Australia’s Gold Coast is a playground of theme parks, high rises, glitzy shopping malls and the most aggressive tourism development in the country. While all that is part of the appeal, sometimes you just need a break, and these day trips from the Gold Coast provide just that.
Fraser Island, a UNESCO-listed site, is the world’s largest sand island and a great place for a nature-filled day trip. Spend your day strolling the beaches, swim in a freshwater lake and trek through the rain forests in hopes of spotting a dingo in its natural habitat.
Moreton Island, the third largest sand island in the world, is ninety-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.
Stradbroke Island, or Straddie as the locals call it, is a slice of paradise just a bit more developed than Moreton. This second largest sand island in the world sits about 35 minutes from the Gold Coast, making it a convenient choice for water sports or wildlife spotting.
For a more cultural day trip from Gold Coast, head into New South Wales for a visit to trendy and laid back Byron Bay. Here, you can visit Australia’s most easterly point, do some shopping, grab lunch at a beachside cafe or spend the day surfing or sunning on some of Australia’s best beaches.
Lamington National Park
UNESCO-listed Lamington National Park includes 49,915 acres (20,200 hectares) of biologically rich protected forest ranging from subtropical rainforest to much drier eucalyptus forest. On a day trip from Gold Coast, it’s possible to canopy walk, birdwatch or trek from O’Reilly’s Rainforest Retreat.
Mt Tamborine National Park
More of a night trip than a day trip, Mt Tamborine National Park is home to Australia’s only nighttime rainforest tour. After sundown, head into the eucalyptus forest to spot wildlife by flashlight as you hike to a waterfall where you can see glow worms light up the night.