Queensland’s Gold Coast is best known for its beaches but there is plenty more natural beauty to discover here.

The Gold Coast has some stunning national parks, from the dramatic coastline hugging Burleigh National Park to the cool rainforest walks of Tamborine Mountain and thousands of glowworms at Springbrook. It’s the ideal spot to immerse yourself in nature as you walk the Scenic Rim. Along what is arguably the most famous stretch of sand in Queensland, take time to discover how different each beachside neighbourhood is and how the frenetic energy of Surfers Paradise is a far cry from the old-school vibe at Rainbow Bay. The Gold Coast in Australia is the perfect spot for an Intrepid small group tour that shows you the many different sides of this popular tourist destination.

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Highlights of the Gold Coast

Gold Coast surfer

Gold Coast beaches

There is sure to be a beautiful beach close to wherever you’re staying and there are plenty of different spots to explore. Miami has cute retro beach shacks lining the beach and a headland offering 180-degree views. People watching at Surfers Paradise will keep you entertained for hours, and Coolangatta has some of the Gold Coast’s best surf breaks and two separate patrolled areas. If the swimming conditions aren’t good at one, the other is usually fine for swimming. Broadbeach has a thriving dining scene and a lively evening vibe.

Rainbow lorikeets in a tree

Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary

Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary has been operating for over 60 years and still has the world’s largest collection of Australian native wildlife. It’s considered so significant that it is managed by the National Trust. Feeding the lorikeets is as popular now as it was in the ‘50s. The raucous parrots land on the bowls of food as well as arms, heads and shoulders in a chaotic kaleidoscope of colour. Don’t miss a visit to the animal hospital where you can watch the vets work and learn about the rehabilitation of the injured native animals that are brought to the sanctuary for treatment.

Whale breaching

Whale watching

Seeing whales on the Gold Coast between June and November is an amazing experience. It’s possible to book a whale watching tour but you can also spot whales from the shore as this part of the coastline is known as the 'Whale Highway' due to the number of sightings. It’s not unusual to see a pod of whales cruising so close to shore you can hear the blow as they squirt water into the air at Point Danger. The Burleigh headland is another top spot to look for whales. If you’re really lucky, you might see a mother and calf, a breaching humpback leaping high into the air, or whale tails slapping the top of the ocean. 

Curtis Falls at Mount Tamborine

Explore Mount Tamborine

Mount Tamborine is a pretty mountaintop community that is an easy 40 minute drive from the Gold Coast but feels like a world away. Galleries and restaurants line the picturesque main street and Queensland’s oldest national park, Tamborine Mountain National Park, offers stunning scenery and impressive views of the Pacific Ocean and Gold Coast’s distant high rise. Admire the gorge, waterfalls and rock pools on a walk to Cedar Creek Falls along the lookout track, a route that is suitable for strollers and assisted wheelchair access, or trace the footsteps of folklore on a walk at Witches Falls.

Bushwalkers in Lamington National Park

Lamington National Park

Lamington National Park has two sections—Green Mountains (O’Reilly) and Binna Burra — and two roads to choose from, both stunning in their own way. At Binna Burra, you can connect with the land’s traditional owners on the Caves Circuit, a 5km return walk which travels through the fire-blackened Kweebani Caves which were once used for shelter and cooking by the Yugambeh people.  At the top of Green Mountain, watch for yellow-throated scrubwrens and logrunners and take a stroll along the 30 minute Rainforest Return walk at the start of the lengthy Border Track.

Tomatoes at the market

Market shopping

The Gold Coast’s markets are filled with bespoke, handmade finds and delicious produce. For ocean views and quirky souvenirs, head to the lively Surfers Paradise Beachfront Markets. Listen to talented local musicians and browse works by local artists and jewellery at the Coolangatta Art & Craft Market. At Carrara Markets you’ll see everything from bric-a-brac to one-off fashions and handmade arts and crafts. If you’re looking for a well-priced meal, you’ll find plenty of food trucks and affordable snack options options at all of the markets on the Gold Coast.

