Visiting Surfers Paradise – A City Guide
Buzzing Surfers Paradise is a seaside resort on Queensland’s Gold Coast, with miles of white-sand beaches perfect for surfing and water sports. Known for having a lively nightlife, its streets are packed with hip bars, raucous nightclubs and slick cocktail lounges. Shopping is a big deal here, from huge malls to beachfront night markets, and it’s a perfect base for the nearby Gold Coast theme parks.
Surfers Paradise: city layout
At the centre of the Gold Coast’s stunning shoreline, the long expanse of white sand at Surfers Paradise stretches from Main Beach down to Broadbeach, backed by a high-rise skyline. Surfers Paradise Beach sits in the middle, with Cavill Mall extending west from the shore to become Cavill Avenue. This strip is the main hub for dining, shopping and nightlife.
Branching off Cavill Avenue is Orchid Avenue, with its strip of boisterous nightclubs, and Surfers Paradise Boulevard, which is lined with relaxed cafés and shops. A few blocks back from the beach, the shopping belt gives way to the winding waterways of Nerang River.
Further inland, the Gold Coast hinterland is home to theme parks like Dreamworld, Wet'n'Wild and Warner Bros. Movie World, as well as the luxury bayside hub of Sanctuary Cove.
Top Attractions in Surfers Paradise and the Gold Coast
The Gold Coast’s star attraction is stunning Surfers Paradise Beach, which is famous as a world-class surfing destination. You can relax on the sand, swim in the clear ocean or rent a jet ski. While you’re here, check out the fashion and jewellery at Surfers Paradise Beachfront Markets on Wednesday, Friday and Sunday evenings.
SkyPoint Observation Deck, 77 floors up in the Q1 Building, offers sprawling views over Surfers Paradise, the Pacific Ocean and the Gold Coast hinterland. For an unforgettable holiday experience, take a thrilling walk up the outside of the building to a lookout point 270 metres high with SkyPoint Climb.
The concierge recommends…
● Exploring the Scottish Prince shipwreck, a popular dive site. The hull of the doomed 19th-century ship lies on the ocean floor near Southport Spit.
● Cruising the waterways and canals of Surfers Paradise on a stand-up paddle board. Board hire includes a brief lesson on paddling techniques.
● Getting up close to native animals like koalas, kangaroos and echidnas at Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary.
● Trying your hand on the championship Palms golf course at Sanctuary Cove Golf and Country Club, a challenging course with a scenic backdrop.
Hotels in Surfers Paradise and the Gold Coast
Surfers Paradise accommodations are varied to suit any budget, with everything from backpacker hostels to resorts and five-star hotels. Many lodgings are within easy reach of the beach and buzzing Cavill Avenue, while most of the Gold Coast’s theme parks are less than 30 minutes’ drive from the town centre.
Just down the road from the bustling Gold Coast hub of Surfers Paradise, relaxed Broadbeach draws travellers to stay with its white-sand beach and array of dining and shopping options. Beachfront parks and picnic areas make Broadbeach popular with families, too.
Further north, Sanctuary Cove is an exclusive community set on the Coomera River, spanning luxury houses, championship golf courses and a marina dotted with superyachts. It’s a handy base for day trips to the pristine bushland and beaches of South Stradbroke Island, and all of the Gold Coast’s best attractions.
Eating Out in Surfers Paradise and the Gold Coast
Surfers Paradise dining offers a bit of everything, from fish ‘n’ chip joints to upscale eateries and trendy espresso bars. Culinary experiences range from Thai to teppanyaki, with plenty of sushi bars, pizza joints and curry houses.
Seafood is big on the Gold Coast, and the many alfresco dining options help make the most of the balmy Queensland weather. A number of restaurants offer modern Australian cuisine, a style that combines Asian and European flavours, reflecting the country’s rich multicultural heritage. It’s typically made using locally sourced produce.
Along the Esplanade you’ll find relaxed beachfront cafés and the Soul Boardwalk precinct, with its stylish ocean-view bistros and casual dining options.
Cavill Avenue is lined with laid-back eateries and ice-cream shops, plus the usual gamut of fast food outlets and family-friendly chain restaurants.
Broadbeach is home to tapas bars, steak and seafood grills. The town’s stylish modern Australian restaurants are clustered around Victoria Avenue and Surf Parade.
The chef recommends…
● Seafood: Fresh fish, calamari and lobster sourced from waters around the Gold Coast are perfect beach holiday dinners. Family and friends with you? Sharing platters offer a little taste of everything.
