Gold Coast Travel Guide

A Gold Coast holiday has a lot to offer families, from beautiful clean beaches, fantastic theme parks, great night life and shopping and plenty more to keep both the kids and adults entertained.

The Gold Coast stretches from the southern end of Logan City to Tweed Heads in New South Wales for about 60 kilometres, and into the hinterland to places like Tamborine, Lamington and Springbrook National Parks.

10.5 million visitors flock to the Gold Coast each year - a destination which is as scenic and peaceful as it is fast paced and active.

Only 30 min from the coast, Tamborine Mountain has many wineries, award-winning restaurants, art galleries and sweeping coastal views. Springbrook has beautiful waterfalls and pools and the Natural Bridge is a must see. Lamington National Park has great rainforest walking trails and many waterfalls to see.

Many families plan a Gold Coast holiday for the Theme Parks and each cater for all age groups. Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary is a great place for kids where they can cuddle a koala and feed the animals.

Gold Coast is home to many sporting events. They have their own NRL, AFL and A-League teams. Some of their major sporting events include Horseracing, Triathlons, Surfing, Golf, Surf Lifesaving and Motor Racing.

You won't be lost for somewhere to dine on your Gold Coast holiday. Broadbeach has a village atmosphere and there are many restaurants and cafes lining the streets. Main Beach and Surfers Paradise have restaurants with a range of cuisines. The local Surf Clubs are also a great place to enjoy lunch or dinner, and all have great beach views.

Gold Coast Facts

Population: Over 530,000

Location: The Gold Coast is a coastal city located in the South East of the state of Queensland, Australia. It is 94km south of the state capital Brisbane.

Climate: The Gold Coast is subtropical - over 300 days of sunshine per year. Average summer high is 29 degrees with the average summer low at 19 degrees. The winter high is 21 degrees and the winter low is 9 degrees.

Time Zone: There is no daylight saving time on the Gold Coast. Time zone is Eastern Standard Time (EST).

Transport: Plenty of taxis and local buses available as well as private buses. If you need to hire a car you will have no trouble finding a car hire place, but stick to the well known companies (Avis, Hertz, Budget etc).

Flying Times To Gold Coast: Direct flights from Sydney - 1 hr, Melbourne & Adelaide - 2.5 hrs.

Medical: Hospitals are located at the Gold Coast and Tweed Heads.

Theme Parks: Movie World, Sea World, Dreamworld, Wet'n'Wild, WhiteWater World.

Activities: Shopping, markets, casino, bungy jumping, rainforest walks, theme parks, wildlife parks, go-karting, beaches…

Surfing: Plenty of surf beaches to choose from. There are 35 patrolled beaches along the Gold Coast. Some beaches can be dangerous so make sure it is patrolled and only swim between the flags.

Sun: The summer sun can get very hot especially between 10am and 2pm. Cover up and make sure you use sun protection.

Nightlife: Plenty of nightclubs available in both Surfers Paradise and Broadbeach, and Conrad Jupiters Casino is open 24 hrs a day.

Airport: Gold Coast Airport is located at the southern end of the Gold Coast in Coolangatta. It has been recently re-developed and the new arrivals and departures halls now provide a variety of dining, fashion and shopping experiences.

Electricity: 240v at 50Hz.

Visa/Passport: Visas are required to all visitors travelling to Australia except for New Zealand passport holders.

Getting There

Qantas, Virgin and Jetstar fly directly to Coolangatta and Brisbane. This competition has brought about some very cheap airfares. You will need to book early to secure these cheaper airfares especially if you plan to travel in the school holidays.

Prices to Coolangatta are usually more than to Brisbane, and with this and the larger number of flights to Brisbane, it may be worth while flying to Brisbane and hiring a car to drive down to the Gold Coast. Car hire is also cheaper from Brisbane so it may end up a better alternative, especially when you take into account your transfers to and from the airport and theme parks.

You can check the airlines web sites: Qantas, Virgin, Jetstar.


There is plenty of family friendly accommodation available on the Gold Coast. You can choose from 5 star luxury resort to basic apartment accommodation.

Check our Gold Coast accommodation page for a listing of the family friendly resorts and hotels available.

Booking accommodation online is now the norm, with most resorts offering an online booking facility. There are also numerous online travel companies where you can check resort facilities and accommodation types, check for availability and price, and book your holiday using a credit card. is one of Australia's biggest online booking sites and offer family friendly accommodation with over hundreds of properties to choose from in the Gold Coast area.

luxury escapes

Theme Parks

A Gold Coast family holiday is not complete unless you do the theme parks – especially if you have kids.

