Australia’s Gold Coast. Famous for theme parks, nightclubs, scantily clad Meter Maids and Surfers Paradise.
Don’t get me wrong; the Gold Coast is a veritable tourist haven, filled with hours of tourist-enticing, mind-numbing, predictable entertainment… if that’s your thing. But for those experienced world wanderers who are more interested in being travellers – not tourists – and prefer hooking up and tapping in to the real essence of a destination then this list is for you.
Live like a local and check out some of the cool things to do on the Gold Coast while avoiding the typical tourist traps. `
Drop Some Serious Coin at The Village Markets
Fancy yourself as a bit of a trendsetter? Like to support original, homegrown, delightfully creative talent? Then this place has your name all over it.
TVM (as the locals call it) is THE hub for fashion, jewellery, flowers, food, homewares and all-round boho goodness on the GC.
Spend your Sunday morning floating among the outdoor stalls, picking up amazing one-of-a-kind pieces and grooving on the carefree vibe.
Trust me, you’ll thank me later (but your wallet probably won’t).
Indulge in the Best Spanish Tapas This Side of the Equator at Pablo Pablo
To sum up the food at Pablo in one word: Unbelievable-amazingness-outofthisworld-incredible-yum.
Please allow me to pause here to drool for a moment.
Whether you’re a novice first timer or an experienced Spanish tapas connoisseur, you will simply love the amazing menu on offer.
The genuine and attentive staff are awesome. The décor is minimalist, but inviting and chic. And the white peach sangria will have you crawling home on your knees…in a totally good way.
My Top Picks: Esparragos. Maiz a la plancha. Chiles y Gambas Al Ajillo. And the White Peach Sangria, of course.
Drink Rum Like a Sailor at The Cambus Wallace
A small, quaint, funky whiskey bar in Nobby Beach with an awesome collection of liquor, old-school tunes playing on the turntable, friendly staff and a cool hipster vibe (but not in an obnoxious way).
Tuesday nights are a local favourite with rum specials and yummy food on offer.
My Top Picks: Sailor Jerry, Dry and Lime. The Captains’ Table cheese platter. The cute barmen.
Snorkel and Dive With the Turtles Off the Coast
No trip to the Gold Coast is complete without spending some time in our magnificent turquoise ocean waters.
And the ultimate experience you can have underwater is only a quick boat ride from the Tweed Coast.
Spend your day snorkeling with turtles, manta rays, sharks, and hundreds of fish out at Cook Island Marine Sanctuary.
Or for those who crave a deeper underwater adventure, book a Discover Scuba Dive experience and get a glimpse of what life would be like if you were a mermaid.
Believe me, you haven’t truly experienced the ocean until you’re 12m below and high-fiving a sea turtle.
My Top Picks: Cooly Dive. I won’t dive with anyone else.
Hit Up Miami Marketta Street Food for a Taste of Foodie Heaven
You don’t need your passport to go around the world in one night; just head to Rabbit & Cocoon on any Saturday evening for all your foreign foodie needs.
Japanese, Mexican, Thai, Hungarian, Greek, Spanish, Italian, French, Dutch, Indian, Malaysian… you name it, it’s there.
Vegetarian, vegan, gluten free, dairy free, guilt free? Yep, they’ve got you covered too.
Oh, and did I mention the amazing live music and the awesome selection of craft beers, wines and cocktails in jars?
Put your stretchy pants on, leave your calorie-controlled diet at home and bring your appetite to the best collection of street food stalls in Queensland. It’s where culture and cuisine collide on the Coast.
My Top Picks: Japanese gyoza. Raw vegan nachos. Cranberry mojito in a jam jar. Oh, and the entire dessert hall.
Grab Your Bestie and Do a Coffee Crawl
Coffee aficionados, rejoice! This one’s for you.
A coffee crawl is just like a pub crawl (that other beloved Australian tradition), except there is no alcohol, plenty of caffeine and you’re less likely to end up in the police station at the end.
The Gold Coast boasts some of the best coffee joints outside of Melbourne, Australia’s premier coffee capital.
Start from any point of the Gold Coast Highway (I recommend Broadbeach) and simply work your way down south. Whatever your tastes, whatever your blend, whatever your style there’s something here for you. And if you happen to sample some yummy cakes, pastries, or muffins on the way? Well, that’s just an added bonus.
Soak Up the Sunshine on Burleigh Hill
No GC visit is complete without some chilled-out hangs at Burleigh Point, arguably the Gold Coast’s most beautiful beach.
Grab a picnic blanket, your favourite book, a camera, iPod, some fish n chips and a sneaky six-pack and find yourself a sunny patch to stretch out and relax in.
With stunning views of the ocean and the north Gold Coast – the Surfers Paradise skyline looks beautiful at dusk – you could be excused for losing hours and hours in this popular local hangout.
My Top Picks: Find a spot under one of the beautiful pandanus trees that dot the coastline, heading towards the peak of Burleigh Hill. Fish & chips from Burleigh Heads Fishmongers . Pick up second hand books from Big B Book Exchange in the arcade.
Stuff Your Face With the Best Burgers in Town at Ze Pickle
Holy moly. Prepare yourself. These beauties mare more than just burgers -these are game-changers.
Voted the ‘Best Burgers on the Coast’ in 2013, these creatively crafted, hand made gastronomic delights are sure to leave you stuffed, but in a totally awesome way.
Pair your burger with a local craft beer and a side of sweet potato fries and you’re in heaven. Take that, Mickey D’s.
My Top Picks: The Mushroom Burger. Mini sliders. Kumara fries.
Listen to Live Music and Drink Craft Beer at Burleigh Brewing Co.
It’s a beer revolution, my friends! Lately there have been heaps of new craft drops appearing on the market and the best by far is a local creation from new wunderkinds on the block, the Burleigh Brewing Co.
The brewmasters down at BBC have taken something awesome – in this case, beer – and made it even better by creating Big Head, Australia’s first no carb larger, with only 88 calories per bottle.
Can I get a ‘whoop whoop’?
Burleigh Brewing Co. opens up its bar [and taps] to the public every Friday for a fantastic night of live music and freshly-pulled pints. It’s a fun, laid-back environment that stays true to the local Burleigh ethos ie no pretentious tools here, thanks.
My Top Picks:: Burleigh Brewing Bighead. Duke Premium. HEF wheat beer.
Use Your Best Orientating Skills to Track Down Siguenos Mexican food truck
Hands down, one of THE BEST Mexican joints you’ll ever experience. And the best part? It’s on wheels!
As the new kids on the Mexican block, Siguenos is bringing a taste of the LA food truck culture to the Gold Coast…and what a taste it is!
Follow Siguenos on Instagram to find out where they will be serving up the day’s specials and navigate your way around the beautiful coast to find them.
Amazing tacos, awesome service and a change of scenery? Sign me up, hombre!
My Top Picks: The taco plate with chicken and fish, served with corn chips and salsa. The guacamole. More tacos.
Search and compare cheap flights to the Gold Coast.
Featured image by Phalinn Ooi