● Modern Australian cuisine: Most menus include slow-cooked pork belly and Angus beef as a hearty steak or in a posh burger with chips. Salt and pepper squid makes for a tasty starter.
● Fish ‘n’ chips: Head down to the Esplanade beachfront promenade for some fried fish with chunky hot chips, best eaten on the sand with seagulls circling above and finished off with a cheeky ice cream.
Shopping in Surfers Paradise and the Gold Coast
Surfers Paradise is a shopper’s dream, with everything from designer brands to beachside markets. The retail therapy isn’t just confined to main drag Cavill Avenue, with lots of shopping in nearby Broadbeach as well.
At the pedestrian-friendly Cavill Mall, where Cavill Avenue hits the beach, you’ll find surf clothing outlets like Rip Curl and City Beach. There’s more casual fashion and plenty of dining options at the Paradise Centre mall.
Along the foreshore, the Surfers Paradise Beachfront Markets operate Wednesday, Friday and Sunday evenings. You can browse stalls selling jewellery, souvenirs and clothing, and check out buskers and street performers.
In nearby Broadbeach, a few minutes south along the Gold Coast, Pacific Fair Shopping Centre offers homewares, big-name labels and department stores. High-end fashion boutiques are the draw at waterfront Marina Mirage, where a cluster of upscale restaurants overlook the bay.
Best places to shop in Surfers Paradise and the Gold Coast
● Stalls at the Surfers Paradise Beachfront Markets offer stunning ocean panoramas by local photographers to serve as a reminder of your trip.
● Before you hit the sand, you can pick up some trendy beachwear from Australian surf clothing stores on Cavill Avenue and in Paradise Centre mall.
● The hip Arkive Vintage boutique on Surfers Paradise Boulevard is the go-to joint for unique retro clothing, accessories and homewares.
● Marina Mirage shopping centre in nearby Main Beach and the High Street precinct on Cavill Lane are the top places to head for high-end fashion and jewellery.
Culture & Nightlife in Surfers Paradise and the Gold Coast
Surfers Paradise is at the centre of the Gold Coast’s lively nightlife scene, with multi-level clubs, backpacker bars and the annual ‘Schoolies’ event, when thousands of school-leavers arrive for end-of-year celebrations. Upscale cocktail lounges and slick casino bars provide a more relaxed evening out, and arts-lovers aren’t forgotten, with a large multi-arts venue to explore.
You’ll find flashy nightclubs with DJs, private booths and themed party nights grouped around Orchid and Cavill avenues.
Catch a theatre production, comedy show or live music at the Arts Centre Gold Coast. The venue’s also home to the Gold Coast City Gallery, which focuses on regional art, plus two cinemas screening the latest releases.
Live music venues in Surfers Paradise and the Gold Coast
● Elsewhere is a roomy bar that regularly hosts local DJs and live gigs in a funky, retro-chic space.
● Evening music sessions featuring jazz artists, acoustic sets and country singers are held at the Chevron Renaissance shopping centre.
● Many Surfers Paradise and Broadbeach pubs host live bands on weekends, including Waxy’s Irish Pub and Broadbeach Tavern. Rock bands grace the stage every Friday evening at Hard Rock Cafe.
● For three days in May, big-name acts perform across several stages at Surfers Paradise Live music festival.
Leisure in Surfers Paradise and the Gold Coast
Outdoor attractions and adrenaline-pumping activities are in endless supply throughout Surfers Paradise and the Gold Coast, whether it’s windsurfing, jet boating or scuba diving. As you’d expect, surfing is a big deal here, and the beach is the main hub for water sports. All the Gold Coast’s best theme parks are within easy reach of Surfers Paradise hotels.
With long stretches of idyllic white sand and crystal clear waters, Main Beach, Surfers Paradise Beach and Broadbeach are ideal for swimming, surfing and all kinds of water sports. Surf schools offer lessons, and you can hire boards and jet skis.
Marine animals feature at Sea World, while gravity-defying slides are the highlight at Wet'n'Wild water park. Dreamworld offers rides and roller coasters, while Warner Bros. Movie World has car stunt shows and Looney Tunes characters walking the streets.
Outdoor activities in Surfers Paradise and the Gold Coast
● Glide over the vineyards and scenic countryside of the Gold Coast hinterland in a hot air balloon, taking in views of Lamington National Park.
● Boat cruises run on the riverways behind the beachfront, some offering seafood lunch buffets. You can also try river kayaking and stand-up paddle boarding with Australian Kayaking Adventures.
● Water taxis can take you across to laid-back South Stradbroke Island, known for its miles of white sand and bushland ideal for hiking and wildlife-spotting.