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The 'new' Gold Coast

Nicole Smith

The Gold Coast is known for its white beaches, theme parks and great nights out, but there's so much more to see and do! From Dreamtime stories to Latin eats, a quirky Gold Coast hotel or Australia's best gelato, uncover another side of the Gold Coast by visiting any one of these great places.

Start your getaway right at the coolest hotel in town

Surfer chic meets Miami cool at the QT Hotel Gold Coast. Set back a block from the beach, the QT is a trendy spot to stay. With gorgeous beach or city views, enjoy the spacious rooms and comfortable beds, you could treat the property as a resort or venture out to explore the city. There's even free WiFi if you are in town for business as well as play.

Be sure to enjoy dinner at Bazaar, an interactive marketplace for food from around the word. The onus at dinner is on the freshest local seafood we are right by the water after all!

After dinner, take a trip downstairs to Stingray Bar & Lounge. With a menu that reflects a Baja California vibe, the drink of choice is tequila; with the bar hosting weekly Tequila Appreciation classes to showcase that not all tequila is created the same. For those who like a drink but worried about the sugar, try one of Stingray's Skinny Cocktails sweetened with agave nectar.

Rent one of the in-house bikes at QT for free and enjoy the day cruising around the streets of the Gold Coast with ease. If you prefer a guided bike tour, Gold Coast Bike Tours offer half-day tours around the Gold Coast, including swimming, snorkelling, drinks, and a ride along the sands of those famous white beaches!

Where Locals Meet: Budd’s Beach

Located just a short walk from Surfers Paradise, Budd’s Beach is a tranquil little getaway in the middle of all the action. A little-known fact about the Gold Coast is that they have nine times more waterways than Venice. Explore just a small section by joining a Stand Up Paddleboarding (SUP) class on most weekends. The fun and at times challenging experience will give you a fantastic workout without you realising!

Once you finish your class, enjoy brunch and a great coffee at Bumbles Café opposite the beach. A charming spot popular with locals known for using locally sourced ingredients, including homemade honey from their own beehives! Top picks are the F.A.T. feta, avocado, roasted tomato on sourdough or their delicious eggs benedict.

Experience Island Life on Chevron Island

With a village-like feel and Surfers Paradise's skyscrapers on the horizon, Chevron Island is a great place to get a taste of local life. A short walk from Surfers Paradise, the stylish village boasts over 150 businesses but still has a villagey feel on the main street.

Along the main street of Thomas Drive there are busy cafes, restaurants and stores, but one in particular caught my eye.

Fairly new to the scene, Tribeca NYC pleases with American classics made healthy.

Sure, you'll find classics like Mac 'n Cheese, wings and lemon ricotta pancakes, but there's also the Johnny Lennon Hot Dog a healthy hot dog with no bun, plenty of sauerkraut, caramelised onion, on a garden salad or The Brooklyn Hipster a vegetarian pattie, mesclun, tomato, avocado, cheese, onion and aioli. Everything is fresh fast and delicious!

Immerse yourself in Dreamtime Stories

Discover the legend of the land, see traditional dances, and learn more about the didgeridoo at Jellurgal Cultural Centre. The traditional landowners of much of the Gold Coast the Yugambeh Aboriginal people invite people to take a tour of Jellurgal to learn about their history and culture.

Hear Dreamtime stories telling how the mountain was created while you take a 'walkabout' a guided tour along Burleigh Cove walk. Learn the healing benefits of plants, the sanctity of specific areas of the mountain, and how the people connect and protected the land.

There are also options for full-day tours to visit both Jellurgal Cultural Centre and Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary, giving people the chance to get up close to Australian wildlife, feed a kangaroo and cuddle a koala!

Latin Feasts and Drinks

There's a trend sweeping the restaurants of the Gold Coast and it is full of Latin flavours and plenty of spice!

For casual dining, try Bonita Bonita at Mermaid Beach. This modern Mexican taqueria serves dangerously delicious chimichangas, Tirada de Cerdo (smoked pulled pork with crackling and apple slaw), or vegetarian favourite Calabaza (a sangria glazed pocket stuffed with pumpkin and served with a corn molé and pepitas). Pair your meal with one of their Spanish or South American wines, or any one of the wide selection of craft beers.

After dinner and dessert, pop next door to Bon Bon bar to try one of their 103 tequilas!

For something a little more upmarket that's perfect for a special night out, Pablo Pablo is sure to be a winner. This funky little Latin eatery and wine bar has a cosy atmosphere and great food and drinks.

Highlights are the crispy outsides of the croquetas stuffed with manchego cheese, the melt-in-your-mouth scallops served with parsnip cream, grated bottarga, and squid ink chorizo that melt, and house favourite lightly crisped cauliflower served with bursts of fresh pomegranate and a rich blue cheese sauce… YUM!

The Best Gelato in Australia

When I read that one of Australia's best gelatarias was on the Gold Coast, I knew I had to make a stop to test it! After training at the Carpigiani Gelato University in Bologna, Italy, owner David Giudice brought the recipe for these handcrafted gelatos to Australia. Today, My Gelato is a thriving small business that combines traditional gelato and sorbet flavours with ones some that are specially created each day.

Located opposite Kirra Beach, close to Coolangatta, grab a cone and head to the beach. Otherwise, it's a relaxing place to meet with friends and enjoy traditional Italian coffees and great tasting gelato by a true master.

Nicole Smith

Travel Blogger

An Adelaide girl now based in Melbourne, Nicole spends most of the year travelling around the world in search of the more stylish destinations, hip hotels, and places to eat and drink; bringing them to you on her blogs ­ Bitten by the Travel Bug and Stylish Travels.

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