Mark, his wife and two children take a trip to the Gold Coast at least once every two years. You can catch Mark on Twitter – @TomMark84. Or, if you are lucky, you may just find him in one of lounges he has access to thanks to the family effort to pool up frequent flyer miles via Velocity Rewards.
The Gold Coast is an iconic part of Australia’s beautiful East Coast. It is known in its tourism campaigns as being famous for fun, and for having beautiful weather one day and perfect weather the next.
The region stretches over 40 miles of coast and winds its way from Queensland into the top of the New South Wales border. There are myriad ways to explore and experience the gorgeous location, and plenty to suit all styles, budgets and interests.
Here are 5 ways to enjoy the best that the Gold Coast has to offer:
1. Soak Up the Gold Coast Beaches
The Gold Coast is renowned for its beautiful beaches. Professional surfing competitions are regularly held on its shores. Competitions include the Roxy Pro, Quicksilver Pro and the ASP pro junior events.
Thanks to the moderate climate of the region, as well as the extensive shoreline, there are beaches to dish up quality conditions for beginners, masters and pros alike.
Hit up these two hot spots for a taste of the best of Gold Coast beaches:
This is the most famous of all Gold Coast beaches and it conveniently backs onto the equally famous Cavill Avenue Mall. Surfers Paradise Beach gets gentle Pacific Ocean shore breaks as well as challenging banks, making it ideal for both new and experienced surfers. It is a patrolled beach making it a safe option for beginning swimmers and surfers.
An interesting anecdote is that Virgin Australian Airlines named one of their airplanes “Surfers Paradise Beach” to represent their commitment to the region, but more importantly it shows what kind of a reputation this beach enjoys in Gold Coast and whole of Australia.
T.O.S. – The Other Side
An adventurous choice is to follow the locals’ lead and paddle out across the ocean way to the south of Stradbroke Island.
It is a spot known for its epic points, as the nearby sand-pumping jetty creates a sudden change of water depth from deep to shallow, which creates the perfect break points.
Tip: Check out what the weather is like at the beach via live surf cameras (which are present over the majority of Australia’s beaches).
2. Be Thrilled at a Theme Park
As the Gold Coast is known for its family-friendly atmosphere and offerings, it would be incomplete without thrilling rides and adventure activities.
There are five theme parks to visit in the Gold Coast: Dreamworld and White Water World at Coomera, Movie World and Wet’n’Wild at Oxenford and SeaWorld at Main Beach – each has its own theme and highlights.
There are a number of ways to purchase tickets including World Passes, which give you unlimited entry into multiple parks.
This is one of the more thrilling parks. Ride selection includes roller coasters, big drops and giant swings.
It also has a kids world with Dora the Explorer-themed shows and games. On top of that it has Tiger Island, a sheep show, an Australian animal presentation, crocodiles, snakes, koalas and kangaroos to feed and observe.
White Water World
A sister park to Dreamworld, it is an adventure park made of water rides. It has a giant wave pool, slides, rides, drops and a Wiggle Bay. There is plenty to keep kids, teenagers and adults alike entertained for the whole day.
Lovers of sea animals can get up close and personal with small ocean creatures like crabs, starfish and coral. Watch a fun and silly show with seals, spectacular dolphin displays and amazing polar bears. There are also family-friendly and thrilling rides to top off the visit.
A Hollywood-themed park to celebrate some of the biggest kids heroes — Batman, Scooby-Doo and Superman. They have rides to complement the themes as well as spectacular attractions that showcase stunt driving, body double stunts and special effects.
This is an original Gold Coast water park with a great selection of adventure rides. Hire an umbrella and beach lounger or spend your time ride-hopping before ending the day in the wave pool while you watch a blockbuster movie on the enormous outdoor screen.
3. Eat Out
The Gold Coast has a broad range of eating options. Across numerous cuisines, all budgets and beautiful locations, you will find something to peak your interest and satisfy your hunger.
Choose from small eateries for Aussie fare like burgers, pizza and meat pies, to international delights of award-winning Teppanyaki.
If you would like to mix great entertainment with delicious food you can make a visit to the locally loved restaurant Draculas. It is a vampire-themed eatery that not only delivers guests to the dining hall by roller coaster, but also puts on a devilishly sexy musical to entertain you between courses. It is the perfect night out.
4. See the Stunning Scenery
Surrounding the Gold Coast is beautiful hinterland countryside that is filled with native plants, dense bushland and wonderful wildlife.
Get back to nature with a walk through Springbrook Park and experience some naturally beautiful scenery. Here you will find the famous Purlingbrook Falls, a must see, especially after periods of rain.
You can also bring your swimmers to spend the day enjoying the Waringah Pool at the base of the Springbrook Park creek, near the Natural Arch, before taking a nocturnal tour of the caves to witness the delicate glow worms sparkling in the moonlight.
5. Get a Cheeky Tip
To overcome negative public backlash about parking meters (installed in 1964), then mayor Bernie Elsey initiated the Gold Coast Meter Maids.
At the time, it was a controversial promotional method to have attractive young girls walking the streets in gold bikinis to fill expired parking meters. Skip forward 40 years and the tradition is still ongoing on a smaller scale, as the ladies now don wide-brimmed hats instead of tiaras, and one-piece jumpsuits over bikinis.
The love of bikini-clad women still exist on the Gold Coast, and every year there are multiple competitions and displays of women wearing bikinis during events and charity fundraisers.
The Gold Coast has both an international and domestic airport nestled between the Pacific Motorway and Kirra Beach. Taking a flight saves you the long journey up the highways that can be overrun during school holidays.
Also there are multiple ways to hire personal vehicles or secure private or public transport to get around. One of the best places to visit for such information is VisitGoldCoast.com.
A weekend on the Gold Coast is sure to enliven the senses and recharge the spirit. Be it a family, couple or group event, it will no doubt leave a lasting memory of fun, frivolity and a fantastic adventure.
Fly.com Expert Tips
How To Get There: You can fly into Gold Coast Airport. But a better idea is to fly into Brisbane Airport (BNE), which is about 50 miles north of Gold Coast, and you can drive, take a limo service or take train, either NSW TrainLink or Airtrain. Brisbane Airport is serviced by over 30 domestic and international airlines, including Cathay Pacific Airways, Hawaiian Airlines and Qantas Airways. Information regarding area transportation is available here.
Best Time To Visit: Located in the Southern Hemisphere, Australia’s seasons are flipped from the seasons in the U.S. and the Northern Hemisphere. Their summers are from December to February, which are the busiest months and also the hottest (average temperature is mid-70s to high-80s). Another busy season is fall, from March to May, when the temperature is cooler, between mid-60s to mid-70s. If you want to avoid crowds and save on hotels and airfare, September to November, which is their spring, is an ideal time, when the temperature is a comfortable range of mid-50s to high-70s.
Sample Fares: Fares displayed are the lowest roundtrip fares found in the last 48 hours to Brisbane from:
Chicago — $2,016 Travel Nov. 15-30
Los Angeles — $1,381 Travel Oct. 30-Nov. 2
Miami — $2,007 Travel Oct. 21-31
New York City — $2,782 Travel Dec. 24-Jan. 3
San Francisco — $1,477 Travel Nov. 10-17
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* All fares are roundtrip including all taxes and are accurate at time of publication. For updated pricing, conduct a new search on Fly.com.