A weekend on the Gold Coast? Once upon a time we wouldn’t have given it a thought. These days, the eating and drinking options have improved so greatly that there’s so much more than the lure of sun and surf to entice visitors for a couple of days. Fortunately, the Coast’s low-key and laid-back Aussie charm hasn’t changed one bit.
When we lived in Sydney, we would never have given a thought to a weekend on the Gold Coast. Melbourne was where we escaped to for restaurants and bars to rival Sydney’s, great shopping and good museums. These days, we’d happily spend a weekend on the Gold Coast (preferably a long weekend), eating and drinking, and cuddly a koala or two (not in that order), and we recommend you do too. Here’s what you should do…
A Weekend on the Gold Coast – An Itinerary
Stay in a beachside apartment if you want to be within splashing distance of the sea. We love Burleigh Heads or anywhere in Coolangatta. But if you’re visiting for the first time or you prefer to be in the thick of things in Surfers Paradise, we recommend the glam QT, for its quirky style and fab facilities, and it’s only two minutes from Surfers Paradise beach.
Get onto the sand and take an amble along the beach. It doesn’t matter what end of the coast you’re on, the beach is still magic. If you’re staying at the southern end of the Goldie (as it’s often called by locals), you can watch the sunset looking towards the skyscrapers of Surfers Paradise.
Kick off the night with a cocktail or craft beer at Black Coffee Lyrics (40/41 Centre Arcade, 3131 Surfers Paradise Bvd, Surfers Paradise, 0402 189 437) and then hop on the light rail and zip down to the casino for a feast of modern Japanese at Kiyomi. This dimly-lit Chase Kojima restaurant is the best bet you’ll have at the casino!
Hopefully you weren’t tempted to kick on at the casino and are up for an early morning surf or surf lesson. Make a beeline for The 4217 for your caffeine fix at Paradox Coffee Roasters where you can refuel on a massive Paradox omelette. Pick up a bottle of prosecco and cheese board to take away from Salt Meats Cheese for your sunset picnic later today.
Head down to Burleigh Heads, dropping into the Burleigh Markets for a browse on the way. Saunter the laid-back streets of Burleigh, before you pull up a chair at the Fish House for a long, lazy lunch. Don’t even think about ordering anything other than the 7-course dego (that’s Aussie for degustation menu) with matching wines.
Work off lunch with a wander around the Burleigh Head National Park. Because you’ve just had lunch and might not be dressed for a hike, take the easy Oceanview walk which is just over one kilometre each way. Be on the lookout for humpback whales during winter and spring.
After your stroll, sprawl out on the grassy slope on the headland at Burleigh to enjoy a nibble and sip some bubbly as you savour the sunset. You should be able to see as far as Surfers, where you were this morning.
Make your way back to Broadbeach for casual drinks and dinner at Social Eating House. Because you’ve been imbibing all day, the sharing tapas-style menu is perfect for a light dinner. You probably won’t want any large plates, but the bar snacks (try the chargrilled WA octopus) and small plates (grilled red claw yabby, thanks) are excellent. We recommend hanging here rather than heading to rowdy Cavill or Orchid Avenues in Surfers.
Tuck into a quintessential Aussie brekkie of smashed avo and poached eggs at The Yard cafe before hitting the waves at Nobby Beach if the surf is small. If it’s big, head to Burleigh or Currumbin. If you’re not surfing or having a lesson, simply watching the skill of the surfers on a good swell is a very Gold Coast thing to do.
You won’t have far to go for lunch at nearby BKST. Try the 12-hour sticky pork or grilled fish tacos, which you should wash down with a glass of BSKT’s own Queensland ‘sem sav blanc’ or a Stone & Wood Pacific Lager from Byron Bay. It’s a weekend, after all.
Make your way down to Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary to spend the afternoon with Australia’s native wildlife and enjoy a cuddle with a cute koala (watch the claws!), feed some lorikeets, or watch a bird of prey show. In case you’re headed north, hopefully the huge sunbaking crocodiles should persuade you that our croc warning signs in northern Australia are the real deal.
Head back to Surfers Paradise and hit the boardwalk to browse the Beachfront Markets (4-9pm) before snagging a seafront table at the Surfers Sandbar — it’s definitely not the hippest spot on the coast, but it’s one of the few watering holes with uninterrupted beach views and a good spot for a final glass of something to celebrate the end of a very enjoyable weekend on the Gold Coast.