Gold Coast: Where NOT to go

Gold Coast Insider
Surfers Paradise: pretty ordinary. (Photo: David Wall / Lonely Planet Images)
Surfers Paradise: pretty ordinary
"Beware the Coolangatta Hotel, where you'll encounter a very violent vibe. If you see a band there, don't hang around for a drink afterwards. Go home and listen to the sounds of sirens all night rescuing those who stayed."
Gold Coast Insider

Don't waste your time when you're on holiday on the Gold Coast. Find out the over-hyped spots to avoid (and where to go instead).

First of all, DO NOT COME IN NOVEMBER. Ever. Schoolies, schoolies, schoolies — it's horrible. If you must come then, stay at Sanctuary Cove or up in the mountains at a posh health resort.

Also, Surfers Paradise is pretty ordinary. The council hasn't spent a cent on it in years and it's looking very daggy. At night, when the club life kicks in, it can also become a bit nasty. They have cameras everywhere for a reason!

Locals generally come to town for a night of clubbing, and occasionally a meal, but that's about it. Some of the best times to visit Surfers are during Gold Coast 600 and at New Year's Eve, but otherwise give it a miss. Book your accommodation there by all means — it's a handy spot to be based — but don't plan on spending too much time there except to sleep.

The clubs in Surfers are pretty ordinary. Elsewhere, on Cavill Avenue is the exception, though you need to wear $300 Nike Airs for the privilege of queuing. Melbas at the bottom of Cavill Avenue is where most locals end up, and the restaurant downstairs isn't bad for a celebration.

Quirky pubs, such as The Grand Hotel at Labrador, The Miami Hotel or the surf clubs, are where most of the locals drink rather than in the clubs.

Beware the Coolangatta Hotel, where you'll encounter nasty security and a very violent vibe. If you see a band there, don't hang around for a drink afterwards. Go home and listen to the sounds of sirens all night rescuing those who stayed. The Coolangatta Hotel has been copping flak since security started photocopying each punter's driving licence on entry. It's a worry when bouncers have your home address — for a start they know you're not at home! Wised-up locals are now getting over-18 cards. Sadly, it's really the only venue on the coast for bands — and they do get some great ones.

The bars of Main Beach can be fun, especially at Gold Coast 600 time and if you happen to bump into the various race teams! Boys, do not underestimate the power of jumpsuits.

Jupiters Casino (or the Big House) is also pretty overrated, unless throwing your money out the window is your idea of fun! Although, the Atrium Bar is not bad for a laugh later on; it's where the singles (or not-so-singles) of a certain age go to pick up. The tasteful exception is Zen, the casino's posh Chinese restaurant, which is amazing.

Most of the touristy stuff on offer is not that bad. Island tours (skip Tipplers unless you're a bogan), hot-air balloon rides, whale watching and the like are all worthwhile, as the market is pretty competitive.

For shopping, Pacific Fair is pretty huge, but filled with the same chain stores you have elsewhere. Marina Mirage is probably the only shopping centre on the coast with "real" shopping on offer; you might be looking at $500 T-shirts, but they are very nice $500 T-shirts!

Got any more places to avoid? Have your say using the comments form below.

