Gold Coast versus the Sunshine Coast (Queensland)

It’s time for another rumble! And we head to Australia’s Sunshine State, home to the Big Pineapple (no really, that’s a thing!) and compare the Gold Coast, centred around towns such as Coolangatta and Surfer’s Paradise, and the Sunshine Coast, where you’ll find Noosa et al.

Where do I start? Both are not too far from Brisbane, Queensland’s state capital, although the Gold Coast is a fraction closer, and can be reached in three quarters of an hour by road (to Surfer’s Paradise). The Sunshine Coast is north of Brisbane, and the Gold Coast is south between Brisbane and the border with New South Wales.

Essentially, although they are both seaside locations which offer warm weather and plenty of beaches (amongst other things), these two spots so offer quite different experiences to the traveller. For example, if you are looking for a more ‘chilled’ experience, then you’re definitely looking at the Sunshine Coast.

The Gold Coast and particularly its most well known town of Surfer’s Paradise is flashy and built up. Surfer’s is famous for its high rise buildings, and is built around a series of rivers that lead to the ocean. It pumps day and night, with many night clubs, has a 322 metre building (which certainly you won’t find the like of on the Sunshine Coast) and a great array of places to eat.

View of Noosa Heads

The Sunshine Coast is definitely more laid back, with Noosa being one of the main hubs. There are some really top notch restaurants there too, and a very beautiful beach. There are great coastal walks which start in Noosa – you have to head out a bit on the Gold Coast to find walks (there are some great ones though).

Things are more spaced out too on the Sunshine Coast, so it’s a bit of a walk if you don’t have a car. But if you’re looking for a place to get away from it all, the Sunshine Coast is great for that. It’s also a pretty good place for families.

At the RACV resort in Noosa

On the down side, the Sunshine Coast is pricey, in fact it’s easily more expensive than the Gold Coast. The main cost is accommodation. I guess that because there are more choices on the Gold Coast, the prices are more competitive. It seemed like it was hard to find a decent room in Noosa for under $160 AUD (1AUD = 70 cents US). Also, as a more popular destination the Gold Coast has more flights which are also cheaper from the capital cities.

And the Gold Coast is the home to four theme parks – Sea World, Movie World, Dreamworld and Wet N Wild. So they are great for kids, but will set you back a bit in terms of money when dealing with buying food etc.

A calmer than usual beach at Surfers.
Noosa Heads Beach

The beaches. Well, if you’re into surfing then Gold Coast is your go. There’s swimming too. Between the flags! The waves looked pretty big at Surfer’s, but also Wave Break Island was great for a little basic snorkelling or scuba diving too.

I haven’t tried or looked for snorkelling on the Sunshine Coast. This would be a better jumping off point for the Great Barrier Reef though, or north of the Sunshine Coast. The beaches here are quieter and the waves gentler than the Gold Coast, which is a plus unless you’re looking to surf.

All in all, for me I actually preferred the Gold Coast I think. I liked being able to walk down the street to find a number of restaurants, and I loved the theme parks. However, I couldn’t have had to sort of chilled out holiday I had late November last year in Noosa. I would have needed to book a resort for that which may not have been so central.

It’s a close call and depends on what sort of getaway you’re looking for. Either way, sun, sand and fun are virtually guaranteed!

Thanks for reading, and May the Journey Never End!

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