The Gold Coast Light Rail, or “G:Link” is the fastest, simplest and most convenient way of travelling around the Gold Coast and links the most built up and densely populated districts of the city. The service traverses a 13km route from the Gold Coast University Hospital to Broadbeach South via Surfers Paradise, Southport, Main Beach and Griffith University. The stop “Cavill Avenue” is a short five minute walk to the famous Surfers Paradise Beach and you can carry your surfboard on the trams as they have been specially fitted out with racks for this purpose! The trams pass at least every 7.5 minutes during the day on weekdays, every 10 minutes on weekends and every 15 minutes during the evening and before 7:00am. Trams run from 5:00am until midnight except on Friday and Saturday nights when services continue ever half hour into the next morning until 7:00am. Tickets known as Go Cards can be purchased from vending machines at every stop and are also valid on local buses as well as Intercity trains to Brisbane as part of the Translink integrated ticketing system. Remember to swipe your Go Card on the reader at the stop before and after your journey!
All attractions around the Gold Coast are accessible by car, and there are large parking lots at the theme parks and other attractions. Parking meters are found in the busiest streets of Surfers Paradise, Southport and Burleigh Heads, but free parking can be found a few street blocks away. There are paid parking areas in Surfers Paradise and Southport operated by shopping centres and the city council that charge about $1 per hour, the largest is the Bruce Bishop Car Park adjacent to the transit centre.
The Gold Coast doesn’t suffer from the same congestion as Brisbane, largely because it has several business centres. The morning peak hour is 7 am to 8.30 am, while the afternoon peak is 3.30 pm to 5 pm. Roads to avoid at these times include Bundall Road, Southport-Nerang Road, The Gold Coast Hwy at Surfers Paradise and the Pacific Motorway between Nerang and Palm Beach.
Most car rental dealers are located in the main business district of the suburb, between the Gold Coast Highway and Surfers Paradise Boulevard. The following major car rental companies are available on the Gold Coast: Redspot Sixt, Hertz, Budget, Avis, Thrifty, Europcar. There are also local car rental companies such as Alllimo Cut Price Car Rentals, Costless Car Rental, Brian’s Auto Centre & East Coast Car Rentals which may also offer competitive pricing yet it would be better to go with the brands providing car hire service worldwide.
While most car rental companies hire to people 25 years of age and over, some all age car rental companies do hire to younger drivers over 18 years of age with an additional surcharge. To avoid delays, check with your car rental provider beforehand if you are under 25.
Surfside Buslines provide the main form of public transport around the Gold Coast and stops are located on most main roads. Buses run 24 hours a day, but are more frequent in the daytime. All the main tourist attractions are serviced by bus. The frequency of services up and down the coast along the beach between Coolangatta and Surfers Paradise is very good at least every half hour. For other routes, and theme parks, it is best to check the timetable in advance.
Surfside Buslines uses the Translink GoCard Ticketless system which allows you to deposit funds into the card and use them up as you travel.
Airport Transfers (shuttles) operate ‘door to door’ between Coolangatta Airport and accommodation along the coast and are a popular alternative to taxis. They cost approximately $21 per person
Expect to wait up to an hour or more for a taxi on busy nights: Taxi services. A taxi fare between the Gold Coast Airport at Coolangatta and Surfers Paradise costs around $55 and a sedan limousine is about the same. Stretch limousines are another option for groups of more than four with a cost of around $100-$110.
The Gold Coast Oceanway is a 36km pathway for pedestrians and cyclists linking Point Danger to the Gold Coast Seaway, stretching along most of the city coastline. It can be a little crowded with pedestrians in parts.
There are well over 30 beaches stretching a total of 40km. Almost all are patrolled by volunteer and professional lifesavers. The patrolled areas are marked by red and yellow flags. Signs on the beaches will show you the closest patrolled beaches at any particular time of year.
Always swim between the flags. The flags have been lined up with the safest parts of the beach and are patrolled by lifesavers. If you do get into trouble or feel yourself being pulled out of your depth by a “rip”, don’t try to swim against the water. Swim parallel to the beach and raise your hand to attract the attention of a lifesaver.
Surfers stay outside the flags.
105.7 Radio Metro has detailed surf reports at 7am, midday and 3pm daily.
- Surfers Paradise has a long stretch of beach, with flags and patrols ever few hundred metres along the beach. You can be sure to find a place to swim, but the beach right opposite Cavill Ave is generally very busy and packed with tourists. Just walk north or south along the beach to find a (slightly) less crowded alternative.
- Broadbeach is about 3km (40 minutes walk, 5 minute drive) south of Surfers Paradise and usually has the same surf conditions as Surfers Paradise. The upside, however, is that it’s not that far away and nowhere near as busy as Surfers. Just in from the beach is Kurrawa Park, a shopping centre full of cafes, restaurants, and Jupiters Casino. Be well warned that Broadbeach has the most dangerous rips to be found along the coast on any given day, so don’t swim outside the flags, don’t swim drunk and don’t swim at night!
