Gold Coast

Although it is unknown where the name came from, as soon as you reach the Gold Coast it becomes apparent why it is called so. Located on the east coast of Australia, Coolangatta and Tweed Heads are known as the twin cities as they are placed either side of the New South Wales/Queensland boarder. With stretches of golden beaches and outstanding surf, the Gold Coast is one of Australia’s most popular holiday destinations. Surfer’s Paradise offers pounding nightclubs and is a haven for backpackers, whereas nearby Coolangatta and Tweed Heads present the real surfing delight. The view of Surfer’s Paradise on the horizon, with its sky rises and tourist bars, offers a great contrast to the laid back atmosphere that is found in Coolie. At weekends and holidays families spill out on to the beach to use the public barbeques and take advantage of the suntrap the area provides, as well as watching the world-class surf. Surfer’s Paradise caters for those wanting to party hard, whereas South Stradbroke Island is a peaceful haven away from this active coastline.


Surfer’s Paradise offers thrills by day as well as by night in its theme parks. Dreamworld’s fame lies in its “Tower of Terror” which, at a speed of 0 to 160km/h in 7 seconds, is the world’s tallest and fasted ride. Wet ‘N’ Wild, which is a water-themed park, does exactly what it says in the name, whereas Seaworld provides a slightly calmer day out. A visit to any of these doesn’t come cheap, with an adult ticket setting you back around $60.

Surfer’s is also home to the Warner Brothers studios and there is often filming going on. Movie World has been set up to cash in on this; rides include a new Harry Potter simulator and the Wild Wild West ride.

South Straddie Island is only separated from the mainland by a small slice of water, but it appears miles away from the pace of life in Surfer’s. It is largely undeveloped, there is a small resort on the island, and camping sites dominate the accommodation available. The west of the island is bordered with river beaches that are perfect for fishing, and empty surf beaches flank the east coast. Water Taxis run regularly, or you could hire a kayak for the short journey.

Coolie’s Snapper Rocks is one of Australia’s, if not the worlds, best surf breaks and draws visitors throughout the year from both national and international destinations. Hours can be wiled away watching local and foreign talent, while photographers cover the rocks to catch images of the day’s activities. Getting into the sea alone is quite a feat with many receiving nasty reef cuts and jeers from the locals by trying to attempt the intrepid jump off the rocks into the water! Watching is recommended over trying to take part. Nearby Burleigh Heads has great surf also, although the waters here are often more crowded. Between May and November the humpback whale takes up residence in the Gold Coast’s waters and Whale Watching trips are available in abundance. Although the excursion will cost around $85 for an adult and $50 for a child, the current success rate of a sighting is 99.3% so the trip will be well worth it.

The Gold Coast’s greatest attractions are the golden beaches that line its coast. In Coolangatta, Rainbow Bay and Coolangatta Beach boast the safest swimming on the Gold Coast, whereas Flagstaff and Duranbah Beaches are home to the surf breaks Kirra, Snapper Rocks and Greenmount. The beaches at Coolie run around the coast to Surfer’s Paradise, where partygoers flock daily to recover from the night before, accompanied by those wishing to learn surfing on the beginner breaks here.

Just an hours drive south along Pacific Highway 1 brings you to the subtropical rainforest that is the Gold Coast hinterland. Lamington National Park is made up of waterfalls, rainforest, clear springs, and its highlight, the ancient volcanic crater of Mount Warning. There are ample opportunities for bush camping here, and thus your trip can be an extended one. Tamborine Mountain contains nine national parks, complete with walking trails. Flocks of B&B’s have sprung up, but with steep prices a day visit is ideal.


Coolangatta’s Marine Parade is lined with an enormous amount of surf shops for the size of the town, and is the location for the Showcase Shopping Centre which is also host to the Coolangatta Market every second Sunday of the month. There is a scattering of similar shops around Surfer’s Paradise, and souvenir shops selling “authentic” Australian goods can also be found. Street vendors also line the beach selling crafts and jewelry.

Nightlife and Eating Out

Surfer’s Paradise has the greatest number and variety of bars and clubs along this coast. However, most of these cater for the huge influx of backpackers and nightly club crawls organised by hostels are held throughout the year. The clubs all offer a similar kind of night out and various themes, styles and deals can be found throughout the town. Coolangatta has a much slower pace of nightlife. The Coolangatta Hotel has live music over the weekend, and upstairs at the Balcony Beach Club views of the coast propose a good accompaniment to your scooner. Recently opened Baja at the end of Marine Parade is the towns only club and pulls in a good local crowd most weekends.

Backpacker-friendly eateries are the main fare available in Surfer’s Paradise, although there are a few restaurants at the opposite end of the spectrum to provide for the Warner Brothers crowd. Coolangatta has a greater variety of good food, and most of its clientele head to Griffith Street where there is a scattering of top quality restaurants. The Rainbow Bay Surf Club is located above Snapper Rocks, and is highly recommended at sunset when the sun falls behind the rocks and surfers below.

Tourist Information

  • Coolangatta Visitor Information Centre, Shop 14B, Corner of Griffith & Warner Streets, Coolangatta, Queensland 4225
  • Gold Coast Tourism Bureau, Cavill Avenue, Surfers Paradise, PO Box 7091
  • Telephone: +61 1300 309 440
  • Email:
  • Website:


The Gold Coast Airport is located on the southern end of the Gold Coast Highway at Bilinga. It is only a five minute drive from Coolangatta, and thus around half an hour from Surfer’s Paradise. Internal connections can be made to Sydney, Newcastle, Canberra, Melbourne, Adelaide and Perth. There are also flights to and from major cities in both islands of New Zealand.

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