Words: Tanya Joslin
So, you think you know the Gold Coast? Yeah, so did I. After all, I spent a decade living there from my late teens. But there’s always a new side to explore and holiday treasure to be found in Australia’s capital of fun, regardless of how many times you’ve visited. And it’s perfect for couples to discover (or, as we did, rediscover) on a short break or Gold Coast romantic getaway.
If you need a hand planning an itinerary to surprise your love for Valentine’s Day, an anniversary, or ‘just because’ then rest assured, we’ve done the hard (!) work for you. We just spent three incredible days cruising, eating, and imbibing our way through the northern end of the Gold Coast, returning with plenty of new holiday ideas.
Here’s our romantic getaway itinerary to inspire your next Gold Coast romantic weekend or holiday.
Related article: Your Gold Coast Honeymoon Itinerary
We set off from Brisbane just before lunch (road trip!), diverting slightly to the green behind the gold, Tamborine Mountain. With plenty of eating and drinking ahead, we factor in a heart-starting walk to Curtis Falls before lunch at The Polish Place, home to some of the best views on the mountain.
It’s a glorious hinterland day, not a cloud in the sky and that perfect temperature where you only need a light jacket if you’re caught in the shade for too long. So, we dine alfresco on the terrace and allow the jaw-dropping vista to work its magic, sweeping away the hectic week that was. We’d never tried authentic Polish cuisine but feasting on Kura w sosie koperkowyn (chicken in creamy dill sauce) and Golonka (pork hock on the bone) is a delicious new experience. The food is excellent but the 180° views across the Scenic Rim and the Great Dividing Range are, quite literally, scene-stealing.
Before leaving the mountain, we stop at Witches Falls Winery for a quick wine tasting. The team here uses a blend of traditional and modern techniques to create wines so good they’ve been awarded a Five Red Star rating by James Halliday. Which places Witches Falls in the top 10% of Australian wineries! It’s a beautiful spot with shady trees and a small vineyard, inspiring plans for a return visit with empty stomachs so we can enjoy a cheese platter with our chardonnay.
The sun-splashed waves of Surfers Paradise beckon so we cruise on to one of the latest luxury hotels to hit the coast, Meriton Suites Surfers Paradise. While it’s the new kid on the block in terms of five-star Gold Coast hotels (opened mid-2021), Meriton Suites is hard to miss when you scan the Surfers skyline. Soaring a whopping 252 metres, with the hotel occupying the first 31 levels and the remaining floors residential apartments, this beachfront beauty is one for the shortlist.
We check into our roomy two-bedroom suite — oh my, the views are to die for — and wonder how we’ll pull ourselves away! The well-equipped space features a modern coastal palette, generous gourmet kitchen (bonus points for the coffee machine), and premium KEVIN.MURPHY bathroom amenities. All suites offer HD televisions in the living room and bedrooms together with a full laundry. Nothing has been overlooked for a relaxing beach break.
While it’s tempting to pop the Champagne, ditch our phones, and settle in on the balcony, we want a snoop around the facilities first. We slip down to the fifth floor to check out the indoor heated pool and spa, sauna, and fitness centre which are all impressive (particularly the view from the pool).
But with golden hour calling, that workout can wait.
For something completely different, our romantic dinner plans revolve around a gondola cruise with Gold Coast Gondolas, through the Gold Coast Broadwater — from Main Beach, past the mega-mansions behind Surfers Paradise, and back to Marina Mirage. It’s almost two hours of cosy, private cruising with our gondolier positioned behind the soundproof fibreglass of the weatherproof cabin.
Remember I mentioned discovering the Gold Coast with fresh eyes? Well, we’d certainly never considered booking a gondola, but it turns out to be a highlight of our romantic Gold Coast getaway. We enjoy a lovely meal, a few wines, and a window into how the other half live (Jackie Chan’s Gold Coast mansion was a standout). Back on dry land we feel markedly more relaxed, the shift into holiday mode complete.
We wake early, and it’s another glorious day on the coast. After a stroll along Main Beach, we head out for breakfast at Sandbar, just down the road from the hotel. Fuelling up is a priority because today’s a big day, kicking off with a Jet Ski Tour with Gold Coast Watersports. Because the Meriton Surfers Paradise is so centrally located, it’s an easy walk to join our fellow thrill-seekers for a lesson and safety briefing. In no time at all, our small group is ready to hit the water.
