This post was first published in 2015 and has since been updated with the most recent tips and information on the best things to do in Surfer’s Paradise, Australia.
Ask anyone if they have heard of Surfers Paradise and their answer is often along the lines of “Yeah, isn’t that the amazing surfing place in Australia?” But contrary to popular belief, Surfers Paradise (or simply “Surfers” as referred to by the locals) is not a great surfing beach at all, but it offers plenty of other reasons to pay this fabulous city a visit!
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When Max first moved to Australia, Surfers Paradise was his stomping ground. He studied at Griffith University, worked at Melbas on the Park restaurant and got to know Surfers Paradise inside and out. For him, Surfers was home and these are his tips for enjoying the best things to do in Surfers Paradise.
Things to do in Surfers Paradise
With so many things to do in Surfers Paradise, it’s one of the biggest tourist destinations in Australia for both locals and visitors alike. Although the city of Surfers Paradise consists of only 20,000 people, many people consider it to be the capital of the surrounding suburbs that make up the Gold Coast Area.
Surfers Paradise Australia is an entertainment and cultural hub bustling with nightlife and good restaurants, which makes it a common stop for anyone traveling around the Gold Coast.
Take a Surf Lesson
If this is your first visit to Surfers Paradise Australia, then a surf lesson has got to be on your list of Surfers Paradise activities. Although Surfers is not the best surfing beach along the Gold Coast, it’s a good starting point for any beginner. Once you have that out of your system, then you are set to explore the rest of what Surfers Paradise Australia has to offer!
Check out the Surfers Paradise Beachfront Markets
Take a stroll along the Esplanade on a Wednesday, Friday or Sunday night and discover a unique shopping and cultural experience at the Beachfront Markets. There are more than 100 market stalls offering jewellery, fashion, accessories, artworks, photography, and more. There is also live entertainment among the stalls to keep shoppers happy!.
Tackle the SkyPoint Climb
If you are feeling energetic, then a SkyPoint climb is a must. Reaching 270 meters high, it is Australia’s highest external building climb. You have to be fairly fit to manage all the steps, but the pay-off is unparalleled 360′ views looking out over the entire Gold Coast and beyond.
There are different types of climbing packages, including a Climb and Dine where you can reward your efforts with a delicious meal at the SkyPoint Bistro and Bar.
If you’re not feeling so fit, there is also a lift to the observatory deck!
Relax on a Surfers Paradise River Cruise
Take a Surfers Paradise River Cruise and view the city from the Gold Coast waterways, canals and rivers. There are a number of different tours and packages to choose from. Take a morning cruise, enjoy afternoon tea or sip on a cooling cocktail while sailing by Surfers Paradise.
Visit Nearby Beaches
One of the best things about Surfers Paradise Australia is its location. The Gold Coast is surrounded by many unique sights and beautiful beaches, each one worthy of a spot on your Australian itinerary.
Take a Day Trip to Springbrook National Park
Take a tour of Springbrook National Park. It’s about an hour drive from Surfers Paradise and is the perfect opportunity to experience the natural beauty of Eastern Australia.
Interested in a Tour? We recommend this day tour to Springbrook National Park & Tambourine National Park
Take a Day Trip to Currumbin Rock Pools
Just 30 minutes away from the Gold Coast, the Currumbin Rock Pools are a great day trip from Surfers Paradise. You have natural swimming pools, with rope swings and boulders to jump off and into the cool water, and a few rapids and waterfalls. There is also a picnic area with gazebos and toilet facilities on site.
Attend a Festival
Surfers Paradise Australia is also home to many annual festivals, including the Festival of Film, Music and Dance, Sand Safari Arts Festival, and Viva Surfers Paradise. No matter what time of year you are visiting the area there is always something happening.
Where to Stay in Surfers Paradise
If you are really to immerse yourself in this seaside city and enjoy all the fun things to do in Surfers Paradise, then you are going to need a base. While there is no shortage of accommodation options in Surfers Paradise, it’s mostly resorts and large hotels.
If you are determined to find a more eco-friendly option, you may have to go a little further out of the city, but the Gold Coast has plenty of sustainable options which make an excellent base to explore the area and Surfers Paradise.
The Island Boutique Hotel is located smack bang in the heart of Surfers Paradise, meaning you are perfectly located close to all the major Surfers Paradise attractions. The Island hotel design aims to “the outside in” with this array of native plant life and natural wood.
They also have a pool and spa facilities, a rooftop bar and onsite restaurant. A twin room with two double beds starts from $130 AUD and includes breakfast.
Q1 Resort & Spa
The Q1 Resort & Spa (rates starting at AUD $159 for a one-bedroom apartment) is an iconic high-rise building in Surfers Paradise Australia which held the title of the tallest residential building in the world between 2005 and 2011, and is still the tallest residential building in Australia.
