, so when summer returns, be sure to make a date with this fully-inflatable world of fun.
Where: 34 Maudsland Rd, Oxenford.
In case you’re new to the coast, we’ll let you in on a little secret: we’re pretty big on all things water sports, and with 800 kilometres of pristine, tidal waterways to explore, it’s easy to see why. Sailing is one of our signature north Gold Coast experiences, and there’s some excellent sailing charters on offer, including Getaway Sailing, Sailing in Paradise and Gold Coast Sail. Choose from a skippered morning, lunchtime or sunset cruise aboard a gorgeous yacht, or if timed during the cooler months, take advantage of a ‘whale and sail’ style cruise and encounter the majestic humpbacks on their annual migration.
Where: Runaway Bay and Main Beach.
Locals and visitors looking for kid-friendly boredom busters need to get acquainted with iPlay Adventure pronto. It’s an epic indoor entertainment facility that will give parents hours of uninterrupted energy burning. Located in Coomera, iPlay was designed with families in mind, offering everything from high-ropes courses to arcade games, and good ol’ fashion fun like dodgem cars and mini bowling. Adventure enthusiasts can tackle the Clip ’n Climb, with 23 challenges to choose from, while adults can kick back with a coffee and cake at the onsite cafe, which also serves up easy bites for kids too when tummies start to rumble.
Where: Westfield Coomera, Coomera.
Those with a penchant for fast cars and high-octane pursuits will relish this motorsport playground located in north Gold Coast – Norwell Motorplex. It’s here you can put yourself in the shoes (or hot seat) of a supercar champ for a day – Supercar Official Driver experiences are their forte. Go solo or saddle up with one of the pros in your choice of a Ford or Holden and feel the force of being behind the wheel of a V8 powered race car. The 2.1 km race track makes hot lapping a blast, but if you’re more of an off road person, there’s something for you too. Leave the burning rubber behind and go off course with a 4 x 4 experience, where mud, boulder crossings and the roughest terrain make for one rocky adventure. The best part? Your own car stays clean.
Where: 75 Norwell Rd, Norwell.
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