With its wide range of attractions and activities, the Gold Coast is undoubtedly the favourite playground for domestic holidaymakers and international visitors to Australia. Singles, couples and families can choose to get active in the water, land or air, relax and rejuvenate by the coast, wine and dine in style, escape to the hinterland, and attend a variety of local and world-class events. With so much to choose from, here's the A to Z of the top places to go and best things to do and see on the Gold Coast. For more information on the Gold Coast, check out Gold Coast Tourism website.
Australian Outback Spectacular / Photo courtesy of Gold Coast Tourism
A The 'World's First' amphibious Aquaduck offers a land and water cruise of the Gold Coast waterways and famous land marks while the Australian Outback Spectacular's 'Spirit of the Horse' dinner and show celebrates the courageous spirit of the Australian horse and honour the legend that is Phar Lap. Head north to Fraser Island where Australian Sunset Safaris offers a 4-wheel drive along pristine beaches and lush rainforests.
B Beaches make the Gold Coast one of the romantic destinations as well as offer up loads of free fun for the family. Head to popular Broadbeach for more dining options or the Broadwater for canal cruises and fishing. Bunyip Bike Tours offer eco-friendly, 2-wheeled tours along to the City's picturesque coastline, into the hinterland and close up with Australian wildlife in a nature reserve.
Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary / Photo by Jetske19 of Flickr
C Fans of the mud crab can enjoy a crabbing and boating tour in Tweed Heads with Catch a Crab while animal lovers can head to Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary to get up close with koalas, kangaroos and baby crocodiles, and the Gold Coast's first and most authentic indigenous dinner show, 'Yanguwah'. Beer lovers can visit the Carlton & United Brewery where VB, Fosters, Carlton Draught and Pure Blonde are brewed. Take a cruise of Gold Coast's magnificent waterways onboard the Mustang 3800 LE Sports Cruiser of Gold Coast Luxury Cruises. Large groups can enjoy the luxuriously appointed 98 foot Azimut Leonardo mega yacht of MY Seven Star. Weekends are also more interesting with Carrara Markets. which offers over 500 stalls of just about everything.
D Dining is an enjoyable part of any Gold Coast holiday. Try a sumptuous seafood lunch or dinner buffet at Sheraton Mirage Resort & Spa, traditional Hong Kong dim sum at Ming Palace, gourmet breakfast from celebrity chef Luke Mangan's cafe-style menu at The Food Store in Hilton Surfers Paradise or Australia's longest running and most successful dinner theatre at Dracula's. No holiday on the Gold Coast would be complete without visiting the home of 'Big Brother Australia' and taking the Big 8 rides at Dreamworld including the 'BuzzSaw', 'Kung Fu Panda' and 'Shockwave'
The Claw ride at Dreamworld / Photo by Vitamin-K of Flickr
E Entertainment and events abound on the Gold Coast with world-class options like Quicksilver Pro, Surfers Paradise Festival, Gold Coast Airport Marathon and Broadbeach Jazz Festival. Eco-lovers can enjoy fishing at Ecopark Fishing World, exploring the hinterland with Eco Safaris Queensland and spot sea eagles, ospreys, turtles, dolphins and the elusive Dugong with Eco Extreme.
G Be amazed by the natural glow worm caves of Springbrook National Park or the views of the coast while tandem skydiving with Gold Coast Skydive. Golfing enthusiasts can choose from 7 resort, 9 private and numerous public golf courses such as Jack Nicklaus's signature golf course at Lakelands Golf Club and Palmer Gold Coast, one of the top 30 resort courses in the country.
I Ice skating are available to guests of Paradise Resort, the only resort in the southern hemisphere with its very own permanent ice skating rink with Planet Chill. Alternatively try the extraordinary interactive sequence of multi-sensual worlds at the special effects fun house, Infinity Gold Coast.
Jupiters Hotel & Casino / Photo by thienzieyung of Flickr
J The Star antes up loads of contemporary entertainment and dining options both day and night while Gold Coast's first dedicated Aboriginal Tourism and Cultural Centre, Jellurgal, allows visitors to discover more about the traditional landowners including dreamtime stories, Aboriginal dance and remnants of Aboriginal life from over thousands of years ago across the headland from Tallebudgera Estuary to Burleigh. Thrill seekers can experience the speed and adrenaline rush of 360 degree spins aboard the Gold Coast's largest and most powerful purpose-built jet boat with Jetboat Extreme.
L Be spooked by ghoulish tales of Gold Coast's most haunted locations with Lantern Ghost Tours. Reserve yourself a stretched limousine for a transfer or trip around Gold Coast with Sovereign Limousines. Hummer fans can ride Australia's largest 24 seater stretched hummer from Get Hummered. For some outdoor fun with friends and the entire family, check out Laser Skirmish.
