Northern Gold Coast

The Northern Gold Coast is a bustling hub for fun and recreation thanks to its theme parks, shopping centres, parklands, world-class educational institutions and budget-friendly accommodation.


The Northern Gold Coast is the central business district of the city. It includes suburbs such as Southport, Coomera, Helensvale, Nerang and The Spit.

8 Street in Harbour Town is a great spot for Asian street food on the Gold Coast. The undercover laneway is designed and decorated like a typical backstreet in Asia, with vendors serving up steaming curries, pho soups, Korean fried chicken and plates of dumplings at very affordable prices. 

In Southport, the Cecil Hotel brings hearty pub food to a young crowd with cheap food deals most nights of the week. Or, for a fancy night out, head to Southport’s iconic rooftop bars such as Mr P.P.’s or The Aviary at Southport Sharks, both of which serve delicious pizzas and stunning views of the city skyline. Last Night On Earth in Southport runs a student deal on Thursdays that offers a schooner of beer and a burger for $16 along with some epic live music and board games.

For shopping, grab a bargain at Harbour Town in Biggera Waters. It’s the largest outlet shopping centre in Australia and sells designer brands for discount prices. Westfield Coomera is a massive shopping centre where you can find popular brands and cheap eats. Upstairs from the shopping centre in The Park Coomera, unwind with putt putt golf, bowling, live music and sports.

Southport is a major multicultural mecca and is home to both Griffith University and TAFE. Australia Fair Shopping Centre has supermarket chains along with the impressive Ming Mei Asian Supermarket. You’ll also find a selection of international grocery stores here, including Spice World, Spice Trail and Fuji Mart for cheap ingredients and kitchenware. 

Chinatown in the heart of Southport is a feast for the senses with diverse Asian cuisines, street markets and festivals. Or go vegan at the ultra-cool local hangout The Cardamom Pod.

For fun, don’t miss the theme parks. Get up close with polar bears, dolphins and penguins at Sea World and meet Hollywood film characters at Movie World. Or, skip the queues and hit the beach instead. The area around Main Beach and The Spit is a popular place for walking, swimming and watching the sunset. 

Cheap choice

Cineplex Cinemas in Nerang lets students watch blockbuster movies for just $5.50 during off-peak times (Monday to Friday before 6pm and every Tuesday night).

Community facilities

Southport Library and Helensvale Library and Cultural Centre are popular choices for students due to their proximity to Griffith University and TAFE. You’ll find a broad foreign language section and plenty of space to study plus a range of free programs, such as English Conversation Circles and Digital Literacy sessions to improve your computer skills.

Interact with locals at one of the area’s community centres and get involved in fun activities such as group yoga. Some of the biggest ones are in Southport, Coomera, Helensvale and Labrador. The Gold Coast Student Hub in Southport is also a great place to study, connect and learn with other students.

In Arundel, the Chinese Christian Church and the Gold Coast Mosque are friendly and supportive places of worship for Chinese and Muslim communities respectively. Also in Arundel is SmartClinics Medical Centre where you’ll find a selection of multilingual doctors and several health services on offer.

The Gold Coast Aquatic Centre is open seven days a week and offers plenty of fantastic facilities (after all, it hosted the swimming and diving events during the 2018 Commonwealth Games!). Located in Broadwater Parklands, it’s equipped with a gym, six heated pools, and a 50-metre, 10-lane competition pool.

The Broadwater Parklands also offers walking tracks, picnic and barbeque facilities, glittering views of the Broadwater and free, fast wi-fi 24 hours per day.

Unique experiences

At around 12pm every day, at the back of Charis Seafood in Labrador, you’ll see a unique sight as hundreds of pelicans descend onto the sand in front of Ian Dipple Lagoon. It’s become a popular tourist event as the pelicans rush to eat the fish that’s fed to them by staff. The best thing is, it’s completely free and the perfect opportunity to snap a selfie with one of these majestic birds.

One of the best spots in Northern Gold Coast is the Broadwater. This large, shallow inlet of water stretches from Southport to Moreton Bay and includes suburbs such as Runaway Bay, Biggera Waters and Labrador. There’s a path on Marine Parade that can take you along the water’s edge. Stroll past numerous parks, eateries and picnic benches that are great for bird-watching and enjoying the tranquil view. It’s a very popular walk for pedestrians, joggers and cyclists.

If you keep walking, you’ll get to the Gold Coast Seaway – one of the most popular diving sites in Queensland. Located in Southport, you can dive up to 15 metres deep and marvel at the area’s exotic marine life including tropical fish, eels, turtles, seahorses and stingrays.