The best of the Gold Coast on a budget: top 5 things to do

There’s no need to flash the cash to experience some of the hottest spots on the GC. Here are our top 5 things to do on the Gold Coast.

A family walking along the main beach on the Gold Coast
  • Jetstar
  • November 2017

Move over meter maids, farewell lifesavers, and good riddance to all things 'glitter strip'. We’re digging deep to get a taste of what the Gold Coast has to offer. The good news? There’s no need to flash the cash to experience some of the hottest spots on the GC. Create more memories than your Instagram feed can handle, without getting the hip-pocket blues. Here are our top 5 things to do on the Gold Coast.

Chill like the locals at Currumbin Rock Pools

When you want to wind down somewhere more secluded than Surfers Paradise, Currumbin Rock Pools is your best bet. It’s a 10-minute drive inland from Currumbin Beach, taking in the lush surrounds of Currumbin Valley, to arrive at this secret swimming hole. Soak in the sun on the grassy banks, suck in the crisp air, and sink down into the cool fresh water. Take a stroll 50 metres upstream to take a snap at the small, hidden waterfall. Don’t forget to bring a few drinks and nibbles so you can kick back in gourmet style.

Location: Currumbin Creek Road, Currumbin Valley

Our favourite link: Currumbin Rock Pools opens in new window

Achieve platter perfection on Burleigh Hill

Spend your Sunday afternoon amongst Gold Coast natives, who know how to take picnicking to the next level. Outdoor rugs, fully-stacked platters and choice bubbles abound as Burleigh Hill plays host to those looking for killer views and a surf soundscape. Top and tail your Burleigh session with a swim and a walk through Burleigh Bongos. Here you’ll find a community event involving a bongo and dance circle (and the odd fire twirler), kicking off around 5pm. Don’t let the hunt for a free car space get you down either—park anywhere along the Burleigh Esplanade and join the locals taking in the view as they walk to their spot.

Location: Goodwin Terrace, Burleigh Heads

Our favourite link: Burleigh's John Laws Park opens in new window

Laneway dining and live music at Miami Marketta

Famed for being home to Australia’s best beaches, the Gold Coast has (up until now) not been synonymous with culture. But the tide has well and truly turned, with the GC kicking its arts scene up a notch. One of the best examples is the former industrial complex that’s now an iconic nightspot in Miami. The chosen venue for local musicians, artists and design creatives alike, Miami Marketta throws open its doors every Wednesday, Friday and Saturday night. Enjoy live music, funky DJs and creative stalls for those wishing to immerse themselves in the local scene. Entry is free, but if you do have a few dollars burning a hole in your pocket, this hotspot is also home to a bunch of street food vendors ready to take you on a culinary trip around the world.

Location: 23 Hillcrest Parade, Miami

Our favourite link: Miami Marketta on Facebook opens in new window

Get active in Queensland’s first national park

The Gold Coast Hinterland is unparalleled when it comes to spectacular (and easy-on-the-wallet) ways to while away time. Enjoy a drive up the winding roads of Mount Tamborine and head to the Witches Falls section of the national park. Strap on your sneakers and head into the Witches Falls Circuit walking track, taking in the rainforest, waterfalls and birdsong of the world’s third oldest national park. The 3km track should take you around an hour to tackle, with an incredible lookout and photo background as your reward.

Location: Main Western Road, Tamborine Mountain

Our favourite link: Tamborine Mountain National Park maps opens in new window

Find inner peace in the Gold Coast Botanic Gardens

End your GC jaunt with some rest and recovery in one of the city's prettiest parks. Literally stop and smell the roses at the Gold Coast Botanic Gardens, showcasing local flora and fauna. There’s also the butterfly garden and a ‘Mangroves to Mountain’ walking path to keep you occupied. Time your visit to coincide with one of the free tai chi classes held here (8am on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Fridays) and move through the movements of this healing martial art practice, ideal if you’re looking to get a little zen. The nearby lake and boardwalks set the scene for some post-class reflection, while a volunteer-run coffee service can help you out with a reviving brew.

Location: 230 Ashmore Road, Benowa

Our favourite link: Walking the Gold Coast Botanic Gardens opens in new window