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What to See and Do in Surfers Paradise - Urban Thrills, Waterborne Fun, and Eco Retreats

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This extroverted waterfront suburb in the heart of Queensland’s buzzing Gold Coast is known for its oversized attractions, from big-and-bold restaurants and sprawling nightclubs, to soaring hotel towers - as well as one of Australia’s largest, and most impressive beaches. But there are plenty of quieter activities in the vicinity too, including enlightening wildlife experiences, and charming markets.

Cavill Avenue


This pedestrian mall changes dramatically depending on the time of day. It’s pleasant and relaxing during daylight hours, with outdoor dining and a range of shopping options. After dark, the nightclubs open, attracting a crowd that’s equal parts friendly and rowdy. Many of the venues are aimed squarely at young partygoers, but there are a few exceptions: try Black Coffee Lyrics for gastropub fare, interesting cocktails, and late night coffee; or head to Elsewhere to hear international DJs, and mix with locals.


  • Black Coffee Lyrics, 3131 Surfers Paradise Boulevard, Surfers Paradise QLD 4217; Tel: +61 402 189 437; Website: Black Coffee Lyrics

  • Elsewhere, 1/23 Cavill Avenue, Surfers Paradise QLD 4217; Tel: +61 7 5592 6880; Website: Elsewhere

Fun on the water


You’ll no doubt be spending some time at the beach during your trip to Surfers Paradise, and there is no shortage of companies willing to loan you equipment or teach you to surf. But those looking for something unusual have a wealth of options too. Local outfit Jet Ski Safaris operate tours through the mangroves and narrow coastal passageways that dot the Gold Coast, catering both to cautious novices and adrenaline junkies. Those who prefer stand-up paddleboarding can make contact with Go Vertical, which provides board hire and tuition, as well as expert advice about the best places to go.


  • Jet Ski Safaris, Mariners Cove Marina, Main Beach QLD 4217; Tel: +61 7 5526 3111; Website: Jet Ski Safaris

  • Go Vertical SUP Hire, 242 Marine Parade, Labrador QLD 4215; Tel: +61 423 716 625; Website: Go Vertical SUP Hire


Local markets


Although there is plenty of big-name, air-conditioned shopping on offer in Surfers Paradise, the most charming retail opportunities can be found in the open air. You’ll discover a broad array of goods at the Surfers Paradise Beachfront Markets, which are held every Wednesday, Friday, and Sunday nights, and comprise of more than 120 stalls. The markets are a classy affair, so expect distinctive fashion, bespoke jewelry, all-natural beauty products, and locally crafted homewares. Nearby, the Village Markets liven up Burleigh Heads every Sunday, with an emphasis on fashion and handicrafts.


  • Surfers Paradise Beachfront Markets, The Esplanade, Surfers Paradise QLD 4217; Tel: +61 7 5584 3700; Website: Surfers Paradise Beachfront Markets

  • Village Markets, 1750 Gold Coast Highway, Burleigh Heads QLD 4220; Tel: +61 487 711 850; Website: Village Markets


Tamborine Forest Skywalk


Located about an hour’s drive from Surfers Paradise on the slopes of the commanding Mount Tamborine, this immersive walking experience begins on the rain forest floor and climbs to the highest points of the upper canopy via a series of steel bridges. Along the way, visitors pass rock pools and waterfalls, a butterfly lookout, and a local history enclosure. Also on site, a museum and gallery has information about flora, fauna, and indigenous history. Leave time for the gift shop, and the open-air café with rain forest views.