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The Unconventional Gold Coast Trip

Recently, I took a short trip of 5 days and 5 nights to the Gold Coast in Australia. Typically, when you think of the GC, you'd imagine Movie World, Dream World and Wet n Wild World. However, I didn't want to spend too much money on the trip so I chose not to visit any of the "world" places. Plus, I had already visited them some 15-20 years ago when I first visited Australia as a kid.

Well, why go to Gold Coast then?
First of all, it's summer in the Northern hemisphere and I wanted to escape the heat so going north was not an option. Secondly, plane tickets to Gold Coast were relatively inexpensive and flight times and durations aligned nicely with our schedules.

Without any of the "worlds" as part of our itinerary, I figured this trip was definitely going to be a super chill one. You might be wondering what there is to do without visiting the tourist spots of GC so I decided to compile my itinerary as well as some places that I wanted to go but did not into this post. You can pretty much complete everything within 3-4 days but we decided to take things slowly to enjoy our vacation.


We stayed at two places during our visit. I had found a couple of really cute retro 1950s inspired places and I couldn't resist booking rooms there.

La Costa Motel

Our first place of stay was La Costa Motel. It is conveniently located about 400m away from the Gold Coast Airport so you could walk to the motel or give them a call for a free airport transfer! We chose to walk since it was pretty nearby and the weather was nice. The only tricky part about walking is navigating out of the airport safely. Be sure to watch out for traffic!

The motel is easy to spot once you are nearby. The mint green building stands out against the brick-toned walls of the other residences around the area. There is a big lawn around the motel and free parking on the sidewalk for guests.

There are a ton of photo spots around the motel and it is pretty quiet most of the time, so any time is a good time to snap some pictures for the gram!
Each section of the motel has two rooms, one in front and one behind. The tables and chairs are free for anyone to use. I thought it would be nice to eat by the lawn during one of the evenings but we ended up staying in our rooms. 
We stayed in a standard room, which is pretty decent in size. There is a queen sized bed, table and chairs, a TV, a closet with sliding mirror doors and a kitchen area. Shampoo, conditioner and bar soaps were provided as well. 

Depending on where you choose to book your stay from, you may be provided with free breakfast which includes some bread, cereal and juice. Otherwise, you could always buy something from Coles and heat it up in the microwave or toaster. 
My only complaint about the place is that noise travels easily. Unfortunately, we had pretty bad neighbours that stayed up late at night and being a light sleeper, I was woken up a few times by the noises they made - TV programmes, talking on the phone, using the hairdryer, sliding the closet door, etc. Also, there was no room service to clean up our rooms despite our request. It's not a big deal but we would have appreciated it.

Oh, did I mention that the beach is right outside too? Just a 100m walk away!

Price: 130-150 AUD for standard rooms
Rating: 4/5

The Pink Hotel Coolangatta

Our second place of stay was The Pink Hotel. This is located a little further away from the airport. You could either take a direct bus or Uber (~A$10) here. Coolangatta is a lot more lively so you will definitely see more people if you stay here. It is also located 150m away from the beach! There is food right next door to the hotel and shops are a walking distance away.

This hotel also has a cute retro vibe plus a Palm Springs feel to it with tall palm trees and the beach right outside. The fact that it is pink stole my heart right away. The whole facade of the hotel is goals.

Fun fact: the hotel used to be a sleezy 1-star motel until it was taken over by new owners and re-painted.
Breakfast is not provided in this hotel but places to eat are just right around the corner! We stayed in a standard room but all rooms have a king-sized bed, minibar with a Smeg fridge, neon lights, retro art, flamingo robes (which are from Bed, Bath and Beyond btw) and toiletries. There was no TV in our room but that's all right. Also, power points were not located beside the beds so we had no choice but to charge our devices at the minibar or near the desk. 

I definitely love the aesthetics and lights of the room but we really didn't need an angry looking man over our heads on the beds LOL. Also, it would have been good if there were spotlights in the room because it gets pretty dim at night. 
This hotel felt like an upgrade from the previous motel because the room felt bigger, perhaps due to the lack of a kitchen, and the toilet was much nicer. I really liked the toiletries provided that were from Biology Skin.

There are a few extra features of the hotel that guests get to enjoy like rooftop access, where there is a bar and some beds to chill on with pretty fairy lights.
There is also a hidden speakeasy labeled the Janitor's Closet. We had 2 free shots to redeem from the place.

If you are currently staying in the hotel and wondering how to access the speakeasy, simply head to the ground floor and tap your card on the Janitor's Closet room. You will be greeted by some tools but continue to push open the wall in front of you because it is actually a door!

