Best Things To Do On The Gold Coast
Best Cafes, Hidden Places The Gold Coast Locals Know About And Cool Things To Do That Are Free
Looking for the best things to do on the Gold Coast? Here’s the ultimate list of those things that you don’t find in the guide books, the locals insider guides to the Gold Coast hidden gems.
The big coffee chains produce some fabulous coffee – that is true – but their locations and ambiances often lack the quirkiness and character that many of the small independent cafes offer. Am I right?
For your taste buds, as well as for your eyes’ pleasure, we have narrowed the top Gold Coast cafes down to eight.
This was not easy. Our self-imposed criteria demanded a super quirky venue as well as top notch eats and coffee. Our finalists are:
Black Coffee Lyrics – Located up a flight of dingy stairs in a dim alleyway, (keep reading, it’s okay, it gets better!). What this venue lacks in street appeal it certainly makes up for in cool decor, friendly staff and coffee that is to die for. Full of memorabilia and old books, this retro cafe tucked away in Surfers’ Paradise is groovy and affordable. You should go.
Bumbles Cafe at Budds Beach is a Gold Coast institution. The Cafes is a favourite weekend breakfast destination and its clientele is varied. From smiling local Book Club members to hurried high-flying executives picking up their morning brew. With a cutesy, arty interior and a delicious menu, the icing on Bumbles’ cake (and there are plenty of those, too) is the quality of their delicious coffee.
Commune at Burleigh Heads is a not-so-hidden gem run by a couple who love great coffee, organic food and who are keen to support local artists. The result is an eclectic space with vintage lounge chairs and tables, art-filled walls and there’s even a little eco shop thrown in the mix. We dare you not to take a pic while you are there. Don’t accept – you’ll fail.
Sheoak Shack Gallery at Fingal Head is awesome! Great food and live music right on the water … thongs, kids and dogs (the Gold Coast trinity of bliss) welcome
Grab A Motorbike And Do The Ride Of Nirvana – Up over Tamborine Mountain, down the goat track to Canungra and stop at one of the cafes there. Walk along the street and drool over the hundreds of bikes that are lined up there on a fine Saturday or Sunday. Then up over Beechmont (try not to get distracted with the views) and through to Tyalgum where there is Flutterbies Cafe. Yes, we brought you all the way out here because the banana caramel pancakes are divine (almost as good as the ride). Head out through Murwillumbah and back to the coast via Currumbin.
Hipster Hangouts – These are three of our faves, plus they have awesome caffeine. The Collective at Palmy or Justin’s Lane at Burleigh or head up to Snapper to watch the surfers and whales breaching off the headlands, mixed in with coffee/wine/awesome food at D’Bar.
Two After Dark Gold Coast Activities (That You Won’t Find In The Guide Books)
As the sun sets on the city that is ‘Famous for Fun’, many locals know where to find the Gold Coast’s very real and very natural magic. Away from the bars, restaurants and night clubs – and far from the tourists, the parties and the pub crawls, stealthy Gold Coasters love nothing more than zipping a torch into their backpack, texting a few friends and setting off on adventures under cover of darkness.
What many don’t realise is that countless Gold Coast destinations are just as captivating at night-time – in fact – even more so. Therefore, if you’d like to create some extraordinary memories for yourself, you need to do what the locals do. Grab a torch and head out to these secret locations (well, hmmmm, not so much after this) that only Gold Coasters know and love:
Paradise Point Beach – The northern end of the Gold Coast is home to an Army of Mictyris Longicarpus colloquially known as the Blue Soldier Crabs. At paradise Point Beach these little blue crabs form undulating waves as they quickly scurry across the sand. So basically, a beach walk at Paradise Point has the added bonus of making you feel drunk – minus the alcohol consumption and the hangover. Winning!
Oh and these are no ordinary crabs. They are a unique species of very remarkable creatures. Blue Soldier Crabs are the only crabs that walk forward (as opposed to sideways) and they are air breathers just like us. When the tide comes in (or when you approach) and they quickly bury themselves in the sand, they take an air bubble with them as a personal little SCUBA system.
If you’d like some great footage of these special little crustaceans, set your Go-Pro in Low Light mode, place it on the sand and step away. Soon the Blue Soldier Crabs will emerge right in front of your lens.
Paradise Point Beach gets extra Brownie Points for having water that is shallow and therefore warm for a considerable way out – so take off your shoes and enjoy a paddle. As you walk in the shallows, look for the silver flash of darting fish in the moonlight. Imagine this as a date night! Pure magic! Cue ‘Kiss the Girl’ from Disney’s The Little Mermaid!
The next after dark destination is about a half hour’s drive from the Coast. Locals adore the Curtis Falls track on Tamborine Mountain which is part of the Tamborine National Park. This short 1.5km rainforest circuit leads you downhill beneath soaring strangler figs, flooded gums and colossal stinging trees to a picture perfect, fresh and sparkling waterfall that you’ll hear way before you see it.
If you think rainforests and waterfalls are great destinations in the daytime – wait until you visit Curtis Falls in the dead of night! This rainforest walk is captivating after sunset -, if a little spooky – we’ll admit! Your reward for having the Heeby Jeebies and nervously giggling at the slightest sound, is the amazing wildlife you’re going to see.
