Surfers Paradise stretches along just a few kilometres of stunning coastline and is totally flat, meaning everything is within easy reach by foot, bike or light rail. It’s one of the easiest places in the world to get around without a car.
There’s so much to do in this one precinct of the Gold Coast and not all of it is what you’d expect for a Surfers Paradise getaway.
Surfers Paradise and its neighbouring villages are home to some of the City’s best art. In walking distance, just outside of the heart of town is HOTA, Home of the Arts, the City’s resident Cultural Precinct. For those who like to walk, it’s about 2.3 kilometres to be exact from the centre of Surfers Paradise. The walk takes you over Chevron Island and its booming selection of eateries, bars and boutiques.
Once there, you can check out world-class theatrical productions by local and touring companies, regular exhibitions and a sculpture walk that features 49 pieces by local and international artists. The sculpture walk takes you through the precinct’s grounds and also around Evandale Lake, a man-made sandy-bottomed lagoon, popular for swimming, that is naturally filled from the adjacent river’s tidal flow. There’s also a kids’ playgrounds, plenty of trees, flat paths for prams and wheelchairs and on Sundays, a bustling farmers’ market with live music and fresh local produce. Their incredible outdoor stage also attracts many artists and performers throughout the year.
A little further back towards town, less than a kilometre away is OneArts, a community arts hub on the Isle of Capri. As well as regular exhibitions, the space hosts creative art workshops, public art and mural projects and pop-up art shows. And for foodies, it’s right across the road from Capri on Via Roma, the island’s gourmet food hub.
The Gold Coast is home to hundreds of kilometres of navigable waterways so it’s no wonder people love exploring them. Whales pass the Gold Coast between late May and early November and dozens of tour companies have boats which leave from Surfers Paradise several times a day.
When it’s not whale watching season, there’s still plenty of reasons to join a formal tour of our waterways. Dugongs, stingrays, turtles, dolphins and myriad migrating bird species call Gold Coast waterways home and they’re spotted by nature-lovers every single day.
If organised tours aren’t your thing, you can also explore waterways from Surfers Paradise by stand-up paddleboard. From Budds Beach, less than a kilometre from the heart of Surfers, you can join a beginners’ session and then power your own tour alongside other visitors through the City’s waterways to Macintosh Island. The Eastern side of the island is relatively undeveloped and you’ll paddle past mangroves, shady shorelines and sandy beaches.
If adventure is more your style, the amphibian Aquaduck, Quack’rDuck and jet boating companies have tours which depart from Surfers Paradise and give you a chance to experience the Gold Coast waterways at a different pace.
Q1 is one of the world’s tallest residential towers and on its top floor, you’ll find the SkyPoint Observation Deck. The elevator ride to and from the 77th floor gives you a spine-tingling live feed of the elevator shaft and you get a real sense of the speed at which it travels. It goes from ground to the 77th floor in a matter of seconds. Once you’re at the top you’re rewarded with stunning 360-degree views of the Gold Coast and surrounds. From World Heritage hinterland, Mount Warning in New South Wales, Byron Bay and the glittering towers of Surfers Paradise, Main Beach and beyond, you’re nearly on top of the world.
I say nearly because it is possible to go higher – 40 metres higher to be precise. The Q1 SkyPoint Climb gives you the chance to get the same stunning views while clipped to a harness on the outside of the tower. You can literally hang your butt off the edge. Pre-booking is essential for the climb and there’s also a twilight option.
Whether you’re brave enough to scale the outside of the building or not, there’s plenty to top up the energy bank. There’s a family-friendly café within the observation deck which offers a buffet breakfast as well as all-day dining and on Friday and Saturday nights the whole space transforms into an adult-only high altitude lounge bar. The property is located right at a light rail stop but is only a 600m walk from Cavill Avenue.
Q1 is not the only high-altitude dining on the Gold Coast. Crowne Plaza has long been home to the City’s only revolving restaurant called Four Winds which is located on the much more modest 24th floor. Open for buffet lunch and dinner as well as high tea, Four Winds is a favourite for locals. The restaurant rotates through 360 degrees over the course of an hour. Crowne Plaza has a light rail stop right at its doors.
If you prefer an adrenaline rush at height, iFly Indoor Skydiving is one of the City’s newest attractions. There’s no parachute, no plane and no jumping. But there’s also nothing attaching you to the ground. It’s just you and an amazing rush of air. And adrenalin. iFly is located just a few hundred metres from Cavill Ave and people from three and older can participate.
If that’s still not enough adrenaline for you, Surfers Paradise is also home to an outdoor fun park where get you a chance to fly through the air at 160 kilometres an hour on a giant slingshot or swing on a giant 45m electric arm that rotates at 120 kilometres an hour at an altitude of 45m (it’s called the ‘Vomatron’ for good reason).
Surfers Paradise is known for its night-time entertainment – no matter what your preference you’ll find an option in the Surfers Paradise precinct. But you might not know that some of the Gold Coast’s best live original acts also tread the boards in bars and clubs here and that some of the City’s best talent can be found busking through the area.
Hard Rock Café has long been home to live music and killer burgers. Friday nights usually mean local original and cover acts here and it’s family-friendly earlier in the night. Many of the bar’s staff also moonlight as rock stars when they’re not serving cocktails or ribs.
Just across from Hard Rock Café on Cavill Avenue is elsewhere. This little establishment has played host to some of the world’s best live acts and DJs over its 10+ year history.
The Avenue also dishes up both food and live music to the masses. Mostly cover bands can be found here on nearly every night of the week, and even comedy nights every Wednesday. Love live music? Surfers Paradise (newly renovated) Beergarden, Fiddler’s Green, Marriott Hotel Resort and Spa, House of Brews and SkyPoint Observation Deck all regularly have live music.
But the best thing about Surfers Paradise is the likelihood of encountering world-class musicians in the streets, alleyways and on the massive beach stage set up for major events. Buskers set up shop in Cavill Mall year-round and you can genuinely catch some of the Gold Coast’s best talent this way. In places like Chevron Renaissance and Cavill Lane, you can listen to some of the City’s emerging artists playing originals and covers in peak periods. And major city events like Surfers Paradise LIVE attract thousands to the shorefront for rock concerts with Australia’s most popular beach as its backdrop.
Get up-to-date gig listings and information on all things ‘what’s on’ at events.destinationgoldcoast.com
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