Visiting Sanctuary Cove – A City Guide
Sanctuary Cove combines the laid-back Australian lifestyle with all the advantages of an exclusive waterfront community. You can browse the fashion stores of The Marine Village, take a relaxing walk through lush gardens, dine overlooking the marina and enjoy the tropical climate over 18 holes at one of two world-class golf courses. And of course, the legendary beaches and nightlife of the Gold Coast’s Surfers Paradise are only half an hour away by car.
Forming part of the suburb of Hope Island, Sanctuary Cove is a private residential resort on Australia’s east coast, surrounded by the waterways of the Coomera River. It’s only 30-minutes’ drive north of the celebrated Gold Coast, where the theme parks, sandy beaches and year-round warm weather put the region at the heart of Queensland’s popular tourist scene.
Accessible by car, boat, or even helicopter, The Marine Village forms the heart of the resort. Its restaurants, galleries and fashion boutiques overlook a marina full of gleaming superyachts and luxury boats.
Lined with quaint boutiques, Masthead Way is the village’s main street, leading east towards The Promenade on the water. Just north of the village, you’ll find the Intercontinental Sanctuary Cove Resort, where you can hire a golf cart to ferry you between the golf courses, swimming pool and tennis courts of the Sanctuary Cove Golf and Country Club.
Top attractions in Sanctuary Cove
It’s easy to while away an afternoon reclining on a daybed by the resort’s saltwater lagoon pool. The soft, white sand is perfect for sunbathing while your children build sandcastles or splash in the water.
Golfers should make sure to leave plenty of time to play the The Pines and The Palms courses, where you’re likely to spot kangaroos, rare birds and other Australian wildlife as you enjoy a leisurely 18 holes.
If you’re feeling adventurous, some of Australia’s biggest and best theme parks are within 20-minutes’ drive. You can choose between Warner Bros. Movie World, Dreamworld and the Wet‘n’Wild water park, or take the family to see the dolphin show at Sea World.
The concierge recommends…
● Renting an electric Duffy Boat to explore the Gold Coast’s labyrinth of waterways. You can choose to drive yourself, or hire a skipper and settle back to enjoy a picnic on the water.
● A gentle stroll along The Promenade in The Marine Village, where you can admire the yachts bobbing in the multimillion-dollar marina.
● Do as the locals do and zip around town in a golf cart. You can shuttle between the cafés and boutiques in the morning, and play a round in the afternoon.
Hotels in Sanctuary Cove
Intercontinental Sanctuary Cove Resort is the dedicated Sanctuary Cove hotel, with rooms and suites set among the resort’s tropical gardens and fountains. It’s a leisurely stroll from The Marine Village, where you’ll find everything from speciality chocolate and coffee shops to waterfront fine dining and cafés.
The larger Hope Island area offers additional waterfront accommodation and dining options south of Sanctuary Cove via the Coomera River and Hope Island Canal.
Slightly further afield, you can book hotels in Surfers Paradise to take in the evening Beachfront Markets, restaurants, nightclubs and shopping that make it the Gold Coast’s most picturesque (and photographed) stretch of beach.
Eating Out in Sanctuary Cove
Australia is known for its innovative, multicultural cuisine, with menus combining bold, Pan-Asian flavours and traditional European staples. Seafood is key on the Queensland coast, and Moreton Bay Bugs (think delicious, miniature lobster) are a particular local favourite.
When you’re in the mood to indulge, Intercontinental Sanctuary Cove Resort’s The Fireplace restaurant evokes the grandeur of a private dining room in an old-style manor house, with a rich, decadent interior and a seasonal à la carte menu made with locally-sourced ingredients.
Within The Marine Village, you can enjoy a Greek-inspired menu at George’s Paragon Seafood Restaurant on The Promenade, or savour a late breakfast of crushed avocado, caramelised onion and feta cheese outside on the deck with views of the water at RAW Kitchen and Espresso.
The chef recommends...
● Whole Lobster Mornay: Creamy, hot and delicious, this local favourite is cooked with butter and parmesan cheese and goes perfectly with a chilled glass or two of dry white wine.
● Linguine Alle Cicale is an Italian pasta dish served with a tomato and brandy cream sauce at Ioesco’s, and yet another great way to enjoy the local Moreton Bay Bugs.
