As we continue a series of four-night stays around Queensland we wanted to see what Australia’s Gold Coast, a land of endless white sand beaches midway down Australia’s east coast, was like. What better place to sample it than a town of about 24,000 called Surfers Paradise? We might have been given pause by the fact that neither of us surf or particularly want to learn to do so, but it’s one of the great tourist draws of the region so figured we’d give it a try.
Turns out we’re a little old for Surfers Paradise. Now, we were warned; Lonely Planet refers to a “wild and trashy party zone,” so you kind of know what you’re getting into. Still, the beach was supposed to be fabulous so we wanted to give it a try.
The good news is that the beach really was fabulous. The problem, for me at least, was that I was measurably under the weather most of the time we were there and never so much as stepped onto the beach until our last day. On top of that, a region know for almost constant sunshine was experiencing an unusual stretch of cloudy, unpleasant weather for our first couple days. And for Mark a fabulous beach requires more than just sand and surf; it should have chairs and umbrellas and hopefully nice little beach cafés. Surfers Paradise has the sand and surf down pat, but no beach infrastructure beyond that. My guess is that it’s a government regulation thing; no commercial enterprises on the beach, which can make sense. Makes it a lot less attractive for some of us, though.
Beyond that, a place that caters to a younger, partying crowd can be spare in the “good food” category. One day we enjoyed lunch at a cute little Persian restaurant, and a couple nights we sat at a restaurant and bar called El Patio de Cuba enjoying the company of the Korean bartender. But if there is a genuinely good restaurant in Surfers Paradise, we didn’t find it.
The most fun we had was an afternoon with Charlotte & Piers, a beautiful and fabulous couple we met in Fiji. He’s British while she’s originally from France, though they “live” in England these days. I say “live” since, like us, they are nomads for now, traveling around the world. To their dismay they will have to go back to England to work in a few months but for now they’re traveling. After we met them in Fiji they came to Australia, rented an RV, and so far have driven from Perth up along the west coast and around the perimeter of Australia, meeting up with us for an afternoon on the east coast. They describe the remote beaches of western Australia as some of the most spectacular they’ve ever seen. And it turns out – not surprisingly – they don’t think any more highly of our President-elect than we do.
And thus we come to an end of Surfers Paradise. Next stop the bustling city of Brisbane.