An ISA student hiking in the Gold Coast.

5 Things You May Be Surprised to Learn About the Gold Coast

By Carley Frea, Senior Site Specialist, Australia

There’s a lot more to Australia’s Gold Coast than meets the eye. While the city is famous for its white sand beaches and sparkling blue waters, there’s plenty more to see and do during your time abroad. Between whale watching, art festivals, and the region’s famous café culture, this coastal city is full of surprises. Here are five things you may be surprised to learn about the Gold Coast.

Beach Meets Hinterland

Beyond the high-rise buildings and glistening blue ocean waters of Gold Coast coastline you will find the stunning Gold Coast Hinterland; a dramatic, unspoiled environment which wraps around the McPherson Range and stretches over 30 miles to the border of New South Wales. The dramatic landscapes of the area feature a melody of bushwalking (hiking) trails, beautiful mountain pools, forested valleys, vineyards, rural plantations, and charming mountain villages. With easy access from the city, the Hinterland is the perfect place to escape and find a little piece of serenity.

Making coffee in the Gold Coast.
There’s nothing like a Flat White!

Australia’s #1 Hipster City?!

Yes, you read that correctly! International relocation company, MoveHub recently conducted a study of over 400 cities across 20 countries and measured the number of vegan eateries, coffee shops, tattoo studios, vintage boutiques, and record stores per 100,000 residents. The result? A ‘Hipster Index’ where Gold Coast sits at number 70 and was Australia’s top-ranking city.

Humpback Highway

Each year, between the months of June and November, the east coast of Australia is known as “Humpback Highway.” During this time, Humpback Whales migrate north from the Antarctic to tropical waters where they will mate and give birth. Gold Coast has arguably become one of the country’s best viewing locations with numerous whale watching tours by sea, yet plenty of naturally elevated viewpoints from land along the coastline too.

ISA students at Quicksilver Pro in the Gold Coast.
ISA students at Quicksilver Pro.

Festivals Galore

There is always something happening around the Gold Coast, and the area is home to, arguably, some of the best annual festivals.

  • Sand Safari Arts Festival – Every February, Surfer’s Paradise hosts Australia’s Sand Sculpting Championship where some of the world’s most talented sculptors create life-sized masterpieces.
  • Quicksilver Pro – Held in Coolangatta every March, this is the opening event of the World Surfing League season.
  • SWELL Sculpture Festival – This free festival spans ten days in September and brings in over 50 pieces of art by nationally and internationally renowned artists which are showcased around the city.
  • Gold Coast 600 – Don’t blink or you may miss supercars as they speed by during this annual motor racing event held every October!

Café Culture

Watch out Melbourne, Gold Coast is coming for you! Café culture is booming in Gold Coast. From vintage coffee shops to boutique eateries and unique food truck options, there is certainly something for every craving in Gold Coast.

Learn more about ISA’s study abroad programs in the Gold Coast. 

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