Next: Near the beaten track

User comments
Hey guys, This article must of been written some time ago. I have spent a lot of time at Coolangatta of late and have to say that it's nothing like what is written here. They scan your ID as part of entry as most venues do and the riff raff that was down this way seems to be a thing of the past. I would hope that you would consider checking it out. It's right on the beach, we play trivia on Tuesdays and there are awesome bands and DJ events. Definitely nothing like what's described here.
For starters, the nightclubs in Surfers are all full of people from other cities, I don't know too many locals who hang out in surfers, unless they just moved here from Brisbane and call themselves "Locals". Elsewhere is a dive and one of the stinkiest and full of grott clubs on the coast. I did some work on this club during the daylight hours and could not believe how bad the place looked and smelt during the day. Only go there if you want to catch some sort of virus. Shopping is only conducted at Marina Mirage if you are very wealthy, Pacific Fair, Australia Fair, Robina Town Centre, Harbourtown and many other shopping centres offer great shopping at a more reasonable price than Marina Mirage, but if you have the money, Marina Mirage is great too. In my opinion, the original poster is entitled to their say, but I tend to disagree with almost everything written. Tipplers doesn't exist anymore , but was one of the best places for a quiet drink in a relaxing atmosphere.
I read this article to get some ideas whilst staying in Surfers Paradise. I feel like ive just wasted the last 10 minutes of my holiday reading this. The place might look drab to you but its great for people who dont live in the area. Im not here to spend $500 on a t shirt or thousands on accommodation just because its very nice. People have homes and lives and cant always afford ridiculously over priced accommodation for a room youre only sleeping in! Didnt find this article useful. Just a local complaining about surfers paradise.
The Gold Coast also holds the title of the largest cross-state population of any metropolitan area in Australia.Beaches include South Stradbroke Island, The Spit, Main Beach, Surfers Paradise, Broadbeach, Mermaid Beach, Nobby Beach, Miami, Burleigh Beach, Burleigh Heads, Tallebudgera Beach, Palm Beach, Currumbin Beach, Tugun, Bilinga, Kirra, Coolangatta, Greenmount, Rainbow Bay, Snapper Rocks and Froggies Beach. Duranbah Beach is one of the world's best known surfing beaches and is often thought of as being part of Gold Coast City, but is actually just across the New South Wales state border in Tweed Shire. The official name for the beach is Flagstaff Beach. everybody must visit Gold coach thanks ............................................................
Hi after reading a lot of the comments i thought id put my bit in we are from perth was, came to the gold coast twice on holidays, onece in 2007, stayed at a holiday resort treasure island near harbour town, had no problems at all, very reasonable price to and great park did all the theme parks etc, then again in 2008 stayed again at a resoret at ashmore, palms, again great nice place, did the theme parks in 2008 we went into surfers , when it was market night, we found it great, no troubles,at all, just a lovely atmosphere, every city in australia has its problems with druggies, drunks etc, every citie has it s good and bad bits, but overall we loved the gold coast, so much that we will move there one day, its up to you what you do when there , we are not poeple who go night clubs anyway we just love the atmosper ever
Having spent over $6000.00 on trying to accommodate my family on the Gold Coast so that we could all spend Christmas together with my seriously ill mother and older sister never again will I rent a property on the gold coast or anywhere else. This place popped up all over the place and only the address was revealed to us after placing the booking. To see what you get online these days check out.
perth at night especially in northbridge is dangerous and i wouldn't put my foot in there, gangs, druggies, knifings etc. yet i have been to cavill at night on the weekend till all hours and felt safe. circle on cavill fantastic, night markets. i love the gold coast, i lived there for 4 years and only returned to perth for family reasons but plan to return. so much to do so much variety so diverse.. my message to daniell is not to visit anymore and let us no please how it compares to the rest of australia. go gc. i am there on holidays again at xmas ... cant wait.
I used to make trips up to surfers when I was young , naive and full of ***, but that was 20 years ago, and I still miss those great days of sun sand and beer
I work in surfers paradise. This article is as close to a joke i have ever read. Yes surfers can get crazy after dark but are you saying perth, sydney, brisbane and melbourne don't? As we speak the renovation of the beach front in surfers is nearly finished. On top of that there is major road works happening as they are building a light rail system. There are many great places in surfers to drink Beergardens for example on a sunday has gold fish racing and $3 drinks a very great atmosphere. % minutes down the street there is Broadbeach which also has everything to offer. If you want to get a true idea of how good the Gold Coast is come and visit. 99.9% of people who come here have the time of there life and keep coming back,
I totally disagree with this harsh and false review! I have been to Elsewhere before and you do not require $300 Nike airs to get in- however the place is filled with drugs dealers! You cant even go toilet without being asked or offered give that place a miss its dangerous!!!!! I do however agree the council needs to upgrade some parts of Surfers, but compared to the valley it is Paradise!!