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Gold Coast or Sunshine Coast, Which is Better and Why?

Gold Coast vs Sunshine Coast

One of the most frequently discussed questions we get when Aussies are trying to choose a destination for a quick weekend getaway is: The Gold Coast or the Sunshine Coast? It’s not surprising, really; both places are famed for beautiful beaches, names that conjure up images of sunny skies, and offering reasonably-priced “resort style” getaways without actually having to leave the country.

While the Sunshine Coast has been long seen as the “little brother” of the Gold Coast, this is quickly changing as it’s continued to emerge as one of the fastest growing destinations in terms of holiday popularity in Australia (total visitors up 10% on the year ending June 2012, according to Queensland Tourism). The Gold Coast meanwhile continues to hold its stable position as the poster child for Aussie beach tourism and is still standing strong as a go-to spot for short trips, especially for those from Oz’s southern big boy cities Sydney and Melbourne. But with both of these titans of tourism being approximately the same distance from Brisbane, which of the Gold Coast or Sunshine Coast is best for you? Here’s a simple breakdown that might help assist you in making your decision.

Gold Coast


  • Entertainment and dining options typically open later than the Sunshine Coast

  • Greater range of nightclubs and bars to choose from

  • theme parks and Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary (especially good for families with kids)

  • Plenty of markets and shopping centres

  • Beautiful beaches that range from lively and trendy to more secluded and family-orientated

  • Hinterland provides a great nature-centric alternative


  • Alcohol-fueled violence and crime becoming more of an issue in evenings (Surfers Paradise/Broadbeach/Coolangatta areas in particular)

  • Traffic congestion continuing to increase

  • Lack of reliable public transport options

  • Generally more expensive than the Sunshine Coast (except short-term accommodation)

Sunshine Coast


  • Generally even more laid back atmosphere and overall safer environment

  • Home to one of the best wildlife parks in the country in Australia Zoo, and aquariums in Underwater World

  • Average price of a trip of equivalent quality cheaper than the Gold Coast (again, except most accommodation)

  • Markets provide unique and lively shopping opportunities

  • Great beaches with famously clear waters at suburbs Noosa, Caloundra and Mooloolaba where dolphins can be fed

  • Provides easy access to nearby World Heritage-protected Fraser Island


  • Entertainment options generally dry up after 9pm, even on weekends

  • Public transport also a problem with underdeveloped infrastructure

  • Good markets (Eumundi, farmers markets) but lack of large shopping facilities

  • Sense of “peace and quiet” may evolve into “boredom” for extended stays

So there you have it. Agree or disagree with any of our points? Have something else to add that you feel gives the “Sunny Coast” the upper hand over the “Goldy”? Let us know on our Facebook page.