With a beach culture as vibrant as each sunrise over our ocean and more than 300 days of sunshine in a year, the Gold Coast is the perfect playground for an ocean-side weekend escape. But there’s more to the Coast than just beaches – there’s a food, drink, entertainment and retail culture to rival any in the country.
6pm: If you haven’t been to Surfers Paradise in years, it’s time you checked out what’s happening at the northern end of the Gold Coast. Drop into the casually confident Sandbar, one of the Coast’s most frequented watering holes, to start your weekend in style. Arrive in time for a late-afternoon cocktail overlooking the beach, then stick around as the place morphs into a lounge bar, and Queensland’s best DJs spin tunes in the newly renovated Hamptons-esque space.
9am: Start the day with a little retail therapy at the Gold Coast’s most indulgent shopping destination, Pacific Fair in Broadbeach. Fresh from a $670 million refurbishment, ‘Pac Fair’ now has 400 stores, making it the fourth largest shopping centre in Australia. There’s a great collection of Australian designers here – from Alice McCall and Ginger & Smart to Carla Zampatti and Camilla – as well as high-end international labels including Gucci, Prada, Givenchy, Christian Louboutin, Bally and Coach. If you need a little break from all that couture, head to the 1920s-style The Tea & Coffee Factory for one of their signature rare-edition teas.
1pm: All that shopping would have given you an appetite, and and the legends at The Collective Palm Beach know just how to satiate it. The old Palm Beach post office has been converted into a market-style open-air restaurant with five kitchens offering Mexican, modern Australian, Italian, Asian and American cuisine. It’s a lovely, greened-up space festooned with fairy lights and bouncing with super-friendly wait and bar staff. If a lunchtime cocktail takes your fancy, head upstairs to the rooftop bar, where there are views across to the Gold Coast hinterland – and 40 cocktails to choose from. The food here is that good, they have recently taken it to the road. Five cuisines in one food truck? #FoodieGoals.
5pm: These days, the Gold Coast has its share of eclectic live music venues in industrial locations. The most eclectic of them all is Miami Marketta, sitting among the panel-beating shops on the Gold Coast Highway, and open Wednesday, Friday and Saturday nights. It’s New Orleans meets Montmartre wrapped in a uniquely Gold Coast vibe: hip-hop bands play on stage among fairy lights, while food trucks serve dishes from around the world. Down a drink in a chandelier-lit bar with gothic undertones, while artists, fashion designers and antique furniture-makers ply their trade in stores around you.
8am: After all that indulgence, it’s time to think about a little health-giving diversion. Start your Sunday with a stand-up paddleboarding session in the crystal-clear waters of Currumbin Creek (you can rent one for $15 an hour). Waves break a few hundred metres away at Currumbin Alley, but Currumbin Creek is always sheltered. The creek runs for 24km to Currumbin Valley at the bottom of a World Heritage-listed national park. Stop for a coffee and breakfast at the Boatshed, right on the water.
1pm: Head south to Coolangatta and two divine beaches. Start with a swim in the sheltered southern corner of Greenmount, then take the pretty walk around the headland, looking out through pandanus trees at surfers tackling one of the world’s most famous right-hand point breaks. Head around to Rainbow Bay for another swim before walking back to Baskk at Kirra Point for a late lunch. Try a share plate of popcorn chilli prawns, and mingle with the locals at one of Coolangatta’s hippest venues.
5pm: Finish off your perfect Gold Coast weekend at Burleigh Heads. Nowhere captures the seaside surf village vibe better than this picturesque enclave. Wander through James Streets to discover alternative cafes, innovative new bars and artisan boutiques, then mosey through the national park beyond Burleigh Point, traversing paths that cut through coastal rainforest. Stroll back to Burleigh Hill, where hundreds of locals gather on Sunday afternoons to play music and watch the early evening drift in. Order a takeaway pizza from nearby Justin Lane, which can be delivered to you by bicycle. Finish your perfect weekend at the eatery itself, at the bottom of the hill, sipping a local craft beer at Justin Lane’s Rooftop Bar, overlooking blissful beach views.