The scene is set and the countdown is on for the 2018 Commonwealth Games on the Gold Coast. For many years, mention of a trip to the Gold Coast conjured up images of the bright lights of Surfers Paradise and its reputation as a partygoers playground. But there is so much more to see and do on the Gold Coast, particularly for the healthy traveller. With water sports and active pursuits aplenty, a focus on seasonal and health conscious culinary innovation and a strong culture of wellness within the local community and their businesses, the Gold Coast could be the perfect destination for your next healthy weekend away.
The Gold Coast is an easy 90 minute drive from Brisbane in Queensland. Boasting 300 days of sunshine a year, plenty of entertainment on offer from water activities to theme parks, stunning stretches of beach from Broadbeach to Burleigh and ancient rainforest at its fringes, it should come as no surprise the city welcomes 12 million visitors annually, with that number set to jump again when the Games begin in April, next year.
How to Get to the Gold Coast
- International visitors will likely touch down in Brisbane and grab a shuttle or a hire car to reach the Gold Coast. Gold Coast Airport welcomes domestic flights from around the country.
- I would highly recommend hiring a car for at least a couple of days while on the Gold Coast to explore the hinterland.
- Gold Coast public transport is very easy to use and there are ample walking and cycling paths running along the coastline. Further improvements and special services will be in place for the 2018 Commonwealth Games.
Where to Stay on the Gold Coast
Peppers Soul | 8 Esplanade, Surfers Paradise | Check Prices and Availability
Peppers Soul is a hotel that was designed to impress. Rising up 77 stories from the sand at Surfers Paradise, the building itself will catch your eye as you drive down the famed Esplanade. Peppers Soul offers one, two and three bedroom 5 star apartments, right in the heart of the city. Perfect for couples, all the luxury amenities you would expect from a Peppers property, including a 25 metre tired pool overlooking the beach and the hatted Seaduction Restaurant are at your fingertips.
QT Gold Coast | 7 Staghorn Ave, Gold Coast | Check Prices and Availability
QT Gold Coast has a vibrant, young feel. A distinct Miami vibe from the hotel’s colour palette to the kitsch design touches, there’s a surprise around every corner the makes it uniquely QT. During our stay we were sent a cute amenity each day, from a cocktail making kit to a mini surfboard covered in handmade chocolates. The general feel of the hotel is more casual and coastal with splashes of colour and smiles from staff a constant, with plenty of unique spaces to relax, work or play. The QT is a great option for couples or groups of friends travelling to the Gold Coast for a fun weekend away, close to all the action.
Mantra Coolongatta | 88 Marine Parade, Coolangatta | Check Prices and Availability
Away from the buzz of Surfers Paradise, on the beautiful and calm Coolangatta beach, the Mantra is the ideal place to stay with a young family. The one and two bedroom apartments are very generously sized with all the amenities you could possibly need, including a full-sized kitchen and large balcony overlooking the beach, enticing you to stay in and relax each evening. There are also a number of great bars and restaurants on Marine Parade just footsteps from the resort.
What to Do and See on the Gold Coast
Feast on Healthy Local Fare
Cafe DBar | 275 Boundary Street, Coolangatta
Cafe DBar is set in a historic Queenslander, DBar House, perched high on the hill at Point Danger in Coolangatta. Ask for a table upstairs to take in the ocean views directly across the road while dining. That’s exactly what we did when stopping in for breakfast, one morning. Our coffees were delivered quickly and the meals soon followed as we bathed in the morning sun and enjoyed the breeze kicking off the ocean. The menu is full of healthy options, all made to showcase seasonal produce from the Gold Coast Hinterland. I ordered the Portobello mushrooms with quinoa salad, asparagus, truffle oil, Persian feta and tomato. I only wish I could have made my way through the very generous serving. Cafe DBar is one of those cafes that doesn’t only deliver on breakfast. You will want to return to settle in at a table on the verandah for a long lunch or afternoon drinks with friends. Make sure you wander through the art gallery that supports local artists while you are there too.
