If you’re a thrill seeker, there’s everything under the sun to get your heart racing on the Gold Coast.
Story: Craig Tansley
Swim with reef sharks and rays at Sea World. Image: Sea World.
Become a fighter pilot
Think you’re brave enough to handle the G-forces of a barrel roll and loop in an open cockpit high above the Gold Coast? You’ll see how it felt to be a WWII fighter pilot on an aerobatic flight aboard a Yak-52 vintage Russian military training plane (from $420). It’s just you and your pilot, so you can dictate how many gravity-defying moves you’re up for. If that’s too tough on your stomach, try an adventure flight (from $370), soaring 200 metres above landmarks like Burleigh Point and the Q1 skyscraper.
Skydive over the beach
Want to know the best way to feel like an action hero? Take a tandem skydive out of a helicopter right over the high-rises of Surfers Paradise, landing beside spectators watching on from below. Or try a tandem skydive out over the beaches of the southern Gold Coast, with a bird’s-eye views of surfers and migrating whales on the way down, before landing on the sand at Kirra Beach, beside the sunbathers. Anyone aged 12 years and over can try a tandem skydive. There’s no upper age limit as long as you’re fit and healthy, although tandem passengers over 60 years of age are advised to get medical consent before booking. You can skydive from $375 and heli-skydive from $895.
Swim with a dolphin in deep water. Image: Sea World.
Feed a croc at Currumbin Sanctuary. Image: Currumbin Sanctuary.
Skydive the Gold Coast. Image: Gold Coast Skydive.
Climb the heights
For the best view of the entire Gold Coast region you can get outside of a plane, go climb one of the world’s highest residential buildings, Q1. The SkyPoint Climb starts on Q1’s 77th floor, where climbers don full bodysuits and harnesses to climb to 270 metres on Australia’s highest external building climb. You can choose the time you climb for a different kind of view – there’s everything from sunrise climbs to day climbs and twilight climbs; to night climbs to see the bright lights of Surfers Paradise and Broadbeach below. You can also book a climb for the fireworks display on New Year’s Eve over Surfers Paradise. Climbs start from $74.
RACV members save 10 per cent on SkyPoint Climb and other SkyPoint products
Ride the waves
Always wanted to hang ten? Don’t put it off any longer: with more surfing schools than anywhere else in the country, the Gold Coast offers a surfers’ paradise in more ways than one. There’s no better strip of coastline on Earth for learning to ride the waves – with sheltered bays like Rainbow Beach and Currumbin Alley considered Australia’s best places for learning to surf. Get the hang of standing up then go get tubed, dude. Lessons start from about $35.
Feed a full-grown tiger lunch at Dreamworld. Image: Dreamworld.
Meat and greet
Fancy feeding a monster crocodile that once ate a prize Brahmin stud bull worth more than $10,000? At Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary the resident male saltwater croc, Boss Hogg, puts on a feeding show every day at 1pm and someone has to give him his fill of meat ($69). The sanctuary is a Gold Coast institution, having saved injured native animals for 70 years. You can also watch vets work in one of the world’s busiest animal hospitals (it admits more than 10,500 animals each year).
RACV members save 10 per cent at Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary
Lunch with a tiger
If you’re more of cat person, you can dish up lunch to a tiger ($55). Dreamworld’s Tiger Island is one of the only interactive tiger exhibits on the planet. You’ll learn how to tong-feed a big cat after careful preparation from its handlers. There are less than 4000 tigers left in the wild, so this is one of the only ways to come face to face with the animal kingdom’s regal rarity. According to Dreamworld, its wildlife foundation has raised more than $3.5 million to help save species such as tigers, koalas, bilbies and tree kangaroos.
RACV members save 10 per cent on General Admission to Dreamworld
There’s more to Sea World than roller coasters and water slides. You can also have a once-in-a-lifetime experience swimming with dolphins in deep water. You’ll get to interact with dolphins for 20 minutes – they’ll swim all around you as you float on the surface of the lagoon ($244.99). You can also snorkel with stingrays and reef sharks around a reef ($59.99) or, for extra thrills, enter an acrylic cage in the Shark Lagoon ($194.99) and come face to face with sharks two metres long and more.
RACV members save 10 per cent at Village Roadshow Theme Park passes
Note: Captive animal programs are not without their critics. If you think you might be uncomfortable with the way in which wild animals and tourism mix, read about each business’s animal-welfare approach online, along with visitor reviews, before you consider going.