Gold Coast is a coastal city on the east coast of Australia. While the majority of the city is in Queensland, the southernmost town, Coolangatta, straddles on both Queensland and New South Wales.
Famous for its golden beaches, surfing beaches, rainforest, themed parks and nightlife, Gold Coast’s became a popular tourist destination in the mid-’90s. Clearly, everyone is enamoured by its sheer beautiful and sunny subtropical climate.
While there are mountains, amusement parks and wildlife sanctuary in Gold Coast, my top 10 things to do alone in Gold Coast centers around the many beach lining the city. After all, the gorgeous beach is the highlight of the Gold Coast.
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Before you go to visit Gold Coast in Australia
Before you start your solo trip to the Gold Coast, take a look at my list of 17 things you need to know before travelling to Australia. I included information about Australia including applying for ETA, transportation, money and accommodation.
Here are additional travel tips that you may find useful when you are travelling alone on the Gold Coast:
- Australia is rated as the 13th safest place in the world which makes Australia one of the best solo female travel destinations for first-timers.
- Gold Coast is part of the state of Queensland but you can see the border with New South Wales at Coolangatta.
- Gold Coast is one of the best places for outdoor activities. It is a premiere spot for surfing, sunbathing, standup paddleboarding, hiking, and so much more.
How to get to Gold Coast Australia
Gold Coast Airport (OOL) is located in Bilinga at the southern end of the Gold Coast. Many domestic and international flights fly into Gold Coast airport every day.
If flying into Gold Coast Airport is not an option, Brisbane Airport (BNE) is the next closest airport. From Brisbane Airport, take the train all the way to the Gold Coast. See the directions below.
Greyhound Australia is Australia’s long-distance bus operator. The bus system has many routes connecting different parts of the country. The Greyhound bus has reclined seats, USB chargers, and free wifi. And the easiest way to purchase a ticket is via the Greyhound Australia website.
One of the stops is in Coolangatta at the old transit centre across from Coolangatta Bowls & Recreation Club near Griffith Street. Another one is in Surfers Paradise on 10 Beach Road. The two other stations in Gold Coast are not as convenient.
If you are travelling from Brisbane or Brisbane Airport, you can hop on the train on the Airport and Gold Coast Line and disembark at either Robina Station or Varsity Lakes Station on the Gold Coast Line. See the Translink train PDF map for more details.
From either station, there are local buses that will take you to different parts of the Gold Coast, including Burleigh Heads (bus 563, 750, 765) and Surfers Paradise (bus 747). Check the Translink bus schedule here.
And if you are travelling from other parts of Australia like Sydney or Melbourne, you must take the train to Brisbane first, then connect to the local train. However, it takes more than 14 hours to get from Sydney to Brisbane, so you may or may not want to take the train.
For more information about train travel in Australia, click here.
How to get around Gold Coast
It is possible to walk the entire length (I did!) but it can be very tiring. It is about 25km from Coolangatta (the most southern town on Gold Coast) to Surfers Paradise. It might be best to learn about the public transportation system.
And if you take public transportation, make sure you get a Go Card.
Go Card is a rechargeable electronic card to take public transportation in Queensland. You can use the Go Card for all TransLink buses and trams in Gold Coast and other destinations in Queensland including Brisbane, and Sunshine Coast.
Buy and top-up a Go Card online, at the station or at convenience stores like 7-Eleven. Initially, you must purchase the card for $10AUD, but you get the deposit back when you return your card.
Fares are calculated based on zones. It is cheaper to use the Go Card than to buy individual tickets.
TransLink Bus services all the areas along Gold Coast. Go to the TransLink website and plan your route.
The G:link, the tram system, services between Broadbeach South Station and Helensvale Station. Click the G:link website for more information about frequency and ticket prices.
Top 10 things to do by yourself in Gold Coast Australia
Gold Coast is a rather large region on the east coast of Australia. So I’ve narrowed it down to the best 10 things you can do in Gold Coast as a solo traveller.
For all the places I mentioned in the blog, I pinned them in the interactive map as well. You can find more information about each attraction by clicking on the individual pin and read the description below.
1. Learn to surf on the Gold Coast
Surfing at Surfers Paradise Beach may be on your bucket list, but you might want to check out other places along Gold Coast as it can get pretty busy even during non-peak season.
Bring your surfboard to the south end of Burleigh Heads Beach near Burleigh Heads National Park. The beach is not as crowded. However, make sure you are at least at an intermediate level.
