The untouched and pristine Yamba, where you can explore their stunning natural waterways and uncrowded beach. Image Credit: Supplied picture

For a holiday destination that boasts all the best things about LA’s South Beach – the surfers, the endless coastline and a lively after-dark scene – but with that typically laid back Australian attitude, look no further than Surfers Paradise. And while the Gold Coast town can come across as a little Vegas-style flashy, the infectious and fast-paced vibe of the place combined with chilled days spent at the beach, offers up a perfect balance, guaranteeing that you won’t burn out in Surfers Paradise.

It’s just swell

Obviously it’s all about the surf, and the place is named after the Surfers Paradise Hotel, built in 1925 by hotelier James Cavill.

Surfing is the order of the day and if you don’t have your own board, you’ll find plenty of surf shacks and shops along the coast from which you can hire out a board from around Dh100 for two hours (check out gorideawave.com.au). But if you’re a newbie, earn your surf legs at one of the local schools. At Surf in Paradise school you’ll be up on your board in no time, plus they teach surf etiquette, so you’ll be totally clued up when it’s time to take to the waves (www.surfinparadise.com.au).

It’s not just the swirling tides that will entice you into the water, as there are a whole host of other aquatic sports to try. Head down to the Marina and you’ll find plenty of watersport and tour companies, where you can try jet skiing and parasailing, or book onto a speedboat trip (check out seabreezesports.com.au for
more info).

But if you have no intention of getting your feet wet, make like Team  and book onto the Reef Ryder Waterways cruise, which takes you through the area’s many waterways, with guides on hand to point out the homes of the rich and famous on the way, giving you an insight into how the other half lives (reefryder.com.au).

Paradise by night

The town is almost as notorious for it’s nightlife as it is known for the surfing, and tourists from across Australia, New Zealand and around the world flock there for a good time all year round.

The perfect place to kick of any evening, in true Burj Khalifa-style, is at SkyPoint, the 77th floor bar of the Q1 tower, which is Australia’s tallest building – and the bar is the Gold Coast’s highest altitude night spot, offering stunning 360 views of the coast and city skyline and boasting an always buzzing atmosphere (skypoint.com.au).
There are plenty of nighttime party tours if you’re dead set on getting the most out of the party scene, but if you head to a few bars on Orchid Avenue, Bourbon Bar (www.bourbonbar.com.au) is a popular choice with live music playing most nights, you can’t go wrong; or opt for waterside spots, like Titanium Bar (titaniumbar.com.au), which offers up a great atmos without the clubbing chaos that you’ll find in other parts of the city.

Get outta town

If you head out of the centre, away from the high rises and down the Pacific Highway you’ll find a wealth of secluded spots, where you can enjoy the chilled life of a coastal town for a few hours, or even days. About one hour’s drive south will land you in the stunning Byron Bay, which many consider the home of Australian surfing, and if you venture further south (about two and a half hours from Surfers Paradise) you’ll find the untouched and pristine coastal town of Yamba, where you can explore their stunning natural waterways and uncrowded beach – all of which makes for a calm and welcome escape from Surfers.

If you don’t want to spend every day of your trip by the coast, head about an hour’s drive inland to the Numinbah Valley and you’ll find the stunning Log Cabin Camp and Rainforest Wildlife Eco Reserve, where you can enjoy some of Australia’s world-famous natural surroundings (www.thelogcabincamp.com.au). Whether you’re looking for a holiday that’s totally beach-centric, you intend to party day and night, or simply want to explore the stunning coast town by town, this little part of Australia has something for everyone and offers it all at a relaxed, laid back pace.


Eastern Australia is famous for being the perfect place for a road trip, Sydney to Brisbane is about a 12 hour drive, or 950k, and Surfers Paradise is about one hour outside of Brisbane. So if you’re feeling adventurous drive south to Sydney and stop off at the stunning Coffs Harbour, one of the biggest towns along the Pacific Highway, for a night, you’ll find stunning spots like Gallows, Diggers and Sapphire beaches, and, randomly, you can get your photo with the worlds biggest banana.

Schools out

Every year from mid-November to early December teen school leavers from Australian schools take the annual pilgrimage to the Gold Coast, spring break style, for Schoolies, an end of school festival for beach parties and a fair amount of craziness. The population swells but about 35,000 over the three week period, so if you fancy a frat party a night that’s the time for you, if you’re looking for a grad-less break, bear it in mind when you’re booking your dates.

Whale of a time

Nature lovers will love the half day whale watching tours, if you’re lucky you’ll be able to marvel at the magnificent humpback whales, see them play in the water and so far the Whales In Paradise trips have a 100% sighting record, whether it’s turtles, killer whales, humpbacks or dolphins, in a stretch of water dubbed the Humpback Whale Highway. Check out whalesinparadise.com.au for more info. 


Budget: Breakfree Peninsula
Set back just metres from the Surfers Paradise beach, when it comes to location you couldn’t ask for better than this bright high rise. The Breakfree Peninsula building boasts stunning views out over the ocean and 46 floors of self-catered apartments, perfect for families or groups of friends off for a big blow-out holiday. The resort has three large pools and, our personal favourite touch, barbecues that you can light up and cook dinner on, in true Aussie style. Apartments start at Dh440-per-night.

Mid-range: Surfers Paradise Marriott Resort and Spa
The uninterrupted and seemingly endless views of the long coast and Pacific Ocean make this recently renovated hotel an in- demand spot. And with a Japanese sake bar, brand new international dining restaurant, Paradise, which has four live cooking stations, and a Benihana to choose between you won’t be stuck for dining choices. But if you ask us, they win extra ‘wow’ points when it comes to their 2.5 acre private salt-water lagoon, which comes complete with tropical fish for you to scuba dive with – amazing! Rooms from Dh700-a-night.

Luxury: Palazzo Versace
When Donatella Versace puts her name to a resort, you know it’s going to be the height of luxury, and this landmark hotel, which feels more like a palace, will not disappoint. Kitted out with stunning opulent touches, including private butlers and Italian marble open-plan bathrooms, this is a hotel fit for royalty. Plus, with their own private marina the hotel has a French Riviera feel, so you’re guaranteed to feel like an A-lister for the duration of your stay. Rooms start from Dh1,200.

Fly There
Etihad fly to the Gold Coast’s Coolangatta Airport, via Melbourne. Tickets start at Dh7,400.

Filmed there
Muriel’s Wedding, The Chronicles of Narnia: The Voyage of the Dawn Treader, Aquamarine, The Condemned, Goodbye Paradise, Hurricane Smith, The Professional Idiot, The Surfer, Among Dead Men, Jackie Chan’s First Strike, Peter Pan, Scooby-Doo, Fool’s Gold