As early as 1875 the wealthy citizens of Brisbane established this area as a resort location, but it really took hold as a vacation destination in 1925 when the then-called Surfers Paradise Hotel was erected. Since then, beachfront high-rise hotels and condominiums dominate the shoreline, and have a Miami Beach, Florida, sensibility. As many as 400,000 permanent residents live in the greater Gold Coast area.
Canals (more than there are in Venice) and waterways were built here during the 1950s, and they make it a fascinating place to explore by boat, preferably a sailboat or yacht. Between the canals are faux islands with upscale homes where affluent Australians live the good life.
There are three major golf facilities in the vicinity including Hope Island, Sanctuary Cove and The Glades, and several sports teams make their home here; take in a rugby, basketball or football game while you’re in town; there’s even an ice hockey team!
But remember, Australia is in the Southern Hemisphere, so if you’re going there from Europe or North America, the seasons are flipped, meaning it’s hottest there in January and February. Accordingly there is a Winter Sun Festival held each June at nearby Coolangatta.
There is culture and fun galore in Surfers Paradise, just in case surfing in mammoth waves is not to your taste. Two orchestras are based here, and there are many night clubs, galleries and theaters, as well as attractions such as Sea World, Wet’n’Wild Water World, Warner Brothers Movie World and the remarkable David Fleay Wildlife Park; when we toured the park, we delighted in the walking paths being caged in (yes, the people are in cages while the animals roam more freely). The park is home to exotic birds, koala bears and crocodiles, among other creatures, and is well worth a visit.
Surfers Paradise is, yes, a paradise for surfing enthusiasts, but it has grown from that to encompass a major metropolitan area with all manner of things to see and do. Just be sure to hit the beach and watch some surfing. Armchair surfing is permitted!