City Guide: Surfer’s Paradise


Surfers Paradise, or more popularly known as Surfers, is a bustling part of South-East Queensland that is defined by its high-rise city coastline and superb fine-sand beaches. It has long been known as a premier vacation destination for Aussies with the best in shopping, surfing and dining, as well as some of the most exciting events and attractions Australia has to offer. Every day and every night this busy spot attracts tens of thousands of visitors from all over Australia and the world. It’s no surprise that Surfers is so popular, with so many surprises per square foot, it’s almost hard to keep up!



Surfer’s Paradise Beach is the main go-to beach in the area. The ambience will instantly put you into that vacation mode. The sand is smooth and white and the waves are perfect for surfing. There are plenty of lifeguards in the area, so you can rest assured your safety is taken very seriously.

Cavill Avenue, this is the heart of Surfers. A pedestrian street filled with people, ambiance, restaurants and boutiques. If you’re feeling hungry or thirsty after your adventures, fill your stomach with delicious food and drinks here, or meet up with some other travellers or locals for a refreshing Aussie beer in one of the many pubs.

The exciting activities are almost endless on the Gold Coast. Catch a wave or catch a Frisbee, go windsurfing, kite-surfing, sailing or whale watching, it’s all possible from here. On Cavill Avenue and its surrounding streets there are multiple tour operators offering up just about any adventure you want to go on, from skydiving to whale watching, or heading out on a full-filled pub crawl with backpackers.



If you’re looking for an adrenaline rush, go up 270 metres to the top of SkyPoint. Here you can climb on top of one of the world’s tallest residential buildings—also known as Q1. The view is sure to have you shaking in your boots.



There are also a lot of nightclubs to experience in Surfers, from Sin City with its lingerie clad bar staff, to Vanity, Club Liv, The Avenue and Bounce –this is where you will find yourself dancing all night to great Hip Hop and dance tracks. For something a little less “club” and a little more upscale you can head to Melbas or Stingray, or if you are just interested throwing back some drinks there is always Waxy’s Irish Pub or The Clock Hotel. All these locations are within a couple of minutes walk (or less) from Cavill Avenue.



A word of caution, Surfers Paradise has waves that are stronger than just about any other tourist beach you might ever visit anywhere in the world. It is very easy for people to be carried away in a rip –even the strongest of swimmers! It is imperative that you swim between the flags, no matter how crowded. Each year many tourists lose their lives by not following these simple rules. This is a wonderful beach, but it is also offers up some of the toughest waves even in the shallow waters.



Spend an exciting hour or two in Ripley’s Believe It or Not, established back in 1918 when “freak shows” were popular. Be entertained by interactive displays and fascinating exhibitions where you’ll see such things as shrunken heads, and a wedding dress (that was actually worn by a bride) made 100% out of toilet paper. Anything weird, you’ll find it here. This place will definitely blow your mind. You’ll learn many quirky things about the world by the time you exit the museum doors.

If you want to test your braveness a little further you can head to the Haunted House also near Cavill Avenue in Surfer Paradise where sharks, spiders and ghosts will haunt you from beginning to end, or head to Dracula’s Cabaret for a vampire-infused dinner and show. Dracula’s is Australia’s longest running cabaret having entertained over three million guests for over thirty years. It is certainly a great way to spend a night –a certainly something you have not yet experienced!

For an even more hair-raising experience, try the Slingshot Gold Coast and experience what it’s like to be catapulted 80m in the air at 160kph. You can choose to have your experience recorded so you can relive the excitement when you get home.

Try your hand at Infinity if you want something a little less weird or scary, but just as cool and mind-blowing. This place will take you on a journey of twenty indoor futuristic mazes that will have you both laughing and screaming as it plays with your senses and perspectives. Definitely worth a visit and right in the centre of Surfers Paradise, near Cavill Av.



A 2-minute drive away from Surfers Paradise is the Gold Coast Tourist Parks Main Beach—a beautiful, beachfront campsite only a stone’s throw away from great cafés and restaurants. Enjoy their first-class facilities, which include a heated swimming pool, bicycle hire and cots.

Another campsite in a great location is Gold Coast Tourist Parks Broadwater. It is close to Pacific Fair, one of Queensland’s largest shopping centres, Sea World, Movie World, Dream World and many other theme parks. It also has a jumping pillow and two swimming pools for the kids to enjoy. The beach is just a short stroll away.

Known for fantastic service is Nobby’s Beach Holiday Village. This campsite is full of surprises. There are many activities here for the whole family to enjoy such as live music, karaoke and even wood fired pizzas. They have an awesome pool with some fun slides, and if you want to leave your campervan and explore the district, you can take a bus from just outside the campground –on the Gold Coast Highway– to just about anywhere on the Gold Coast. Nobby’s is also a great spot with lots of restaurants and cafes and some great nightlife if you are looking for some drinks or a nice dinner.



Keep in mind that all campgrounds on the Gold Coast are extremely expensive, extremely being a kind word. If you are on a budget, try staying outside of the Gold Coast. A word of advice about Freedom Camping… don’t! You will be wasting your time. The Gold Coast City Council are very strict about campervans parked on public property or in public car parks. Although… there is a secret location that only locals know about, and which we are going to reveal! It’s a place called ‘The Spit’ and it is located just north of Surfers Paradise, above Main Beach. This is a very secluded and bushy area where many campers (and locals) head for a night or two of camping. Here you will be lost among the trees with a view on the water –and the occasional pod of wild dolphins splashing by. The place is rarely patrolled, so best to go in a group for safety –not that it is dangerous—but best to be safe!



In March and April each year, Surfers celebrates the Surfers Paradise Festival, a four-weekend festival filled with live music, exhibitions, food, fashion, film and art. It’s THE festival to go to on the Gold Coast. Set along the beach in large tents, you will be able to experience such things as a filmmakers panel, yoga workshops, arts and crafts, and even such interesting talks as a recent one on How to Instagram Successfully or The Benefits of a Plant-Based Diet. It’s a great festival with plenty of things for kids and adults to enjoy.

If you want to join in the party of high school students celebrating their end of their final exams, join Schoolies Week in late November and early December. If you are under the age of 20 or 21 you will enjoy this over-the-top drunken teenage mess of a fest, however around this time of year most people tend to head to Broadbeach for a night out, and to avoid the shenanigans of out of control teens.

If you want to check out awesome sand sculptures, visit during the month of February for the Sand Safari. Witness cartoon characters come to life in this great photo opp event.

Travel Guides for Australia and New Zealand, written for: Share A Camper

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