While you are in Coolangatta, check out Duranbah Beach. If you don’t have a surfboard, you can rent one from various places including Inverted Bodyboarding Gold Coast and Coolangatta Board Store.
And if you want to learn to surf, one of the best spots to learn surfing is at Currumbin Alley. You can take lessons at Currumbin Alley Surf School. They offer lessons for all ages and all levels.
2. Take a dip in Snapper Rocks at Coolangatta
One of the best things you can do by yourself on the Gold Coast is to swim at the famous rock pool called Snapper Rocks. Strong ocean currents create natural pools of water over time, creating these fantastic natural pools in Gold Coast and other coastal areas in Australia including New South Wales and other parts of Queensland.
Like the Fairy Pools in Noosa, you can swim in Snapper Rocks during low tide. It is a remarkable experience to swim in a natural pool of water surrounded by rocks. But make sure waves are not crashing into the rock pool, and the seawater is relatively calm before you jump into the rock pool.
3. Standup paddleboard at Tallebudgera Creek
If you want to try something other than surfing, rent a standup paddleboard from All Coast Paddle Board Hire and enjoy a few hours paddling on Tallebudgera Creek.
The creek is a popular area for SUP as the seawater is calmer as you paddle away from the river mouth. You will get a free lesson when you rent a board. It is an excellent way to exercise and also to see the Gold Coast by yourself.
4. Hike up to Tumgun Lookout in Burleigh Head National Park
When you want to take a break from the beach, head to Burleigh Heads and find the hiking trails in Burleigh Head National Park.
Park access is at the park’s north end, near Burleigh Heads Beach. From the entrance, you can start your trek on the Oceanview Track, which lines the perimeter of the park where you can see the South Pacific Ocean and rocky shores.
The track ends at Echo Beach. Then you can backtrack and continue on Tallebudgera Link Track which links to the Rainforest Circuit. Follow the signs through the rainforest, and you will find the Tumgun Lookout, the highest point in the park where you can see a panoramic view of the area.
Hiking solo is not an issue. There are plenty of signs and marked trails. And the easy hiking trail is excellent for beginners. All you have to do is follow the path in Burleigh Head National Park.
5. Check out the panoramic views of the beach along the coast
At the south end of Gold Coast, take a brisk stroll up to Point Danger in Coolangatta. It is a scenic park with a gorgeous view of the ocean. You can also see surfers catching the waves at Duranbah Beach. On a clear day, it is possible to see Surfers Paradise to the north and Byron Bay to the south.
Also, check out Kirra Hill Lookout in Coolangatta. It is an excellent spot for a picnic or barbeque.
And make sure to walk up the hill at Mick Schamburg Park Lookout at North Burleigh. You will get a magnificent view of Miami Beach and Surfers Paradise in the distance.
It is not difficult to walk up to any of these viewpoints. You can even wear your flip-flops!
6. Take a stroll on the Beree Badalla Boardwalk along Currumbin Creek
Near Palm Beach, there is a boardwalk along Currumbin Creek. The path takes you through Tarrabora Reserve and Beree Badalla Reserve.
Tarrabora Reserve is popular with locals. You can swim in the creek, walk along the boardwalk, and have a picnic in the area. It is also a refuge for wildlife, especially birds and reptiles. I didn’t see any wild animals while I was there, but I did see a lot of people walking their dogs.
The stroll along the boardwalk is relaxing, and the scenery is beautiful. Start at the north end of Tarrabora Reserve and follow the boardwalk. It will lead you right into Beree Badalla Reserve.
7. Indulge in the best coffee & delicious brunch
I love brunch! And there is no shortage of brunch food in Australia. I can’t get enough of a simple breakfast like smashed avocado on toast. And their coffee is simply the best in the world!
Not only does the food taste good, but they also look good! Every meal I had in Australia always looked like a piece of artwork! The presentation alone is 10 out of 10.
While you are in Gold Coast, check out some (or all) of these cafes:
- Social Brew – everything on the brunch menu is excellent. I know that because I have gone several times!
- Canteen Coffee – they make a perfect flat white!
- The Milkman’s Daughter – a small restaurant but they serve the most delicious lemon ricotta pancake!
- Burleigh CO.OP – sometimes you want something wholesome and healthy. Try their gluten-free garden bowl.
- The Paddock Bakery – they make delicious brunch food and pastries. Try their dippy eggs or order a carrot cake.
- Burleigh Heads Fishmongers – not a brunch spot but their fish and chips is delicious!
