An insider’s guide to the Gold Coast

Travelling Well | Mary O'Brien | Posted on 11 July 2017

RACV Royal Pines Resort Concierge Nick McGregor explores the Gold Coast’s best insider tips.

Cave Creek at Springbrook National Park, Queensland

Cave Creek at Springbrook National Park, Queensland. Source: Getty Images.

Your guide: 

  • Name: Nick McGregor
  • Position: Concierge at RACV Royal Pines Resort
  • Why he loves it: The relaxed lifestyle and the endless sunny days that put people in a good mood.
  • Absolute favourite: The adventure that awaits on my doorstep.

Beautiful beaches

The 2.5-kilometre trail from Main Beach to The Spit is really nice. You can walk along the beach and beside you is secluded scrub with nature trails. It’s never crowded. When you get to The Spit you can look back and see the whole southern coastline. It feels like you are almost on your own, like it’s private, but it’s only five minutes away from the hustle and bustle. My other favourite beach is Snapper Rocks near Coolangatta. There’s great surf and international surfing tours are held there. The beach at Surfers is straight but Snapper Rocks is full of nice rock pools, coves and inlets.

Holiday vibe

It’s a relaxed way of life here. People are relaxed about everything. There are more than 300 sunny days each year and when the sun’s out and you’re walking along the beach, everyone’s chilled out. It puts you in a nice state of mind. 

Surfers Paradise in reflective mood and portrait of Guide Nick McGregor

Surfers Paradise in reflective mood. Inset: guide Nick McGregor

Rainbow Bay Coolangatta with sunset

Rainbow Bay, Coolangatta

Another world

You can drive from the beach and within 10 minutes you enter the lush bush scenery of the Gold Coast hinterland. Springbrook National Park is incredible. There are walks to rock pools and Purling Brook Falls (in the UNESCO World Heritage-listed Gondwana Rainforests). The water falls 30 to 40 metres but on the perimeter of the falls are sheer cliffs. You can stand at the bottom of the falls and look up, or climb to the top for the greatest lookout of all. Mount Tamborine has short forest walks, quaint cafes, and The Eagle Heights Hotel has panoramic views of the Gold Coast. I do bushwalks here all the time and it’s never too crowded.

Eclectic day trips

Byron Bay, Brisbane and Moreton Island are all within 40 to 50 minutes’ drive. My favourite is Moreton Island. There’s a resort called Tangalooma where you can do snorkelling and the scenery is stunning.

Night markets

The Miami Marketta is on every Wednesday, Friday and Saturday night by Miami Beach. It’s blocked off from traffic and has street food, a kids’ area, live music, craft beers, great wine and a really electric vibe.

Maimi Marketta
closeup of seafood dish at Lark cafe at main beach

Cafes and bars

There are new bars and cafes opening up which is really good. There’s been a huge influx of health-inspired cafes along the coast recently that make beautiful food. My favourites include Cafe on Hedges at Mermaid Beach and Lark at Main Beach. The Garden Bar at the casino is perfect for Sundays. The beer garden, tapas and live music are great. Good bars include the Justin Lane rooftop bar at Burleigh Heads, The Collective at Palm Beach, and if you want a Melbourne vibe try the Cambus Wallace bar at Nobby Beach.

Hot rods to riffs

There are some great festivals. We’ve got the Blues on Broadbeach Music Festival (May), and the Cooly Rocks On Festival (June) at Coolangatta where up to a thousand hot rods and classic cars line the streets. It lasts four days, has plenty of ’50s and ’60s rockabilly music and is great fun. When the V8 Supercars come to town (October) there’s a party atmosphere, there’s the Magic Millions (January) horse race on the track overlooking Surfers Paradise, and the Gold Coast Marathon (July).

Cooly Rocks On Festival

Cooly Rocks On Festival 

The Cambus Wallace 3

The Cambus Wallace 3

Getting around

It’s a lot easier to get around now. We’ve got the G:link tram which does away with the need for a car. It’s world-class and travels from the Gold Coast University Hospital through most of the major tourist destinations to the Pacific Fair shopping centre at Broadbeach South. The shopping centre has had a massive refurbishment and has hip dining. There’s talk the G:link will extend to the airport in future. 

RACV members also save 15% on daily car rental rates with Thrifty on the Gold Coast, which allows more flexibility to travel around the Gold Coast and beyond in order to make the most of your trip.  

Sport and recreation

For active types there are beautiful golf courses, there are bike tracks, coastal tracks, paddle boarding, swimming, boating and surfing. The Gold Coast has something for everyone. I used to live in New Zealand, moved to Melbourne and then the Gold Coast. I’ve embraced the lifestyle.

Games excitement

Everyone is looking forward to showcasing what’s in our backyard and our beautiful part of the world when the Commonwealth Games come here next year. We have new, vibrant ideas and are more than just a glitter strip.