Gold vs Sunshine Coast?

This fall I was lucky enough to make a trip to Australia to visit my sister, Bri, who has decided to call Brisbane home. Now in the Southern Hemisphere, fall is the beginning of summer, so a trip to the beach was mandatory - to me anyways. The main beach options from Brisbane are to head north to an area known as the Sunshine Coast, or south to the beaches near the city of Gold Coast. I never realized that the Gold Coast was actually a city! I thought it just referred to a stretch of beaches, but apparently Gold Coast is the second most populous city in the state of Queensland. Anyways, we decided to visit both areas, first with a trip south to Currumbin and then with a trip north to Caloundra. 

  Lovely Currumbin

Lovely Currumbin

Currumbin was beautiful. Lovely clear water and a gentle point break where a bunch of kids were surfing. The sad thing was that the water was quite cold. Cold enough that I could never quite convince myself to submerge, but for all I know it may have felt like bath water to you since as Justin will testify, I have terrible thermoregulation. I wish I had some interesting stories to tell you about Currumbin, but all I have to say is that it would be a good place to take kids since there was a really calm, shallow, sheltered segment of beach.

A few days before I left, Bri and I headed up to Caloundra for two days. We talked about renting a place near the beach, but ended up just sleeping in the back of her Pajero at a campground called Dicky Beach Family Holiday Park, which saved us loads of money. If you're looking to do Caloundra on a budget, I would definitely recommend it. The campground was well maintained with plenty of showers and outdoor cooking areas, and is located right on Dicky Beach. I know, big shocker there. The only thing that sucked about our stay there was that there were several families camping beside us with about a trillion loud, wild kids. What happened to that whole kids should be in bed sleeping around 8:00 or 9:00 PM thing? When we settled down to sleep around 10:00 PM these kids were still scampering around screaming their heads off and waving glow sticks. 

  Our cozy bed in the Pajero

Our cozy bed in the Pajero

  Sunset over Dicky Beach

Sunset over Dicky Beach

Anyways, moving along. Caloundra is a fun little town with a long boardwalk and loads of eateries. There were a few big open stretches of beach, but there were also lots of tiny beaches between rocky outcroppings that were perfect for the less sociable. And Caloundra isn't just a spot for eating and getting sunburned. It also has some nice surf and I spent a lot of time watching the waves and wishing I had one of my boards with me. What was pretty awesome was that there were areas with waves consistently suitable for both long and short boarding. If you do go to Caloundra and think you'll just rent a surfboard when you get to the beach, think again. There is not a single surf shop along the beach front, at least not that we could find! Major fail.

  Like Currumbin, Caloundra had some great calm, shallow areas perfect for kids

Like Currumbin, Caloundra had some great calm, shallow areas perfect for kids

And that's an extremely brief introduction to what awaits you at the Gold and Sunshine Coasts. The big debate seems to usually be whether one should visit the Gold Coast or the Sunshine Coast, to which I would respond - just visit both! I'm very non-committal. But seriously, if you use Brisbane as a jump off point, it's very easy to travel to both areas. But if you're the type that wants to pick one spot and then totally settle in for your holiday, the word on the street is that the Gold Coast is more upscale, flashy, and touristy, while the Sunshine Coast is like the laid back sibling. My visits were much too brief to attest to whether that's true or not. But my overall verdict is that you can't really go wrong either place. And if a stretch of sun, sand, and sea without litter is your paradise, then you'll agree.