Holiday Showdown: The Gold Coast Or The Sunshine Coast?

1.88min read

Published 25 October 2014


The Sunshine Coast and the Gold Coast are renowned as relaxing, sun-drenched destinations, but these two Queensland holiday favourites really couldn’t be more different.

From the glitz and glamour of the Gold Coast to the laidback allure of the Sunshine Coast, here’s our guide to making the most of your trip – regardless of which destination you visit.

Gold Coast


The Gold Coast glitters in the twilight

Located 94 kilometres south of the Queensland capital Brisbane, the Gold Coast is a city well known for its bustling beach scene. It attracts more than 12 million visitors every year – which is no surprise, considering the range of activities on offer.

For the young and young at heart, theme parks are a big drawcard, especially for families and during the annual Schoolies Week.

There’s Dreamworld – currently the largest theme park in Australia – and Warner Bros. Movie World, a theme park featuring plenty of film-inspired rides and attractions. Also popular is the marine-based Sea World, as well as the swimming pools and rides at the Wet’n’Wild water park.

Bustling Surfers Paradise is popular with tourists and the place to head for busy beaches and late night entertainment. Main Beach and Broadbeach have plenty in the way of shopping, dining and upmarket accommodation.

Meanwhile, Coolangatta offers great surf and a relaxed pace of life. International surfing competitions also take place around mid-March, when thousands flock to the shores to watch the excitement.


The lush Gold Coast Hinterland

The Gold Coast offers plenty for nature lovers, too. Head to Springbrook National Park and the sprawling natural beauty of the hinterland. The park is home to subtropical ecosystems and the remnants of an enormous volcano that existed 23 million years ago.

The Lamington National Park is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and contains Australia’s largest remains of subtropical rainforest. It covers deep valleys and features steep cliffs that reach about 1,000 metres above sea level.

Sunshine Coast


The iconic Noosa Beach

Located around 100 kilometres north of Brisbane, the Sunshine Coast is like the Gold Coast’s easy-going sibling. Here, surf and serenity, al fresco bars and low-key resorts reign supreme.

A likely itinerary for the day might be a relaxed morning lounge and swim on the beach. Follow this with an afternoon of drinking and grazing at one of the chic cafes or eateries.

Designer boutiques and classy restaurants dot the beach hamlet of the swanky resort town of Noosa, with its stunning landscape of clear waters and a backdrop of tropical rainforests.

In contrast, Maroochydore, Alexandra Headland and Mooloolaba are popular surf spots, and feature seaside backpackers and cheaper accommodation.

The Sunshine Coast’s more active side starts with a scuba diving adventure, where you can see all sorts of sea creatures, such as humpback whales (from June to early November) and sharks off the coast of Mooloolaba.

If you prefer to stay on the water rather than under it, hire a kayak and paddle around the Mooloolaba and Noosa Everglades. Alternatively, go on a boat cruise and spend your day nibbling seafood and sipping champagne while you wait for sunset.


Sample the Sunshine Coast

Other enjoyable ways to while away a day or two include bush walks and visiting the local markets and renowned food producers that dot the region.


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