Once a hotspot best known for gold bikinis, tourists and tans, the Gold Coast has reinvented itself as a modern metropolis filled with craft breweries and topnotch dining alongside miles of brilliant white-sand beaches. Here are nine activities you won’t want to miss while you’re there. By Phoebe Grealy
Catch a movie by the beach
Watching the latest movies under a starry sky with waves crashing in the background sounds like heaven, right? The American Express Openair Cinemas in Coolangatta has made this movie-watching dream a reality. This cinema experience comes with a solid line-up of dining options including cheese platters, wood-fired pizzas and cocktails.
Queen Elizabeth Park, Coolangatta
Head into nature
Looking to increase the romance level on a Gold Coast trip? A walk through the Springbrook National Park should do the trick. The easy hike leads to a stunning waterfall scene that’s inspired many an Instagram photo – and the occasional proposal.
Springbrook Road, Springbrook
Have a beer with pro-surfers at Balter
One of the coolest spots on the coast right now is craft-beer brewery Balter in Currumbin. Founded by surfing legends Joel Parkinson, Josh Kerr, Mick Fanning and Bede Durbidge, Balter delivers a selection of craft beers and an unparalleled laid-back vibe.
14 Traders Way, Currumbin; (07) 5525 6916
Dine at five restaurants at once
Rooftop restaurant and bar The Collective Palm Beach not only boasts an incredible view, it also offers guests the opportunity to order dishes from five different restaurants at once. Start with antipasti from The Italian Job; choose from sticky pork ribs and duck pancakes from Umami for mains; and finish with churros with hot chocolate and chocolate sauce. It’s a food-lover’s dream come true.
1128 Gold Coast Highway, Palm Beach; (07) 5618 8229
Discover a secret swimming spot
Sure, everyone has heard of Surfers Paradise, Main Beach and Burleigh Heads but those truly in the know head to a swimming gem a little further south. Froggy Beach is a pocket of secluded sand surrounded by beautiful pandanus palms, just around the headland from Rainbow Bay, with not a crowd in sight. Bliss.
Learn to longboard
Longboarders are known for their chilled outlook so if you’re looking for a way to leave the everyday stress behind, get in on the action with surfing lessons at the Walkin’ On Water surf school. With group classes available every day in Coolangatta, you’ll master the waves in no time.
Marine Parade, Coolangatta; (07) 5534 1886
Try stand-up paddleboarding in Currumbin Alley
If you like your water sports with a dash of adventure, stand-up paddleboarding could be the activity for you. One of the most scenic spots to try it out is on the waves of stunning surf break Currumbin Alley. The best part? There are plenty of equipment-hire vendors nearby so you don’t need to bring your own board.
Currumbin Alley, Currumbin Beach
Have a long lunch at Potager
Hidden in the lush Gold Coast hinterland, around 20 minutes from the Gold Coast Airport, is charming destination restaurant Potager. Housed in a country cottage, Potager’s menu is based around produce grown in the thriving kitchen garden and the view across the Tweed Valley is incredible.
502 Carool Road, Carool; (07) 5590 7403
Do some high-end shopping
The grand dame of Gold Coast shopping, Pacific Fair, recently underwent a mammoth $670 million refurbishment and welcomed 120 new retailers including Kate Spade, Zimmermann, Mecca Maxima and Sneakerboy. If you like to balance your shopping with relaxation, stop for a drink or two at glamorous Asian fusion bar Bin 232.
Hooker Boulevard, Broadbeach; (07) 5581 5100