What You Can Do in Gold Coast (Besides Surfing, Of Course)

I was in Gold Coast for a few days October last year. It was the first of our two stops on our 9-day trip with the second being the city of Melbourne, which I will go into in another post. The last time I went to Australia was when I was five, to Perth. I was deathly excited at the thought of exploring a ‘new’ country.

But what is there to do there? Given the place’s reputation for its sandy, white beaches and clear waters, surfing was a given.

1. Take Surfing Lessons

During our time at Gold Coast, we stayed at Vibe Hotel, which was right in the heart of Surfers Paradise. Surfers Paradise is probably THE place to stay in, when you’re in Gold Coast, unless you hate the beach or hate the sun. If you have answered yes to both, then you probably shouldn’t even be picking Gold Coast as a destination. That aside, with a name like Surfers Paradise, the place was definitely teeming with surfers, and surfbods, I mean, surfboards, and I knew I absolutely had to try surfing.

Based on the recommendation of some locals, we picked Go Ride a Wave surf school and took up a two-hour lesson (65 AUD) with them. Go Ride a Wave is right next to the iconic Surfers Paradise sign, next to KFC. It was Spring when we were there, but thankfully it was a sunny day so it wasn’t too cold. We had two instructors with us, a guy, Danny, and a girl, Yaz. Both of them were very approachable and friendly! We learnt a couple of basics, like how to prop yourself up onto the board, how to get yourself up on your feet and how to catch a wave. Of course, we practiced all these first on the shore and it seemed easy enough. Until we got into the water.

The water was a whole new challenge. The waves were strong and after a while of paddling and swallowing lots of salt water, I was ready to give up. But Yaz wouldn’t let me. She saw me paddling around aimlessly on my board, grabbed my board and motioned for me to move out with her till we got to a comfortable location to catch the wave. Eventually at what seemed like my twentieth time, she held onto my board, told me to get up and paddle. And so I did. When the wave came I was able to prop myself up slowly and then stand, albeit a little shakily. When I realized I was doing it alone, I was ecstatic! I must have gotten too excited because in a few seconds I was back into the water, washed up on the shore.

After you’re done with your lesson, you’d definitely want to spend an hour or two lazing on the beach not doing anything.
One of the reasons I chose Go Ride a Wave was because I heard that they’re one of the few schools that actually help you stand on your board by the first lesson. And stand on my board, I did! This was my first time trying out surfing but it definitely isn’t going to be my last lesson (though I found myself with a huge bruise the side of a tennis ball on my leg later on). If I ever find myself back in Gold Coast, I’ll definitely be going for the five-lesson package and spend the week surfing!

 2. Go to a Theme Park

The location Gold Coast is synonymous with theme parks. Gold Coast is home to Movie World, Sea World, Dream World, WhiteWater World and Wet ‘n’ Wild. As I was only in Gold Coast for three days and we somehow got really lost on our first day, we could only cover one theme park in the afternoon of our first day there.

We chose Movie World simply because we wanted some place dry, yet with sufficient thrilling rides to keep us occupied. A word of advice though, if you’re taking TX2 from the Surfers Paradise area, remember to get a bus there early! The buses stop running by about 11am and by the time we were ready to go after brunch, we were stuck with no buses so we had to do quite a couple of transfers.

3. Go on a Four-Wheel Drive Tour

I came across Southern Cross 4WD when surfing on Instagram one day and loved what they were offering – a full day hinterland tour. Living in an urban city, I don’t get as much exposure to nature as often as I’d like, hence when I saw this option, I jumped at it. I guess it helped that they also had a winery visit! SC4WD is a small family-owned company, so the tours are kept small and personalised.
Had a really awesome Shiraz here!
Tree-top walk. We were practically holding hands and dashing across the bridge!
Rodyk, our guide.
Feeding the birds. Unfortunately I was too afraid to try.
In just a day we covered so many things, including a bumpy drive up the hillside tracks (not for those with motion sickness definitely), wine-tasting, a rainforest walk, a tree top walk, trying out a boomerang (got hit on the finger when it rebounded) and feeding birds. We even saw a koala on a eucalyptus tree and a wallaby! I’d highly recommend this tour for anyone who wants to see a different side of Gold Coast, apart from just the waves and theme parks.

Oh, and this is completely unrelated to the list, but before you embark on your various activities in Gold Coast, you might want to check out this nice little cafe we came across one morning at Surfers Paradise – Lot 1 Coffee. Really nice owners, cosy environment, good coffee and affordable, hearty nosh.

Lot 1 Coffee 
40 Hanlan St, Surfers Paradise QLD 4217, Australia
Opening hours: 7.15am – 2.00pm 


Have you been to Gold Coast before? What is your must-do activity there?

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