Welcome to the Gold Coast. If you’re into surfing, or even if you’ve never tried it before, this is a good place to start. It’s an (almost) safe place to swim, with all the sharks and killer jellyfish (you still get stung by bluebottles) seeming to stay in the warmer waters of Queensland. If you don’t fancy getting in the water there’s still a ton of stuff to do along this stretch of coast.
This busy city was my least favourite place in Australia and I got out of there after two days, but I’ve heard it’s a wonderful location if you live there. Give it a chance, spend some time walking along the river or downtown and see if you can find out what the fuss is about. If you’re not keen you can always head out to Australia Zoo.
The 3km long strip of golden sand is backed by the towering hotels of downtown Surfers Paradise. It’s a huge beach so it’s easy to avoid the crowds, but if you’re looking for somewhere a little quieter then you can always head to one of the other 44 beaches that line the Gold Coast, Mermaid Waters is very close but much quieter.
There are beachfront markets and restaurants and world-class surf competitions. You can go swimming, surfing, windsurfing, kite-surfing, stand-up paddle boarding, kayaking or even take part in a jet-ski tour or a boat tour. You can even just relax on the beach without feeling bad about not getting in the water.
Downtown Surfers Paradise is busy, noisy and full of weird attractions like the Wax Museum, Ripley’s Believe It Or Not or Dracula’s Haunted House. You can climb the Sky Tower for amazing views or take to the sky with a hot air balloon tour. The nightlife is just as hectic, and the best way to see the best places is to buy tickets for one of the numerous bar crawls that will normally include your entry fees, a free drink in each place and a t-shirt to take home as a souvenir.
Climb up to Cape Byron Lighthouse to reach the most easterly point of mainland Australia. Surf with dolphins. Relax on the beach. Have a BBQ in the park or drink until you forget your own name in one of the many bars downtown. Except you won’t be able to, because the bouncers are so damn strict in Australia.
This very touristy beach is popular for it’s laid back atmosphere and perfect waves. I would recommend staying at the Arts Factory Lodge; sleep in tee-pees, drink beer fresh from the brewery and watch a film in the cinema. You can rent surfboards here too, or book tours to the 420-friendly town of Nimbin.
I spent just two nights here with a friend from school. The weather was bad and the surf was non-existent so there wasn’t much going on, but I think if you go at the right time of year it would be a lively beach town with plenty to do.
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