Surfers Paradise
photo by James Stewart

Surfers Paradise is the capital of the Gold Coast, and one of the largest tourist destinations in Australia. Set on miles of ocean surf beach, Surfers has more going on than just the waves. From the high rise apartments that line the shore, to the the nightclubs, pubs and late night shopping lining the mall, Surfers is busy all through the day and night.

It is a site of near-pilgrimage to many Australian teens. It's a destination for New Zealanders, with direct flights bringing frozen Kiwis to defrost on the golden beaches, and an attraction for travellers from around the world.

Many believe that Surfers Paradise has been over-commercialised, and there is certainly intense high-rise development. The area has a reputation for rip-off shopping, timeshare salespeople, and seedy strip clubs (which are plentiful). The beaches and the rest of Surfers sit in the long shadows of the high rises in the late afternoon.

Love the beaches, or hate the kitsch. Love the nightlife, or just find the drunks stumbling and singing down Cavill Mall a turn-off. You can't be ambivalent about Surfers.


When to go

Assuming that you want to experience the sea, the best time to hit the Gold Coast in between October and March when temperatures climb.

Be aware that Schoolies lasts from the last week of October and the first two weeks of November, when the entire area is invaded by tens of thousands of 17-18 year-olds who have just finished high school and head to the beaches to let off steam and celebrate. It is a huge party - but if drunken teenagers aren't your scene then this is a time to avoid.

Getting there

See the Gold Coast guide for information on how to Get in to the area.

Traveling around

Surfers Paradise itself is quite compact, and you walk between much of the Surfers accommodation, Cavill Mall, and the beaches. In fact walking may often take less time than trying to find a parking spot close to the centre.

Surfside bus lines provides public bus services for the Gold Coast area, for timetable information and prices

Taxi cabs are another way to go, but can be quite expensive.

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There are theme parks, water parks, wildlife parks, and a range of things to see in the surrounding Gold Coast.

In Surfers Paradise itself there is:

  • Q1, situated right at the waterfront and rising 323m, it is the tallest building in the southern hemisphere and is also the tallest all-residential tower in the world.

Things to do

As the name of the city implies, surfing is the order of the day. Other water sports like boating and fishing are also plentiful.

If you are going to swim make sure you swim in patrolled areas (between the red and yellow flags). Each year hundreds of swimmers get into trouble in the strong currents swimming outside the flags. If you do get in trouble just put your hand up above your head to get the lifesaver's attention. There are many sets of flags around the Surfers area. Head north or south from the main beach if the crowds are too much.



  • The Surfers Paradise Surf Life Saving Club offers a great lunch deal $6.50 for a large piece of crumbed chicken, chips and salad plus free basic drink. And it is right across for the beach just down from Cavil ave.

  • Surfers Paradise RSL Club the staff at the sign-in desk are quite rude and the whole place feels a little seedy as you walk right in to the pokie machine lounge, however once you get upstairs it's ok. This club offers a great value roast dinner from 5:30PM till about 8:30PM for about $6.50, all the other meals are well priced. Beer is cheap and it's just a short walk to Melba’s and Cavil ave.

  • Jacks Kebabs, this is a great little Kebab joint across from the beach opp. McDonalds, makes a very tasty Kebab and it's popular in the early hours of the morning as all the drunks stumble out of the clubs looking for a meal.

  • King of Noodle is a great little Chinese restaurant located in the Centre Arcade across from Circle on Cavill (next to where the Hilton is being constructed). They offer cheap Asian dishes however unlike some other cheap Asian restaurants, the dish sizes are quite very good for the price (Dishes start from $8). Offer a good range of vegetarian alternatives


  • Medexotic, 5592 0004, Chevron Renaissance, Middle eastern/med style restaurant. Friendly service with funky decore and great food. Belly Dancing every Friday and Saturday night from 8PM.


Plenty of the hotels around Surfers Paradise offer buffet all you can eat seafood, which is normally quite nice and around $50 - $60 per person plus drinks. Some offer lunch specials or early bird deals.


Most of the night clubs are down Orchid Ave just off the main strip Cavil Ave, ones to check out are:

  • The Drink

  • Elsewhere

  • Cocktails & Dreams (Multi-level Club)

  • Shooters

  • Melbas


There are accommodation options all up and down the Gold Coast. Surfers itself is home to numerous apartments, premium high-rise hotels, and many backpacker hostels. Motel style accommodation is generally elsewhere on the coast.

