When you think of the Gold Coast, you might also imagine you’ll need a pocket full of cash to enjoy it? Not so! For under $100 you can enjoy a day out on the Gold Coast and sample the spoils of Australia’s Favourite Playground. Here are our top things to do under $100 worth adding to your itinerary to get your savvy holiday started.
FOR BUDGET-CONSCIOUS COUPLES
Holey Moley is what you might utter when you learn you can combine a couple of pizzas, cocktails and nine holes of putt-putt mini golf for under $100, for two. After navigating your way through a giggle-inspired gallery of themed greens fusing good old fashioned fun with supreme bang for buck at $15 per person, you’ll have plenty left over for feasting on the fare. Try the ‘sharing is caring’ platter with mac and cheese bites, ½ a kilo of spicy wings and your choice of fries for just $35 at Holey Moley Surfers Paradise. And yes, that is the clown hole from Happy Gilmore!
What’s SUP? For another cheap date that will double as a banging body workout, head to Currumbin Creek’s Boatshed for a 1.5-hour glide on a stand-up paddleboard for just $20. One of the Gold Coast’s favourite waterways, you’ll soak up the serenity, some sun and have the chance to drop in for a dip too. And if you want to add a little bit more dazzle to your day, plan a late afternoon paddle to watch the sky show as the sun sinks amidst the hills of the Gold Coast Hinterland.
Who doesn’t love tacos? You’ll love them even more at just $5 a pop at Mermaid Beach’s Bonita Bonita. Forget Taco Tuesday though, the good times and cheap tacos roll here on Thursday nights. Load up on crispy fish with tomato pico and mango creme or crunchy calamari drizzled with pineapple chilli jam plus sublime cilantro crema. Meat eaters will love the Carne Picante, stuffed with braised beef, pickled cabbage and dolloped with habanero creme and guac. There are vegetarian and vegan options available too. Ole!
For another date with a difference, hit the Gold Coast’s best micro-breweries for beer tasting beside cheap and cheerful bar bites served with a side of amber nectar education. Start at Balter Brewing Company in Currumbin and move onto Burleigh Brewing as a doubleheader date, or get dropped off in Miami where you can wander between Black Hops Brewery and Lost Palms Brewing Co. Savvy savers can taste up to 14 beers served up on paddles and some of the breweries have food trucks on weekends churning out delicious street eats for a fraction of the cost for a regular restaurant meal.
FUN FOR FAMILIES THAT WON’T BUST THE BANK
Baby birders will love waking up with the rainbow lorikeets at Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary. These early risers swoop in around 8 am and again at 4 pm to enjoy a twice-daily dose of nectar. Watching is free, however – if the kids want to get closer to their new feathered friends, drop a gold coin donation and be rewarded with a plate of sticky sugar water that will serve as a parrots perch. Wear a hat if you don’t want to be christened by some birdie good luck!
Surf’s up – whether the grommets want to learn to surf or you’d prefer to sit back and watch the professionals at play on the breaks while you eat fish and chips, there’s plenty of surf-inspired action that won’t break the budget on the Gold Coast. Sign the kids up at Walkin’ on Water Surf School at Greenmount Beach for 2-hour beginner lessons for $55 per person. It’s an easy walk to either Coolangatta Surf Club or Rainbow Bay Surf Club after where you can fuel the kids up with nipper meals from $9.90 at Rainbow Bay or $12 at Coolangatta, including a drink.
Pack the picnic rug. Our family favourite picnic spot on the Gold Coast is Burleigh Hill. Grab a piping hot parcel of fresh fish and chips at Fishmongers in James Street or some delicious açai bowls at Helen’s Heavenly Bulk Foods and hit the hill. You’ll love the sweeping views of the Coast and a front-row seat watching Burleigh’s famous barrels. There’s rock pools to explore, beach-combing and a playground nearby – all free for the kids to make the most of.
Want even more for free? The Gold Coast sits right in the middle of the Humpback Highway, so find yourself a headland that offers a great vantage spot to watch the passing parade from May to November. Try Burleigh Hill, Point Danger, The Spit and Miami Lookout, and keep a lookout for water spouts plus pods of dolphins darting alongside their whale friends too. Find out more on these spots here, or some great deals to be had with operators here.
