21 of the best things to do in Surfers Paradise on the Gold Coast

The Gold Coast’s famed Surfers Paradise is home to shimmering skyscrapers and a seemingly endless expanse of white sand and rolling surf.

But Surfers (as it’s affectionately known) is much more than beachfront bliss and bar hopping. It’s the beating heart of an ever-evolving city, home to unique culinary experiences, culture and art, natural encounters and adrenalin-fuelled adventures.

Here are 21 new, unique and unexpected to do in Surfers Paradise.

1. Watch the city light up on The Island Gold Coast Rooftop

Rub elbows with the locals and make a new friend or two on The Island rooftop – a favourite spot for drinks on a Friday or Saturday night, or a long lazy Sunday afternoon lunch.

You’ll watch the city light up from one of the best vantage points in Surfers Paradise, with views over the CBD and the coastline from the open-air rooftop space.

2. Go with the flow on a stand-up paddle board

Want to truly go with the flow? There’s no better way to explore Surfers at your own pace than on a stand up paddle board (or SUP, as it’s known to its many fans).

Go Vertical SUP Hire offers lessons and group tours, and experienced paddlers are free to explore nearby Chevron Island and Macintosh Island Park.

First time on a paddle board? No worries. The beauty of stand-up paddle boarding is that even a beginner can get up and go, kids included. If you’re looking for family-friendly things to do in Surfers Paradise, a stand up paddle board session should be top of your list.

3. Learn to surf with Go Ride a Wave

Go Ride a Wave | things to do Surfers Paradise

Photo by @gorideawave

Nothing beats the feeling of catching a wave for the first time, and the team at Go Ride A Wave know that better than most.

If you’ve ever dreamt of riding glass-like waves on one of the most iconic surf beaches in the world, make it happen with a private surf lesson, or join one of the two hour learn to surf lessons for beginners the Go Ride A Wave team host on the beach. Go Ride A Wave are open seven days a week all year round.

Mastered Surfers and ready to try your hand at a new spot? Don’t miss our guide to the Gold Coast’s best beaches.

4. Soak up the view with a sundowner

Cotton candy skies are on the menu most nights on the Gold Coast, so choose a venue that lets you soak up the horizon. Newcomer Hyde Paradiso boasts 180-degree views of Surfers and a 12-metre long bar, ideal for sampling the creative cocktail list, which includes their salted-coconut margarita.

Already an icon in L.A., Vegas, and Miama, Hyde’s first Aussie lounge in the Peppers Soul Hotel has the same heart and vibe as its predecessors, with a seasonal Mediterranian menu and bottomless brunch every weekend. Cheers to that.

5. SkyPoint Climb and Observation Deck

Skypoint | things to do Surfers Paradise

Photo by @skypoint_au

Prepare to be awe-inspired.

Standing 270 metres above sea level with sweeping 360 degree views of the Gold Coast’s coastline, the SkyPoint Climb on top of the iconic Q1 building is a Surfers Paradise experience that will stay with you long after you’re back on solid ground. And the view you choose is totally up to you: SkyPoint Climb offers sunrise, twilight, night, and day climbs.

If you’re chasing the view without the effort, visit the SkyPoint Observation Deck, the only beach-side observation deck in Australia. Located on the 77th floor of Q1, it’s a great option for the whole family.

6. Hunt down the perfect cup of coffee

Australians take their coffee seriously, and the coffee culture in Surfers Paradise is no exception. Hole-in-the-wall locals vendors and sleek, shiny newcomers all have their place in the Gold Coast’s thriving cafe scene.

And because a dose of caffeine is the ideal way to start a day of adventure, we highly recommend you make your way through this list of the best coffee spots in Surfers Paradise.

7. Indoor skydiving with iFly Gold Coast

iFly | things to do Surfers Paradise

Photo by @@yiyaginamu_

Experience the thrill of a freefall flight without the danger at iFly Gold Coast – an indoor skydive centre. You’ll take flight inside a five-metre-wide glass chamber powered by a giant vertical wind tunnel.

Based in the heart of Surfers, iFly is a family friendly activity, with kids as young as three able to ride.

8. Treat yourself at spaQ

Indulge in a spa experience at spaQ, the vibrant day spa space in the QT Hotel.

SpaQ has reimagined the average day spa fit-out with their 50’s-inspired décor. Throw on a soft robe and lounge in a bold green armchair before a decadent ‘head-to-heel’ treatment. We love the Pure Gold signature experience, complete with a warm oil massage, custom facial and mini mani-pedi.

9. Shop under the stars at Surfers Paradise Beachfront Markets

The Foreshore comes to life every Wednesday, Friday and Sunday night with the Surfers Paradise Beachfront Markets, with over 100 stalls selling wares from local artisans and fresh local produce.

From 4pm ‘til 9pm, lap up the sea breeze and stroll through the line-up as the stars come out. Watch artisans at work, admire bespoke artworks, and find a treasure to keep forever.

10. Explore the cultural heart of Gold Coast

Art, theatre, cinema, dance and entertainment come together at Home of the Arts: a cultural precinct complete with indoor and outdoor event spaces, a gallery and a cinema. Enjoy live performances with the Surfers Paradise skyline as the backdrop, or simply take a stroll around the lake and explore the beautiful precinct.

Home of the Arts hosts events and screenings suitable for all ages.

