When you’re on vacation, it’s all too easy to ditch your running shoes for flip flops, and swap a hiking trail map for a magazine. But on the Gold Coast, Australia, there are ways to keep active while having so much fun you might actually forget you’re working out.
With a perfect combination of beaches, rainforest, and mountains, you’ll see there’s so much more to the Gold Coast than the glittering Surfers Paradise strip. Here’s a two-day fitness guide to the Gold Coast through the eyes of a local, so you won’t waste a minute.
Day 1: Surfside sweat up
When it comes to the Gold Coast, there’s no shortage of golden shorelines, parks, bicycle tracks, and walkways to keep you fit while taking in a stunning view. For all of the above, you can’t get much better than the Burleigh Esplanade.
The length of your walk, run, or cycle is entirely up to you and your starting point, though this local suggests kicking off from North Burleigh Surfing Club and walking the 3 km (1.9 mi) to Burleigh Headland to see all that this area has to offer.
Once at Burleigh Headland, you’ll be presented with a few options to keep the muscles moving or take a break:
- Continue on for another 2 km (1.2 mi) to Tallebudgera Creek, a prime stand-up paddle boarding location where SUP boards can also be hired
- Take up the challenge of the Headland hike—approximately 5 km (3 mi) of uphill trail and rewarding views
- Pause for a well-deserved moment of relaxation overlooking the water, keeping your eye out for whales in winter, before heading back along the Esplanade
Esplanade walk to Tallebudgera Creek – FitBit activity:
9,218 steps taken
753 calories burnt
Exercise stations, surfing & yoga
Who says you need to a gym membership to keep fit? Thanks to the Gold Coast City Council, you’ll find a series of public workout stations dotted along Burleigh Esplanade that won’t cost you a cent. There’ll be no excuses when it comes to fitting in a few pull ups or crunches as you make your way up and down the coast.
With some of the best waves in Australia, you couldn’t possibly talk about the Gold Coast and not mention surfing. It doesn’t matter if you’re a seasoned surfer or total novice, there are loads of opportunities to charge the waves with a hired board or surfing lesson to find your feet. Remember, even if you’re just heading in for a swim, stick between the red and yellow flags and keep an eye out for those around you—Aussies take surf safety seriously.
Need a break from the salt and sun? If downward dogs and sun salutations are your thing, the Gold Coast is overflowing with quality yoga and pilates studios to give you an indoor workout. Essence of Living in Mermaid Beach is renowned for their mind-clearing and core-strengthening yoga, pilates and barre classes.
Yoga FitBit activity:
210 calories burnt
After you’ve worked up a sweat and dusted the sand from your feet (and legs, and arms, and pockets), treat yourself at any one of the cool cafes in the Gold Coast’s beachside suburbs. Burleigh Heads’ Juice Bar on James Street is famous for its tropical juices with fresh fruit stacked high on the straw, while My Little Kitchen in Broadbeach offers a DIY all-day breakfast board with some serious smoothies. Craving an acai bowl? Alfred’s Diner in Mermaid Beach has you covered.
Day 2: Rainforest magic
As promised, the Gold Coast is not all about waves and wetsuits. If you want to stretch your legs surrounded by greenery and wildlife, nothing will beat hiring a car to venture in the hinterland, or joining a Gold Coast Hinterland tour. You can even make an entire weekend (or week) out of it.
Hiking, birdwatching & tree-climbing
You might feel like a million miles away strolling through Lamington National Park, but we promise you’re only a 1.5 hour drive from the heart of the city.
Lamington National Park offers more than 320 km (199 mi) of walking trails through the rainforest, making it a popular spot for Gold Coast locals wanting to challenge themselves with new hiking tracks. You’ll also find parcels of land housing luxury retreats and featuring spectacular lookouts, romantic picnic spots, and trails free for visitors to access.
To get your heart rate up with a truly unique experience, try O’Reilly’s Tree Top Walk. Made up of multiple steel walkways suspended under a canopy of ancient trees and snaking vines, this walk will give you plenty of photography opportunities.
Free of charge and suitable for all ages (with child supervision), this walk will place you up to 16 meters (52 ft) above the ground. If you’re up for more of an adrenaline boost, climb another 30 meters (98 ft) to a viewing platform and breathe in the freshest of air. Whether you look down is totally up to you…
Birdwatchers and fitness buffs will also love ascending the ladders of Mick’s Tower, a rainforest observation tower that stands 18 metres (59 ft) high and offers some of the best bird’s-eye views of the park.
Hinterland FitBit activity:
12,660 steps taken
1029 calories burnt
Have you fallen in love with scenery and can’t imagine saying goodbye after just one day? You don’t have to! Settle in for a few nights at the renowned O’Reilly’s Rainforest Retreat, located on the western side of Lamington Plateau.
As spectacular as Lamington is, there’s still so much more to see. The Gold Coast Hinterland is extremely diverse, covering a range of national parks, mountain ranges, and scenic lookouts, not to mention luxury lodges and hideaways. Other must-try hinterland adventures include:
- Springbrook – Volcanic landscapes and sparkling swimming holes
- Binna Burra – Graded walking trails and Instagram-worthy waterfalls
- Tamborine Mountain – Wineries, cheese tastings, and kitschy cottages
Whether your Gold Coast vacation lasts two days or 20, this creek-to-coast destination has plenty to offer for a fitness break. So, what are you waiting for? Book your Gold Coast vacation now and take the time to see the green behind the gold.
This blog was written by Keryn, an Expedia Australia employee. Keryn splits her time between the sunny cities of the Gold Coast and Brisbane, and her hobbies include beach naps under books she may not finish, live music, and exploring new restaurants. Keryn’s favorite travel moments include New Orleans Mardi Gras, glacier hiking in Iceland, hot air ballooning in New Mexico, speakeasy bar-hopping in NYC, and ringing in the New Year under Taipei 101.