From South Stradbroke Island to the shores of Palm Beach, the Gold Coast has long been a favourite holiday destination for Australians. Whether you’re after a high-octane family break filled with exciting adventures (how does Australia’s longest zipline tour sound?) or a relaxing spa treatment by the ocean, this beautiful stretch of coastline offers the perfect experience for every kind of traveller.
Switch on: Explore beyond the iconic beaches
You’ll be a thrilling 70 metres above the ground at Treetop Challenge. But an adrenaline spike isn’t all Australia’s largest zipline tour offers: as you glide above the ground you can marvel at the lush rainforest canopy below. Retire for the night at the nearby Escarpment Retreat and Day Spa, a sanctuary of luxury villas perched atop Mount Tamborine. It’s set on 1.5 hectares of gardens and even has its own small waterfall.
If watersports are more your speed, sign up for a ride with Moreton Bay Jetski. Each tour starts with a lesson on how to ride properly before a guide leads you through mangrove-lined channels and past the ancient volcanoes of the Glass House Mountains (and you might spot a dolphin or a dugong on the way). Moreton Bay is also great for kitesurfing, stand-up paddleboarding and kayaking.
Switch Off: Immerse yourself in nature
Beat the crowds of Broadbeach or Surfers Paradise and head for the quieter shores of North Kirra Beach. Kirra is a popular surfing spot but it’s also an excellent place to laze on the sand, catch up on a good book and watch the waves roll in. Stay at Iconic Kirra Beach Resort (pictured above), just moments from the beach, and you’ll have a view of the ocean from your balcony.
But the beach isn’t the only natural wonder in this part of Queensland. Less than an hour’s drive from the Gold Coast, right by Lamington National Park, is the outdoor oasis of Springbrook National Park (pictured top). The vegetation here dates back more than 100 million years to the time of Gondwanaland, an incredible history that has earned the park UNESCO certification. For a particularly picturesque stroll, set off on the four-kilometre return Twin Falls Circuit, which will give you a breathtaking view of the waterfalls.
Switch on: Plan a family day out
What’s the number-one must-do for kids (and fun-loving parents) visiting the Gold Coast? Spending the day at one of the iconic theme parks. As the weather warms up, Wet’n’Wild Gold Coast is a thrilling spot to cool off. Kids will love the 250-metre-long white-water rafting experience of Mammoth Falls and the Super 8 Aqua Racer slide, where they race each other to the bottom, while adults can try out the Tornado Slide and reach speeds of up to 40 kilometres per hour.
As the sun sets, head to Burleigh Heads to refuel. Australiana-themed Rosella’s (pictured below) does kitsch with class: the Vegemite, cheddar cheese and wattleseed butter jaffle will please the pickiest eaters, while grown-ups can sample a two-rum cocktail – the Ironman – topped with little nuggets of Nutri-Grain. Managed to secure a babysitter for the night? Head to Rick Shores (pictured above) for fine-dining fare, followed by a dram of Japanese whisky at Iku Yakitori Bar or a cocktail at Etsu at Mermaid Beach, if you can find it (hint: look for the glow of a red lantern).
Image credit: Tourism and Events Queensland/ Josh Thies
Switch Off: Treat yourself to an indulgent morning
Image credit: Kirra Smith.
Sleep in and start slow with a long, lazy breakfast at BSKT. This beloved café serves nourishing meals with just the right amount of decadence, such as the vegan cocowhip brekkie bowls and zucchini omelettes, by the shores of Nobby Beach. It’s a 10-minute stroll from Blue Heron, a classic 1970s motel that’s been lovingly refurbished with contemporary touches like smart TVs and Nespresso machines in every room.
Then let the pampering begin. One of the area’s best day spas, spaQ, is located inside the QT Gold Coast so if you stay the night you can bookmark your treatment with a dip in the glamorous swimming pool. Choose from coffee and kelp body scrubs, restorative massages or hydrating facials using products crafted from natural plant extracts.