The rock pool that the waterfall tumbles into is home to turtles, fish, eels and, if you’re lucky, you might catch a glimpse of the local platypus. Expect to see glow-worms, fireflies and a wide variety of nocturnal creatures including frogs, gigantic spiders, tiny rodents, pademelons, flying foxes, owls and more. It is very likely you’ll have the area to yourselves, especially if you visit during the week.
Live Like A Local – Three Little Known Things To Enjoy On The Gold Coast
Traveling like a tourist is out and living like a local is in. Increasingly, travellers the world over are shying away from the crowds, the mainstream and the ‘tourist traps’ in search of more authentic local experiences. If you would like to enjoy the Gold Coast the way Gold Coasters do, here are three unforgettable experiences for you to try.
Drumming Circle Burleigh Heads: Well over a decade ago a group of drummers, jugglers and fire twirlers began to meet in Burleigh Heads. We don’t know exactly who they were or how or why they decided to do this – but, lucky for us – their zany legacy lives on.
Every Sunday, at sunset at Justin Park in Burleigh Heads a mixed bag of drummers and entertainers gather to provide impromptu performances for all to enjoy – free of charge. As ‘Men at Work’ once sang, “You can dance if you want to” and many people do. You can also bring along your juggling balls, diablos or whatever else you’re into and perform for those who gather there, too.
Typically, the drummers form a circle on the grassed area of this beachfront park and if you own a bongo or djembe, you are very welcome to join in. There’s a great energy at this event and a really cool vibe.
Within walking distance, there are some great bars, eateries and ice cream shops so you can really make a night of it. Drumming starts at around 6.30pm and ends pretty much when everyone feels like it. Bring a chair or a blanket and make yourself at home.
Currumbin Creek Stand Up Paddle boarding (SUP): Australia has many gorgeous waterways and Currumbin Creek is arguably one of the most scenic in the country. Here you can hire a Stand Up Paddleboard from one of the beachfront hire spots. For a mere $10 you’ll enjoy an hour of SUP in SUP heaven.
If you’re a beginner, this spot is ideal. The waters are calm and the estuary is wide so there’s plenty of space for all its recreational users. You’ll see that many local kayakers, rowing clubs, jet skiers, boaties and fishermen also share this beautiful, busy estuary.
An hour on a SUP at Currumbin Creek will give you a unique bird’s eye view of the fish in the water below. You glide past pelicans and seagulls that are chilling on the water – just like you.
Afterwards, you can have a swim in the clean, clear water of the Creek and join the locals at the cafe next door to the Boatshed for lunch.
You’re going to be awestruck – not so much by the guzzling of fish guts – but by the sight of these large, magnificent birds as they fly overhead and come in to land on the beach. Then, as they waddle up the sand, the photo opportunities you’ll have will be amazing.
Pelican feeding happens daily at 1.30pm. Type 371 Marine Parade, Labrador into your GPS and it will bring you to Charis Seafoods. Come early and enjoy a fish and chip lunch and, if you bring your towel and swimmers, you can stay and enjoy a swim in the lagoon. Oh and just like all the best things in life – access to the pelican feeding area is free!
See the Gold Coast from the best spot – on the water – Fantasaseas have house boats that you can hire, stay on and see the Gold Coast from the best vantage point, the water. Belinda is the chick to call, full details here
The Best #Selfie Spots On The Gold Coast
1. Burleigh Head National Park – This natural headland offers a Rainforest Circuit (just over 2km return) and an Ocean View Walk (just over 1km one way). The photo opportunities here are as
plentiful as the likes you’re going to get on your posts! There are panoramic views over the ocean as well as north towards the impressive Gold Coast skyline.
challenged bush turkeys. In the spring, keep your eyes peeled for breaching whales too.
2. Sky Diving Over Kirra Beach – What is better than the adrenalin rush of jumping out of plane? Showing your mates the photos! Gold Coast Sky Dive do awesome jumps and land on the beach. Upgrade and get a cool video to put up on your Facebook feed
3. Surfers Paradise – Where Cavill Avenue meets The Esplanade stands an iconic steel archway emblazoned with the words ‘Surfers Paradise’. This landmark photo bombs millions of tourists every year as they stand smiling at the entrance to Surfers’ Paradise Beach.
But this isn’t the only pixel worthy destination in Surfers Paradise. The vertigo-inducing Sky Point Observation Deck on the 77th floor of the Q1 building gives 360 degree views of the Gold Coast. You’ll be making your likers and followers super jealous in … 3, 2, 1.
4. On A Ripple Gold Coast Massage Table – the ultimate in making your friends jealous. We will massage you pretty much anywhere. So choose your spot, our professional therapists will come to you and are happy to take a snap. Full list of Gold Coast Massage treatments here
5. Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary – Here is where hundreds of very colorful (and very loud) Rainbow Lorikeets attend what can only be described as a sumptuous ‘Bird Buffet’ every day of the year. Your role is to be both their waiter and their furniture. The birds will perch on your head, sit on your shoulders and dig their little claws into your wrist as they eat from your hand.
If you’re okay with all this and if scenes reminiscent of Hitchcock’s ‘The Birds’ don’t send you in a state of panic, you will be rewarded with dozens of exceptional happy snaps. Lorikeet feeding happens at 8am and 4pm every day and is free of charge. If you enter the Sanctuary too, you can cuddle a koala, meet a possum and become a croc’s waiter too!