Luxury Escapes Guide to the Gold Coast

Glorious gold-sand beaches, spectacular skyrise stays, bustling ‘burbs and subtropical serenity. There’s nothing standard about the Gold Coast.

It’s little wonder this region has become Australia’s most iconic holiday destination. Once evoking an excess of tacky clichés (think bleached-blonde hair, leathery-tanned bodies, bikini-clad meter maids and swimmers as day wear), the Gold Coast of today has reinvented itself very much for the better.

Here, shimmering high-rises skirt 57km of ocean kissed coastline, big-budget theme parks sit side-by-side to maximise your fun, and hand-made boutique fashion is more popular than anything mass-produced.

Boasting year-round sunshine and a grown-up restaurant scene that belies its reputation, there’s much to enjoy for the foodies too. Ice creameries serve you from just about every street corner, craft breweries dot the suburbs and Instagram worthy cafes and restaurants serve sumptuous cuisine well worth the extra calories.

Whether you stay in the glamorous coastal strip, away from the bustle of the tourist magnets, or even plan on crossing the border for a sun-soaked day trip, you just can’t help but fall in love with this vibrant slice of paradise.

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Discover the Gold Coast

Things to see and do

Find a beach to suit you

You could be forgiven for thinking the Gold Coast is just one long stretch of sand, but once you get familiarised, you’ll realise each beach is different. For the bathers and paddlers, there are the calmer waters of Surfers Paradise Beach, The Spit and Burleigh Beach, while surfers flock to the point breaks at Kirra Beach, Main Beach and Snapper Rocks. The Gold Coast is also home to year-round diving sites with the most diverse marine life in any Australian city. Head to Palm Beach Reef or Wave Break Island to explore the underwater ridges and channels.

Feed a kangaroo at Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary

Immerse yourself in the natural beauty of 27 hectares of rainforest as you meet native Australian and exotic wildlife animals at Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary. Wander through open animal enclosures, take photos with a cuddly koala, feed kangaroos and lorikeets, see the Wildlife Hospital precinct work their magic, and marvel at saltwater crocodiles before watching entertaining shows and Aboriginal cultural performances. There is also plenty of entertainment for kids with a miniature train and huge outdoor themed playground.

Tour the distillery at Granddad Jacks

Granddad Jacks is the Gold Coast’s first craft gin and whiskey distillery. Located just two minutes from Burleigh Beach, this old surfboard warehouse has been rebuilt with raw, rustic and upcycled materials including exposed brick walls, arched ceilings, hanging greenery and steel beams. Sign up for a tour and you’ll savour a gin and tonic on arrival, complimentary tastings of three gins and a fascinating behind-the-scenes tour through the distillery as you learn about the history of Jack himself.

Find your new favourite at The Village Markets

Handcrafted wooden skateboards, sustainable knick-knacks, vintage mementos, one-of-a-kind collectibles, boutique clothing and live music by local artists — there is no denying The Village Markets are a special community worth supporting. A blossoming talent pool of artfully selected small businesses, stylists and creatives coming together since 2008, TVM has also helped pave the way for global brands such as Peony Swimwear, Cleopatra’s Bling and Duke of London. Those who diligently peruse this treasure trove of unique curiosities are typically rewarded with not just positive vibes, but authentic and affordable one-of-a-kind finds. Please note: trading is limited to the first and third Sunday of every month.

See the future of VR gaming at Zero Latency

Are you a gaming aficionado? A die-hard fan of sci-fi? Or just an adrenalin junkie? If so, Zero Latency is a brand new multi-sensory experience for you. Already a success in Melbourne and Brisbane, this Southport based state-of-the-art VR experience allows you to roam freely throughout a 200sqm warehouse-sized area and immerse yourself in virtual reality. Choose to fight for survival amid a zombie apocalypse, take to the skies and outer space where you must rescue a space station, or walk through an ancient alien world where gravity is not as it seems.

Bookable via Luxury Escapes

Discover a new world of entertainment at the Pink Flamingo

Be amused, tantalised and teased by a formidable cast of handpicked performers at the world’s first Spiegelclub, the Pink Flamingo. With nightly performances every Wednesday through Saturday, this new era of entertainment offers a promising touch of burlesque with a hint of Vegas. Flaunting blush pink velvet, a state-of-the-art circular stage, extravagant light fittings, gold touches, 1920s art and splashes of pink flamingos, this intimate and immersive cabaret experience also features aerials, acrobatics, choreography, vocals and laugh-out-loud comedy. Hang around for a high-end club experience.

Get hands-on at POT studios

Channel your inner creativity at the Gold Coast’s dreamy pottery studio, POT studios. Perfect for beginners who have always wanted to try pottery or those more skilled seeking a communal studio space, POT studios will help get your creative juices flowing. Offering a wide range of workshops and at-home tutorials, POT studios encourages you to slow down, connect with your clay and create a handmade pottery piece you can keep forever. If you’re looking for something more romantic, POT will organise private classes so you can channel your inner Swayze and Moore.