11. Support local artists and indie rockstars at Surfers Paradise Live

Surfers Paradise Live | things to do Surfers Paradise

Photo by @Queensland

Running from the 30th of April to the 3rd of May 2020, Surfers Paradise Live is a music festival set against the natural amphitheatre of the Surfers Paradise beach. Celebrating home grown Aussie talent and bringing international indie rockstars to the Coast, the festival kicks off with the Gold Coast Music Awards, a night which showcases the music diversity and culture of South East Queensland.

The 2020 festival lineup includes Spiderbait, British India, Jon Stevens, and Vanessa Amorosi. If you prefer a more intimate, relaxed vibe, give the main stage a miss and head to The Beach Hut stage, where you’ll find an impressive line up of local acts.

Not in town? Here are 13 more unmissable Gold Coast events.

12. See the beach come to life at the Sand Safari Arts Festival

Watch sand come to life before your eyes at the Sand Safari Arts Festival where 15 world-renowned sculptors will battle it out, sculpting 10 tonnes of sand into larger than life sand sculptures.

The 17 day festival includes interactive workshops, art installations, sand sculpting demonstrations, live entertainment and sand sculpting from dawn ‘till dusk, with something for everyone in the family. This year’s competition will see the sand transformed into scenes from classic fairy tales, adding to the magic.

13. Take in the sunset by kayak

It’s just you, gently lapping waves and the unbroken horizon. For a Surfers experience that will leave you changed, take in the spectacle of a Gold Coast sunset from the perfect vantage point: a sea kayak.

Australian Kayaking Adventures’ Surfers Paradise Sunset Kayak Tour [Link on is broken] is the perfect way to soak in the ambience of the ocean with minimal disruption. Beginners and more experienced riders can all get in on the action.

14. Expect the unexpected at Ripleys Believe It Or Not! Odditorium

If you’re looking for unique things to do in Surfers Paradise, Ripleys Believe It Or Not! Odditorium takes the cake. With 9,000 square feet to explore, the ‘odditorium’ showcases the strange, the shocking, and the beautiful, with genuine artefacts, illusions, interactive exhibits, life-size figurines, and stories of magic and mystery from around the world. Goosebumps are guaranteed.

15. Come face to face with a gentle giant

Humpback whales

From June to November, humpback whales make their way up the Queensland coast and circle back with their newborn calves. Catching a glimpse of these friendly giants is an experience that few can forget.

On board a luxury catamaran, you’ll enjoy unobstructed views of the whales breaching and splashing in the Gold Coast’s waters during a three-hour Whales in Paradise tour.

Whales in Paradise maintains a 100% daily sighting record and offers a free cruise if you don’t spot any whales.

16. Let life drift right by you on a river cruise

Leave the buzz of the strip behind and slip into the slow lane on a river cruise. Enjoy spectacular views from the decks of one of the Surfers Paradise River Cruises boats as you explore the beautiful waterways, canals and rivers of the Gold Coast.

With sightseeing tours available for morning, midday, afternoon, and sunset cruises, this is a perfect way to enjoy the stunning natural surrounds and glittering skylines of the Coast without lifting a finger.

17. Putt your stuff at Holey Moley

Holey Moley

Photo by @anto_oko

Combining a mini golf course and karaoke bar, Holey Moley is a completely unique Surfers Paradise destination.

Put your putting skills to the test on 18 unique and zany holes, complete with pop culture references and shark infested waters, then retreat to a private karaoke room to test out your lung power.

A great option for groups, Holey Moley has a fully equipped cocktail bar slinging quirky cocktails, and the mini golf course is open to all ages.

18. An electric dining experience at Yamagen at QT Gold Coast

Some meals stay with you. The multi-sensory, izakaya style experience diners are treated to at Yamagen is one of those meals.

Offering a playful take on traditional Japanese cuisine in the Gold Coast’s Q1 Hotel, Yamagen brings the electric feel of Tokyo to life, with neon lights and a buzzing atmosphere.

Tuck into authentic omakase at the 15-seater sushi counter as you watch the chefs at work, or enjoy the full menu in the main dining space. Yamagen is also home to the country’s most extensive Japanese whisky collection, with more than 65 to choose from.

19. Uncover hidden bars

Duke’s Parlour

Photo by @dukesparlour

Surfers Paradise has no shortage of after-dark establishments, but newcomer Duke’s Parlour is offering patrons a reprieve from the glitz and go of the main street.

Once a casual beach bar, Duke’s is now a dark, moody late-night cocktail and live music venue with a Californian bungalow vibe and impressive cocktail selection. Expect live entertainment every Friday and Saturday night, and a tight menu of woodfired pizzas served until late.

20. Eat your way through a neighbourhood favourite

The 4217 is a neighbourhood village-style eatery and creative space designed to nurture local trade and give back to the community.

Home to one of the best cafes in Surfers Paradise, Paradox Coffee Roasters, as well as burger joint, Depot, and Italian restaurant, Salts Meats Cheese, and adorned with murals and artworks by Australian artists, it’s well worth a visit.

21. Lose yourself in the rush of a jet boat ride

Jetboat Extreme

Photo by @gcjetboating

Leave everything behind you when you whip around the Broadwater and Gold Coast Seaway in a 650-horsepower jet boat at speeds up to 80kms per hour with Jetboat Extreme.

Don’t expect a leisurely 55-minute cruise. You’ll take power slides, ride along waves and do 360-degree spins. If you’re lucky you’ll spot a curious dolphin – they’re known to gallivant beside the boat.