Elephant Rock Cafe | 776 Pacific Pde, Currumbin Beach
After working up an appetite with a morning of stand up paddle boarding, breakfast at Elephant Rock Cafe was exactly what we were all craving. Overlooking the beautiful Currumbin Beach, Elephant Rock crafts its menu using local, seasonal produce with lots of nourishing and allergy friendly choices on offer. Looking around the cafe, every seat was filled and once my Broken Omelette arrived it was obvious why the cafe has been a local favourite for decades.
Elk Espresso | 16 Chelsea Ave, Broadbeach
This cute and casual cafe welcomes customers with friendly smiles and incredibly fresh and healthy food, with a few naughty options on the menu too for those looking to splurge. As the name indicates, they are also keen on their coffee and you’ll find a great pour here too.
The Salt Mill | 785 Pacific Parade, Currumbin
The Salt Mill is a beachy little hole-in-the-wall cafe in Currumbin. This is the spot to grab an Acai bowl, green juice or smoothie and a great cup of coffee after a morning swim or surf. Take a seat at the sidewalk tables or cross over to the beach and sink your toes in the sand for a morning picnic.
Tenteram Fine Foods | 62 Kyte St, Currumbin Valley
Escape the coast and head for the hinterland where you’ll find an oasis of calm among the Currumbin Valley gum trees at Tenteram Fine Foods. Walking into the outdoor kitchen at Kay and Justin’s home, you’ll be transported to Bali. The subtle smell of incense sweeps past as you step on to the deck, an inviting pool with sun chairs sit soaking up the morning rays calls and you will have to resist the urge to curl up on the generous wooden daybed tucked in a quiet corner. We did a half-day cooking class at Tenteram, immersing ourselves in an Indonesia menu with a very healthy twist. You won’t find vegetable oils, heavy meats or sauces with nasties here, Kay and Justin are passionate about ensuring ingredients are clean and healthy without losing their much-loved flavours; perfect for the health conscious and those with allergies. We made Tofu Fritters, Snake Bean and Coconut Salad, Nasi Goreng and an amazing Beef Rendang. It was obvious Kay and Justin are passionate about what they do and sharing their message of healthy, plant-based eating. We were lucky enough to take home a few of their own pastes and sauces and I have enjoyed using them in my own at home, safe in the knowledge they are gluten, preservative and dairy free.
The Kitchens | Robina Town Centre, Robina
Foodies will love The Kitchens at Robina Town Centre. Celebrating local, seasonal produce from the region, The Kitchens brings together producers, makers and diners in a delicious urban marketplace. Meet the celebrity chefs in residence, book in for a food workshop or simply stop in for lunch to savour some local fare and pick up a few products to take home with you.
Miami Marketta | 23 Hillcrest Parade, Miami
Just a few minutes from Broadbeach and 20 minutes from Coolangatta, Miami Marketta is a fun spot to grab an afternoon tipple and settle in for an evening of food, cocktails and entertainment. We wandered to do a little window shopping at the pop up fashion stalls inside, before making the tough decision of which dish to try from the vendors in the laneway. The creative precinct showcases local artists and makers as well as hosting a number of street food stalls serving up dishes from around the world from souvlaki to paella and moqueca, with clean eating dishes thanks to the Good Food Catering Company. The covered laneway is lit up with lights with free seating set up near a stage where you’ll enjoy live music as you feast. The Marketta Laneway is open from 4pm on Friday and Saturday nights
Start your Day with SUP
Iron Mum Karla | Multiple Locations
As far as morning workouts go, stand up paddle boarding with three-time Australian Ironwoman champion, Karla Gilbert in Currumbin was one of the best I’ve ever done. Having tried SUP in choppy seas in the Maldives before, with little success, I wasn’t overly confident that I would stay up for long. But, after a little direction and encouragement from Karla, our SUP coach for the morning, the experience was entirely different; the water was warm, the sun bouncing off the surface, the area was buzzing with families out swimming and boarding and the sun wasn’t biting, just yet. Karla fell in love with SUP some years ago and began to compete in the sport. She has taken the Australian title and continues to travel to stunning locations around the world for competitions. Karla is also a SUP coach and Lifestyle and Wellness coach combining her passions for health and fitness with her experience as a busy, working mother.
