Often the Gold Coast gets a bad rap. Many people still have the notion that it's a little bit tacky, perhaps, and associate it with flashy nightclubs, plenty of tourists and mediocre beachside dining — think surf'n'turf and Sizzlers.
While parts of Surfers Paradise might still hold true to the aforementioned stereotype, there is so much more to the Gold Coast if you know where to look — and the 2018 Commonwealth Games further revitalised the often overlooked holiday spot.
Having stayed in Currumbin a year ago and loved every moment of the tranquil escape, I headed back to the Gold Coast in April and, this time, stayed in among the hustle and bustle of Broadbeach.
'The Gold Coast is the sixth largest city in Australia.'
I stayed at the newly opened Avani residences in Broadbeach. Finished just in time for the Games, my apartment was very modern and comfortable. I enjoyed spending the downtime in my room and it had everything I needed, including a washing machine and dryer so I could travel home with a suitcase of clean clothing.
Getting around during my four-day stay was a breeze with the newly completed light rail system, G: Link, which services a 13km stretch of the Gold Coast.
It is the biggest transport infrastructure project ever undertaken on the Gold Coast. It is Queensland's first light rail system and a very modern and easy way to get around during our trip.
I was wowed by the calibre of the new restaurants and bars scattered liberally around the area. It seems the Gold Coast has nailed rooftop and Asian fusion dining.
We took the G:Link down to Southport and visited Mr P.P's Deli and Rooftop Bar before the Commonwealth Games swimming finals and it was the perfect spot for a few cocktails and a bite to eat — sitting on the rooftop meant we were able to soak up the last of the sun.
The menu boasts a range of well-curated platters, antipasti and woodfired pizzas and everything is designed to share.
The platters were definitely the stars of the show, with well thought-out combinations of quality cheeses, fruit pastes and cured meats.
The following morning, we were up early and off to Tweed Heads, plunging straight into some amazing snorkelling just off Cook Island.
After several hours of following turtles, reef sharks and tropical fish around the island, our party was ready for hot coffee and a hearty breakfast at rooftop Cafe Dbar in Coolangatta.
The food was incredible, offering brunch favourites with unique twists — like rustic farmhouse herb avocado, persian feta, bacon, cherry tomato and chilli salsa on sourdough, washed down with freshly squeezed juices. Everyone left perked up and ready to explore.
Later that day I relished having a few hours to myself and wandered down to Broadbeach, where I put down my towel and settled in for some people-watching. This was one of the main hubs during the Games so it was a little too busy for my liking.
However, I was delighted to be down on any beach with the sun beating down, knowing Auckland was being battered by a destructive storm at that very minute.
Another standout dining experience came the next evening at Asian fusion/street food eatery, Hideaway Kitchen and Bar in Broadbeach.
Our group opted for the "taste the chef" option and the food was stunning, yet unpretentious.
Highlights included waygu beef skewers, mee goreng and sticky lamb ribs, while the beef rendang was one of the tastiest I've ever eaten.
There really is something for everyone on the Gold Coast and with its fantastic climate (23C in May, anyone?), the ease and low price to get there, you've no excuse but to give it another chance.