This post about things to do on the Gold Coast is authored by Chris.
If you’re touring along the east coast of Australia, at some point you would be passing by southeast Queensland. This is where you might be looking for things to do on the Gold Coast.
The famous Gold Coast is a mecca tourist hub for Australia, with its endless beaches, and a variety of food and accommodation. Furthermore, there is a hive of activities, from man-made facilities to natural bushland and waterfalls in the National Parks.
Please read on below for more details and help you plan your activities.
Top Things To Do on the Gold Coast
You will find plenty of things to do on the Gold Coast including, action/adventure, beaches, outdoor activities, hiking, chasing waterfalls, and lookout points. Whatever you’re into, you’re sure to find something below to entertain yourself, in the time you have available.
1. Skypoint Climb and Observation Deck
The Q1 building stands at 322-meters high and held the title of the tallest residential building, up until 2011. Currently, in 2021, it stands eleventh tallest in the world, tallest in Australia, and second tallest in the southern hemisphere.
What’s great about this building is, for a small fee, you have a 360-degree view observation deck available on level 77 (230 meters). Spend as much time as you like, grab a coffee, use the binoculars, or watch the sunset over the horizon from the best view on the Gold Coast.
Furthermore, for adrenaline junkies, there is an extreme challenge called the Skypoint Climb. This has you suited up in safety gear, strapped to a guide rail, and walking outside. Consequently, this is around the top of the building from 230 to 270 metres. The whole experience takes about 1.5 hours, which includes training and the safety briefing.
2. Natural Bridge
Take a drive one hour inland, into the Gold Coast hinterland, and visit a beautiful waterfall. The Springbrook National Park covers over 6000 hectares of bushland, rainforest and, more importantly, it is UNESCO listed. It has numerous walking tracks, a vast amount of Australian wildlife, and waterfalls to explore like the Natural Bridge.
The Natural Bridge is only a small waterfall but a most unusual one. It runs down the mountain and into a large hole, to collect into the waterhole below. This can be explored on a nicely formed one-kilometer loop track where you can view above and into the cave below.
Alternatively, if you’re lucky to be visiting this little gem at night, then turn off all the lights and wait for your eyes to adjust. There are glow worms around, and you just might be about to see these in the wild.
3. Surfers Paradise Beach
Surfers Paradise has two kilometers of golden sands and rolling surf, and you’ll feel safe with three lifeguard towers watching over you. This is the bucket list beach for any holidaymaker and the tourist hub of the Gold Coast.
Take a walk along the beach in the morning, while watching the sunrise come up over the ocean waves. While at sunset, the shaded sand is a cooler place to walk, while the sun goes down behind the high-rise buildings.
Summer or winter, this always makes for a great beachside vacation. The ocean might get a bit cool in the winter, but there are always people swimming, surfing, kayaking, and enjoying other water activities.
4. North Stradbroke Island
Travel off the mainland and experience a Day trip to Stradbroke Island, otherwise known as Minjerribah. Only a short drive north, with a ferry ride off the coast of Cleveland, and you can be visiting this unbelievable Island.
Hire a scooter for the day and spend your time lazing on the beach or surfing the waves. Furthermore, you can find some wild kangaroos or hike rocky headland cliffs.
The Island itself is a small community town, with conveniently sealed roads throughout the main sections of the island. There are about five beaches to choose from and plenty of room to catch some rays, float in the low-tide rock pools, or surf the waves.
If you’re looking to explore more, there is a one-kilometer loop boardwalk track around the rocky headland of Point Lookout. Here you will be able to comfortably walk on the wooden track, around the two gorges. Additionally, you can look out for whales, dolphins, or turtles, or listen to the crashing waves.
5. Glow Worm Tours, Mount Tamborine
Glow worms are hard to find in the wild, so it’s great there is a controlled area at Tamborine Mountain. This is where you’re guaranteed to see these amazing natural wonders. They aren’t found commonly in Australia, but you can add them to your list of things to do on the Gold Coast.
For a small fee, you will be taken on a guided tour into a purpose-built cave, that’s permanently guarded against the sun. Here you will witness a dark wall and what seems like thousands of stars in the sky.
Glow worms are small flies or beetles at their juvenile stage of life. While they are in their glow worm stage, they must eat to gain enough substance to survive them through to adulthood. Generally, this timeframe is only between a short two to six days. While in this transition, their bottoms will glow a small blue light to attract other bugs, and trap them in a sticky stringed web.
6. Jet Ski Safari
Hit the adrenalin slopes with this unbeatable experience and relish in a Jet Ski Safari, along the Gold Coast channels. There are different costs involved for time spent on the jet ski, but you can save by sharing your ride with a friend or partner.
More importantly, there is no need to have a jet ski license. This adventure ride can be done by anyone who wants to give it a go.