Cycle Your Way Along the Coast
Get on Your Bike | Multiple Locations
Have Get on your Bike deliver bikes to you at Surfers Paradise or Burleigh Beach and ride north or south from one to the other (about 50 minutes each way depending on coffee stops). The cycleways on the Gold Coast beaches are off-road and very safe, so they are ideal for a family bike ride too. Take the afternoon so you can stop at all the cute cafes and beaches along the way for a snack and a swim.
Shop ’til you Spa
Pacific Fair Shopping Centre | Hooker Boulevard, Broadbeach
When the weather isn’t as glorious as it usually is on the Gold Coast, hit the shops. Pacific Fair in Broadbeach Waters really is a one stop spot for everything from high-end labels to fast fashion. The centre reminds me of an American-style open air mall. Spend the morning browsing or buying, grab a bite to eat, pick up some goodies from the grocery stores or even settle in for a movie at the cinema in the afternoon.
Harbour Town Gold Coast | 147-189 Brisbane Road, Biggera Waters
Harbour Town is about 20 minutes from Surfers Paradise. An outlet shopping centre it’s a paradise for bargain hunters. Another huge outdoor mall, while there are a few designer brands here, you will find mostly high street stores and fast fashion labels at some very good prices.
Local Markets | Multiple Locations
There a broad array of markets in the Gold Coast area where you can pick up locally made artisan goods, from food to clothing or homewares. It’s the perfect place to pick up souvenirs to take home while meeting local makers and supporting their businesses. Each market is held at differing times throughout the month. Check the schedule and the weather before you go.
Retreat to the Gold Coast Hinterland
Gwinganna Lifestyle Retreat | 192 Syndicate Rd, Tallebudgera Valley
An oasis in the beautiful bushland on the Gold Coast hinterland, Gwinganna Lifestyle Retreat is the ultimate escape from the Gold Coast buzz, conveniently located just 15 minutes from the beach. Catering to a broad cross-section of guests from celebrities to busy corporates, those with health concerns or couples looking for a healthy weekend away, packages vary from restorative weekend retreats to more intense week-long detox program. Guests stay in stunning eco conscious accommodations spread throughout the property, with plenty of space to ensure privacy and peace. For me, The Spa Sanctuary is a stand out at Gwinganna and one of the best spas I’ve been to anywhere in the world. The unique space has been built around its natural environment. Floating decking winds in a circular pattern around three central trees, the boards lead the way to the 33 indoor/outdoor treatment rooms. Wrapped in a fluffy robe and slippers, a therapist guides you to one of the rooms, where you discuss your needs so the treatment can be adapted to you, personally and the pampering and nurturing begins. After our treatments we were treated to an amazing lunch, created from scratch by the Gwinganna chef using fresh ingredients grown on site. Gwinganna is a place where you lose a sense of time and regain a sense of calm.
The Fit Traveller was a guest of Tourism and Events Queensland for our trip to the Gold Coast. As always, the words, images and opinions are authentically our own.
Skye is the founder and editor-in-chief of The Fit Traveller. She is a journalist, writer, photographer, intrepid traveller and a former personal trainer with a passion for helping others reach optimal health. As a TV journalist and producer, Skye has worked for household names such as 60 Minutes, Sunrise, TODAY and Nine News. She has also written for Women’s Health, Fodor’s Travel and Yahoo7 Travel, among many others.
Skye created The Fit Traveller as a beautiful online space and community where people feel inspired to escape the desk to move and explore more.
Equally comfortable in a 5-star resort or hiking a far-off mountain, Skye loves the unexpected and enriching life experiences that each trip brings and can often be found in a backstreet chatting to locals with her camera in hand.
Skye is based in Sydney, working to master the balance between motherhood and her insatiable appetite for adventure.