There’s more to Australia’s Gold Coast than theme parks and beaches. We’ve found all the best things to do, see and eat in the southeastern Queensland city.
All that talk about the Gold Coast being one of the happiest places in the world is not for nothing. With year-round sunshine and cool weather, you’ll be motivated to get moving outdoors. Surfing, fishing, scuba diving, paddle boarding, skydiving, horseback riding… there’s just so much to do. Plus, jetting there is a breeze with direct flights via Scoot. Little wonder the sixth largest city in Australia rakes in 10 million visitors every year. These sights, sounds and stays come highly recommended.
Every July, competitive runners from all over the world congregate at the race with high hopes of breaking their personal records. Most of the time, they do. Recreational runners stand a good chance too. I scored my personal best in this year’s run, and these factors probably helped: gentle terrain, wide paths, a gracious running culture and fantastic weather. All I needed to keep warm were a long-sleeved top, poncho and gloves.
This is possibly more exhilarating than three theme park rides put together. In 55 minutes, you’ll sit through a jet boat ride with unpredictable 360-degree spins, high-speed drifting and heart skipping manoeuvres – all according to the whims and fancies of the captain driving the boat. If you’re lucky, you might spot the turtles, dolphins and dugongs of Moreton Bay Marine Park.
Supercharge your adrenalin rush by jumping out of an aircraft in a tandem skydive from an altitude of 4,000m. Spectacular views guaranteed. You’re connected to a harness attached to a tandem instructor and guided throughout the jump. Skydives are subject to weather conditions, so schedule yours earlier in your trip in case of postponement.
For another bird’s eye view of the coastal city, scale the side of the Q1 building, one of the tallest in the world. For moderately fi t people who don’t have a phobia of heights, the climb involves taking an elevator to the 77th floor and ascending 300 steps to the top from the outside before you’re standing 270m above ground. For safety’s sake, you need a climb suit and full-body harness. Set aside two hours for this exhilarating experience.
Located about 150m away from the beach in the Surfers Paradise shopping district, this hotel is thronged by tourists. Every July, it bustles with Gold Coast Airport Marathoners as the race venue is just a 10-minute drive away. The rooms are well-equipped and spotless.
Soul Surfers Paradise For rooms with a view, check into this 77-storey apartment-style luxury accommodation on the Surfers Paradise foreshore. The third tallest residential building in Australia, its grand drive-through porch, 9m-high lobby ceiling and posh furnishings aren’t the only impressive features. To make your stay complete, you get extras like a well-equipped gym, outdoor and indoor heated pools, a full-service spa, barbecue pits, gardens and inviting lounge areas.
Warning: The swanky interior and chill-out funk tunes make the buffet spread look even more tempting. We enjoyed the wide selection of salads and the consistent quality of the grilled-to-order steak. Even if you’re not a fan of raw seafood, you may find it hard to resist the plump oysters and mussels.
Golden Legends Malaysian Seafood Restaurant (3041 Gold Coast Highway, Surfers Paradise, tel: 07-5504-6398)
Those missing good ’ol Southeast Asian zi char should stop at this humble halal outfit. All-time favourites include tom yam soup, assam fish, chilli crab and mouth-watering desserts like deep fried ice cream and goreng pisang with ice cream. You’ve earned it after all the exercise!
Tucked away in a nondescript building along Marine Parade in Gold Coast, this award-winning restaurant is not to be missed. Enjoy simple, satisfying dishes like seafood chowder and perfectly grilled tiger prawns. What’s more, this 10-year old eatery serves up all this goodness at decent prices. For A$22 (S$25.50), you get three large lobster halves served with jasmine rice and a side salad. Yum.
It’s worth making a trip to this factory outlet mall that’s about 10km north of Surfers Paradise. You’ll walk away with some juicy deals from the likes of Catalog, Forever New, Lorna Jane, Lululemon, Bikini Island and many more. Go early as the shops close by 5.30pm on most days.
Located in Broadbeach, the mall houses more than 200 shops, including large department stores like Myer, Kmart, Target and a cineplex. It will expand to include more cafes, gardens and water features by the end of 2016. We can’t wait to return and wander down the open-air shopping lanes.
From late May to early November, catch this cruise and you’re almost guaranteed a whale sighting or two. In fact, the company is so confident of this that it offers refunds if you miss the humpback whales. Keep your finger on the camera’s zoom button – these gentle giants emerge from the sea without warning for only a few seconds. Caution: The sea can get quite choppy, so pop some motion sickness pills before going on board.
This full-day four-wheel drive tour takes you to Mount Tambourine, Lamington National Park, O’Reilly’s Rainforest Retreat and other natural wonders. Besides the resplendent views, plenty of stopovers make this tour enjoyable. In the morning, be treated to homemade scones and tea in a charming churchyard and then a scrumptious barbecued beefsteak, chicken or fish for lunch. You also get a crash course in boomerang throwing and a chance to feed and interact with pretty birds like the Australian king parrot as well as crimson rosella. Plus, you opt for the wine tasting session.
Flying to Gold Coast
Scoot flies to Gold Coast five times a week at hard-to-beat fares. Special tour packages that include accommodation and sightseeing are also available. Check here for the latest deals and updates.
More good news: Scoot offers extras that make your travel experience even more comfortable. For example, a $39 top-up will get you Scootinstyle, which includes priority check-in, access to the exclusive SATS premier lounge and other privileges.
This trip was sponsored by Tourism and Events Queensland as well as Scoot.
By Estelle Low, Shape, October 2014