For a fun, affordable activity the entire family can enjoy together, roll into Burleigh Heads Barefoot Bowls from 12 pm to 5 pm on Sundays for a session of barefoot bowls. It’s only $10 per adult and $5 for kiddies aged 5-12 and includes all equipment. Bookings are essential (this place is popular) and why not add a multi-generational twist by bringing gramps and grannie along for the ride to give the kiddos some red hot tips on how it’s done.
Take a wander through the Botanic Gardens, a short 10-minute drive from central Surfers Paradise, where you’ll find 31 hectares of sprawling parkland. There are lakes supporting native ecosystems and several interpretive walks and gardens to visit too. Learn about mangroves to mountains, follow in the footsteps of the Yugambeh people at the Story of Country garden or just stop to smell those roses. Find out what plants attract butterflies and all about indigenous edible plants in the bush foods garden. When it’s time for a spell, indulge in organic coffee or a cup of tea or why not treat yourself to ice cream or a snack at the Friends Centre. Free guided walks are also on offer.
Did someone say seafood? Get your catch-of-the-day at Gold Coast institution Charis Seafoods located on the Broadwater at Labrador. Enjoy the free sunshine while you tuck into some fish and chips, calamari, prawns, oysters, bugs, clams, scallops or lobster, or choose one of the platters prepared earlier to take home.
For a local’s favourite walk; follow the flat and even path around Burleigh Headland to soak in stunning Surfers skyline views across the ocean before finding yourself gazing over the crystalline waters of Tallebudgera Creek. If you like a bit more of a challenge, return by scaling the trail over the headland offering panoramic views from Tumgun Lookout and if you are visiting from May to November, keep your eyes peeled for whales passing by on their annual migration.
SOLO TRAVELLER SAVINGS
Submit to some supreme self-care at Greenhouse Bathhouse in Burleigh with a 90-minute soak session for just $45 pp. You’ll enjoy a rotation of gentle activities including hydrotherapy spa, steam room infused with essential oils and a cool magnesium plunge pool to refresh yourself in after. Take full advantage of the sun-dappled deck to rest a little further afterwards as this is one haven of tranquillity you will not want to leave anytime soon.
Lace-up those runners – with over 50 km of waterway fronting trails designed for walking, running or biking, take yourself on a self-guided adventure based on your own stamina. The Gold Coast Oceanway Network links 36kms of beaches, parks and bridges in a single trail giving you the option to start and stop wherever you choose.
Head for the hills to take on the stunning Curtis Falls walk at Mount Tamborine. You’ll pass palms that reach for the sky and see the scarily intriguing strangler figs wrapping their way around host trees as you take yourself to the base of the gushing falls. Wander back along the track and when you get to the top, treat yourself to an ice-cream or some local fudge at the boutique shops sitting right near the crown of the falls.
ACCESSIBLE OPTIONS ARE AFFORDABLE TOO
Make a date with the All Abilities Playground at Kurrawa Park to find multiple zones dedicated to play for various ages and abilities. Incorporating sensory, education and imagination-provoking play spaces, kids of all abilities can enjoy getting out in the sunshine for some outside time. Themes include sandcastle, under the sea and a grassy hill links the zones together. You can also wander the six interactive community art projects that were contributed by special education students from local schools alongside local artists.
Learn more about the Gold Coast’s bush-meets-beach backyard at David Fleay Wildlife Park in Burleigh. You’ll meet inquisitive native animals, endangered species that you could never hope to meet in the wild, all enjoying a safe, purpose-designed habitat that replicates what nature intended.
When it’s time to eat and you don’t want to spend much, repeat after me – Miami Marketta. You’ll find them pumping out music and street eats alongside a chance to get social with the locals. Held every Friday and Saturday night, plus a smaller Wednesday session too, enjoy some of the best multicultural food on the Gold Coast for an affordable price. Miami Marketta is wheelchair accessible, however, parking can be limited, so make sure you arrive early.
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ACKNOWLEDGEMENT OF COUNTRY
We acknowledge and pay respect to the land and the traditional families of the Yugambeh region of South East Queensland, and their Elders past, present and emerging.