The speakeasy is a cozy piano bar that hosts performances from time to time. It was pretty cramped when we went because there were quite a few people inside, so we took our shots and left.

Right next to the hotel is Eddie's Grub House, a burger joint with a bar and live music. Room service from the hotel serves food from here too but at an additional $5, so why pay when the restaurant is located right next to you? The place is always bustling with life but we did not eat there. Prices range from $15-30 for a meal.

Overall, we really enjoyed this hotel a lot more because of the location and the look of the room. However, noise travels as well and this place is known to have events on the weekends. Thankfully, they do end by about 10pm so you can still get a good rest. There are still a bunch of rowdy groups around sometimes though.

Price: ~130 AUD
Rating: 4.8/5


Day 1: The Borrowed Nursery, Pacific Fair Shopping Centre

Our first day started pretty late because we landed at around 8am and checked into our motel at about 8:45 am. After refreshing ourselves a little bit, it was pretty close to 10am.

The first place we wanted to go tp was The Borrowed Nursery. I had read that it was an aesthetic little nursery full of plants and succulents. It opens at 10am and closes at 4pm.

It was pretty easy to get there by bus. The bus dropped us outside a Sizzler's with KFC beside it so we stopped by for a quick bite before heading on.

The nursery itself was pretty empty when we got there. I had wanted to get a photo inside of it but I felt pretty shy because we would be the only ones inside. Plus, I did not intend to purchase anything since it would be impossible to bring any plants out of Australia. So, I settled for some outdoor wall art.
Right next door is a cafe called Morena Espresso, which also has cute colorful walls to take pictures with. Unfortunately, we did not go inside for a drink so I can't tell you how it is.
Next, we walked to Pacific Fair Shopping Centre. It was quite a walk away but I do believe you can take the bus down another stop.

This shopping centre is pretty big so it is possible to spend an entire day over here if there are major sales going on. Unfortunately, there aren't a lot of sales around this time of year. Even so, we had a good walk around the place and found some good food to eat as well.

I can't quite remember which part of the mall this is from, but there is a section outdoors where you can walk along to find these colorful walls. There is also a little playground for kids.
For dinner, we had Japanese food from a little shop nearby the airport. I had udon noodles with a sushi roll on the side for A$10, so that was a pretty good deal!

Day 2: Bilinga Beach, Mervyn Roys Cafe, Kirra Hill, Queen Elizabeth Park, The Strand at Coolangatta

It was a pretty warm day so we decided to hit the beach! Bilinga beach was pretty much right outside our door while we were at La Costa Motel. The beach was pretty empty so it was great to walk along the shore and have a little sit by the water. The wind was blowing endlessly though, so even though it was sunny and warm, I felt too chilly to go into the water.
For lunch, we headed to Mervyn Roys Cafe where I had a chicken tandoori wrap and some coffee. The wrap was huge so it is definitely filling for a person. The meal was about A$24 for two wraps and a coffee, so I will say that it is a pretty affordable place!

Next, we decided to head to Coolangatta for a walk even though we knew we would be staying in that area at the later half of our trip. We alighted the bus around Kirra Beach and walked to Kirra Hill Lookout and Kirra Groyne. The beaches here are a lot more scenic and there were a lot more people around the area too.
We also took a stroll along Queen Elizabeth Park and popped into The Strand, which is a shopping mall right next to the park. 

For dinner, we bought some frozen food and canned soup from Coles and heated it up in our motel - cheap and easy! 

Day 3: Farm & Co, Currumbin, Miami Marketta

I was super excited about this day because I was going to see a sunflower field!!! This was honestly the highlight of my trip because I had never visited a flower field and I wanted to take some Instagram-worthy photos there. 

If you are planning to visit this farm for the sunflowers, you should definitely check their Instagram page to find out if the sunflowers are in bloom or not. Luckily, our trip coincided with a full bloom so we were greeted by hundreds of happy yellow flowers upon our arrival. 

Getting there from our place required a cab or Uber since we did not have a car to drive. The trip took about 20mins and costed about A$30 by Uber.

Entry into the farm is A$5 per person. You can also choose to pick your own sunflower for A$4 per stem. 

There are two sunflower fields so if one gets crowded, you can always go to the other one. I do recommend going earlier in the day because it is cooler and less crowded. Right now, the sunflowers have grown pretty tall. I would have preferred if they were shorter than me but I'm not complaining. 
There were also some chickens and pigs on the farm. I must say, they were very very well fed. 
There were also macadamia trees with lots of nuts on the ground so you could pick one up and crack it open. There is a small tree stump with a large rock for you to do this. The macadamias were really fresh and yummy! 

