The center of Australia's Gold Coast, Surfers Paradise is exactly what its name suggests - a fantastic place to test your skills on the waves. But there's much more than just surfing on offer in this lively resort.
For one thing, Surfers Paradise has legendary nightlife, with clubs, bars, music venues, and casinos all along the coast. But there are places to relax as well. You could witness the glow-worm caverns at Mt Tamborine, swim at the foot of waterfalls in Springbrook National Park, or walk through the rainforest canopy at O'Reilly's Tree Top Walk.
Add in family attractions like WhiteWater World and Dreamworld, as well as the bright lights of Brisbane just an hour to the north, and you have a world-class beach destination.
The centerpiece of Surfers Paradise is indisputable: mile upon mile of beaches that enjoy constant sunshine and excellent waves. If you've ever wanted to learn how to surf, feel like snorkeling or diving to accessible reefs, or just want to stretch out to catch some rays, there's no better Aussie destination.
Nature lovers will also adore Surfers Paradise. You can get to know all about the rainforest by walking the 180 meter length (196 yards) of O'Reilly's Tree Top Walkway, take 4 wheel-drive trips at night to the glow-worm caves at Tamborine Mountain, or get away from it all in Burleigh Head National Park.
The Gold Coast is a superb family vacation destination. When the heat gets a little too much for sightseeing, there are water parks like Wet'n'Wild or WhiteWater World. Dreamworld is also heaven for daredevils, with the 38-storey plunge of Giant Drop and the adrenaline rush of the Tower of Terror 2.
When you stay at Surfers Paradise, you'll be a short distance from Brisbane, Queensland's capital city. You can pop into town to see the koalas at the Lone Pine Sanctuary, tour the Queensland Art Gallery, or stroll around Mount Coot-tha Botanic Gardens and be back at your hotel in the evening.
The seafront at Surfers Paradise is a wonderful place to be. Every Wednesday, Friday, and Saturday, it hosts 120 food, art, crafts, and antiques stalls - the ideal place to pick up some souvenirs or watch local musicians and dancers show off their skills.
The Gold Coast offers temperatures in excess of 70 degrees for most of the year. Any visit between September and May should offer great sunbathing conditions. However, if you really want to party, try a New Year's vacation, as the resort really goes to town over the holidays.
Many tourists arrive at Gold Coast Airport (OOL). If you touch down at Gold Coast (about 12 miles from town), the cheapest option is to take bus 777 to Broadbeach South station, then to catch the G:link train to Surfers Paradise. If you touch down at Brisbane Airport, you can take the Airtrain to Nerang, a short cab journey from the resort.
The Airtrain service runs from Brisbane to Nerang, which is around 10 miles from Surfers Paradise. If you take the train, the best route into town is to take the 740 bus, which takes just 20 minutes and costs A$4.60. You can also catch a NSW TrainLink service from Sydney. In that case you'll need to alight at Casino and take a taxi to Surfers Paradise.
The best route to Surfers Paradise from Brisbane is to take the M1 to Nerang and then switch to highway 20 into Southport, a couple of miles north of the resort. The A1 is the road to take from Sydney. It may take a long time to cover the 600-mile distance, but it's a beautiful drive.
Coaches are a popular and affordable way to travel up and down Australia's east coast, and the main company serving Surfers Paradise is Greyhound (who also connect the resort with Sydney).
Most of the best hotels in Surfers Paradise are found near the seafront, close to the major attractions. The best of the lot is probably the Q1 Resort & Spa, which offers stunning 360 degree views from its tower and luxury pampering by its expert staff. Other great options include the beachside QT Resort and Mantra Towers, which is perfect for nightlife fans.
Downtown Surfers Paradise - located on a sand island separated from mainland Queensland by the Nerang River, Downtown Surfers Paradise is where you'll find legendary nightlife spots like SinCity, casinos, theaters, and attractions like Ripley's Believe It or Not.
The Seafront - technically part of the Downtown area, the beach feels like a separate neighborhood, thanks to the wide esplanade that runs along its fringe. There aren't many better places to surf, play volleyball, or swim, while the seafront regularly hosts markets and live music events.
Chevron Island - set back from the high-rises and energy of the resort, Chevron Island is a laid-back suburb with a lively retail scene. There are small galleries like the St. Thomas Studio, boutiques, and bars to retire to after a day at the beach.
Although getting around Surfers Paradise itself is fairly simple and the city is very walkable, the Surfside Buslines network can be handy if you'd like to reach other Gold Coast destinations. If you do need to use public transportation, it's a good idea to pick up a Go Card, which allows contactless, cut-price travel as far as Brisbane.
Taxis are a useful option to have in reserve but they can be quite expensive. Typical rates in the area are A$2.90 for the meter drop, then around A$3 per mile after that. However, Uber is present on the Gold Coast and can offer much cheaper rates.
Australia in general is a great place to have your own car and Surfers Paradise is no exception. If you want to explore the Queensland outback or see all of the local beaches, renting from outlets like Thrifty, Europcar, or Avis makes perfect sense. It can also be a cost effective choice, with rates as low as A$30 per day.
The best shopping street in Surfers Paradise is probably Cavill Avenue, which is home to Cavill Mall, where you'll find fashion stores like Billabong. Cavill is also home to the Paradise Centre, which is full of small jewelers like Haines & Stephenson and boutiques like Factorie. Another great option is the beachfront market that takes place every Wednesday, Friday, and Saturday.
Supermarkets in Surfers Paradise include Woolworths and Coles (which is comfortably the largest grocery store in town). Prices for food and drink won't be too high, with a gallon of milk costing A$4.50 and 12 eggs around A$4.
Dining out in Surfers Paradise can be a real delight, with several award-winning restaurants in town. Some of the best include Seaduction Restaurant with its gorgeous sea views, and the French-influenced Citrique at the Marriott. The Elston Restaurant also offers superb down-to-earth burgers and fish and chips and Delhi Darbar is a good north Indian option. Expect mains to cost between A$20 and A$30.