The Gold Coast is an hour’s flight from Sydney, a coastal city on the southeast side of Queensland in Australia. Its moderate climate, unceasingly sunny skies, and beaches galore cement it as a major tourist destination. If I am to re-imagine Boracay blown up into a city complete with a skyline dominated by high-rises, highways, and commercial centres, it would paint a likeness to what the Gold Coast is. The Gold Coast is also known as Australia’s theme park capital, counting Sea World, Movie World, and Wet ‘n’ Wild among the most popular. It feels like a neverending holiday here.
In the Gold Coast, the water is never very far, and it’s a breathtaking sight. The sunlight glitters playfully on the waves’ crests while sailboats slice through the water with their powerful bows. The skies are the deepest blue, a cerulean blue that memorable days are made of.
Mermaid Beach is quiet, more residential. The water is literally in the backyard of most of the houses and serviced apartments here. It’s surreal to step from concrete to sand, to feel the shade of overhanging trees and suddenly, sun, in just a few paces. Farther away, a group of surfers gets ready to hit the waves. I can’t imagine doing more than dipping my toes in, the water’s cold! Every morning, a sand machine “fluffs up” the sand. The sand is similar to that in Boracay, but not as fine. The currents are strong, the waves, tall. Their ebb and flow leaves a trail of debris on the sand, like the smocking pattern on a dress.
This is Surfers Paradise, the pulsating centre of the Gold Coast. It’s truly diverse, with nightlife and entertainment mixed in with leisurely beachfront cafés and posh restaurants to gleaming high-rises and budget apartments for backpackers. There’s also a whole host of shopping options here from bargains to upmarket designer boutiques. The vibe is electric, shorts paired with a top and flipflops are the norm.
The beaches are obviously more crowded at Surfers Paradise than at Mermaid Beach. Because of the strong currents, swimmers are advised to swim only between the red and yellow flags. Nearby (photo below), lifeguards patrol the beach.
Above, our hotel, The Hilton, and below, the beachfront views from our hotel room.