With the Brisbane and the Sunshine Coast to the north, the border of New South Wales to the south, and the lush peaks of the hinterlands stretching inland, the Gold Coast is a prime location from which to explore Australia’s east coast. Here are some of the best day trips from the Gold Coast.
Stradbroke Island — 22 miles (35 km) north
Stradbroke Island, or Straddie as the locals call it, is a slice of paradise ranking as the second largest sand island in the world. It’s just over a 30-minute drive from the Gold Coast, making it a convenient choice for water sports, wildlife-watching cruises, and sea kayaking excursions.
Lamington National Park — 29 miles (46 km) southwest
The UNESCO World Heritage-listed Lamington National Park stretches over 49,915 acres (20,200 hectares) of protected forest ranging from subtropical rain forest to drier eucalyptus forest. On a day trip from Gold Coast, it’s possible to enjoy a canopy walk, go bird watching, or take a bushwalk from O’Reilly’s Rainforest Retreat.
Mt. Tamborine National Park — 29 miles (47 km) northwest
Visit Mt. Tamborine National Park during the day and marvel at the views from the Rainforest Skywalk, or brave a nighttime rainforest tour and spot wildlife by flashlight as you hike to a waterfall and stand beneath a canopy of twinkling glow worms.
Brisbane — 49 miles (79 km) north
The Queensland capital is just a short hop from the beach, making it an obvious choice for a day tour. Take in the views from Kangaroo Point and Story Bridge; browse the stalls at the Brisbane City Markets; stroll around the lively Southbank and the Brisbane Botanical Gardens; or enjoy a sightseeing cruise along the Brisbane River.
Byron Bay — 58 miles (94 km) south
Cross the border into New South Wales and visit laid-back Byron Bay, renowned as one of the east coast’s coolest beach resorts. Here, you can visit Australia’s most easterly point, do some shopping, grab lunch at a beachside café, or spend the day surfing and sunning on some of Australia’s best beaches.
Moreton Island — 65 miles (105 km) north
Moreton Island, the third largest sand island in the world, is 90 percent covered by national park and is home to Mt. Tempest, the planet’s highest coastal sand hill. Snorkelers will find a variety of colorful life at the Tangalooma Wrecks off the western coast, while plentiful sand dunes make for excellent sand boarding.