Surfers Paradise is an iconic destination on the Gold Coast, known for its high-rise skyline alongside a long beach of golden sand. It is a lively seaside resort with shops and cafes and plenty of exciting activities for all ages during the day, and restaurants and nightclubs open late at night. Is Surfers Paradise worth visiting? Depending on what you’re looking for, you may want to skip it or absolutely have it on your must-see list.

Long beach of white sand with buildings, including high-rise, next to it
Surfers Paradise, Gold Coast (view from Peppers Soul*)

Is Surfers Paradise the same as the Gold Coast?

Not really. Surfers Paradise is the largest suburb of the Gold Coast City Council, which is the second most populous local government area in Australia after Brisbane. The Gold Coast stretches from the south of the Logan River to the New South Wales border, 60km south as the crow flies. More than 600,000 people live in the City of Gold Coast, which includes areas inland, such as Springbrook National Park and the Currumbin Valley, for a total area of 1,334 km². In comparison, Surfers Paradise is only 24 km² with a population of 23,000 people.

The Gold Coast Airport, also known as Coolangatta Airport, is approximately 30 minutes south of Surfers Paradise by car.

Why should you visit Surfers Paradise?

If you don’t want to spend time planning your holidays (including for families)

Surfers Paradise is made for all types of tourists and has holiday options to seduce groups of young people, couples and even families. It’s easy to get there, and you’ll only need to book accommodation in advance to organise your trip. You can even choose a resort with a pool and a restaurant if you don’t want to think at all about what to do during the day.

With the beach on one side and the river only a short walk away, Surfers Paradise offers endless activities with kayaking*, stand-up paddle boarding*, jet skis*, jet boats*, parasailing*, sightseeing cruises* (some with lunch* or dinner*) and cruises to the HOTA museum* or Wavebreak Island*. The Aquaduck tour* is a rather unique experience in an amphibious vehicle that kids won’t forget. And if you’re unlucky to have a rainy day during your stay, there are plenty of exciting indoor activities too (for example indoor skydiving* – suitable for anyone from 3 years old – or escape games – there’s even one in VR*).

And should you wish to visit the nearby region, which I highly recommend, you can simply book day tours. Planning a trip to Surfers Paradise is a breeze, and you won’t find much to worry about. Even packing your bags is a stress-free task, thanks to the many supermarkets and shops. Forget something at home? No drama – you’ll easily find what you need.

If you want to see all the facets of Australia during your trip

Surfers Paradise is an iconic destination that is easy to reach and a popular stop on the Brisbane to Sydney road trip. Many visitors will be able to add it to their itinerary without making a long detour. The South-East Queensland region has a lot to offer, so it might be worth taking a peek at Surfers Paradise while in the area if you’re curious and want to tick it off your list.

Surfers Paradise is iconic in Australia for its skyscrapers next to the beach. Many visitors like to go to the SkyPoint Observation Deck* at the top of the Q1 tower to admire the views of the city and the ocean.

It’s also a lively place with a mix of people, from those wearing tuxedos to a chic restaurant to party-goers in board shorts and thongs, as well as families with young kids.

If you’re into beach and fun holidays

surfers paradise is overrated

Surfers Paradise is all about the beach and fun. There and nearby places on the Gold Coast can be described as a hub for entertainment near the beach.

During the day, the beach is patrolled, and red and yellow flags signal the area for swimming. It’s also easy to hire a surfboard or book lessons* to enjoy the waves. And with over 300 sunny days per year and an average temperature of 25°C, it’s almost possible to have a beach day every day.

In the evening, Surfers Paradise is very lively with restaurants and nightclubs. If things often close early in Australia, it’s different in Surfers Paradise. Some even say it’s Australia’s nightlife capital.

If you like shopping

I don’t know much about shopping in Surfers Paradise, to be honest. But it’s a famous destination for shopping as Surfers Paradise has shops that cater to everyone’s needs, from top-end designers to beachfront markets.

If you like beach volleyball

For beach volleyball lovers, Australia is one of the world’s best countries for beach volleyball, and they will find some of the best volleyballers in Surfers Paradise. You can watch athletes and amateurs play on the courts along the beaches, and the public can even play for free on Friday afternoons.

Beach volleyballers also meet regularly at Kurrawa Beach, just south of Surfers Paradise in Broadbeach. Check out Beach Volley Ball Gold Coast website to find out what’s happening.

Beach volleyball court with the ocean on the right and skyscrapers from Surfers Paradise in the background
Beach volleyball court on Surfers Paradise beach during the Queensland Tour competition

If you like life after dark

While I may not be the biggest fan of partying or going out at night, there’s something about the vibrant energy that fills the streets, especially after the sun sets, that I truly love. Surfers Paradise happens to excel in providing this lively atmosphere.

To enjoy nice hotels with a view

Surfers Paradise offers a variety of accommodations, including luxurious resorts with stunning ocean views (like The Langham* and Peppers Soul*), as well as captivating hinterland and river views for sunset lovers (like Circle on Cavill*).

Looking for accommodation to enjoy the best of Surfers Paradise? We love this stunning corner apartment in the Circle on Cavill tower, just a short walk from the beach. Its unique corner setting with floor-to-ceiling windows offers unbeatable views of the hinterland that get even better at sunset. Relax in the private spa with river views, or take a dip in one of the multiple pools available in the complex. Book now*.

Alternatives to Surfers Paradise

Look for natural, authentic destinations

Do you prefer a natural, peaceful environment where you can connect with nature? Staying in a beautiful national park (like Springbrook) in the Hinterland would be my favourite choice when visiting the Gold Coast. But if I don’t plan to disconnect in nature, I’d rather be in the thick of it in Surfers Paradise than in the neighbouring locations with buildings but fewer activities and entertainment options.

If you’re just after a beach day, I thoroughly enjoyed visiting nearby Burleigh Heads, which should absolutely be on your list if you’re spending time on the Gold Coast. Fingal Head in New South Wales, located very close to the Gold Coast, is one of my favourite beaches in the area. It’s also great for snorkelling with turtles* or scuba diving Cook Island just in front of it.

Bench in Burleigh Heads National Park with a view of the ocean and Surfers Paradise in the background
Burleigh Heads National Park

Better places for surfing

Surfers Paradise attracts crowds and many other spots in Australia have excellent waves and fewer people in the water. Despite its name and reputation, Surfers Paradise isn’t even the best surfing beach on the Gold Coast. Many prefer Snapper Rock in Coolangatta.

Tip: avoid Surfers Paradise from mid-November to early December

If asked about the best time to visit the Gold Coast, I’d answer it’s quite good all year round. Expect when tens of thousands of young Australians go to Surfers Paradise around mid-November to early December for schoolies. Obviously, it’s not fun for families and older visitors to be there at the same time.

The schoolies is an Australian tradition, like a rite of passage, for students who’ve just graduated from high school. The Gold Coast is where the tradition first started and is still the most popular destination for young Australians for their week of partying.

What do you think? Is Surfers Paradise worth visiting? Share your experience in the comments below!

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Eloise is the creator and writer of She writes about her experiences exploring exotic destinations and finding hidden gems closer to home. Her goal is to share tips and stories to inspire and encourage others to go on their own adventures. She loves outdoor and nature-based activities like scuba diving, hiking, kayaking, and sailing. She grew up in France and has lived in England and Turkey before calling Australia home for the past decade. So let's get ready for another adventure!

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