Surfers Paradise: Not Quite So “Paradise”

Our next stop after Byron Bay was Surfers Paradise, a suburb located on Australia’s Gold Coast. You would think given the name that Surfers Paradise would be a, well, paradise, but I found it to be tacky and quite frankly, boring. The city is known for its high-rise skyline, long stretch of sand on Surfers Paradise Beach and lively nightlife. Sounds great in theory, but as we wondered around the city, we found that there wasn’t really a lot to do. As you can see from the below photos, Surfers Paradise is a modern and pretty city, but I felt that it somehow lacked character; it feels like its trying to be Vegas but is more like Blackpool Pleasure Beach. We spent two days here walking around the city and chilling out on the beach, but we just didn’t get it.

surfers paradise

surfers paradise

surfers paradise

surfers paradise

surfers paradise

I think my issue with Surfers Paradise is the fact that as it was only established in the 1930s, it lacks history and culture. There is nothing unique or interesting about the city; it feels as though someone came and merely threw buildings together by the beach and entrepreneurs jumped at the place and built apartments and hotels. The city does however boast a large shopping mall called Cavill Mall (named after Jim Cavill, an early hotel owner) and a large district of nightclubs and bars. This does makes Surfers Paradise a good tourism and entertainment centre, and we spent some time exploring the shops and going to a 4d cinema which was pretty fun, although a little overpriced (like most things on the Gold Coast). Also, on our second evening in the city we met up with Ellie’s friend Kate who she knew from school, and who had moved out here. We went out with Kate and some of her friends and had a really good night in a nightclub called Melbas on the Park. Melbas played cheesy old school music so it was a good laugh.

surfers paradise melbas on the park

Melbas on the Park

melbas on the park surfers paradise

Melbas on the Park

During our second day in Surfers Paradise, we were desperate for something more interesting, so we decided to go and check out nearby Burleigh Heads. It took about an hour to get there, involving a tram and a bus, but it was definitely worth it. We ended up walking through the national park for a while, until we arrived at a gorgeous beach called Tallebudgera Creek. The scenery was beautiful, the sun was shining and people were swimming, paddle boarding and jumping into the creek; it immediately lifted our moods.

tallebudgera creek

tallebudgera creek

tallebudgera creek

All in all, I do understand the appeal of Surfers Paradise for some people who are very much into nightlife and shopping. However, as backpackers on a very low budget, me and Ellie struggled to find things to do and didn’t at all warm to the place. It didn’t even have many people surfing so I’m not sure where the name comes from… If you ever find yourself bored in Surfers Paradise like we did, then I definitely recommend you go and visit Burleigh Heads National Park for the day instead!

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