This article was originally on GET.com at: Gold Coast Travel Guide: Wildlife, Beaches & Delicious Seafood
In this Gold Coast travel guide, you'll discover why Gold Coast is a great option for a family-friendly trip with a wide variety of things to do. The launch of budget flights has made access to Gold Coast so easy and cheap that it has emerged as one of the latest alternatives to a Bali/Thailand beach holiday for Singaporeans.
Gold Coast offers lots of amusement park options, lovely beaches, nature walks, vineyards and fresh seafood.
Compared to other beach holiday destinations in Asia, Gold Coast focuses less on the rustic and cultural aspects of our nearby neighbours, but offers a great mix of urban vibes and clean beaches. The fact that it is an English-speaking country only makes it a more convenient location to relax in. In GET.com's Gold Coast Travel Guide we give you the scoop on the top things to see, do and eat there.
Best Things To See In Gold Coast
With a name like Gold Coast, you can obviously expect some golden-sand beaches, blue waters and some cute surfers to feast your eyes on at the various beaches.
Other than that, Australia is home to a whole lot of wildlife as well as greenery so get ready to relax in the arms of Mother Nature.
There's no lack of beaches in Gold Coast and seriously, even if you aren't a beach person or avoid the sun like the plague, you need to go take a walk or lounge on a beach under a beach umbrella.
Take your pick from the few great names - Burleigh Heads Beach, Surfer's Paradise Beach, Coolangatta Beach, Kirra beach and Kurrawa Beach, just to name a few.
Beaches can get pretty crowded during the hot summer season, so go prepared with your own mats and beach towels.
Other than that, take your time and soak in the sun! Some of these beaches provide playgrounds for kids and there are often lifeguards on duty so you can relax if you are bringing children.
Beyond the beaches of Gold Coast, you'll find the wonderful Tamborine Mountain. The mountain is an easy 30-minute drive away from the coast so you can easily go by car or you can join a local tour.
The mountain abounds in natural beauty, nature hikes, trails, waterfalls and spectacular scenery.
Other than nature, head to the gallery walk shopping precinct at the mountain and you'll find rows of shops selling various things, from cafes to breweries.
You can try out specialty cheese and fudge or buy some local crafts. You can even stay a couple of days in a lodge or retreat up in Tamborine Mountain to get some quiet time away from the crowded beaches.
If you love the heights and call yourself a daredevil, the SkyPoint Climb is considered a must-do in Gold Coast.
For the rest of us who prefer to just enjoy a bird's eye view of the city, you can choose to have a coffee and grab a bite at the observation deck instead.
Situated on level 77 and 78 of the Q1 Building in Surfers Paradise, the place is the only observation deck in the area.
The more adventurous who want to undertake the challenge of the SkyPoint Climb will be rewarded with a 360 degree view of Gold Coast from 270 metres into the air.
Best Things To Do In Gold Coast
Other than beaches, Gold Coast is home to a number of thrilling amusement parks. You can easily fill up 3 full days just spending time on these crazy rides and fulfilling your theme park fantasies.
You can usually spend at least half a day in each of these parks.
Tip: read online reviews to have an idea of the thrill level of the rides.
Some are more kid-friendly, while others are for extreme daredevils. Some things to try out include Sea world, DreamWorld, Warner Brothers Movie World, as well as Wet N' Wild.
The best time to visit is on a weekday so as to avoid the long queues. Food prices are notably expensive in these parks, so if you want to save some money, pack your own snacks in your bags.
Visit The MountView Alpaca Farm
Located in the Lamington National Park, stop by to have a look at the adorable Alpaca, feed them and have a coffee at the farm's mountain terrace.
While the farm itself is pretty small, you can easily visit it on your trip to the Lamington National Park or to O'Reilly's Rainforest Retreat.
Alpacas are native to Peru but can be found in Australia and the US as well. Mostly bred for their "wool-like" fleece, they are part of the camelid family.
Be careful when you go near them though, because these cute creatures are known for their dirty habit of spitting!
If you've got half an hour to an hour to spare, pay a visit to the Infinity Attraction. The attraction presents an immersive art form that interacts with visitors through multiple senses of touch, hearing, smell, vision and movement.
