The Gold Coast Travel Guide
Getting Here and Around
Gold Coast Airport, also known as Coolangatta Airport, is the region's main transit point.
Access Hope Island via bridges from the west (Oxenford and Coomera) or from the eastern, coastal side (via Paradise Point, Hollywell, and Runaway Bay). Route 4, the Oxenford–Southport Road, begins in Oxenford at the Pacific Motorway's (M1's) Exit 57 and travels through Hope Island on its way to Hope Harbour, on the coast.
Driving distances and times from the Gold Coast via the Pacific Highway are 859 km (533 miles) and 12–13 hours to Sydney; 65 km (40 miles) and less than an hour to Brisbane's outskirts; and 1,815 km (1,125 miles) and 22 hours to Cairns.
The Gold Coast begins 65 km (40 miles) south of Brisbane. The Pacific Motorway, or M1, bypasses Gold Coast towns, but well-marked exits guide you to your destination. If you're coming from Brisbane International Airport by car, take the toll road over Gateway Bridge to avoid traversing Brisbane, then follow the signs to the Gold Coast.
Queensland Rail service connects Brisbane to Coomera, Helensvale, Nerang, Robina, and Varsity Lakes stations on the Gold Coast from 5:30 am until midnight. Alight at Coomera or Helensvale for the theme parks and northern suburbs; Nerang for Surfer's Paradise; and Robina or Varsity Lakes for Main Beach and all suburbs south of it. From rail stations, cabs and shuttle buses ferry visitors to nearby beaches, tourist centers, theme parks, and the airport. From any of these stations, it's a short (A$20–A$30) cab ride to the nearest Gold Coast town.
The Gold Coast's own light-rail tram service, G:Link, is currently being completed, with services ferrying passengers between Southport, Surfer's Paradise, and Broadbeach commencing operation mid-2014. For information, prices, and route options, visit www.goldlinq.com.au.
Long-distance buses traveling between Sydney and Brisbane stop at Coolangatta and Surfers Paradise. Surfside Buslines' Gold Coast Tourist Shuttle runs around the clock between Gold Coast attractions, theme parks, and the airport, along the strip between Tweed Heads and Southport. Services run at five-minute intervals during the day and at least half-hourly after dark. Buy single tickets or a 3-, 5-, 7-, or 10-day Gold Pass (A$56–A$120) or Freedom Pass (A$71–A$135), which give you unlimited shuttle travel and theme park transfers; the Freedom Pass also includes a return Gold Coast airport transfer.
Approximate taxi fare from Gold Coast Airport to Currumbin is A$32; to Burleigh Heads, A$40; to Broadbeach, A$55; to Surfers Paradise, A$60; to Main Beach, A$65; and to the northern suburbs, more than A$95. Shuttle buses can be cheaper than cabs at A$5–A$35, depending on your destination. Before boarding, confirm that the bus stops near your accommodation.
At Gold Coast Airport the Transport and Information Desk sells tickets for Surfside Buslines, the Gold Coast Shuttle Bus, and Con-x-ion coaches. They'll also direct you to the free Airport Link shuttle that takes you to the Gold Coast Highway, where public transport is readily available. You can also buy tickets for the Gold Coast Shuttle Bus, and flexible Go Cards (allowing multiple trips on council buses, trains, and ferries) are available at newsagencies, 7-11 stores, and train stations. You can top up your Go Card as needed online.
Rental cars are a cost-effective option if you plan to tour the area. Most major car rental agencies have offices in Brisbane, Surfers Paradise, and at Gold Coast Airport. Companies operating on the Gold Coast include Avis, Budget, and Thrifty. Four-wheel-drive vehicles are available. It's strongly recommended that you prebook.
Zane's Water Taxi runs up to six campers plus gear from Runaway Bay Marina to Currigee (A$50, one-way) and Tipplers (A$90, one-way); bookings are essential.
From the Gold Coast it's 30 minutes' flying time to Brisbane, 2 hours 10 minutes to Melbourne, and 1 hour 25 minutes to Sydney. Qantas, Virgin Australia, Jetstar, and Airtiger operate domestic flights from the Gold Coast to Australian capital cities and some regional centers.