There’s so much more to Queensland’s Gold Coast than the beautiful beaches and adrenaline-pumping theme parks. Whether you want to get active, take it easy, or discover something off the beaten path, here’s a taste of what’s on offer.

Enjoy kayaking with a side of Pilates 

Looking for a way to relax and recharge outdoors? Get in tune with your mind and body during a leisurely sunset kayak through the Broadbeach canals. After a quick lesson in paddling from your Kayak the Gold Coast guide, you’ll be gliding across the water in a double-seater craft, taking in everything from the city skyline and architectural homes, to mangrove islands, native birds and, if you’re lucky, hundreds of sleepy fruit bats soon to take flight for the evening. At the halfway point, stop at a secluded spot for a short Pilates session (there’s nothing quite like looking up through the trees and listening to birdsong as you practise your breathing), followed by a sneaky glass of wine and platter of cheese. Perfection. 

Marvel at modern art

Hidden away at the end of a Mermaid Beach back alley you’ll find 19 Karen Contemporary Artspace – a completely unexpected and vibrant explosion of creativity in a wholly unassuming spot. With collections carefully curated by gallery director Terri Lew, the small space packs a hefty punch, with funky prints, mind-bending sculptures and beautiful jewellery from local and international artists available to browse and to buy.

Head into the hinterland

Leave the sand and sea for a half-day tour into the lush Gold Coast hinterland – but be prepared for things to get bumpy! The comfy vehicles of Southern Cross 4WD Tours are designed to go off-road, so as you wind your way up Mount Tamborine your driver will leave the main road for the one truly less travelled by. After the thrilling drive, fuel up on scones, take a rainforest walk (complete with a peek into one of the many trapdoor spider holes dotted beyond the track), then head to the tourist part of town for wine tasting and a look through the local arts and crafts stores. A little sample of everything, this tour is ideal if you’re short on time but keen to explore.

Climb the Southern Hemisphere’s tallest building

Donning a grey jumpsuit and full-body harness doesn’t initially seem the most glamourous of Gold Coast activities, but it’s oh-so-worth-it for the exhilarating SkyPoint Climb to the top of the Q1 building in Surfer’s Paradise. Your heartbeat will thunder in your ears as you and your guide ascend the open-air stairs, but your breath will catch for an entirely different reason when you hit the top: at 270 metres up, the most spectacular views in every direction are there for the taking. If you’re feeling brave, let your tether out a little and look straight down over the edge. Touristy? Yes. Something for the to-do list? You bet.

Explore the shops at Burleigh Heads 

Soak in the relaxed Burleigh vibe as you meander up and down James Street, which is filled with boutiques selling everything from gorgeous homewares to designer beachwear. Be sure to stop in at Sean Scott Collections to see local photographer Scott’s ocean-themed works. On the first and third Sunday of the month, The Village Markets are just a stone’s throw away too, showcasing vintage clothing, quirky handmade gifts and more, with local music and plenty of food.

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