The good news is that they are also dedicated to eco-friendly practices such as using energy-efficient technology throughout all of their resorts, a commitment to recycling and encouraging their guests to ‘go green’ with a free bike sharing scheme.
Royal Woods Gold Coast Resort
Close to Surfers Paradise is the Royal Woods Gold Coast Resort. They are dedicated to the conservation of the surrounding tropical environment of the Gold Coast region.
Their relaxing garden has been cultivated from carefully selected native plants which require little water to survive, and have 9,500 litre water tanks for their gardens and pools. A one-bedroom suite at Royal Woods can be around a very reasonable $180 AUD, depending on the time of year.
The Luxury Eco Rainforest Retreat
This is perfectly located if you intend on visiting the Currumbin Rock Pools mentioned earlier. The Luxury Eco Rainforest Retreat is chalet style accommodation set in the heart of tropical rainforest with stunning mountain views. The chalet has everything you need, plus a hot tub!
If you prefer a more private accommodation or want to live like a local, then there are countless options available on Airbnb.
Don’t have an Airbnb account yet? Sign up now and receive up to $40 USD credit to put towards your first Airbnb stay!
Best Restaurants in Surfers Paradise
There is no shortage of places to eat in Surfers Paradise. Take one step out of your accommodation and on the streets and you will see everything from kebab shops to fine dining that will satisfy even the pickiest of eaters.
Benihana Japanese Steak House
If eating on a budget is not important then Misono Japanese Steak House should be your first visit. It’s currently number 3 on Trip Advisors list of best restaurants Surfers Paradise and has over 1300 5-star reviews, and the food is guaranteed not to disappoint.
If you are looking for a Surfers Paradise restaurant that offers something cheap and cheerful, head to Pita Pan that offers great Greek food from fresh, quality ingredients. Try their famous souvlaki! It’s well priced and centrally located around the Soul entertainment area.
With all this coastline you know that the seafood is going to be good. If you want to splash a little cash and sample the best seafood in Surfers Paradise, then head to Critique for the seafood buffet Gold Coast style! The views over the water also make this the perfect choice to have a romantic meal with the significant other.
Melbas on the Park
With its central location, Melbas is the perfect place to take a break from all the sightseeing around Surfers Paradise. Their restaurant and bar have a great bistro menu and bar snacks, as well as sharing platters. They don’t have a lot for the non-meat eaters though, but they do make a mean cocktail!
If you are vegan or vegetarian then the first choice seems to be Govindas. Go for their pure vegan all you can eat buffet! The menu is Indian style, seasonal and made fresh daily, but you can usually find staples dishes such as Dahl, kofta, pakora, and a variety of salads, and freshly baked bread.
Helm Bar Surfers
One of the most popular Surfers Paradise restaurants is Helm Bar Surfers. They have daily meal deals, great cocktails and live music on the weekends.
Best Bars and Clubs in Surfer’s Paradise
If there is one thing Surfers Paradise is known for besides its beach, it is the partying. Cavill Avenue is where you will find the majority of the Surfers Paradise bars and Surfers Paradise clubs.
For live music and a pub atmosphere check out Waxy’s Irish Pub. It is located downtown and is a local favourite for Sunday sessions.
The Avenue has live entertainment every night of the week, but Friday and Saturdays are the main draws and the best thing is, it’s free entry!
If you are looking for a mid-week shindig, then head to the House of Brews. They have a live act every Wednesday and Thursday, as well as the weekends.
Nightclubs and Cocktail Bars
For those looking to enjoy the famous Surfers Paradise nightclubs be sure to check out SinCity, famous for being open and busy seven days a week from 9pm to 5am.
Retro’s Cocktail Lounge is another popular haunt and offers a fun, albeit, slightly cheesy night out! It plays all the top tracks from the 80, 90’s and the naughties and serves fishbowl cocktails. If you plan ahead, you can get in for free by joining the guest list.
If R’n’B and hip hop are more to your liking then the Underground Nightclub is the place to go. You can take a break from the dance floor and play a game of pool or book one of the VIP booths.
Another top option for Surfers Paradise bars is The Island Rooftop, perfect for sipping on a cocktail and watching the sun go down.
Tip: If you are looking for an eco-friendly way to zip between Surfers Paradise bars, hail a Green Cab. These pedal cabs operate every evening from 6pm til 10pm, and all through the night on Fridays and Saturdays.
Wherever you end up staying, eating, and playing, Surfers Paradise Australia will undoubtedly satisfy the party side of anyone and is a natural stop for most tourists traversing the East Coast.
Have you visited Surfer’s Paradise, Australia? Share your top tip with us below