Your guided tour will start with a safety briefing and learning about the dos and don’ts on the water. Additionally, you will be given a small test to pass and sign the waiver forms. Lastly, you’re fitted with a life jacket and on your way to some jet ski fun.
At any rate, your guides will lead you out of the marina and into the channels. There is the freedom to go as fast (within limits) or as slow as you feel comfortable with. Eventually, your confidence grows and you will be speeding away. Enjoy your time doing donuts, jumping waves, and generally having the time of your life.
7. Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary
Sometimes is just not that easy to see native creatures in the wild and that’s where the Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary will come in handy. It’s not a very large park, but they do have open cages and ways to see wild animals walking around beside you.
The park is located in the southern part of the Gold Coast, and there are plenty of public transport options to get there. At a minimum, you will need half a day to explore the sanctuary, but it is best viewed over a whole day, to take your time wandering around.
There are different shows you can see where you will learn about the animals and how they survive. This includes one of their more popular bird flight shows called “Wildskies”. This is where several different bird species are flying around the arena to catch their prey.
8. IFly Indoor Skydiving
Have you always wanted to try skydiving, but are not sure about jumping out of a plane? On the other hand, you could be experienced and want to give your flying skills a brush-up.
The IFLY Indoor Skydiving Centre at the Gold Coast is located in the heart of Surfers Paradise. It was the second indoor skydiving facility in Australia (the first being in Brisbane) and it is a fantastic attraction for tourists, locals, and skydivers.
It’s safe, fun, and accessible for people of any ability or any age. More importantly, there is no experience necessary while you’re guided through the process. The IFLY centre offers flights for first-time flyers, junior flyers, and even professional skydivers.
After a safety briefing, you’re taken into the staging lane and one at a time entered into the purpose-built cylinder, with your guide to hold your hand. Consequently, expect to be blown away while you’re taught some basic functions while plunging into skydiving.
Alternatively, if you don’t want to fly, then checking out the free viewing platform is always entertaining.
9. Tallebudgera Creek
Paradise awaits at this location with one of the Gold Coasts’ most pristine waterways. It can be a busy place for both locals and tourists, but there is plenty of room in the calm surroundings with many families, people fishing and paddle boarding, or just walking the dogs.
There is plenty of public seating and BBQ areas for group catch-ups, and this is always a favorite spot for a day trip. Admire the stunning view, splash around in the shallow waters, or take some kind of inflatable device to float along the waters.
The main strip of beach is patrolled, so you’ll feel at ease swimming between the flags, under the watchful eyes of the lifeguards.
10. Gold Coast Theme Parks
The Gold Coast is famous for its theme parks, and there are plenty to choose from, depending on what you’re into. You can easily spend a day at each of them, so pack your bags and set off on a day packed full of fun.
There are water parks like White Water World and Wet’n’Wild. Enjoy the rides and see the animals at places like Dreamworld, SeaWorld, and Paradise Country. Lastly, you could be entertained by characters at spots like Movieworld. What more could you want in a day’s amusement!
They are all run by two different company chains, so you can get some great deals by purchasing in bulk. Public transport is easily accessible from anywhere on the Gold Coast, or they have a big car park if you intend to drive yourself.
As an adult, this is your time to loosen up and let your imagination run wild. If you’re taking the kids, then they are never going to want to leave this holiday playground.
Facts About the Gold Coast
The Gold Coast is located in the South-Eastern corner of Queensland, about one hour south of the state’s capital, Brisbane. The beachside city covers a distance of 57 kilometers (35 miles) and a population of over 500,000 people. It’s home to the biggest theme parks in Australia, world-class surfing beaches, and it is full of skyscrapers.
It was originally known as the South Coast, being south of Brisbane. However, during the 1950s, it was nicknamed the Gold Coast due to high-priced real estate property and other goods and services. Tourism boomed in the 1980s, with people flocking to the suburb of Surfers Paradise. Eventually, it became the sixth-largest city & the largest non-capital city in Australia.
You will find a humid subtropical climate in the Gold Coast with mild to warm winters, and hot and humid summers. Seasons are reversed from the northern hemisphere, with the winter season from June to August, and summer from December to February.
Transport Options To Get Around the Gold Coast
There are several transport options to help you get around and explore the things to do on the Gold Coast. Ultimately, having your own transport or hiring a car, will be your most flexible option and help utilize your time.
Alternatively, the Gold Coast has an ample amount of public transport like buses, trains, Uber, and taxi services. This ensures you can get to all the popular locations. However, public transport is limited to the rainforest areas but can be substituted for several companies providing day tours.
Chris Fry is the writer and photographer behind Aquarius Traveller, where she shares her journeys, provides valuable information and inspiration for your land and underwater travels. She lives in Australia and has traveled to 36 countries and across Australia.