We flew from Cairns to Brisbane on an easy 2 hour flight and spent the night at the Four Points Sheraton in Brisbane which was an affordable and modern hotel in the heart of Brisbane. Utilizing AMEX points and transferring it to Bonvoy I was able to get a free night at a great hotel. We were able to see a little bit of the city before heading south on the 1 hour car ride to the Gold Coast (I became a pro at driving in Australia by now...Not).
Pro Tip: if you have time, drive North to the Sunshine Coast / Noosa Heads before heading down south to the Gold Coast. There are many amazing beach towns along the way.
The first stop on our drive was to the Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary. This is a well known zoo that has many species native to Australia. And most importantly, this is one of the few places that will let you hold a Koala Bear. Holding one of these cute animals was definitely worth the 20 minute wait and extra few dollars.
After a few hours hanging out with Koalas and Kangaroos we were on our way to the final hotel for the last few days of the trip, the Sheraton Grand Mirage. The hotel was just a few minutes outside of the populated city of Surfers Paradise. This area is a very Miami-eque town with modern high rises along the beautiful ocean coast. I was able to utilize the American Express points by booking directly through American Express Travel with the AMEX Platinum Card to get a 4th night free at the resort when booking.
Consider signing up for the American Express Platinum Card for your everyday travel card. Use this link for bonus miles when applying
The first half of our trip consisted of always being on the move. This hotel and stop was a perfect spot to relax and wind down by the pool and beach. The hotel was conveniently located in a quieter part of town which is nice compared to the over populated Surfers Paradise.
(Pro Tip - if you are looking for a hotel in the heart of Surfers Paradise - check out the Marriott Surfers Paradise which combines a beautiful secluded pool area to make you feel like you aren’t in the city)
Things to Do:
Surfers Paradise - A populated modern city with high rises and great restaurants and shopping. The beach is adjacent to the main strip, Broad Beach Ave. The beach here is still beautiful despite the noise and crowds of the bustling city behind. From here you can quickly see how the city got its name.
Sky Point Observation Deck - Check out the observation deck and even climb the Q1 Tower to get a more thrill seeking adventure.
Pro Tip: come at golden hour and see the day and night views
Paradise Centre - home to great shops and restaurants (not one bad meal in Australia)
Miami / North Burleigh Lookout - A little south of Surfers Paradise are these awesome beach towns which also display a great view of the cityscape.
Star Casino - Try and win that upgrade to first class on your flight home by going into the Casino on Broad Beach.
Mamasan Kitchen + Bar, Broad Beach
Fisherman’s Wharf & Tavern
The Loose Moose
Best Places for Photos:
Wave Break Island
Springbrook National Park (purling brook falls, natural bridge, coomera falls, twin falls)
If you can manage a longer stay in Australia be sure to check out the Whitsundays, The Northern Territory, and Perth or even a trip over to nearby New Zealand.