● Chimney Grilled Victorian Lamb Backstrap: This delicious red meat dish with cucumber yoghurt and baby turnips is one of the chef’s picks at The Fireplace, and is cooked right in front of you in the restaurant’s wood-fired oven.
Shopping in Sanctuary Cove
In Sanctuary Cove’s open-air Marine Village you can browse boutique art and sculpture galleries, shopping for fashion, antiques and jewellery between leisurely stops for lunch, coffee and cake. At the Sanctuary Cove Chocolate Shop you can sample handmade artisan chocolates and your favourite sweets from around the world.
If you’re looking for a designer bargain, the Harbour Town Gold Coast outlet, less than 20-minutes’ drive away, has more than 200 brand direct and clearance stores. The outlet runs a free daily shuttle service to Broadbeach and Surfers Paradise, where surf shops and souvenir stores are easy to find, and designer stores like Gucci and Louis Vuitton sit metres from the beach on Elkhorn and Orchid Avenues.
Souvenirs in Sanctuary Cove
● Pick up a Caramello Koala or a strawberry flavoured Freddo Frog at Sanctuary Cove Chocolate Shop.
● Décorum Gifts’ ornamental maps, compasses and nautical-themed curios are a memorable reminder of life beside the sea.
● The pop-up Mummy Tree Markets are held at weekends along Masthead Way. You can browse the colourful stalls for children’s and baby clothes, and stop to enjoy family entertainment like fairies and bouncy castles along the way.
● If you’re heading home to somewhere colder, don’t leave without a pair of authentic Australian-made Ugg Boots, lined with the finest sheep’s wool from local and interstate farms.
Culture & Nightlife in Sanctuary Cove
Queensland’s nightlife is centred around Surfers Paradise. Whether you prefer a sleek cocktail bar or a club where you can dance into the early hours of the morning, the iconic ‘Glitter Strip’ has it all. Try Elsewhere Bar for the best dancing and DJs, or Central Lounge Bar & Dining for its impressive cocktail menu and delicious seafood like Oysters Kilpatrick and Garlic Tiger Prawns.
For a breathtaking bird’s eye view of the coast, head to Skypoint, where you’ll find the 77th-floor Seventy7 Cafe + Bar. The Skypoint Observation Deck has 360-degree views of the coast and you can enjoy a glass of Australian wine and live local music there on Friday, Saturday and Sunday nights.
Local Sanctuary Cove gallery Dalozzo Art is an independent, family-run hub of original art and prints. The family have exhibited widely around Australia and the world, and work with their own distinctive styles painting Australian landscapes and abstract icons.
Best live music and comedy around Sanctuary Cove
● Every second Friday of the month, Hope Island Tavern hosts a free stand-up comedy show featuring the best comedians from around Australia.
● Soundlounge, in Currumbin, is the premier live music venue on the Gold Coast, presenting local, national and international bands and DJs all year round.
● The Arts Centre Gold Coast is home to a diverse programme of theatre, film, comedy and art, and also hosts a free farmer’s market every Sunday morning.
Leisure in Sanctuary Cove
The Pines and The Palms are Sanctuary Cove’s championship golf courses. Set within a fragrant pine forest, The Pines is home to an array of native wildlife, and is recognised as one of Australia’s most challenging courses. Although it’s a members-only course, guests of Intercontinental Sanctuary Cove Resort can book to play through the concierge.
If you’re looking to improve your game, The Palms is designed for players of all levels, and offers on-course coaching and state-of-the-art swing diagnoses by appointment.
Held annually since 1988, the Sanctuary Cove International Boat Show brings tens of thousands of visitors, buyers and exhibitors to the area each May. Join the crowds in and around The Marine Village to discover the latest trends in sailing culture.
Best water activities in Sanctuary Cove
● July to November is whale watching season on the Queensland coast. Book a cruise to catch majestic Humpback Whales as they leap out of the water, and keep your eyes peeled for Migaloo, the elusive White Whale first spotted in 1991.
● Wet’n’Wild’s bO Zone is a must for thrill seekers, with high-speed water slides as well as plenty of gentler slides and tubing options for younger members of the family.
● Papillon is a luxury yacht available for charter on the Gold Coast waterways. You can get your hands dirty on the ropes, or just sit back and soak up some sun while your skipper takes care of everything for you.