You have a choice of Movie World, Sea World, Dreamworld, Wet 'n' Wild and WhiteWater World.
The parks usually open at 9:30am (rides from 10am) and close around 5pm.

For Movie World and Sea World the cost is $115.00/adult and $105.00/child (3-13 years incl). Wet 'n' Wild charges $109.00/adult and $89.00 for kids. Dreamworld is $105.00 for adults and $95.00 for kids. These prices may change so check with the park in question.

Shop around online for the best deal. If you plan to go to more than one park are go more than once a year there are Superpasses and VIP passes which will work out much cheaper. If you can help it, never purchase your tickets at the gate. Check our link to theme park tickets from Experience Oz - Theme Park Tickets.

A day at the theme parks can be a taxing time for the kids (and adults). Plan a day off between parks. Try to avoid the school holidays (which isn't always possible for families) as the theme parks can get very crowded and it's no fun when you have to queue for everything. Avoid public holidays and always take a Saturday over a Sunday.

For more information you can visit the theme parks web sites:
Movie World, Sea World, Wet 'n' Wild, Dreamworld and Whitewater World.


Everything is easily accessible in the Gold Coast. Trips to the theme parks can be arranged through your hotel, with a pick up at the door and your choice of return times. Local buses run regularly around the Gold Coast and there are plenty of taxis available. You can probably walk to most shopping centres and malls if you are staying in Surfers or Broadbeach.

The disadvantage of pre booking travel to the theme parks is the weather. You can't cancel if you wake up and find it's raining. There are plenty of car hire companies available, some good, some not so good. Stick to the better known ones and shop around for the best deal. Some offer special discounts through motoring associations, travel agencies, credit card companies, airlines, discount books, licensed clubs and other sources.

Budget is renowned for meticulously maintained vehicles and the absolute best in service; Budget offers a wide range of cars, 4WDs, and minibuses, as well as Australia's largest fleet of trucks and commercial vehicles.


There are a variety of shopping options for your Gold Coast holiday, from markets and outlet shopping to exclusive boutiques.
Pacific Fair is the Gold Coast's most iconic shopping destination. The centre is positioned in the heart of Broadbeach, just across the road from Jupiter's Casino and contains a Movie Cinema complex. It is an indoor/outdoor shopping mall with hundreds of stores.

In Surfers Paradise, Elkhorn Avenue is lined with flagship stores for international brands including Gucci, Louis Vuitton, Hermes, Bally and Prada. At other shopping precincts such as Circle on Cavil, Centro, and Chevron Renaissance you'll discover well-known fashion chains such as Calibre, Bettina Liano, Billabong, Saba, MNG and Quiksilver, alongside specialty stores, souvenirs and groceries.

Harbour Town has more than 120 outlet stores that are on sale every day. Signature brand fashion outlets include David Jones Warehouse, Nike, French Connection, Polo Ralph Lauren, Table Eight, Cue, Oroton, Diesel, Nine West, Tommy Hilfiger...the list goes on. There are also homewares and gift stores and plenty of places to eat. You can get a bargain here for every member of the family.

Gold Coast is famous for its markets where you're sure to pick up a bargain. The Surfers Paradise market is on every Friday and Wednesday evenings at Broadbeach. Broadbeach art, craft and fresh produce market, Kurrawa Park, is on the first and third Sunday of each month. Coolangatta Art and Craft Market, Queen Elizabeth Park, is on the second Sunday of the month. On the 1st and 3rd Saturday of the month is the Main Beach farmers market at Marina Mirage. Every Saturday is the Palm Beach Currumbin market at Palm Beach Currumbin State High School.

Carrara Markets is situated a few kilometres west of the Pacific Fair shopping complex and is open every Saturday and Sunday.


Things To Do

There are endless activities available for families in the Gold Coast. Here is a list of the most popular ones:

Warner Bros. Movie World
Meet your favourite stars and enjoy all the behind-the-scenes action, comedy stunts and exhilarating rides, shows and attractions! Rides include the new Batwing Spaceshot, Superman Escape, Scooby-Doo Roller Coaster, Lethal Weapon and the Wild West Falls. There is also the Kids Fun Zone area with rides for younger kids. Located a 40min drive from Surfers Paradise. Gates open at 9:30am.

Home to more than 40 rides and attractions including the park's famous Big 7 Thrill Rides, Wiggles World, the all new DreamWorks Experience, exciting live shows, a host of characters, Tiger Island plus more than 500 native Australian animals, there is something for everyone at Dreamworld. Opens daily at 10am.