  • Backpacker hostels, are mostly located in Surfers Paradise, Southport, Main Beach and Coolangatta. Some backpacker operators in Surfers Paradise require an international passport. If you hold an Australian passport, you may be asked to sign up and pay for membership to a group the backpacker operator is affiliated with (eg. YHA, Nomads or VIP)

  • Motels are located all along the Gold Coast Hwy. Most can be found in Labrador, Mermaid Beach, Miami, Palm Beach and Tweed Heads. Single rooms are $60 to $80, while doubles rooms are $70 to $90 but prices increase during peak summer. Prices are lower and availability is better, the further they are away from Surfers Paradise.

  • Camping and Caravan grounds are dotted about the Gold Coast, although many have closed to make way for other development. The largest operater is Gold Coast Tourist Parks a business arm of the Gold Coast City Council. It has 7 parks: Main Beach, Tallebudgera Creek, Burleigh Heads, Kirra Beach, Broadwater, Jacobs Well, Ocean Beach (Miami). Other caravan parks can be found in Miami, Carrara, Labrador, Nerang and Mudgeeraba. Accommodation options include caravan and camping sites, luxury cabins and group lodgings. Facilities may include swimming pools, play equipment and barbecue areas.

  • Apartment accommodation in high and low rise buildings is plentiful. Book early, and you will have a vast array of choice. A two-bedroom apartment in Surfers Paradise will cost around $150 per night in the off-season, and upwards of $300 a night in peak summer. Many have a minimum stay of 3 or 5 nights, and in peak periods there may be other restrictions as they try to block book as many nights as they can. Reception hours are limited and a bond may be required in some cases. Inside amenities typically include kitchen, washer and dryer, and separate bedrooms. Outside amenities often include a swimming pool, and sometimes a gym and other resort facilities.

  • Hotels, include chains such as the Mariott, Crowne Plaza and Novotel. Hotels are concentrated in Surfers Paradise and Broadbeach.


  • Aquarius Backpackers , 44 Queens Street, is a budget backpackers resort with dorm rooms starting from $27 in peak season and doubles from $70.

  • Islander Backpackers Resort , 6 Beach Road (cnr Surfers Paradise Bvld), is a cheap Hotel/Backpackers resort with Backpacker rooms starting from $18 for cheap rooms, $28-30 for dorms and $95 for private backpacker rooms. There is also a hotel part to the resort with studio rooms and full-fitted apartments. However be careful of some of the staff, as they can be very arrogant and turn their noses up at Backpackers.

  • Surfers Paradise Backpackers Resort , 61-1800-282-800, 2837 Gold Coast Highway, A top-end backpacker's accommodation

  • Surfers Paradise YHA at Main Beach , close to beach and surrounding pubs, the perfect base to explore the area.

  • Trekkers Backpackers , 61-1800-100-004, 22 White St. Southport QLD 4215, A backpacker accommodation


  • Luxury resorts

    • Mantra Circle On Cavill, Gold Coast

    • Palazzo Versace Hotel, Main Beach

    • Sanctuary Cove Resort, Sanctuary Cove

    • Conrad Jupiters, Broadbeach

    • Sea World Resort, Main Beach

    • Q1 Resort & Spa, Surfers Paradise


As with all beaches in Queensland you need to swim between the Red & Yellow flags at all times. These flags mark the safest area of water in which to swim & also the area in which the lifeguards are supervising. Many lives have been lost due to people not swimming in the marked area.

Surfers Paradise, as with all other clubbing areas, can have its fair share of alcohol related problems as drunks stumble out of clubs (or are not let in to them due to the 3AM lockout law). Best to be mindful.

Get out

Go anywhere else on the Gold Coast, even if it's just a walk down the beach to Broadbeach. If you confine yourself to Surfers for the duration of your stay you haven't actually seen the Gold Coast.

Contact & location

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The photos displayed on this page are the property of one of the following authors:

James Stewart, S B, blink+, MysteryFaery, Syed Abdul Khaliq, Emily Bergquist

Some photos courtesy of: . The photos provided by Flickr are under the copyright of their owners.

This travel guide also includes text from Wikitravel articles, all available at WikitravelView full credits

D. Guillaime, Mark Ignativ, Liam Skoda, Tom Holland, Ravikiran Rao, Evan Prodromou, Michele Ann Jenkins and Stavro Prodromou, Inas, Wikiholiday, Texugo, Hkpatv, Jonboy, Huttite and Jpg

This travel guide also includes text from Wikipedia articles, all available at WikipediaView full credits

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