M Warner Bros. Movie World continues to entertain adults and kids alike with new rides including the world's first 'Justice League: Alien Invasion 3D' featuring state-of-the-art animatronics and 3D technology, the 'Green Lantern' rollercoaster with speeds of up to 66km/h and pulling 3.5Gs, and the world's first "Arkham Asylum Shock Therapy" ride reaching speeds of up to 85km and pulling 4.2Gs. Keep your eyes peeled for the Surfers Paradise Meter Maids with their friendly smiles, pleasant manner and hot bodies in Gold Lycra Bikinis.
N Make visiting Gold Coast your New Year resolution as the strip antes up loads of parties and family fireworks. For the top night clubs to rival the after dark party fever of Bali, check out the eclectic yet sophisticated Vanity Nightclub with spacious Party Booths and Private VIP lounges, and party with the likes of Chris Brown, Lil Jon and other international artists at SinCity Nightclub. Night markets selling a variety of fashion, jewellery, accessories, artworks, photographs, beauty products and home wares are common on the Gold Coast. Check out more than 120 stalls at the Surfers Paradise Beachfront Markets on Wednesday and Friday after 5pm. For a more serene coastal beauty coupled with affordable and quality meals, check out North Burleigh Surf Life Saving Club.
View from Skypoint Observation Deck / Photo by phalinn of Flickr
O To observe stunning 360 degree views from the surf to the hinterland and beyond, head off to SkyPoint where its Observation Deck is located 230 metres into the sky on level 77 of the Q1 building. For the greenery of Lamington National Park, visit the private resort, O'Reilly's Rainforest Retreat, to enjoy tree top walks and the country's first and only Segway guided tour that is surrounded by a World Heritage-listed National Park. For a range of premium retailers and dining, check out Oracle Boulevard in Broadbeach.
P Palazzo Versace and Putt Putt Golf changed the face of the Gold Coast. A sexy cocktail of Versace's high fashion with luxury accommodations, Palazzo Versace on the Gold Coast is the world's first haute hotel. The Gold Coast is also the Australasian birthplace of Putt Putt Golf. For a retail fix, there's always Pacific Fair Shopping Centre.
Q1 Resort & Spa / Photo by l.bailey_beverley of Flickr
Q Recognised as one of the world's tallest residential towers, the rooms at Q1 Resort & Spa offers stunning views of some 40 kilometres of Gold Coast coastline while QT Gold Coast combines food, wine, music, design, fashion and art into a designer hotel.
Photo by BANAMINE of Flickr
R Racing on the Gold Coast is one of most anticipated and exciting events in Australia with around 60 race meetings conducted by the Gold Coast Turf Club each year including the famous Magic Millions Racing Carnival. The Gold Coast races, held at Queensland's iconic Gold Coast Racecourse, gives the Melbourne Cup a run for the money. Those who prefer cars to horses can race their favourite car models including F1, V8, Lamborghini, Ferrari and Porsche in full-motion simulators at Racecentre Surfers Paradise or drive the real sports models from Rent A Dream Car and head towards Robina Town Centre for a shopping sprint.
S Sea World is even better than ever with 'Dinosaur Island', a new interactive animatronic dinosaur attraction that takes visitors on a journey into the prehistoric world. Kids can also enjoy the world's first SpongeBob SquarePants parade and live stage show of Dora's Best Friends Adventure. In-house guests at Sea World Resort & Water Park can enjoy an exclusive and free Dolphin presentation.
For a sense of height, head to the Skypoint Climb, Australia's highest external building walk, taking climbers on a guided journey reaching 270 metres into the sky on top of the Q1 resort building. Take a ride on the SkyWheel for a different perspective. Join Spy School and live the action-packed life of James Bond at the Stunt Academy run by world-class stunt performers and instructors. Hit the surf on the Gold Coast with lessons from world Champion Cheyne Horan and John Preston's Gold Coast Surf Academy and you may soon be ready to join the the world's greatest surfers at the Quiksilver and Roxy Pros.
U Underwater dives on the Gold Coast are considered some of Australia's best with more than 448 species of critters and fish along the 4 kilometre seaway. Sydney with a 317 kilometre shoreline only has some 100 species. Best of all, the dive sites are within the city limits of a major urban centre. Learn to dive with Cooly Dive or check out the numerous dive sites with Diving the Gold Coast. If you're game, you could also get married underwater.
W Water provides loads of heart pumping fun at Wet'n'Wild. The mother of all water slides has to be the 'Constrictor' which features the tightest and highest turns in the world, where riders hit speeds of up to 30km/h. Nicknamed 'Humpback Highway', the waters of the Gold Coast are also home to migrating schools of humpback whales. They can be viewed with cruises from Aquatic Blue Charters and Rivers Restaurant Cruises & Boat Charters.
Z After an exciting day of sun, sand and sea, it's great to sit back, relax and catch some Zzzs. With plenty of affordable accommodations and luxury resorts available on Agoda, there's no better place to do so than right here on the Gold Coast.