Wet'n'Wild Water World
Enjoy all the fun and excitement of the world's latest water slides, pools and attractions. Rides include Surfrider, Aqua Loop, SkyCoaster and Zipline. The all new Extreme H20 Zone adds a completely new dimension to Wet'n'Wild, offering thrill seekers the ultimate aquatic rush on king-sized slides. Gates open from 9:30am.

Whitewater World
WhiteWater World is built around a unique beach and surfing culture. The beach paradise boasts some of the hottest waterslides on the planet. Rides include The Wedgie, Blue Ringed Octopus, Super Tubes HydroCoaster and the Green Room. The Cave of Waves pool has surging waves that travel over 50m. Wiggle Bay a miniature water park within WhiteWater World is perfect for younger kids. Located next to Dreamworld, 20 min drive north of Surfers. Open from 10am, but hours may be extended in Summer.

Sea World
Experience awesome rides such as the adrenalin zooming, Sea Viper and Bermuda Triangle coasters. Watch spectacular, ever-popular shows including the famous Imagine Dolphin Show. See, learn, touch, and swim with sea creatures, including friendly dolphins and fearsome sharks. Meet your favourite Sesame Street friends, including Elmo and Big Bird, in their new home at Sea World. Join in the fun with Bert and Ernie on their Island Holiday live stage show. Located just a 5 min drive north of Surfers Paradise. Gates open from 9:30am.

Adventure Parc
Located at both the Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary and Thunderbird Park at Tamborine Mountain. Adventure Parc is a treetops ropes course and is designed for family fun and fitness. There is a height restriction and you must wear closed in shoes.

Aquaduck Tours
Tour the Gold Coast by both land and water. See the beatiful beaches, resorts, mansions and canals of the Gold Coast. Kids get to have a drive and obtain their Aquaduck License Certificate! Tours depart 7 times a day, costs around $95 for a family ticket.

Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary
Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary is the Gold Coast's leading native wildlife, adventure and coastal rainforest experience. With hundreds of native Australian animals on display in natural bushland and rainforest surroundings, Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary provides a rare opportunity to get closer to our amazing native wildlife. You can cuddle a koala, experience the wild Lorikeet Feeding, Free-flight Bird Show, Totally Wild and Snakes Alive Show and feed our Kangaroos. Open daily from 8am-5pm.

Carrara Markets
With over 500 stalls covering 10 acres it's a treasure trove of the curious and the unusual. It's also the original home of discount shopping when it comes to fresh produce, homewares, pots, plants, bric a brac, arts and crafts. There is a Market Tourist Bus that you can catch from Surfers and Broadbeach. Open every weeknd 7am-4pm.

Haunted House
The Haunted House Attraction offers an amazing interactive journey through five creepy levels of thrills, museum oddities and optical illusions. Set in a purpose-built five storey building, it is located in the heart of Surfers.

King Tutt's Putt Putt
Consists of 2 fully themed indoor 18 hole courses and an a fully themed outdoor 18 hole course. Located in the heart of Surfers Paradise. Great option for a rainy day. Open 7 days from 9am.

Kingston Park Raceway
Kingston Park Raceway is Australia's largest and most technically advanced Go-Karting & Amusement venue. The raceway has over 100 karts and 3 great tracks. There is a giant slide, junmping castle and other rides and games. There is also a cafe here for meals and snacks. Located in Kingston, about a 30min drive from Surfers. Open from 10am.

Le Mans Kart Racing
There is a challenging 700m long circuit with 20 corners of non-stop adrenilin pumping fun. There are a range of karts, with dual karts for younger kids. Located 25 min north of Surfers Paradise. There is a cafe for refreshments. Open from 10am.

Zorbing is the world's 'newest & coolest' outdoor adventure activity and OzBall on the Gold Coast is Australia's only location to experience the FUN! Using very large inflatable balls designed for either 'dry rotational' harness rides or 'wet' Hydro rides where up to 3 riders can experience this amazing ride with 40 litres of water in complete safety. Located 10 mins from Dreamworld. For children over 6. You will need to bring a towel. Open from 10am.

Paradise Jet Boating
Combine jetboat thrills and stunning scenery and sightseeing. Experience full 360* spins, high speed drifting, incredible beach buzzing and other exciting manoeuvres in as little as 10cms of water, while exploring the Gold Coast's unique Broadwater. Located 4km north of Surfers. Tours depart every hour from 9am.

SkyPoint Observation Deck
With unrivalled 360 degree views, mini-theatrette and informative feature zones and displays. If you dare, theere is the SkyPoint Climb, Australia's highest external building climb. There is a cafe and bar for meals or snacks. Located on level 77 of Q1 Resort and open from 9am.

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