Surfers ParadiseHoliday Destination
With the warm Pacific Ocean on one side, the deep blue Nerang River on the other, and more shops, restaurants, high rise resorts and attractions than probably any other peninsula on earth - Surfers Paradise is the undisputed tourist capital of Australia, and some would even argue the world.
Surfers Paradise gets very busy during peak holiday periods (Christmas, Easter, school holidays and during a major event), but despite the crowds it's still an incredibly beautiful, safe and happy city with great weather and unlike many resort towns around the world, tourists are welcomed with big open arms, big Queensland smiles and bright Queensland sunshine.
Holiday makers are attracted to the neon lights, endless high rise buildings, golden sand, sunny atmosphere and laid-back lifestyle. In Surfers you can be comfortable in a tuxedo eating at a five star restaurant or walking down the main street in your swimmers and thongs!
Things to do in Surfers Paradise
They don't call it a "surfer's paradise" for nothing, so it's not surprising the main drawcard is the 150m wide stretch of sand that extends for almost 10km in each direction. The beach is patrolled year round and it's safe to swim - so jump in, but make sure you swim between the flags!
Surfers is also an excellent beach to learn how to surf, with a few local surf companies established right along The Esplanade opposite the beach, offering board hire and lessons. You can also book surfing lessons online here!
Macintosh Island Park is an oasis amidst the high rises of Surfers Paradise. This large park is popular with locals and holidaymakers with its huge shaded areas, playgrounds, waterfall, BBQ facilities and picnic tables. There's a stream running through the park which many ducks and lyre birds call home.
Being one of the most popular tourist destinations in Australia, Surfers Paradise has one of the largest selections of tourist attractions and activities on the Gold Coast!
- There's Ripley's Believe it or Not, a unique museum housing the odd and amazing.
- The ultimate experience for any adrenalin junky is the Jet Boat adventure ride departing from Surfers Paradise.
- Ever wanted to fly? Visit indoor skydiving centre iFLY and free fall without the fear.
- Climb to the top of the Q1 tower with one of the Gold Coast's most popular attractions, the SkyPoint Climb.
- Take a mind blowing journey through Infinity, a maze of futuristic worlds and 20 multi-sensory environments.
- Take game lovers to Timezone, the largest indoor gaming centre in Australia!
- Visit the Wax Museum to see which celebs you can pick.
- Walk through the Draculas Haunted House for a few thrills.
- Swap your bathers for a jumper and take to the Gold Coast Ice Skating rink.
- Strike Bowling offers a fun night out with both bowling and Karaoke!
- Sound the siren and journey through Surfers Paradise on an authentic Fire Truck.
You can choose to see Surfers Paradise by land or by sea, or if you hop aboard the amphibious Aquaduck you can discover it both ways. The Aquaduck lets you discover the Gold Coast by land and sea without even leaving your seat! Your return journey will begin in the heart of Surfers Paradise, taking in views of the famous, golden Gold Coast beaches while waddling along the beachfront. The vehicle then "transforms" into a boat as the Aquaduck goes harbour cruising, taking in the sights of the Broadwater, fabulous mansions, canals and more.
Stick to the water and journey through Surfers Paradise's canals and waterways on board the sightseeing river cruise, sunset kayak or stand up paddle boarding tours, or go for something more extreme such as an exhilirating jet boat ride.
There are also plenty of combo passes available to help you get the most out of your holiday within a short period of time.
The Surfers skyline also features Q1, the tallest residential building in the world. Take the world's fastest elevator to level 77 and experience the SkyPoint Observation Deck - with spectacular views from the hinterland out to sea, you'll be able to take in the beauty of the Gold Coast in it's entirety. If looking through glass isn't exciting enough for you, the SkyPoint climb should satisfy your adrenaline cravings, being Australia's highest external building walk (at 270m above sea level).
