If you like to spice up your sunbathing with a spot of surfing and a LOT of shopping, then Surfers Paradise will really live up to its name!
The enterprising hotelier Jim Cavill, who built the first hotel on the coastal settlement of Elston in 1925, would barely recognise the place now, but his foresight in lobbying for the town to change its name to the more publicity-friendly Surfers Paradise has really paid dividends. Today this popular resort between Broadbeach and Main Beach is one of the hotspots of the Gold Coast, with a wide range of accommodation, great shopping and plenty of nightlife to keep the crowds coming back for more.
Its man-made charms aside, the beach is still the jewel in Surfers Paradise’s crown. This long stretch of fine golden sand is enhanced on one side by a scenic esplanade which is popular with walkers and joggers, and on the other by some of the best rollers in the Pacific. Not surprisingly, there are plenty of surfing schools catering for all comers, from absolute beginners to confident surfers looking to pick up tips from the pros. You can also book jet boat or parasail rides or take a sunset kayaking tour to Chevron Island, sneaking a quick peek at some of the lavish private estates tucked away on its inlets as you paddle past.
For one of the best views in the area, take the Q1 Residential Skyscraper lift to the SkyPoint observation deck, where you can sip a cocktail and dine with the lights of the coastal strip snaking into the distance and the sparkling Coral Sea spread at your feet 230 metres below. If that’s not quite high enough, book a climb to the very top of Q1, another 40 metres above the observation deck. If you’re lucky, you might spot the tell-tale spray of a humpback whale on the horizon. Whale-watching tours leave from Surfers Paradise from May to October when the migration season brings these graceful leviathans closer to the shore.
Shopping is another big draw to Surfers Paradise, and all the big names are to be found in Cavill Avenue and Cavill Mall, along with other indoor attractions including Ripley’s Believe It or Not! museum. On Wednesday and Friday nights, the esplanade springs to life as the setting for open-air markets selling local arts and crafts, fashions, jewellery and food. This lively resort hosts a year-round programme of surfing competitions, festivals and other entertainment, so there’s never a dull moment!