Gold Coast Tour Reviews

Gold Coast FAQs

Everyone travelling on an Intrepid trip must be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 as a condition of carriage. 

All travellers are required to produce:  

  • Proof of COVID-19 vaccination

  • All children aged 5 to 17 years old must provide proof of vaccination (if eligible), proof of recovery or a negative COVID-19 test.

  • If you are unable to be vaccinated for medical reasons, you may apply for an exemption. Exemptions will be assessed on a case-by-case basis. To apply, you must provide a medical certificate from a medical professional. 

In all cases, you must be fully inoculated. This means you must receive the full dosage of the COVID-19 vaccine and allow enough time for immunity to take effect. Each COVID-19 vaccine has different dosages and timeframes for inoculation, so please check the relevant medical advice associated with your vaccine.

Learn more about Intrepid's COVID-19 proof of vaccination policy

Gold Coast International Airport is located 20km south of Surfers Paradise. Brisbane is the closest capital city to the Gold Coast. Driving from here to the northern (and the closest) end of the Gold Coast takes around an hour. Trains from Brisbane will take you to Helensvale station. From here, the G:link tram takes you as far south as Broadbeach. Long distance buses travelling up and down the east coast of Australia also stop at the Gold Coast. 

Both the capital city of Brisbane and the glitzy Gold Coast are popular destinations for travellers looking for a nice, sunny holiday, and if you want to travel between the two, it's extremely easy. There are several transportation options to get you from Brisbane to the Gold Coast including self-driving, flying, and catching various modes of public transport. 

Read more about how to get from Brisbane to the Gold Coast

It's possible to get around the Gold Coast by catching a public bus, shuttle bus, taxi, or an Uber or hiring a car. Driving is the easiest way to get around but it can take a while due to traffic and the number of traffic lights. The G:link tram travels from Helensvale as far south as Broadbeach. Surfside Buslines also travel throughout the Gold Coast and will take you pretty much anywhere you need to go along the coast. If you want to visit the Gold Coast hinterland, you'll need to hire a car or join a small group tour. 

Late spring, summer, and early autumn are perfect for hitting the beach. Winter offers clear blue days, crisp evenings, and accommodation bargains galore. If you don't want to share your holiday with recently finished high schoolers, avoid travelling to the Gold Coast from mid-November to early-December. Accommodation prices skyrocket during this time and the city becomes extremely busy. 

Read more about the best time to visit the Gold Coast

The Gold Coast is a laid back destination and smart casual is the most common style of dress for a night out unless you are planning on hitting the clubs at Surfers Paradise. The Gold Coast is pleasantly warm throughout the year, although it can get cool in the evening so bring a lightweight sweater just in case. If you're heading to the Gold Coast hinterland, it's worth noting that temperatures are significantly cooler here compared to what you'll experience at the beach throughout the year. Bring swimwear as you may like to go swimming, even in winter. Sunscreen, sunglasses and a hat are a must as the Gold Coast is famous for its sunny weather. 

The Gold Coast is a major tourist destination which means the internet coverage tends to be excellent. The only exception to this is the Gold Coast hinterland where it is not uncommon to experience a lack of signal now and again in some sections of the national parks. 

The Gold Coast is a major tourist destination which means the mobile phone coverage tends to be excellent. The only exception to this is the Gold Coast hinterland where it is not uncommon to experience a lack of signal now and again in some sections of the national parks. 

Intrepid is committed to making travel widely accessible, regardless of ability or disability. That’s why we do our best to help as many people see the world as possible, regardless of any physical or mental limitations they might have. However, we’re always happy to talk to travellers with disabilities and see if we can help guide them towards the most suitable itinerary for their needs and where possible, make reasonable adjustments to our itineraries.

Learn more about Accessible Travel with Intrepid

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