- North Burleigh is a further 4km down from Broadbeach (over a small hill). It’s generally less popular than its bigger brother, Burleigh Heads, but a good place to go if there are winds blowing from the north, as the hill provides a bit of protection. Northerly winds in the afternoon can bring in “stingers”, an unpleasant jellyfish, so swimming is not advised.
- Burleigh Heads is only 2km south of North Burleigh and a nice beach with a large park and a hill that is good for picnics. There are cafes surrounding the beach and the hill cover means that this beach is usually pretty nice when the winds are blowing from the south (when Surfers and other beaches will be exposed and horrible).
That’s as far down as you can walk from Surfers. Any further and it’s wise to catch a bus or drive.
- Tallebudgeera Creek is a popular swimming lagoon with families, fantastic for people who don’t feel comfortable in the surf but still want to take a dip.
- Currumbin is a fantastic lagoon-cross-beach, if you can get there it’s well worth a trip. Mostly inhabited by locals learning to surf, easiest waves on the coast.
- Kirra is another famous surfing spot.
- Greenmount Beach in Coolangatta offers the most spectacular scenery and views up the coast, and is also a fantastic place for a picnic.
- Rainbow Bay is just on the other side of Greenmount
- The world renown Snapper Rocks is right next to Rainbow Bay and is the home of the Quiksilver Pro.
Referred to as “the green behind the gold” (a reference to Australia’s national colours – green and gold), the Gold Coast Hinterland is home to three national parks, numerous mountains, creeks, waterfalls valleys, and natural rock formations. The area is mostly covered in sub-tropical rainforest, but sections have been cleared for dairy farm land and wineries. The Hinterland is best seen by car or on a bus tour as the roads wind through the mountains with various lookout points along the way and towering trees lining the roads – it is truly a beautiful drive.
- Tamborine Mountain – a great cottage industry town with fantastic restaurants, fudge shops, and wineries – many of which offer free samples!
- Numinbah Valley (including Natural Bridge/Arch)
- Currumbin Valley
There are many tours that operate in the Hinterland Area. Some are more of a bus tour as opposed to an all inclusive day. Watch the small print and enjoy. 4wd tours company generally offer all inclusive tours to the hinterland area
The Gold Coast region is big on theme parks. During peak season expect them all to be quite busy. Before you go, investigate ticket discounts for combined travel and entry, multi-park and multi-day passes. Members of Australian motoring associations can purchase discounted tickets from them before you travel.
A short list of attractions and admission prices:
- Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary: koalas, kangaroos, birds, snakes, crocodiles. Admission $31 to $99.
- Sea World: sharks, dolphins, penguins, polar bears. Admission $50 to $80.
- Warner Bros Movie World: Admission $50 to $80.
- Dreamworld: Amusement park, animals. Admission $50 to $80.
- WhiteWater World: Water park with pools, slides. Admission $30 to $50.
- Australian Outback Spectacular: horses and unique Australian lifestyle (dinner provided). Admission $55 to $110. Located right next to Movie world.
- Wet ‘n’ Wild: Water park with pools, slides, rides. Admission $35 to $60.
- Tropical Fruit World: Fruit plantation orchard, with tour, shows, tasting. Admission Adults $44, Children $25 (ages 4-16), Concession $35, Family Pass $110 (2A+2C) or $120 (2A+3C).
- Go to the top of the Q1 building for stunning views of the entire city, lines of beaches and the Hinterland.
- Watch one of Gold Coast’s local professional sports teams: These include the Titans (NRL) with games played in Robina, and the Gold Coast Suns (AFL)
Movie World, Sea World and Wet’n’Wild are owned by the same company, so check out one of their combo tickets if you’re planning on hitting two or more of them.
Dreamworld and WhiteWater World offer the same kind of deal.
- Gold Coast JetX, 30-34 Ferny Avenue, Surfers Paradise, QLD 4217, ☎ 07 5538 8890. 10am-5pm. The Gold Coast’s largest & most powerful jet boat adventure in the heart of Surfers Paradise Adult $55, Child $38, Family of 4 $150.
- Gold Coast Whale Adventures, Shop 5, 60 Seaworld Drive, Main Beach, Queensland 4217 (Located in the Tallship Cruise Terminal), ☎ 07 5532 2444. 8:30 – 4:30. They boast a 100% rate of sighting humpback whales & claim to have the Gold Coast’s largest whale watching vessel. Most of the whale watching tours are from 8:30am – 11:30. Whale watching season is usually from June – November. From $88 Adult & $58 Child.
- Gold Coast Gondolas, Mariners Cove, 60 – 70 Seaworld Drive, Main Beach, Gold Coast, Queensland, 4217, ☎ 07 5574 6883. Private luxury dinner cruise on a romantic gondola through the canals of the Gold Coast. Day & night tours available. starting at $75.
Be wary of street vendors promising free tickets to theme parks. Generally found along Cavill Mall in Surfers Paradise, they promise free theme park tickets in return for 3-4 hours of your time watching a timeshare presentation followed by high pressure salesmanship to sign up.
Many legitimate vendors sell discounted theme park tickets. Check out the tourist information booths run by Gold Coast Tourism Corporation.