The Gold Coast is a large urban area with a population of half million, administered by the Gold Coast City Council. A lot of tourists believe the high buildings and crowds of Surfers Paradise make the Gold Cost an overdeveloped ‘tourist trap’. Truth is, most of these buildings are local residential. The city also has many services and industries not directly related to tourism. The Gold Coast, that visitors are more familiar with, stretches along the coastal suburbs from Paradise Point to Tweed Heads (about 35km). Surfers Paradise, towards the northern end, is ideal for active vacation.
How to get there
The Gold Coast Airport also known as Coolangatta Airport, is in Coolangatta to the south. This is the only airport in the world in that straddles the NSW and Queensland borders. This means that you land in one state and arrive in another. You can get there by train with Queensland Rail which runs an electric City Train service from Brisbane to Coomera, Helensvale, Nerang and Robina. Trains run half hourly from 6 am to midnight, 7 days per week taking approximately 70 minutes from Brisbane Central to Nerang and Robina.
What to see
There are well over 30 beaches stretching down in total of 40km. All of them are patrolled by professional lifesavers. The patrolled areas are marked by red and yellow flags. Always swim between the flags that 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 Paradise is also marked with flags and patrols every few hundred metres along the beach. The beach right opposite Cavill Ave is always very busy and packed with tourists.
Broadbeach is about 3km south of Surfers Paradise and usually has the same surf conditions as Surfers Paradise. Broadbeach has the most dangerous rips to be found along the coast on any given day, so don’t swim outside the flags (avoid night swimming as well).
North Burleigh is a bit further 4km down from Broadbeach. It is not as popular as Burleigh Heads, but this is 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 jellyfish, so swimming isn’t really a good idea.
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.