Built for pleasure and remaining a place utterly dedicated to sun, surf and the body beautiful, this strip of coast is possibly Australia’s most iconic holiday destination. Its shimmering high-rises can, when glimpsed from afar, appear like a make-believe city, and its reputation for tackiness is occasionally deserved. But this is far outstripped by a booming, youthful spirit and startling physical beauty: some 52km of pristine sand and countless epic surf breaks, heartbreakingly hazy sunsets, blissful water temperatures and 300 sunny days a year.
While Surfers Paradise’s malls and mega-clubs let the party-hard kids have their fun, the other neighbourhoods have a distinct charm of their own. Main Beach and Broadbeach corner coastal chic; Burleigh Heads, Mermaid and Palm Beach have a retro charm and booming culinary scene; while Coolangatta pleases with its pro-surfer vibe. Not to be overlooked is the lush, misty subtropical rainforest of the hinterland.