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Getting the Most for Your Money in the Gold Coast

The first time I went to the Gold Coast back in June, the bus driver taking me back to the airport made a joke asking if I had spent all my money on my stay. I laughed because it was both funny and true. You can easily drop some money in this adult playground, but if you do it right, you can at least get the most bang for your buck while having the best time possible. Here are some tips:

Stay in Coolangatta

Coolangatta was probably my favorite place on my recent excursion to the Gold Coast. It’s got a quieter, cleaner feel than Surfers Paradise, but it is still right on the beach with awesome accommodation and restaurant choices at hand. The reason this idea might be beneficial is because it is located just near the airport. Instead of transferring quite a ways in the Gold Coast to your temporary home (getting around can be a bit on the costly side in the Gold Coast), you are just around the corner. Settle in here for a while, and you can believe you’ll save money on transport alone.

Stay at Komune

Komune is classified as a hostel, but I’m just not sure something this nice can fall into that category. This place is Bali inspired with funky beats playing in the background, so you truly feel as though you’ve gone away to some luxurious destination. However, dorm beds starting at just $27 a night say otherwise. Book here in Coolangatta and you will have beach views and possibly views of swimwear fashion shows that take place on the pool’s catwalk (no joke).

Rent a Q4U at Dreamworld

Dreamworld is one of the popular theme parks in the Gold Coast where you can ride roller coasters and watch shows. Unfortunately, entry can seem a bit pricey, even for a theme park, but there is a way to make it even better. Since you’re already spending a handful of money to get in (The Claw and the Tower of Terror are well worth it), why not spend just a few bucks more and rent a Q4U device to save you from having to waste time standing in line.

Seriously, the Q4U is awesome. One machine costs $10, and you can have up to 6 people on one device at a cost of $7 each. So, split that and you’re really only spending an extra $8 bucks to get VIP line treatment. Just punch in the name of the ride you want to go on next and the Q4U will give you a time that you can show up. It’s so easy, and so worth it! It not only helps you plan your day at the theme park, but it also means you don’t have to stand around for hours of your day.

Visit the Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary

koalas at Currumbin
I cannot stress how amazed I was with the Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary. It may cost $49 for admission, but once inside you’ll see that you can easily spend most of the day there. There’s croc feeding, kangaroo feeding, koala holding, Aboriginal dance shows and an awesome high ropes course. That’s right, your entry fee gives you access to a zip-lining obstacle course of varying degrees of difficulty. That alone can cost the price of admission or more.

In addition, the sanctuary is a non-profit organization that runs an animal hospital (free of charge). The money you spend in Currumbin actually goes to taking care of the beautiful wildlife of Australia.

Take Part in the Big Night Out

surfers paradise
The Big Night Out is a backpackers club crawl that takes place in the Surfers Paradise area of the Gold Coast. For a simple $30, you get to ride on the party bus with free entry to 4 different clubs, each with a free drink on arrival. On top of that, the rest of the drinks (nothing fancy) are just $5.50 for the evening. I learned about the event while staying at Aquarius Backpackers, a fantastic hostel in Southport, as it was promoted quite well to their guests.

Eat at Pancakes in Paradise

pancakes in paradise
Surfing, swimming and being constantly thrilled in the Gold Coast can really help you build up an appetite. If you want to make sure that you’ll be getting your money’s worth, I suggest trying out Pancakes in Paradise for their all-you-can-eat stack of pancakes and bottomless cups of coffee. There aren’t many places in Australia that can offer you this all-you-can-eat treat for around $13.

Spend the Evening at Dracula’s

Ok, I’m with you. A vampire cabaret show can sound a bit cheesy. The only thing that sold my boyfriend and I was the fact that the ticket price ($88) included dinner and hours (4+) of entertainment. Luckily, we were surprised in a good way. The show was kind of funny, the food was quite filling, the castle-like building and glowing bar set the mood, and glasses of Champagne were only $5 each. The $88 covered a full evening out (minus the drinks), and left us both happy.

Rent a Car

car rental
The Gold Coast can be quite spread out, so getting around may involve a lot of buses or taxis if you aren’t using your own vehicle. A three-day all-access pass for the Surfside bus will run at around $67 per person. If there are a couple of people in your group, you might as well rent a car from the airport and use it to get around when you want to instead of having to wait at a bus stop at all hours of the night.

Learn to Surf

Learning to surf (try it with Beach Bum) can be a great way to take advantage of your time and budget in the Gold Coast. Once you take the lesson and get your own gear, it doesn’t cost you a dime. It’s an amazing workout, and it is just plain exciting! Plus, there are lines of beaches to try your hand at, some good ones down in Coolangatta.

Spend 2 Hours at Timezone

If you’ve seen the Timezones in Sydney and other parts of Australia, then you might think this point is a bit strange. It’s not, however, since the largest Timezone video game arena is actually located in the Gold Coast, and you can get 2 hours of power-packed excitement for just $20! The first hour includes 12 ticket games and unlimited non-ticket games. The second hour includes 1 laser skirmish, 1 game of putt-putt and 1 bumper cars. I was thoroughly pleased with the amount of fun I received for this $20.

Photo credit: 1, 5, 8, 9, all others by Brooke Schoenman