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.
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