Take a self guided tour through individually themed galleries featuring hundreds of unbelievable exhibits, amazing stories, magic, mystery, incredible illusions, interactive displays and more. You’ll see a piece of Mars rock from the Red Planet, survive a walk through Australia’s only double spinning tunnels, discover rare artifacts in the Egyptian tomb, marvel at the world’s smallest car, be entertained by “Ripley’s Fab Four” and much more.Buy Tickets
Get the thrill of skydiving without the fear with this brand-new Gold Coast indoor skydiving experience! Located in Surfers Paradise, join in the fun and the feeling of complete weightlessness while performing all the aerial twists, turns and spins you like in a near-perfect simulation of the free-fall of dropping from 14,000 feet that standard skydives offer. Enjoy your time in mid-air as the powerful fans have you feeling like a superhero.Buy Tickets
SkyPoint has been transformed from a room with a view to an exciting tourism experience to showcase the 360 degree beauty of the Gold Coast from the surf to the hinterland and beyond. Hop on board the fast elevators at Q1 Resort, taking you from the ground to Level 77 in just 42.7 seconds. Like some adventure? Why not try the new SkyPoint climb! You can even get a combo pass to visit SkyPoint, Dreamworld & WhiteWater World.Buy Tickets
Infinity is a mind blowing journey into a spectacular and interactive futuristic maze-like world of wonder. Made up of an extraordinary series of around 20 multi-sensual environments that are filled with unique special effects, atmospheric sound fields, ultra groovy music and illusions. Travel to another universe and enjoy the sights and sounds, offering great family fun in the heart of Surfers Paradise. Located at the Chevron Renaissance.Buy Tickets
Take a walk through the largest museum of its kind in Australia! Located in the heart of Surfers Paradise, the Wax Museum is home to over 110 life-size wax figures that will make you look twice. See replicas of the British Crown Jewels and dioramas of Australian history, marvel at the Chamber of Horrors or get selfies with the celebrities and politicians. These displays were crafted by leading local and international sculptors with incredible detail.Buy Tickets
The newest ice skating experience on the Gold Coast, Planet Chill is a great option year-round for any weather conditions - escape the heat or find something fun to do during the rain. Swap your swimmers for a jacket and jeans and bring the family in for a day on the ice! Located at Paradise Resort in Surfers Paradise, choose from one of four daily two-hour sessions. There are limited numbers available on the ice so it's best to pre-book.Buy Tickets
Calling all adrenaline junkies, this activity is for you! Jet Boat Extreme departs from the heart of Surfers Paradise and is jam packed with fun, adventure, thrills and beautiful scenery. The twin jet powered 600hp turbo charged jets will give you 360 degree spins, power slides and amazing speeds through the Gold Coast Broadwater and Seaway. Slide along sandbanks and pristine beaches and be warned, you're going to get a little wet!Book Online
Shops of all sorts line the streets of Surfers Paradise selling souveniers, bikinis, sunhats and supplies. You'll find all the typical souvenier shops and discount stores for the real touristy stuff like stuffed koalas, chocolate covered macadamia nuts and authentic ugg boats. Interspersed amongst the souveniers are shops selling bikinis, boardshorts and thongs designed by surfwear favourites.
There's a number of small shopping centres in Surfers Paradise where you can pick up supplies for your holiday including Chevron Renaissance, Paradise Centre and Circle on Cavill. The centres will service all your needs with supermarkets, bottle shops, banks, chemist and specialty stores selling everything from clothes to boogie boards.
Every Wednesday, Friday and Sunday night (weather permitting) stallholders set up there homemade wares on The Esplanade overlooking Surfers Paradise beach. With over 100 stalls at the Beachfront Markets you'll be able to find yourself some unique treasure or gift. There's a wide range of quality, one-off pieces including fashion, jewellery, accessories, artworks, beauty products and homewares.
Burger aficionados have been flocking to Brooklyn Depot for their mouth watering, handcrafted burgers. With thick handspun milkshakes, hot dawgs, ice cream sandwiches and a great list of brews, it is the place to go of an evening. Across the bridge on Chevron Island, Fu Manchu Oriental Kitchen combines Asian and European flavours to create a truly unique feed with upstairs and downstairs dining.
