Where to Stay on the Gold Coast?

Where to stay on the Gold Coast- Surfers Paradise or Broadbeach?

Where to stay on the Gold Coast- Surfers Paradise or Broadbeach? The Gold Coast, a popular beach and resort area in South East Queensland, is not far from Brisbane and is nicely reminiscent of Florida and US beach towns. Think long strips of sandy beach, mini golf and theme parks, bars, shopping, and the 70’s style high rises with names like ‘Malibu’ and ‘Seabreeze’, complete with obligatory seashell plaques out front.

The Gold Coast is actually a collective name for a series of towns that stretch for miles along the coast and into the hinterland, but the main hub is centered around Surfers Paradise and Broadbeach, two bustling resort towns about 4km apart. Having stayed in both, I thought I’d provide an overview, in an effort to help make things easier. Worth mentioning that you can easily get between both via the Gold Coast’s new tram service, known as the G:link, or an Uber will set you back about $8-12.

If you’re after: 

Beaches

Both towns offer access to a wide, sandy surf beach, patrolled daily by surf lifesavers. As the beaches are only a few kilometers apart, you are basically getting the same beach in either place. Surfers may have more crowds, (and the iconic Surfers sign), which can be fun. However, either way you will get a beautiful coastline, the iconic yellow lifeguard towers, and a holiday buzz.

The winner- tie

surfers paradise sign
The iconic Surfers sign.

Shopping

This is a tough call, as there are plenty of shopping options in both places. However, Broadbeach has an advantage of being walking distance from Pacific Fair, a gigantic and recently updated shopping mall of American 80’s teenage dreams. If you are after luxury and high end brands (Gucci, Hermes, Louis Vuitton, David Jones, to name a few), this is where you want to be, plus lots of other international and Australian brands. The place has a resort feel to it, complete with huge open air atrium, water features and pools, and sun chaises.

Surfers, however, also has plenty of shopping, including souvenirs, surf shops, and Australian brands.

The winner- Thanks to Pacific Fair, have to give this one to Broadbeach.

Pacific Fair Mall Broadbeach
The outdoor atrium, Pacific Fair.

Partying

Bars and restaurants are plentiful everywhere in the Gold Coast, but the partying mecca has to be Surfers. Nightclubs, bachelor parties, a German bier hall, even evening information kiosks on the streets to direct you to the best party- no shortage of action here. 

The winner- Surfers

Gambling

I’m not personally a fan of gambling or casinos, but gaming, in terms of slot machines, can be found in pubs in both places. However, Jupiter’s Casino is newly remodeled, recently brought into the Star group, and is by far the biggest, oldest, and most well-known casino in the area. Walking distance from Broadbeach, next to Pacific Fair. It also has some great dining options, including an outdoor bar with movie screen.

The winner- Broadbeach, thanks to Jupiter’s.

Dining

Again, plenty of dining options in both towns. Broadbeach may have more fine dining options, but Surfers takes the cake thanks to sheer volume. There’s a range of restaurants to suit all budget and tastes, including a nightly market that runs a few times per week.

The winner- Surfers

The ‘quintessential holiday feels’

When I compare it to American beach towns, like Myrtle Beach or Ft Myers, you tend to conjure up images of surf shops, the smells of sunscreen, funnel cakes and donuts, and rides and entertainment, all of which Surfers offers. Broadbeach is not quite like this, so I understand why families and revellers enjoy Surfers so much. It definitely offers the holiday and summer break feeling, which is nostalgic, I’d imagine, to Australians as much as Americans.

The winner- Surfers

lifeguard surfers paradise

The verdict 

If it were me, I prefer the relaxing and slightly quieter vibes of Broadbeach. If you feel like a night out, you are only a short tram ride away from Surfers. I would much rather travel to the party then book a hotel right in the middle of it. Broadbeach also has a laid-back feel, less crowds, and is more my cup of tea.  But, if you’re heading up for a celebration or like staying in the heart of the Gold Coast, then go for Surfers.

There are also lots of other places to stay, including Mermaid Beach, Burleigh Heads, Southport, and Coolangatta, in case Surfers or Broadbeach don’t do it for you! If you’re heading further north after the Gold Coast to continue exploring QLD, check out our posts on the Daintree and the Great Barrier Reef

What is your favourite place to stay on the Gold Coast?

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7 Comments

  1. I haven’t been to Australia yet, but it is on my list. I appreciate all the details you’ve included about this area and what each offers. I think I would choose Broadbeach too.

  2. The quintessential holiday feel is my number one criteria of a beach vacation but it’s so hard to nail down. I think you’re spot getting there with your descriptions. I guess it comes down to do you want the fun in the sun, or a relaxing R&R. I think we’re with you and would like Broadbeach better too.

  3. Haven’t been to Australia yet but hope to make it there one day, so this information on where to stay on the Gold Coast would come in handy. Thanks for sharing!

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