Surfers Paradise is a popular tourist destination on the Gold Coast, only one hour south of Brisbane. It may be iconic, but it’s not on my list of the best things to do on the Gold Coast: there are many other cool places on the Gold Coast that are more beautiful.
Although some people love Surfers Paradise, I don’t. If you’re planning a trip to Australia’s east coast, take a few minutes to consider if it’s worth spending your precious time in Surfers Paradise. First, let’s be clear that Surfers Paradise is not a destination to avoid. There is nothing wrong with it – except maybe during Schoolies, the giant end of school party. If I advise not to stop there, it’s only because I think there are many better things to do in the Gold Coast region.
Why Surfers Paradise is not among the best things to do on the Gold Coast
Surfers Paradise… what do these words evoke to you?
For me, Paradise is a quiet and relaxing natural place far away from the crowd. Add to the picture great waves and a couple of surfers. In summary, it’s the opposite of the town of Surfers Paradise.
The beach has nothing special except the skyscrapers one street away. Yes, there are nice waves in Surfers Paradise…. but you have to share them with dozens of other surfers. In Australia, we’re lucky to have kilometres of empty stunning beaches. So I always prefer picking a less busy place.
If you love shopping, skyscrapers and want to party, maybe Surfers Paradise is your kind of paradise, and you’ll most probably love it. I prefer natural adventures or historical cities, so “Paradise” is overrated here! My point of view: it’s crowded, there’s no heritage, it’s over-built and not natural.
What are the best things to do on the Gold Coast?
The best beaches on the Gold Coast
The Gold Coast is a succession of beaches. It’s hard to tell which ones are better than others as it all depends on what you’re looking for. I’ve selected a few of them below.
Fingal Head is my favourite place on the Gold Coast (well, it’s actually in NSW but really close to the border). I’m not the only one who enjoy what used to be a well-kept secret: the nearby Dreamtime beach has been named the third best beach in Australia. I like the short walk to see the trees, the funny rock formation and the lighthouse. You can even have a fantastic snorkel or scuba diving experience with corals and turtles on Cook Island just in front of it.
Burleigh Head makes it to the list for the views and the small national park. Surf Life Saving Queensland named it the Best Beach in Queensland in 2016, but I was honestly a bit surprised. It’s apparently a good spot for surfers. I don’t surf, but I’ve heard that Coolangatta / Kirra Beach up to Snapper Rock are good for the waves. It’s for sure amazing for sunsets.
If you want to skip the waves, there are lovely estuaries like Tallebudgera Creek and Currumbin Creek. The water in Rainbow Bay (Coolangatta again, near Snapper Rock) is also generally calm, and there are lovely views in this area.
Go snorkelling or scuba diving
There are a few snorkeling and scuba diving spots not far from the Gold Coast.
If you don’t want to go far and to spend a lot of money, the Gold Coast Seaway will be perfect for you. It’s not the best dive on Australia’s East Coast, but it’s known to be one of the best shore dives in Australia.
Leave the coast for the Gold Coast Hinterland
You may be surprised to read that my favourite part of the Gold Coast is inland.
Few kilometres from the beach, there are stunning national parks with lush rainforest and amazing waterfalls, like Springbrook National Park or the Elabana Falls in Lamington National Park. The free Tree Top Walk is also worth a visit.
The Gold Coast even has wineries!
I am yet to explore all of them but it’s on my to-do list and I will of course share with you my tips when I’m done. At the moment, I cannot judge if these wineries deserve a spot on the list of the best things to do on the Gold Coast.
What would you pick as the best things to do on the Gold Coast? Leave a comment below!
Where is the Gold Coast?
The Gold Coast is on the east coast of Australia, one hour south of Brisbane at the limit with New South Wales. You can fly directly to the Gold Coast: the airport in Coolangatta is an international and domestic airport.