8. Shop til you drop on the Gold Coast
You can find the trendiest clothing, swimsuits, beachy souvenirs and other knick-knacks in the boutique shops of James Street in Burleigh Heads.
Sean Scott Boutique sells trendy clothing, houseware, and unique photographic prints. But don’t stop there; there are many other boutique shops on James Street.
Also visit Heartfill, a retail store inspired by living slowly and consuming mindfully. They sell unique items, including retro furniture, handmade candles, one-of-a-kind graphic prints, and much more. The shop also offers space for creative workshops.
For brand-name retail stores, head to Pacific Fair Shopping Centre. The large indoor and outdoor shopping mall has many retailers and a whimsical food court at the second level.
And check out The Village Markets in Burleigh Heads. Small local businesses sell their creative products at the market, including clothing and jewellery. And there are delicious treats and live music. The market opens every first and third Sunday of every month from 8:30 am to 1:00 pm.
9. Eat and sleep in Burleigh Heads
There are many small towns lining the entire Gold Coast. Families and senior communities tend to concentrate near Coolangatta. Locals and younger people are around the middle regions like Burleigh Heads while backpackers party it up at Surfers Paradise.
My favourite spot has to be Burleigh Heads without a doubt. Burleigh Heads has good options for accommodations, excellent cafes and restaurants, access to the best beaches for surfing, proximity to a national park with various hiking paths, and so much more. I like the relaxing beach vibes of Burleigh Heads, and it is not touristy at all.
As a solo traveller, I felt safe wandering around Burleigh Heads, and people are very friendly. I was able to get around Gold Coast quickly via public transportation. For me, it was the best spot to stay on Gold Coast. I highly recommend staying in Burleigh Heads!
10. Watch the most beautiful sunsets on the beach
Whether on the beach or at one of the viewpoints along the coast, you can always catch the most gorgeous sunsets on the Gold Coast. Even though the sun sets away from the beach, you can still see the warm pink glow around the area.
I witnessed one of the most beautiful sunsets on Gold Coast. One late afternoon, it rained intermittently for several hours. As soon as the rain stopped, two perfectly arched rainbows appeared from the ocean. The sky was lit in the most vibrant hues creating the most magical moment (see photo below). It only lasted for maybe 10 minutes, but it was one of the most beautiful things I’ve ever seen.
If you want to catch a beautiful sunset, go to one of the Gold Coast beaches around 5:30 pm or so. The sun sets early and pretty quickly.
Where to stay on Gold Coast as a solo traveller
While there are many hotel options in Surfers Paradise, the area is quite touristy and can be very busy. I recommend staying in quieter neighbourhoods like Burleigh Heads or Coolangatta.
Coolangatta is at the southern end of the Gold Coast and has more hotel selections for various budgets. While Burleigh Heads, which is 17km north of Coolangatta, has fewer choices the area has a better vibe.
There aren’t a whole lot of good budget accommodations on the Gold Coast so that you will spend a bit more on accommodation in this area. Take a look at some of the suggestions below.
- La Costa Motel ($$) -Located near Gold Coast Airport in Coolangatta, you can get a standard studio room for a moderate price. The room includes a queen bed, a clean bathroom, a small kitchenette and a balcony or terrace.
- Check prices & reviews: Agoda
- Outrigger Resort ($$) – Stay in the double room in Burleigh Heads. The room is basic but has everything you need for a short-term stay.
- Check prices & reviews: Agoda
- The Pink Hotel Coolangatta ($$$) – The Instagrammable hotel features spacious rooms with retro mid-century finishes. The newly refurbished boutique hotel is right by Coolangatta centre and has a fantastic rooftop from you can enjoy the beach view.
- Check prices & reviews: Agoda
Are you ready to take a solo trip to Gold Coast in Australia?
If you are travelling solo through the east coast of Australia, include Gold Coast in your itinerary. You don’t want to miss the golden beaches, the best waves and awesome beach vibes. And don’t forget to check out my top 10 things activities in Gold Coast.
Thank you for reading my Gold Coast Australia post
You might also like these other posts on solo travel in Australia:
- 17 things to know before travelling to Australia
- Melbourne 5 day itinerary
- Great Ocean Road 2-day self-drive itinerary
- How to spend 3 days in Sydney by yourself
- One day in Byron Bay
- 36 things to do alone in Brisbane
- Searching for fairy pools in Noosa
- 10 days in Australia: best of East Coast Australia
- Australia 4 week itinerary for a solo traveller