What a way to get the adrenaline going! If you haven’t tried jet skiing before, it’s a rush. We traverse the breathtaking Broadwater and head north past Seaworld for a few laps around an on-water circuit. Everyone goes at their own pace before making the scenic journey back to base. No licence or experience is necessary, and longer jaunts even take in a half-hour island stopover.
We’re well and truly awake now and ready to kick it back a notch at Broadbeach fave Miss Moneypenny’s, home to the famous Bottomless Lunch. The standard two-hour package offers a three-course meal and choice of cocktails, spritzers, wine, and bubbles but we’ve upgraded to the seven-course selections, including two hours of drinks. Feeling extra indulgent? Plump for a second upgrade to sip on French Champagne and premium wines.
The atmosphere is buzzing as we walk in, with couples celebrating and larger groups revelling in the breezy weekend vibe. The executive chef has pulled out all stops for this menu, including Char Grilled Ora Salmon, Seared Beef Tataki, Wild Coral Coast Barramundi and Lemon Vanilla Buttermilk Panna Cotta. The drinks menu is equally appealing, and we decide to work our way through a few cocktails to see what takes our fancy. The Rose Petal Martini quickly becomes my favourite while my lunch date takes a shine to the Spiced Honey Mule. It’s hard to stop at one.
We roll out of Miss Moneypenny’s and realise we didn’t really need our dinner booking at Glass Dining and Lounge Bar at Marina Mirage. But hey, it’s our last night on the coast! We thank ourselves later because Glass Dining and Lounge Bar is an excellent way to cap off an indulgent short break. The atmosphere is relaxed yet refined, and the waterfront location offers sensational views. We enjoy a light, intimate meal and the perfect glass of red — our lovely Bulgarian waiter deserves special mention for guiding us through the impressive wine compendium (fun fact we learned: Bulgaria has some great wines!).
After a truly restorative night’s sleep, we take a long walk down to Broadbeach and back before heading to Budd’s Beach. This is another gem that few tourists take the time to visit, tucked just behind Surfers Paradise on the Broadwater. It’s a mecca for stand-up paddleboarders and locals who flock to the funky Bumbles Cafe. We don’t have the energy to SUP — but we do have an appetite for breakfast at Bumbles! The food and coffee don’t disappoint but, if you want to check it out yourself, be sure to book if you don’t fancy waiting outside for a free table.
We plan to finish the weekend in a state of calm, and few things soothe the soul like getting out on the water. Cue our return to Marina Mirage and Duffy Down Under Boat Hire, Cruises and Tours. Although we’ve booked a self-drive boat for a few hours, you can also arrange a more ‘lively’, skippered experience. Like, say, a hens or bucks afternoon. The boats can accommodate 10-12 people, and there’s no reason you can’t hire a few of them if you’re looking for a fun group experience. BYO food and drink or ask the team at Duffy to engage some of the local restaurants for catering.
General Manager Nitsa Kerr meets us at the boat and runs through the key pointers on how to sail safely. Everything sounds super easy, so we set off towards Isle of Capri for our lunch date at Edgewater Dining & Lounge Bar. It’s just the two of us, so I’ve got plenty of room to spread out while my husband skippers us through the sparkling waterways. It’s a beautiful day to cruise and plenty of locals are out making the most of their beloved water world. The boats have electric motors, so they’re extremely quiet (and eco-friendly!), and the entire experience is completely relaxing.
After yet another standout meal (The Gold Coast truly is one of Australia’s top dining regions), we glide back to Marina Mirage and turn in our captain’s hat. We vow to extend our cruise next time, and perhaps even invite a few extra crewmates aboard.
We’ve had an incredible three days, packing in so much that it feels more like a week than a weekend. Our takeaway? The things we’ve always loved about the Gold Coast are still there. World-class beaches by day, cocktails by night. But Queensland’s glitter capital is now much more — a multi-faceted gem of a destination where coastal charms and five-star luxuries go hand in hand.
We’ve wasted no time mapping out our return visit. And at an hour’s drive from Brisbane, with easy access by air from just about anywhere via Coolangatta Airport, why wouldn’t you start planning your Gold Coast Romantic Getaway? Check for the best rates at Meriton Suites Surfers Paradise here.
Looking for more Gold Coast Romantic Getaway Ideas? Read our guide to the Gold Coast for Fun-Loving Couples!