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City Guide: Surfers Paradise, Gold Coast QLD, Australia

City Guide: Surfers Paradise, Gold Coast QLD, Australia.

From the iconic Surfers Paradise beach to the dining precincts of Main Beach and Broadbeach and out to the lush, green hinterland, there’s a new experience waiting for you at every turn on the Gold Coast. Theme parks, world-renowned beaches and year-round sunshine are just a few of the reasons 10.5 million visitors flock to the Gold Coast each year.” – Visit Gold Coast

Set along the golden shores of Australia’s Gold Coast, Surfers Paradise is the playground for the modest beach bum, the highrolling gambler, the frollicking families from all over the country and beyond. It really lives up to it’s name, as you see surfers and swimmers ride and play in the clear rolling waters.

My partner, brother, and I chose this city for our New Year’s Eve destination as it has a myriad of things to do, places to see, and things to eat. Although it was a pretty whirl wind trip (30th of December 2016 until the 5th of January 2016) we managed to fit in a tonne of stuff, and we actually think 6 days was a pretty perfect amount to stay there for.

This will be the first in a series of city guides, as I hope to be travelling a lot this year!

Are you a local or a traveller?

Being from New Zealand, I didn’t really feel like a tourist in our closest neighbouring continent. Also, using Airbnb to stay on the coast helped me feel more like a local (See my Airbnb review here)

The most important items, off to the #gc 🗺🛫

A post shared by Nicole Macdonald | NZ (@n.macdonald) on

When you were in Surfers Paradise, what did you do?

Our purpose for holidaying in Surfers Paradise was to see out 2015 and the beginning of 2016 in the heat and on the beach, so we made sure to do that!

While in Surfers, we made sure we dined around Cavill Avenue (the main hub), shopped at Pacific Fair (which will regain the title of Queensland’s largest shopping centre in mid-2016), sampled three of the fantastic theme parks (Dream World and adjoining White Water World, Warner Bros Movie World), tried our luck at Jupiters Casino, walked along the golden sands of Surfers Paradise beach, took a river cruise to see the city from a different view, and took the fastest elevator up to the Skypoint Observation Deck for an even better view!

View of the GC from the @skypoint_au observation deck 📸

A post shared by Nicole Macdonald | NZ (@n.macdonald) on


And lets not forget, ringing in the New Year on the waterfront of Surfers Paradise with fireworks and music!


Whew we packed in a lot in 6 days. It was all thanks to the public buses and ultra modern GO: tram system, which made it so easy to get from place to place with little stress or fuss.

What did you like about Surfers Paradise?

  • The public transport system to get around everywhere
  • The temperature in Dec/Jan is amazing!
  • The melting pot of cultures all converging there
  • The expansive beaches; even with all the New Year crowds, you could still find a patch of sand all to yourself and feel relaxed and uncrowded

One best experience/moment you had?

Seeing my partners face before and after going on the Giant Drop at Dream World 😀 The Giant Drop is 119 metres high, has a high speed of 135 kph, and is the tallest, vertical free-falling ride in the world, according to the Guinness Book of World records.


Five Top places/activities/eats you would recommend?

1 / Eats: Surfers Paradise Beach Cafe
Try a a scrumptious breakfast or brunch, while listening to the waves. This place is so cute and has a really beachy, relaxed feel, not to mention the food is amazing and they have some wicked smoothies.

Tip – Reserve a table for breakfast, lunch and dinner!
The lines around the Christmas/New Year period were long, and the wait for your food is even longer. Make sure to make a reservation, and even order your meal in advance to have it ready when you arrive

2 / Shop: Cotton:On Mega Store
Maybe its just me, but there was a two story mega Cotton:On store in Cavill Mall, which had Cotton:On Body, Clothes, Rubi Shoes, stationary and homewares, and I just absolutely died and went to heaven.

3 / Activity: 7D Cinema, Cavill Ave
Never been on a roller coaster? Really want to try the big rides but scared of what they might be like? My advice, try the 7D Cinema in the heart of Cavill Avenue. Experience all the height and speed of a coaster without tackling the G force straight away. Do the 3 for $30 deal, and make sure to include the Wall of China.

4 / Eats: Bar Italia
Just off the main drag, but still very central, we sampled the breakfast menu at Bar Italia and were not disappointed. My favourite thing about place is the decor, all around you are hanging plants, vintage seating, hipster touches, and fresh orange juice in mason jars. Also a bit more private and tucked away than the extremely busy Cavill Ave dining options.

Its going to be a busy night! Come see us 😄 @chevronrenaissance

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5 / Theme park ride: Buzzsaw (Dreamworld) & Green Lantern (MovieWorld)
I couldn’t pick just one, and I’m a roller coaster junkie so I really do love them all, but these two are the newest ones I’ve tried, and WOW.


  • The Buzzsaw is located within the Town of Gold Rush section of Dreamworld and is one of the first rides you see as you enter the park. BuzzSaw features the tallest inversion in the Southern Hemisphere and is currently the second-highest inversion of its type in the world.

Seated in an open carriage, you will be held in a single waist harness with little to cling on to. This white-knuckle ride starts with a suspenseful 46m vertical ascent that will have you instantly wishing you were back on the ground.

At its peak, your centre of gravity is flipped as you’re dangled upside-down 15 storeys in the air before the ride car free-falls through a 360 degree heart roll, plummeting down a final vertical drop at speeds of up to 105km/hour.

  • The Green Lantern ride is themed after DC Comics’ Green Lantern and is located within the park’s DC Comics superhero hub. The ride has a tight circuit featuring a beyond-vertical drop and an outward banked turn. It holds the record for the steepest drop of any roller coaster in the Southern Hemisphere, and the second steepest in the world!

Tip – I plead with you, especially during peak season – Get the Ride Express at Dream World ($65 unlimited) and Fast Track at Movie World ($20 for 4 rides, purchase when you arrive). It will save you hours of frustrated queuing (we waited around 1.5 hours for the ScoobyDoo ride!)

A few tips for you would like to share:

Tip #1 – Look for drinking fountains at Dream World, the employees will tell you they don’t have any, but we found two in the Wild West area! Then you don’t have to spend $4.80 AUD on a drink bottle every time you get thirsty!

Tip #2 – Ride the Light Rail for affordable sightseeing
With a full length trip along the entire length of the Gold Coast light rail line costing under $5 one way you can experience a lot for a little. G:Link website

Tip #3 – get the Go Explore card for unlimited use of buses and trams $10

Tip #4 – buy lunch food at the central Woolworths supermarket before going to theme parks

Tip #5 – Wait until you get to Surfers Paradise to get theme park tickets, you can get discount tickets in the Main Street

Tip #6 – If catching the bus to theme parks, get the bus at Broadbeach South team station, so you can be first in the bus and get a seat

Tip #7 – If catching the bus to the theme parks, make sure to catch it before 11.00 Am as they stop around lunch time. If you have missed it, you can catch the tram to the Uni, then get connecting buses to the parks

Tip #8 – Pack everything the night before so you do not forget theme park tickets or cash

Tip #9 – Know before you go if the place you are staying at has WiFi!

Tip #10 – Have emergency data and don’t rely on WiFi if you do get out to a theme park and you have forgotten your tickets, so you can get them from your email account!

Sum up Surfers Paradise in one word or a sentence

A melting pot of holiday-goers from all walks of life

Useful website links You used while in Surfers Paradise

Gold Coast Travel Tips

Gold Coast experiences on a budget

More Gold Coast visitor website


Let me know your thoughts on holidaying in Surfers Paradise. Would you go back? What did you like/dislike about it?


Nic x

The Sunshine Exchange.


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