The Gold Coast, located in the south-east corner of the state of Queensland, has long been a favourite holiday destination in Australia and it is continuously showing greater popularity with international visitors. And why wouldn’t it? It is a city flanked by beaches and hills, it boasts a climate that sees the sun out most days of the year, and its residents are laidback and sociable.
For anyone planning a holiday to the Gold Coast, here are five of the top attractions to take in:
Enjoy the Sun, Sand and Surf of the Gold Coast’s Popular Beaches
Knowledge of the Gold Coast’s world-famous beaches is a dominant reason as to why tourists choose to visit the coastal city. There are more than 20 beaches to choose from up and down the 70km stretch of coastline so it is just a matter of picking one. Some of the more popular beaches are Main Beach, Surfers Paradise, Greenmount Beach and Rainbow Bay.
Some beaches are more crowded than others, but there is plenty of space for all interests: swimming, surfing, strolling or sunbaking (remember sun protection though – it gets hot out there!). Swimmers should choose beaches that are patrolled by lifeguards and always swim between the red and yellow flags indicating the safest swimming conditions in the water.
Have Fun at the Famous Theme Parks
The Gold Coast is renowned for its cluster of theme parks. Dreamworld, Movieworld, Wet ‘n’ Wild and Sea World are first-rate attractions aimed at young families, teenagers and young adults. Dreamworld and Movieworld are known for their thrill rides and rollercoasters. Wet ‘n’ Wild is a water theme park with slides and pools. Sea World exhibits marine wildlife such as dolphins, seals and it is also home to Australia’s only polar bears.
Take in the Views Atop the Q1 Building
An observation tower in any city is a magnet for tourists and affords the opportunity for spectacular views and photos. Located in the skyscraper-strewn suburb of Surfers Paradise, the Q1 building overshadows them all at 322.5metres in height. When Q1 opened in 2005 it claimed the title of the world’s tallest residential tower.
The 77th and 78th floors of Q1 provide the observation deck, QDeck, at approximately 230metres in the air. The beachside location makes the 360-degree views interesting, with the vast Pacific Ocean to the east, while in contrast, the hills and mountains of the Gold Coast hinterland sit to the west.
Get Close to Nature at Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary
Currumbin Sanctuary is a wildlife park located on the southern end of the Gold Coast. For visitors wanting to see Australia’s unique native animals this is the place to do it. The sanctuary houses koalas, wombats, echidnas, snakes and a variety of birds. Staff members present feedings and shows that educate visitors about the habits and lives of the resident animals.
Generally, going to a wildlife sanctuary or zoo is the only guaranteed way to see these native Australian creatures. Unfortunately, many of these species are endangered and seeing them in the wild would be a rare treat, even for locals.
Alternatively, visitors could travel further north to the Sunshine Coast to go to Australia Zoo. This is a much larger wildlife park, made famous by the Crocodile Hunter, Steve Irwin.
Take a Shopping Trip to the Gold Coast’s Best Malls
There are several major shopping centres throughout the Gold Coast’s CBD. Pacific Fair, Australia Fair, Robina Town Centre and Cavill Mall are the largest and most popular with the biggest variety of stores. Of those shopping centres, Robina Town Centre is the most impressive having undergone refurbishments and extensions.
Don’t have high expectations of grabbing any bargains in Gold Coast shops. Rather, they make for a pleasant day out browsing and strolling (with the air-conditioning appreciated in the summer heat). However, the large Harbourtown direct outlet shopping centre might provide some more attractive prices.
Other Activities for Gold Coast Visitors
For those willing and able to travel south of the Queensland state border into New South Wales there are some must-see destinations. Trek up the iconic extinct volcano that is Mt Warning, winding through its ancient rainforests to its peak. Make sure to go on a fine day otherwise there will be no views to admire upon reaching the top.
For those not into hiking, chill out in Byron Bay where hustle and bustle is non-existent and the beaches are beautiful. Though its population has grown significantly over the past two decades, Byron Bay maintains the vibe of a quiet village. And if the tabloids are to be believed it has become a popular hangout for celebrities trying to keep a low profile while holidaying.
Alternatively, tourists can head north to nearby Brisbane, Queensland’s capital city. In truth, Brisbane is a better spot to follow cultural interests such as museums, art galleries or theatre performances.