The glamorous Gold Coast stretches 42km from Coolangatta to Surfers Paradise. It boasts beautiful beaches and beautiful people and takes pride in its extravagance. This is where the rich come to play and although afternoons on the beach are shadowed over by beachfront apartment towers, the energy before nightfall couldn’t be higher. If there is anything residents are more dedicated to than their daily tanning sessions and shopping, it’s the nightlife. Flashy, flaunting, and meticulously coiffed, Gold Coasters enjoy basking in the glory of their hedonistic lifestyle.
Most people stay in Surfers Paradise, which is the coast’s accommodation, shopping and nightlife hub. Surfers’ hostels are geared for busloads of party-seeking backpackers and organise loads of nightly activities so that, if you are so inclined, you can spend your entire holiday here in a blurry rotation of binge drinking, dancing and sleeping it off at the beach. Other things to do on the Gold Coast involve spending your time and money visiting the many theme parks plus skydiving, bungy jumping, horseback riding and visiting national parks and wildlife sanctuaries.
North of Surfers Paradise is Main Beach, which leads towards the Spit – a long sandbar stretching northwards with Sea World at its northernmost point.
Southport is a quieter residential and business area just north of Surfers Paradise past the Nerang River. It has a couple of good hostels with frequent buses to Surfers Paradise, so if you want to stay in a calmer area, the commute to the city is easy. The Australia Fair Shopping Centre on Scarborough Street in Southport is a huge but relaxed shopping centre good for shopping and cheap eats.
Coolangatta at the southern end of the Gold Coast is part of the same city but the atmosphere could be from a town a world away. Laid-back surfers lounge in hammocks in hostel gardens, mingle with the local fishermen and laze away sunsets talking about the best waves of the day. Things are cheaper, healthier and humbler here. Surf starts at the famous Kirra Point and Duranbah Beach, continuing to the famous Snapper Rocks and mellowing out at Greenmount and Rainbow Bay. The other great point break in the area is at Burleigh Heads 14km north of Coolangatta. The rip currents on these beaches can be dangerously strong, so always swim within the limits of the lifeguard flags.
2 Cavill Ave, Surfers Paradise
Tel (07) 5538 4419
Open Mon-Fri 8.30am-5.30pm, Sat 8.30am-5pm, Sun 9am-4pm
Shop 22 Showcase on the Beach, Griffith Street, Coolangatta
Tel (07) 5569 3380
Open Mon-Fri 8.30am-5pm, Sat 9am-3pm, Sun 10am-3pm
Kiosk 4 Harbour Town Shopping Centre, Biggera Waters
Tel (07) 5563 7688
Open Mon-Wed 9am-5.30pm, Thu 9am-7pm, Fri-Sat 9am-5.30pm, Sun 10am-5pm
Free wireless hotspots are hard to find on the Gold Coast and Gloria Jeans Coffee (3195 Gold Coast Highway, Surfers Paradise) seems to be the only centrally located free Wi-Fi hotspot.
Otherwise you can access the net at most hostels or at Backpackers World Travel in Surfers Paradise.
35 Orchid Avenue, Surfers Paradise
Tel (07) 5561 0634