Even if you aren’t staying at Q1 Resort & Spa, a good way to get your bearings is to see the shimmering Gold Coast skyline from the Skypoint Observation Deck. Less than 500m from this architectural behemoth is Cavill Avenue. While James Cavill’s hotel is long gone, the laid-back charm of Surfers Paradise lives on along and around this car-free strip, with plenty of barefoot surfers awaiting the next big wave and even more tourists in bathers and boardshorts enjoying the famous sun, sand, and sea. The cafés and shops here open late, ready to serve young revellers hopping from one nightclub to the next.
If you’re with young children, check out the Ripley’s Believe It Or Not! Odditorium in Cavill Mall - some of the wacky displays have to be seen to be believed. Alternatively, visit Timezone to play with some of the latest digital games or to try your luck at winning a prize. If you enjoy the movies, pop into 7D Cinema on the corner of Orchid Avenue to experience a film in a 6-seat moving simulator with plenty of special effects. Just before dusk on Wednesdays, Fridays, and Sundays, the Surfers Paradise Beachfront Markets set up along the Esplanade. Comprised of 120 stalls, this vibrant market offers fun for visitors of all ages, with live performers, musicians, sand sculptures, and plenty of opportunities to bag a bargain.
Along Surfers Paradise Boulevard, you’ll find the ever-popular Infinity Attraction, full of interactive installations and illusions that will delight both children and adults alike. Nearby is the Gold Coast Wax Museum, which has a collection of over 100 painstakingly crafted figures including of celebrities such as Kylie Minogue and Johnny Depp as Captain Jack Sparrow.
Attractions Further Out
Once you’ve had your fill of the bright lights and nightlife, you’ll be glad you organised a hire car in Surfers Paradise. Most families spend the majority of their time in the quieter suburbs neighbouring Surfers. Lying to the south is Broadbeach, home to Queensland’s largest shopping and dining destination – Pacific Fair. The riverside Cascade Gardens are well worth exploring here, with its serene rainforest walking trails, barbecue facilities, and a sprawling playground.
To the north of Surfers Paradise is the upmarket suburb of Main Beach. Aside from sprawling luxury beach resorts, Main Beach is where you’ll find Sea World, Australia’s premier marine park with a huge variety of themed rides, live stage shows, animal exhibits, and water park. Parking is free, so leave your Surfers car rental outside the gates and make use of the convenient monorail that can transport you all around the park.
If you’re travelling between May and November, consider taking a cruise to see enormous humpback whales as they migrate north into warmer waters. Many catamarans such as the Spirit of Gold Coast and the Spirit of Migloo depart from marinas in Main Beach, searching for these wonderful marine mammals in the waters off the coast.
About an hour up the Pacific Motorway (M1) from Surfers Paradise, lies Brisbane. This vibrant riverside state capital has plenty to offer, from shopping and culture to an outstanding dining scene and is worthy of at least a few days’ exploration on its own.
Even further north is the aptly named Sunshine Coast – a haunt for Brisbanites looking for pristine sun-drenched beaches, shopping, entertainment and recreation without the hustle and bustle of city living. Maroochydore is the region’s centre, where you’ll find the Sunshine Coast’s biggest mall and a cinema complex.