Let off some steam at Lumber Punks

Fancy yourself as a bit of a lumberjack-slash-ninja? Test your axe throwing skills in dedicated throwing lanes at Lumber Punks in Miami. After a mandatory ‘Tactical Tomahawks and Hatchets’ safety training session, don your best plaid shirt and perfect your zombie apocalypse survival techniques. If you’re more competitive, why not challenge your mates to a game or two — think of it as darts but with an axe. Adding to the experience, there’s also a juke box for personalised bangers and novelty Viking hats for Insta moments. Biceps at the ready!

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Bash some balls at Topgolf

Have a ball and test your swing at Topgolf, a state-of-the-art golfing facility located in Oxenford. An innovative, three-level venue equipped with 90 climate-controlled bays, the space boasts a 190-metre-long outfield where you can channel your inner Woods or Gilmore. Aim for the giant light-up dartboard-like targets, which award you points based on your power and distance, before relaxing comfortably on the sidelines while you watch the fun. Take a break to enjoy a chef-driven menu of American classics, local specialities and unexpected new creations.

Top places to eat and drink

Rainbow Bay Surf Life Saving Club

Where locals and holidaymakers rub shoulders, Rainbow Bay Surf Life Saving Club is the most southern club on Queensland’s coast and one of the coast's only north-facing beaches. Once inside, you’ll find cold beers flowing and be tempted by sumptuous food wafting out of its dynamic kitchen. The perfect location for that long lunch or cheeky Sunday session, Rainbow Bay Surf Life Saving Club is the ideal place to people watch as you breath in the fresh ocean air.

The Balter Brewery

What do you get when you bring together local pro surfers Mick Fanning, Joel Parkinson, Bede Durbridge and Josh Kerr, with award-winning Australian Brewing Champion Scott Hargrave? One of the country’s most popular boutique beer brands — Balter. Without question one of the coolest additions to the Gold Coast (in March 2016), Balter’s spacious Currumbin-based cellar door is open from Friday through Sunday. And for those who wish to farewell the weekend in style, their renowned Sunday Sessions feature food trucks, exclusive beer samples, big tunes and great energy.

Justin Lane

Nestled in the bohemian pocket of Burleigh Heads, Justin Lane is the epitome of the good life and arguably one of the best bars on the Gold Coast. Inside this recently renovated two-story compound you’ll find hordes of jovial, beautiful people absolutely embracing life. Be tempted by handmade sourdough pizzas, pastas and share plates, or simply head upstairs to the rooftop bar where prime positioned booths face coastal views and evening cocktails are a must.

Crafty’s Sports Bar

It’s easy to label this place just another sports bar, but Crafty’s Sports Bar is about much more than beers and cheers. There’s plenty of space, competitive socialising with cornhole boards and ping pong tables, a pastel pink bubble-waffle truck at the entrance and a slightly more formal dining area so you don’t have to sit with the diehards. The bar itself also takes pride in its craft beer selection and signature cocktails and the gourmet pub grub menu is a blend of both comfort and clean eating. This venue is the perfect place to be, pre or post season.

White Rhino Bar & Eats

Located in the Circle on Cavil precinct, sprawled over two levels and with a capacity of 200 for dining and 500 standing, White Rhino is an absolute must-visit on the Coast. Your Jumanji dreams will be brought to life here, with beautifully decorated lush greenery, ceiling-high indoor trees, hanging plants, a running waterfall and life-like white rhinos. The hero of the venue however must be the 12-foot tree that stands proudly in the middle of the room. The menu itself also offers both a fine and casual style of dining full of fresh local ingredients with a big emphasis on seafood.

Chop Chop

Nestled in Cavill Lane in Surfers Paradise, Chop Chop is a foodie precinct of fashioned laneways serving up the very best hawker-style eats. Comprising of several tenants, all specialising in their own style of Asian street food, you’ll be spoiled for choice with offerings from Korea, Thailand, Japan, China and India. Whether you’re feeling like noodles, dumplings, sushi, or Korean hot pot, you’ll find something to suit your tastebuds. For the thirsty, a visit to Bangla Road Bar is a must where refreshing delicious cocktails are designed to pair perfectly with your dining.

Frida Sol

Say ‘hola’ to Frida Sol, a boutique modern Mexican Taqueria & Tequila Bar, located in Palm Beach. Looking as though it belongs on a balmy Mexican beach, Frida Sol is littered with giant succulents and cactuses, brightly coloured artworks and copper adornments, while its polished wood floors are offset by concrete-esque high tables and incredibly textured walls. Stacked full of Mexican classics with a modern twist, the menu has everything from traditional favourites such as grilled corn and beef cheek empanadas to market fish ceviche and sangria… lots of sangria.