For a break in the sun, head to this expansive city: the perfect combination of beaches, theme parks, nightlife, rain forests and mountains.
With its casinos, Jet Skis, yachts and luxury hotels, the Gold Coast looks like it’s straight out of a James Bond movie. Australia’s major theme parks are all here, and the quieter hinterland offers rock climbing, scenic flights and skydiving for thrill seekers. It’s easy to see why millions of visitors flock to the Gold Coast every year: There are more than 30 beaches, including Burleigh Beach, where professional surfers come to compete in February, as well as great shopping and dining.
The Gold Coast encompasses several seaside towns inhabited by over half a million people, making this Australia’s sixth-largest city. The area covers 541 square miles (1,400 square kilometers) from Beenleigh, south of the Queensland capital Brisbane, to Coolangatta Beach at the New South Wales border.
The first Australians, the Aborigines, called this beautiful land of the sun Kurrungul. Europeans settled here, growing and commercializing the area, from the mid-1800s onwards. Tourism boomed in the 1950s, and the golden opportunity to invest in real estate gave the city its name and its skyline.
Some of Australia’s most famous beaches are on the Gold Coast. Two surfing hot spots are Burleigh Beach and Surfers Paradise Beach, an area that’s also popular for shopping and dining. Families looking for a good swimming area will enjoy the calmer waters of Coolangatta Beach.
More family fun awaits at the Gold Coast’s wide range of amusement parks. Interact with marine creatures at Sea World, slide through Wet‘n’Wild Water World, or board the superhero rides at Movie World. You can do all this and more at the biggest Australian theme park, Dreamworld.
The Gold Coast offers year-round entertainment, but you may want to avoid the rowdy “Schoolies” period (when high school graduates celebrate) in November. The weather is hot and humid from December to February (summer), and dry and sunny from June to August (winter). Rain or shine, pack your bathers to enjoy one of Australia’s most popular vacation destinations.