The reputation of the Gold Coast sparkles much like the iridescent shores of its 52-kilometre coastline. Hitting the beach is a high priority with 300 sunny days a year, but this coastal playground has so much more to offer. Sun-kissed headlands, dreamy mountain ranges and a cocktail of cosmopolitan influences ensure you have as much fun off the sand, as you would on it.
Beyond the gold is the green, and less than an hour's drive from the red and yellow flags is the quixotic Gold Coast Hinterland. Mount Tamborine is primed for day trips where myriad adventures await amongst gushing waterfalls, native wildlife, scenic lookouts and picturesque villages. Keen, yet relaxed explorers can choose from 12 walking paths, including the trail in the treetops, Tamborine Rainforest Skywalk. You could then slow down the pace by sipping and swirling your way through the mountain's medley of wineries and distilleries. Or, simply wander the tree-lined Gallery Walk and its alfresco cafes and craft stores.
The Gold Coast is no longer a domain of soggy fish and chips. Local restaurateurs are turning heads and whetting the appetites of foodies and food critics alike. A selection of Gold Coast restaurants scooped up an impressive 14 Chef's Hats at the 2016 Brisbane Times Good Food Guide awards, cementing the region as a key player on Australia's culinary field. Gourmands will love the sophisticated plating of the day's freshest catch at The Fish House in Burleigh Heads, while Kiyomi at Jupiters Hotel & Casino is lauded for its modern spin on traditional Japanese cuisine.
The coast isn't wholly defined by sun, surf and sand. Pacific Fair, Broadbeach's sprawling mall is arguably the best place to splash some cash. Luxury brands and high street fashion mingle in an indoor/outdoor setting awash with vibrant prints, tropical luxe embellishments and tranquil fountains. But it's not all shop 'til you drop. Mid-2016 will see the completion of the final stage of the centre's $670 million redevelopment, which will cement its status as a premier retail, dining and entertainment precinct.
Eat well. The Best Bites on the Gold Coast
Things to do. The Gold Coast: Four Days, Four Ways to Have Fun!
Other Queensland stops. Queensland's Coast is Rich in Natural Marvels
You certainly can't miss that gleaming glass-facade and towering spire dominating the skyline on arrival into Surfers Paradise. At 322.5 metres high, Q1 is one of the world's tallest residential towers, and naturally, its lofty height offers spectacular vistas. In 42.7 seconds, you'll zoom up 77 floors for uninterrupted 360-degree views of the Gold Coast and hinterland from the SkyPoint Observation Deck. If you're feeling particularly adventurous, don a specialty jumpsuit and harness for the exhilarating, open-air SkyPoint Climb. It's certainly something to tick off the bucket list!
While it doesn't have quite the same grandeur as the Bondi to Bronte coastal walk, the trail from Goodwin Terrace in Burleigh Heads to Echo Beach certainly has a 'local's only' feel. The trail to calm Echo Beach splits off into the rugged rainforest track or the more leisurely oceanview walk. Don't forget your beach towel for a dip!
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