Towards the north end of 57 kms (35 miles) of Surfer’s Paradise beaches on the Gold Coast, central east Australia.
Australia’s famous impersonation of Miami is Surfer’s Paradise
Thissuburb of the Gold Coastis – like Miami – a pretty good place to hang out so long as you’re not a die-hard nature fan. The sun shines a lot more than down south in Sydney, the water’s warmer, the beaches are bigger, the sand is finer, the surf is steady and prices are reasonable.
Apart from Surfer’s Paradise there are also some excellent beaches along hundreds of kilometres of the Gold Coast’s inland tidal waterways including Southport, Budds Beach, Marine Stadium, Currumbin Alley, Jacobs Well, Jabiru Island, Paradise Point, Harley Park Labrador and Santa Barbara.
If you can ignore the lack of culture and cute Victorian architecture found in other Australian cities, the Gold Coast rocks and the waves roll, as many backpackers will attest, though it’s certainly true that this is more of a retiree and family destination than, for example, Cairns or Airlie Beach.
Surfer’s Paradise is a popular place to learn how to handle waves and the surf rescue teams take their jobs seriously, watching every move on the beach.
The Gold Coast is home to Australia’s largest organisation of lifesavers, not only looking after swimmers and surfers in trouble due to waves and rips but also protecting swimmers from sharks by catching them using nets and/or bait, or clearing waters if there is a safety risk.
Families and people looking for ditzy, glitzy thrills are also attracted by the Gold Coast’s collection of theme parks that are second only to north Florida’sOrlando cluster. The Gold Coast stars Sea World, Wet ‘n’ Wild, Warner Bros Movie World and Dreamworld. When the mercury is high these parks are a kid magnet.
The sand is soft, really golden (and that’s not PR puffery! ) and goes on for ever. Or so it seems if you try to walk the full length.
Gold Coast climate
Winter is our choice of best time to be in Surfer’s Paradise, July to September, for low rainfall and pleasant temperatures. Average highs at this time are about 22C (71F) with nights falling to around 13C (55F), a low mosquito count and more breeze.
Summertime temperatures are frequently in the 30C+ range rising to an occasional 40C+ while rain appears every other day, albeit a short, brutal tropical storm rather than a north European drizzle without end. Clouds are also more common of course and may spoil the beach ambience.
The Gold Coast generally is not a bad year-round destination though Surfer’s Paradise becomes very noisy, pricey and overcrowded during the Christmas summer holiday December – January, and IndyCar race days in October when Surfer’s is turned into a road-race-track.
One approach to Surfer’s Paradise main beach.
Every Wednesday, Friday and Sunday evening there’s a night market – The Surfers Paradise Beachfront Markets – with a mass of interesting and varied market stalls and live entertainment to keep the punters moving.
And if shopping is your idea of a good time then Carrara Markets offer over 400 stalls of oddities (they say) and family entertainment possibilities along with a free bus service operating at weekends along the length of Surfers Paradise. They operate pony rides, merry-go-rounds, bungy trampolines, a repulsive Reptile Kingdom and much more that I don’t want to see. But then I am no longer a family guy.
Gold Coast inland
A little know fact by casual tourists is that behind the Surfer’s paradise high rises and Theme Parks lurks a natural bounty of mountains, gorges, waterfalls and subtropical rainforest including 160km (100 miles) of hiking tracks and tree-top walks, award-winning wineries and a gourmet food and wine trail, but hey, who cares when there’s glam ‘n’ glitz overload by the beach.
Tamborine Rainforest Skywalk, for example, is a 1. 4 km rainforest walk that takes about 45 minutes and includes a Skywalk Bridge and a viewing platform, along with a lush rainforest trail at ground level.
In the Gold Coast hinterland, the Skywalk is 45 minutes drive from Surfers Paradise.
Alternatively Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary offers a look at Australian life and wildlife, with animal shows, petting possibilities, Aboriginal didgeridoo performances with dancers, and a challenging tree-top rope-swing course.
Elkhorn Avenue looking towards the beach, a typical town view. Photo by Donaldytong.
As for backpackers, the Gold Coast is much, much bigger than most cities in Australia and ‘packers won’t just stumble onto a budget hotel scene, they’ll need to search for it as the coastal strip is lined with dozens of massive all-inclusive Gold Coast hotels that are well located for surfing, sun-lounging and shopping but provide nothing in the way of budget accommodation.
For Gap Year travellers and others looking for cheap accommodation and food they should look a little further south at Burleigh Heads or Coolangatta which are lower-rise and more laid back but still offer good surf.
A high view of Surfer’s Paradise looking north. Photo by Greg Miller.