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The Dos and Don’ts of Keeping it Classy in the Gold Coast

The response you might receive when asking about the Gold Coast would generally involve anything except for being classy.  Surfers Paradise, schoolies and parties galore have turned the area’s reputation into something a bit more sinful, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing (sinful can be fun), but when it turns trashy – that can be an issue.  With that in mind, I give you the do’s and don’ts of keeping it classy on a visit to the Gold Coast in Australia.


Don’t Go During Schoolies. Don’t go near schoolies, and definitely don’t touch them if you are not a schoolie yourself.  Schoolies are recent high school grads, and thousands and thousands of schoolies congregate each year for a week or two in the Gold Coast for a massive party.  You can imagine this being something resembling a Spring Break with hormones and drinking going out of control.  So, if you are someone who is there and above the schoolies age, that is just plain creepy.

Do Go in the Shoulder Season. Going to the Gold Coast in the shoulder season can result in cheap hostels and hotels, and it can just mean there are just fewer people to deal with.  The weather won’t be too hot or too cold, and your chance of running into schoolies is at a minimum.

Don’t Stay in Surfers Paradise. Surfers is the party town in the old Goldy.  You’ll have pub and club crawls galore happening in this area, which means you could get mixed up in the action on your nights out.  Backpacker hostels are targeted to those wanting to get their drink on, which isn’t a bad thing if you are able to do it with a little restraint.


Do Stay in Coolangatta. Coolangatta is a more laid-back town on the Gold Coast where you can go to get away from the commotion and focus on what’s important:  relaxing and surfing.  I was thoroughly impressed with my recent stay in the area, and with the choices for accommodation being so awesome, and so close to the beach, you can’t lose!

Don’t Go on the Pub and Club Crawls. Look, if you want to stay away from the not-so-classy side of the Gold Coast, then going on booze crawls is probably a bad idea. Sometimes these have a habit of getting out of hand, and who knows if you’ll even remember the night out in the first place.

Do Have Cocktails at Qbar. Qbar is at the top of the Q1 building, the tallest residential tower in the world, and it is worth a stop.  In the evening, the Qbar’s bar is lit up in a pink marble, and the lights of the coast are in full force.  And, did I mention the cocktails are amazing?  I had a pina colada to die for!

Don’t Spend All Your Money on the Nightlife. There’s more to the Gold Coast than the nightlife, so save some of that money to take part in other activities.  You can take up surfing, go to theme parks, cool off in water parks, bungy jump and sky dive in this popular getaway location.

Do Spend Some Money at Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary. Wildlife sanctuary – how can you not visit?  It’s at Currumbin that you can cuddle a koala, feed kangaroos and hold a baby crocodile. But, did you know that your entry fee gives you full access to a zip-lining obstacle course?  If that doesn’t sell you, then the fact that Currumbin is a non-profit organization that spends almost $600,000 on an animal hospital every year just might.  If you spend money here, then you’re actually helping the wildlife, which is always classy in my book.


Of course, these are only suggestions on ways you can keep it classy while on a holiday in the Gold Coast.  Needs and wants vary by traveler, but being informed is always half the battle of making a trip what you expect.  Have a great time in the Gold Coast!

Brooke Schoenman is an American traveler turned Australia expat.  She writes about Australia travel on WhyGo Australia, an online travel guide with life.  Get in touch with her on Facebook and Twitter.

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17 Responses to The Dos and Don’ts of Keeping it Classy in the Gold Coast

  1. Rebecca December 21, 2010 at 6:24 PM #

    Staying Klassy on the Gold Coast is like staying Klassy in Las Vegas or Orlando. Hard to do, but not impossible!

    (Being from Los Angeles, I personally gave this area a skip. Beaches, amusement parks and non-stop drinking and partying? Sounds like a normal weekend to me! Kidding. Sort of.)

    Qbar sounds great though! I am a sucker for a good view.

    • Emily @Travelated December 22, 2010 at 5:46 PM #

      Ha! I live in Vegas, and I don’t think it’s possible to keep it classy here, though people certainly try!

  2. Lauren Fritsky December 21, 2010 at 7:59 PM #

    Nice job, Brooke. A bunch of us were actually just joking about a guy in his 30s who went away here during schoolies. He claims he didn’t know–we still think it was creepy!

  3. Christine December 21, 2010 at 9:33 PM #

    What’s the shoulder season? I’m thinking about heading up to the Gold Coast to live and work for a few months–and improve my surfing!–so I’d love any tips on a good place to set up a base and a good time to do it!

    • Brooke, WhyGo Australia December 22, 2010 at 6:14 PM #

      In the fall would be good, so after the major tourist season… maybe March – April-ish.

  4. Kieron December 21, 2010 at 10:25 PM #

    In addition to not going during schoolies, it might also be wise to avoid it during late September and October when blokes on footy trips take over big parts of the town. Nowhere near as extreme though!

    Coolangatta is quite a distance from all the action in Surfers Paradise. My personal recommendation is Broadbeach or even Burleigh Heads – a lot quieter but still close to all the attractions including the theme parks.

  5. Rish December 22, 2010 at 11:17 AM #

    Oh come on Steph! Missing out on getting good and un-classy in Surfers Paradise is missing out on an essential Aussie experience. Granted, most have it at 17, but I didn’t get down there until I was 23 for the first time and made sure to make the most of it! 😛 Just kidding – your recommendations are all awesome, but I think a night out on Cavill Ave is essential, just make sure you don’t head down there during schoolies…
    Also the hinterland is beautiful and great for exploration on day trips. Pay one of those companies that do it for you as you get heaps of bang for your buck – a visit to a rainforest, cute little villages, O’Reilly’s which is stunning, and delicious wineries – or rent a car and head out there on your own for a day. Awesomeness abounds!

  6. Emily @Travelated December 22, 2010 at 5:46 PM #

    I ilke this post, b/c it inherently tells us what we need to do if our aim is to keep it as UNclassy as possible… (insert wicked laugh here).

  7. Matt December 23, 2010 at 2:38 PM #

    Using classy and Gold Coast in the same sentence is not something I’d ever expect to hear! Great tips here though – wish I would have known about Coolangatta; stayed in Surfers and wasn’t the least bit impressed!

  8. Theodora December 27, 2010 at 5:55 AM #

    It’s nice to see someone put classy and Gold Coast in the same sentence without a negative between them, or whinging about the weather (which, I know, is atypical, but is still dumping down).

    For petting koalas, I’d go with Australia Zoo. For seeing wild koalas, I’d get out of Queensland… But thanks for sharing a different take on what many consider the ultimate holiday hell.

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