With its white sandy beaches, high-end hotels and endless restaurants and attractions, the path to the Gold Coast might as well be paved in gold. There's a reason Australia's sixth-largest city has remained a firm holiday favourite for decades, with about 10 million tourists visiting every year pre-pandemic. Here, the rhetoric that bigger doesn't equal better doesn't necessarily apply.
But while the Gold Coast may be known for all that glitters, it doesn't just have to be a place that you go to be seen. With the region's own unique culinary, musical and cultural identity beginning to emerge, there are plenty of ways to get off the beaten path and away from the crowds.
Regardless of whether you're looking for a quieter holiday close to the action or prefer to be right in the centre of it, here are the newest things to do, see and eat on the Gold Coast.
For those who want to be seen: Surfers Pavilion
The newest waterfront venue in the Surfers Paradise, sessions at Surfers Pavilion aren't just limited to Sundays—they happen all weekend long (or really, any day of the week). Our favourite feature? The three-flavour frosé bar. To soak up the sauce, you can visit the dedicated oyster and Champagne station, or order an oceanside seafood platter, designed to satiate up to four. Hot tip: If you've got a flair for the dramatic, you can't go wrong arriving by jet ski and docking at the on-site mooring facilities, Gold Coast-style. If there was ever a place to make a grand entrance, this is it.
For those who want to see: Maman Bar & Kitchen
You'll need to spot the secret back-alley entrance in order to eat at this new Mediterranean-inspired restaurant. Located in the beachside suburb of Burleigh, Maman (French for "mum") was founded by two mums and focuses on sustainable and no-nonsense — but delicious share-style plates. Don't miss the Moreton Bay bug roll served with harissa and lime mayo, or the fresh handmade burrata. Bookings are required, which may be made via the restaurant's website.
For those who want to be seen: Cali Beach Club
With all the amusement parks, attractions and shopping on offer at the Gold Coast, you might be wondering why we're suggesting you visit a "club" as something to do. But make no mistake — Cali Beach Club isn't just another restaurant or bar. It's soon to be Australia's largest day and night entertainment precinct, with four swimming pools, luxe poolside cabanas, restaurants, bars, and even a moonlit cinema. When this complex opens in August 2021, we have no doubt that it will be "the" place to be seen on the Gold Coast. calibeach.com.au
For those who want to see: Hop on Brewery Tours
With around 15 breweries and microbreweries scattered along the Gold Coast and up into the hinterland, you could spend your entire day sampling some of Australia's best craft beers, if only you had a designated driver. Enter Hop on Brewery Tours. Its small group "Coldie on the Goldie" tour last the full day, while its "Quickie on the Coast" is a shorter half-day version. Stops typically include the Gold Coast's first brewpub and award-winning breweries such as Black Hops Brewing. Tours start at $130 AUD per person. hoponbrewerytours.com.au
For those who want to be seen: Vue Broadbeach
Even those who love to be in the centre of the action—or the centre of attention—will need a quiet oasis to escape back to. That's exactly what the new Vue Broadbeach offers. Just 3km from the heart of Surfers Paradise and a short stroll from the Broadbeach dining precinct, these new two- and three-bedroom apartments feature floor-to-ceiling views of the ocean, private balconies and gourmet kitchens. Of course, there are still opportunities to mix and mingle with fellow guests, including poolside or on the shared yoga deck. Suites start at $270 AUD.
For those who want to see: Binna Burra Lodge
While the Gold Coast may be best known for its seaside attractions, you don't have to drive far before you arrive in the rolling green hinterland region. This is the place to tramp through prehistoric bush, explore glowworm caverns, or sample a few vinos in Queensland's fastest-growing wine region. Located within Lamington National Park—known for its waterfalls—Binna Burra Lodge will put you in the thick of it, with its rainforest campsites and award-wining apartments and studios. The newest feature, however, is Binna Burra's safari glamping tents, which start at just $75 AUD per night.
Qantas offers non-stop departures to the Gold Coast from Auckland, from $219 one way. qantas.com/nz