Get ready to have your senses heightened in its multitude of scenes and experiences, taking you from neon mazes, time tunnels, glow tubes to star chambers.
Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary
Every time I go to Australia, I never miss the chance to have a look at their wildlife and exquisite animals that you can't find in other parts of the world.
The Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary presents such an opportunity in Gold Coast. Hug a koala or get up close and personal with the prickly echidna or feed a pelican. Be entertained by the bird shows or catch a sheep-shearing session.
The whole park is pretty big so you can spend a good day here with the little train ride to get on and off at the different stops.
Best Things To Eat In Gold Coast
There are plenty of choices of food in Gold Coast - from snobbish cafes, casual surf clubs to seafood restaurants and budget-friendly kebabs, you'll have no lack of ideas on where to fill your stomach next.
Being right next to the coast, Gold Coast offers some of the freshest seafood I've had in my life. If you have a bit of budget, I'd say splurge on the seafood that's so value-for-money.
We had a seafood platter which was for 2 but could easily feed 3 or 4 people and excellent fish and chips at Fiddler's Green at Surfers Paradise. Portions are usually pretty huge in Australia so you can always order a dish for sharing.
Black Coffee Lyrics
Australia's got an awesome coffee culture, and we're not talking about Starbucks. Black Coffee Lyrics has an artsy and cosy vibe - perfect for a slow afternoon of reading, chatting and just hanging out.
And we're not just talking about the coffee, you can even have a real meal here - choose from their variety of chicken wings (you can't stop at one), a tasty and smoky char-grilled octopus, wagyu patty burgers and Sunday roast.
Surf lifesaving started in Australia as a response to drownings at local beaches. They are formed by volunteers who are trained in life-saving methods that patrol the beaches as life guards.
You'd find many of these surf clubs in Gold Coast and they actually provide a casual dining option and are open to the public.
Some are even known for their delicious offerings so do try to at least have a meal in one of these surf clubs!
Best Places To Shop In Gold Coast
While I wouldn't say it's a shopping paradise in Gold Coast, you'll find malls and outlets, as well as lots of surf shops around.
Robina Town Shopping Centre
While Surfers Paradise offers one or two shopping areas such as the Chevron Renaissance and Cavill, I'd advise that you head to Broadbeach for some proper shopping.
The Robina Town Centre will fulfil your needs for a Singaporean-sized mall where you'll find almost anything - a supermarket, cafes, specialty food shops, casual clothing as well as a cinema.
Harbour Town Outlet Shopping Centre
Harbour Town is Australia's largest outlet shopping centre. Offering more than 220 stores and familiar brand names such as Coach, Hugo Boss, Swarovski and Victoria's Secret.
You won't regret the trip here since all stores offer at least a 30 per cent discount compared to retail stores and you can even catch a free tourist shuttle to the outlet mall.
Having so many beautiful beaches in Gold Coast also means there's plenty of opportunities for shopping at the various beach markets.
One of the most popular ones is Surfers Paradise Beachfront Markets held every Wednesday, Friday and Sunday night right on the coast.
It's a great place to soak in the atmosphere and enjoy a leisurely evening stroll while looking out for unique crafts to buy.
Other worthy mentions include The Village Markets held every 4th Sunday of the month at Paradise Point, the Chinatown Street Markets at Southport and the 30-year old Cararra Markets featuring more than 400 stalls.
Gold Coast Saving Tips
Accommodation is pretty expensive in Australia, so you might want to plan your trip in advance and book your hotel online to get the best rates. Here you can find the best hotel rates in Gold Coast on Agoda.com.
You can save even more money by using a credit card to book your hotel (and your flight). Aim for a credit card that offers cashback, miles or points on your purchases and you'll begin accumulating rewards which you can use to get a discount or even a free ticket for your next holiday!
If you completely blew your budget with the plane tickets and you want a little adventure, how about couchsurfing? Couchsurfing is staying at a host's house that you contact on the couchsurfing website for free, but keep in mind that this is not a hotel so you might literally end up on a couch!
Lynette Tan is a contributing writer at GET.com, a lifestyle and personal finance website. Email: email@example.com.