There's nothing like a good coffee before you hit the beach or the theme parks (or after a big in a Surfers nightclub) and Surfers has plenty of good cafes. Head into Paradox Coffee Roasters where coffee is at the heart of everything they do and the food is sourced locally and seasonally. Stairwell Coffee located beneath the stairs in The Centre Arcade also gets a favourable mention for their cold-brew and nitro coffee. Our favourite place to enjoy breakfast is Bumbles overlooking Budds Beach. This refurbed house come cafe, located a 5 minute walk outside of Surfers is simply adorable and with their evolving menu and river-view dining we think you should check it out at least once.
There are a number of arcades (like laneways) dissecting the area between the Surfers Paradise Blvd and Orchid Avenue. Here you can be transported to Asia, with many hole in the wall restaurants offering authentic fare from Korea, Thailand, Malaysia and Japan. We recommend you head to Amimoto for the best sushi and sashimi in South East Queensland.
Surfers Paradise is never sleepy or boring but when an event comes to town the place really comes alive. The Vodafone Gold Coast 600 (what was the Indy 300 back in the day) is a motorsport extravaganza. National and international revheads converge in Surfers Paradise for 3 days of street racing, big music acts and plenty of parties. The race winds through the streets of Surfers and Main Beach so the best vantage point is from the accommodation trackside.
Another huge event for Surfers is the annual Schoolies festival which attracts school leavers from all over Australia. It marks the end of exams, assignments and school and the start of freedom - it's become a rite of passage for most Year 12 students. There are lots of official events with concerts on the sand, dance parties and celebrity meet and greets. Schoolies got a bad wrap for a while but as the event has matured the police and volunteer presence has grown to help keep all the kids safe.
In the second week of January every year, the glitterati head trackside for the racing carnival Magic Millions. While not strictly in Surfers, the event brings lots of punters to stay for the week long event. It's not all about hats and ties as the event is also home to the Southern Hemisphere's leading thoroughbred sales company. In 2017, the yearling sales grossed over $196 million so you bet things get pretty serious in the stands.
Surfers Paradise has plenty of free events held throughout the year adding to the party vibe of this beachside town. Surfers Paradise Live teams up with the Gold Coast Music Awards to create an amazing live music experience. There are multiple stages and all kinds of music genres playing over 3 days.
The Sand Safari Arts Festival features sand and sea-inspired art with the Australian Sand Sculpting Championships drawing in thousands of visitors. You can vote for your favourite masterpiece or follow the Sand Trail of art throughout Surfers, the best part is it is free!
The world's leading Pyrotechnic designers and producers light up the Surfers Paradise sky with SeaFire. It's a hypnotic firework esplay held on Surfers Paradise beach. Also on the beach (and free) is the Bush Meets Beach festival which sees the famous beach become a stockyard with mobs of sheep, horses and a one-tonne bull take to the sandy shores. Spectators can watch breakers and stockmen show off their skills as they put the animals through their paces.
The scene can be a bit less glamourous late on a Saturday night (well... Sunday morning) but if you're looking for a place to wet your whistle then this is the place to go - and because there's so many holiday accommodation options in Surfers, you'll typically be able to walk back to your hotel rather than wait in a taxi line.
There's lounge bars, hip hop venues, dance clubs, Irish pubs and live music venues - there's plenty of choices to keep you busy at night. One of the most iconic bars to park yourself at is the Surfers Paradise Tavern and the famous Beergarden. Opening in 1925, the venue has evolved with the times and is now the leading rock venue in Surfers Paradise. Another place to rock out to is the House of Brews, which has 32 beers on tap, BBQ and live music aplenty.
The Island Rooftop has become a favourite hang out for people with the rooftop bar setting the scene for a fantastic night out. Dine, dance, drink cocktails and enjoy the glittering lights of Surfers Paradise while you do it. Don't want to leave the party? Downstairs is fully refurbed boutique hotel. The QT hotel also has a stylish Lounge Bar with over 50 tequilas to choose from, fresh food menu and weekend DJs, it's the perfect place to let your hair down after a day at the beach.
Images courtesy Tourism & Events Queensland, Tourism Australia, Destination Gold Coast & Getty Images