The Gold Coast on Australia's east coast sits between Brisbane and Byron Bay. The most well-known draw to this part of Australia is the surfing, so much so that one of the cities of the Gold Coast is even called Surfer's Paradise!
How to Get to the Gold Coast
The Gold Coast Airport is just outside Coolangatta, the southernmost part of the Gold Coast. However, flights tend to be fairly expensive here, so if you have the flexibility, fly into Brisbane and take the Greyhound down.
How to Get Around the Gold Coast
Within towns, I recommend walking. I also walked the Oceanway from Burleigh Head all the way up to Surfer's Paradise, an approximately 3 hour walk. The 700 bus also drives from Tweed Heads south of Coolangatta all the way along the coast up to Broadbeach which is just a few stops south of Surfer's Paradise on the train. Taking public transit from Coolangatta to Surfer's Paradise will take approximately an hour and will cost you $5.80 for a 2-zone pass.
Where to Stay on the Gold Coast
You can stay in any of the towns of the Gold Coast. Surfer's Paradise has the most options in accommodations, however I chose to stay in the quieter Coolangatta. I spent 2 nights at the YHA which is conveniently located across the road from the 700 bus stop. In Coolangatta, the big draw is the surfing around Snapper Rocks, a lovely one hour walk along the beach from the YHA.
Walking the Gold Coast Oceanway
The Gold Coast stretches between Coolangatta in the south all the way up to Southport in the north. Surfer's Paradise is the central hub of the Gold Coast with markets, busy shopping and restaurants and the most popular surf. Each town typically has a surf club, plenty of beachfront and a town accompanying the avid surfers you'll find in the water. Linking all of these towns is the Gold Coast Oceanway, a walking route along the ocean allowing you to visit all the beaches and towns on foot.
Burleigh Head National Park
Start at Burleigh Head National Park, a small but beautiful coastal park with beautiful views of the ocean and the surf. Walk the Ocean View Track from which you can spot the famous skyscrapers of Surfer's Paradise off in the distance.
Mick Schamburg Park
After you have walked out of Burleigh Head, continue all the way past Burleigh Head Beach to Mick Schamburg Park where a boardwalk provides 180 degree views of all the beaches of the Gold Coast with Surfer's Paradise in the backdrop.
Lores Bonney Lookout
For a great birds-eye view of the beach stretched out endlessly in front of you to the horizon line, climb up the steps to Lores Bonney Lookout. The path does not continue here even though it looks like it (I tried and reached a dead-end...and a snake).
I had to stop here. I am a Meerman after all (and we collect hundreds of mermaids in honour of our name). There's a lovely beach here to enjoy.
Broadbeach is where the touristy part of the Gold Coast begins. It's the base of the trio along with Surfer's Paradise and Southport that draws the big crowds and the big surf. Walk along the esplanade to avoid the touristy bits, but stop here if you need any supplies or want to wander town.
The final stop along the walk is the famous Surfer's Paradise. While I felt that town was far too touristy (seriously, the top things to do are Ripley's Believe It or Not and the Observation Deck), the beach and promenade was really nice. There's also an evening market that happens oceanfront and lots of events for visitors to enjoy and attend.