I had not intended to have lunch on the farm but I am so glad we did because the food was BOMB.
We had some baby potatoes that were really fresh and fragrant. I wasn't a huge fan of the sauces because they tasted pretty similar and were quite sour. 

The other dish consisted of cauliflower rice, grilled sweet potato and pumpkin, and macadamia satay (roasted macadamias diced). This was soooo good! Despite it being a vegan meal, everything was super fresh, tasty and very filling. This meal ended up costing us about A$40 (with an affogato coffee).

After our farm visit, we headed back to our motel to rest a bit and then to Currumbin at the recommendation of our Uber driver. However, we didn't find much to do at Currumbin other than the lookout at Elephant Rock Cafe. I would say to give this area a skip and focus more on Miami because I missed out on a couple of places to visit there.

By the time we reached Miami, the cafe that I wanted to visit had closed for the day. Paddock Bakery is pretty well known for its pretty outdoor garden aesthetic and food. However, it opens from 6am -3pm so we were a little late and missed our chance of dining there. 
Image from The Urban List. I remember seeing fairy lights too!

We decided to hang around another coffee place until the Miami Marketta opened (5pm). However, while walking over to the Marketta, I found another cute place that I wished I had visited earlier when there was more daylight to take pictures. 

Lost Palms Brewing Co. is located a block away from Miami Marketta so if you are planning a visit to the Marketta, definitely drop by for a look or drink! I love the retro signs and the colors of the place. Plus, it is lit up with fairy lights once the sun sets!
Image from Inside Gold Coast

The Marketta has a wide variety of food and drinks to choose from, plus seating area to enjoy your food. There are also live music performances throughout the night. It is a really cozy environment to hang and chill with friends and family.
We had nachos with chili con carne from a Mexican stall for A$15 that honestly wasn't impressive at all. I wasn't too hungry so we did not try other food. 
We did get some tea from another shop called Skullers, owned and operated by an artist called Marcela. She has some of her art for sale too. In my opinion, her store is the prettiest in the place.

Day 4: The Pink Hotel, Enigmuh Lee Beach, Baked at Ancora, Bondi Grill'e

Much of the day was kinda wasted doing a hotel switch and waiting to get checked in because our room wasn't ready till noon. We walked around and got some snacks from Coles, plus lunch at the Tweed Mall. 

After enjoying our room and taking some pictures of the hotel, we decided to visit the beach that was right across our place. Despite it being super windy, there were quite a few people surfing in the water! 

After that, we took a long walk to Baked at Ancora to take some pictures. We knew the place was already closed but we had nothing else planned for the day. If you do want to eat there, the place opens from 6:30am to 2pm. 

There are some nice views though!
For dinner, we dined at Bondi Grill'e and had their burgers. I had a classic beef burger with pineapple (A$15) and really enjoyed it because the meat was rich with that smokey grill flavor. I also had a peach & vodka cocktail (A$13) which was yummy. 

Day 5: Raw + Rice, Little Mali, Snapper Rocks, Froggy Beach, Duranbah Beach

Our last day was pretty chill. We decided to sleep in and have brunch at a poké place called Raw + Rice, which is next to Bondi Grill'e. The food is really fresh and green so it is great for eating clean. A regular sized bowl is A$15.90 while a large is A$17.90.
We definitely loved the food here and even took away a bowl for breakfast before our flight the next day. 

Then, we walked over to Little Mali which is a cafe nearby for an acai bowl. We got a classic bowl for A$13. It was a pretty big bowl with lots of fruits plus nuts and seeds hiding at the bottom of the bowl! 
With our bellies filled, we took a stroll along the coastline - Snapper Rocks, Froggy Beach and Duranbah Beach. The views are really really nice and there are a lot of photo spots along the way.
Froggy Beach is actually a really nice beach to hang at during winter if you want to swim or play on the beach. The little bay was a lot warmer than the surrounding areas and not windy at all.

Further south is Duranbah Beach and Little D'bah Beach, separated by a long walkway. Little D'bah Beach (pictured below) is a really nice and calm beach that I would have loved to sit and relax at if I had known about it earlier. The waters are relatively calm so you can sit or swim comfortably in it.
For dinner, we ate at Pancake Diner inside the Tweed Mall. It wasn't fantastic and pretty similar to a fast food concept. I wouldn't really recommend it for the price. 

The Gold Coast is definitely a chill place to be at and I miss waking up to the beach views everyday. We walked a ton during this trip, clocking about 8-9km a day and over 12,000 steps!


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