How to spend a perfect five days on the Gold Coast

How to spend a perfect five days on the Gold Coast
How to spend a perfect five days on the Gold Coast

With its stunning beaches, thrilling theme parks, and unlimited adventure options, the Gold Coast is a playground for both families and singles.

Here’s my five-day itinerary that ensures everyone has a blast, whether you’re wrangling kiddos, with a group of friends or navigating the scene solo.  

Come on up, the weather’s perfect!

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The coastal walks on the Goldie are unbeatable. (Tourism and Events Queensland)

Day 1: Spend the day south

Morning: Sleep in!  It’s a holiday after all. 

Then go to the south end of the Gold Coast for a morning beach walk. It’s always quiet and always beautiful. The south end just hits differently. Then grab brunch at Tarte bakery in Currumbin – the miso scrambled eggs are life changing.

Lunchtime: Visit the Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary. It’s an incredible experience for both kids and adults, offering close encounters with Australia’s native wildlife. Hand feed a kangaroo or emu and then cuddle a koala.

One of my favourite things to do is the Koala Grazing activity (no you don’t graze on koalas you weirdo). It costs a bit extra, but you get led into a VIP area next to a koala enclosure to enjoy a generous meat and cheese plate with a glass of wine, all while a wildlife ranger teaches you about koalas as they bring them to your table for a pat. 

Plus, you get to snuggle a koala for a photo. It’s the perfect couple of hours.

Time it to finish around 4pm so you can take part in the lorikeet feeding (which only costs a gold coin donation). But here’s a tip – wear long sleeves because the lorikeets have sharp claws and they grab on to your arms tightly!  But it’s worth it and it’s very instaworthy to wear a crown of birds!

Wild lorikeets landing on guests for daily feeding experience
Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary is fun for the whole family. (Tourism and Events Queensland)

Evening: Enjoy an early dinner at Tommy’s Italian which looks straight out to the sea -think Totti’s in Sydney, with similar woodfired puffy bread.  Or visit Currumbin RSL which is also on the water and has a large outside eating area.

Day 2: Theme Park Adventure

Morning to Afternoon: SeaWorld.

Of all the theme parks on the Gold Coast, SeaWorld is my favourite. It’s where the dolphins flip, the seals play fetch better than your average Labrador and the stingrays glide through the water like underwater ballet dancers. 

For the kiddos, SeaWorld is like stepping into a giant, interactive storybook where they’re the main character. They get up close with creatures that, until now, they’ve only seen in books or on screen. Imagine the look of pure joy on their faces as they’re splashed by a dolphin or get up close to a glow-in-the-dark jellyfish. It’s not just entertainment; it’s education that feels like a theme park ride – the best kind of learning if you ask me.

But let’s not forget the grown-ups, there are the conservation efforts and educational talks that remind us of the importance of preserving our oceans. It’s an opportunity to blend fun with awareness, turning a day out into an inspiring experience. One of my favourite exhibits is Ray Reef.  You can actually touch stingrays underwater.  And here’s a hint: they feel as smooth as a peeled hard-boiled egg.

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Couple looking up at a large tree, in the Lamington National Park
The hinterland has amazing walks and hikes. (Tourism and Events Queensland)

And then, there’s the sheer thrill of rides that twist and turn, plunging you into excitement or offering panoramic views of the marine life below. It’s where adrenaline meets awe, catering to both the young thrill-seeker and the adult who’s convinced they’re still 20 at heart. 

Evening: Stay north and check out somewhere to eat at Surfer’s Paradise or Broadbeach. Families can enjoy a casual dinner at one of the many family-friendly restaurants, JW Marriott has a fun teppanyaki restaurant called Misono’s

Everyone loves the talented teppan chef’s intricate knife work and interactive theatrics. Singles and childfree might prefer to explore the area’s vibrant nightlife so here’s a hot tip – Saturday night’s Bianca Dye hosts karaoke and cocktails at Fat Freddy’s. Your throat will be sore from belting out the classics.

Live your best island life

Stunning North Queensland spots that tourists are loving

Day 3: Hinterland and Evening Markets

Morning to Afternoon: Drive into the Gold Coast Hinterland. Explore the natural beauty of places like Springbrook National Park or Lamington National Park. The Natural Bridge is a must-see, offering a unique natural phenomenon perfect for those memorable photos. Feel the temperature drop as you walk through the thick canopy above the trees.

Family walking through entrance of Miami Marketta
Grab dinner at Miami Marketta. (Tourism and Events Queensland)

Evening: Explore Miami Marketta. This vibrant night market offers a feast for the senses, with street food, live music, and unique stalls selling everything from crafts to clothes. It’s a great place to mingle, enjoy diverse cuisines, and catch some local musical talent.  It’s open Wednesday, Friday and Saturday nights plus ticketed events on other nights.

Day 4: Island Adventure 

Full day: Okay this is on MY to do list.  A ferry will pick you up early from Surfer’s Paradise and take you to Moreton Island for the Get Wrecked one day tour. First off, it’s transparent kayaking. These aren’t your average kayaks; they’re like floating glass slippers that glide over coral and fish.

Or jump overboard and snorkel around The Tangalooma Wrecks. There are 15 shipwrecks, so it’s a reef playground.  And if you’re not the next Ian Thorpe, fear not! There’s a jet ski with a lifeline float to ferry you safely to the wrecks, ensuring you’re snug as a bug in a rug while you discover the marine paradise.

Then for the cherry on top: sandboarding. Picture this – zooming down Sahara-esque dunes at speeds that would give your local speed camera a run for its money.  I can’t wait. Kayaking, snorkelling and sandboarding sound like my perfect day.  

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Moreton island sand dunes
Get your thrill by sandboarding. (Tourism and Events Queensland)
Beachfront island resort surrounded by National park
Take a quad bike tour. (Tourism and Events Queensland)

You won’t get back until dinner time so just grab fish and chips or a pizza while you upload all your Instagram videos of your adventures.

Day 5: Beach Day at Burleigh and boat tour

Morning to Early Afternoon: Start with a relaxing beach day at Burleigh Heads. Do a national park walk through its stunning scenery and magnificent views.  Then have some beach time: body surf, swim, join a surf lesson, or simply soak up the sun.  

For lunch treat yourself to a beachside cocktail at The Tropic which is actually on the beach or grab a beer at Burleigh Pavilion and do a bit of MAFS spotting – yep it’s hard to go to Burleigh Pav without seeing a reality TV star. 

Diners at The Tropic with views over the ocean
The Tropic is right on the beach. (Tourism and Events Queensland)

Oh, and here’s a tip only locals know – Rick Shores is the Coast’s most popular restaurant and has a three-month waitlist to eat there. BUT they sell their famous bug rolls as takeaway on the smattering of tables outside it’s restaurant.  You’re welcome.

Evening: For your final evening, treat yourself to a sunset cruise along the Broadwater. There are a plethora of choices of cruise operators.  It’s a relaxing way to say goodbye to the Gold Coast, offering stunning views of the skyline and the peaceful waters. Both families and singles will enjoy the serene atmosphere, making for a perfect end to the trip.

Okay, so I know I’ve jammed a lot in to those five days so pick and choose your own adventure.  But as you can see there is a lot more to the Gold Coast than beaches and schoolies.


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