Are you thinking of taking your teenagers to the Gold Coast for a holiday? The 30km strip of surf, sand and sunshine which makes up Australia’s favourite playground has many activities to thrill your teen adventurers.
They will already know about the theme parks up at the north end of the Gold Coast, but there are so many other fun teenage activities for them to enjoy – off their phones!
NB A more general Gold Coast With Kids – Beginners’ Guide is here.
Teenagers looking for some freedom will find they can plan and do a lot of these activities alone, so there are opportunities to foster that independent spirit as well as enjoying doing things together as a family unit.
I know that teenagers can be tricky customers when it comes to holidays. Mine enjoy having quite a degree of freedom, being able to go out and about on their own. They also like to choose their own adventures, so before we head off on holiday I let them know about all the activities on offer and then let them choose a few things, some free and some paid for. Maybe your teens could have a look at this list and then decide for themselves what they would like to do.
I have written this article after making several visits to the Gold Coast. My four kids and I stayed at Sea World on one memorable trip. I have also visited on my own, most recently as a guest of Destination Gold Coast. I will update and add to this article – your top tips will always be welcome!
Contents of this post
- Jump On A Jetski
- Gold Coast Helitours
- Skypoint Climb
- iFLY Gold Coast
- Snorkel With Turtles
- Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary
- Paradise Jet Boating
- Surf Lessons + Best Beaches
- Gold Coast Indigenous Experiences
- Gold Coast Wake Park
- Gold Coast Theme Parks
- Gold Coast Hinterland For Teenagers
Jump On A Jetski
‘On a jetski, speed is your friend,’ says Kai our guide with a broad grin. We are just beyond the 6 kmph zone and can now open our throttles and take off.
Before setting off onto the Nerang River, we had been given a briefing about how to space ourselves on the water and about the hand signals Kai would give us. Then we learned how to start and stop the jetskis and learn about some safety precautions for these large and very stable jetskis. The first part of our journey had been in the slow zone, a helpful way to get started.
Once out into the wider expanse of Broadwater, with Surfers behind us and Palazzo Versace and Seaworld to the right, it didn’t take long before we were happily scooting around at 30 – 40 kmph (me) and 60 kmph (everyone else.)
This is a high adrenaline option that will exhilerate any teenager.
Age limits: Teens aged 16 and up can ride their own jetski, but you must be 18+ to take a passenger. Children aged 7+ can be passengers, clinging onto an adult as they swoop around.
Tips: The waterways are much busier at weekend, so book on a weekday if you can.
Nearest car park: Bruce Bishop Car Park at 10 Beach Road, Surfers Paradise, it is just a five minute walk away.
Gold Coast Watersports also offers parasailing and fly boarding, plus jetski rental, enough to give anyone an exhileration overload.
Parking: Bruce Bishop Car Park is a 200m walk away at 10 Beach Road, Surfers Paradise
Address: 58 Cavill Ave, Surfers Paradise
Phone: 0404 445 000
Gold Coast Helitours
And we’re up and away! Just a few seconds after climbing into the gleaming black Squirrel helicopter, meeting our pilot and fastening our seatbelts, we rise up fast and swing away to the north over South Stradbroke Island.
Even on a day of showers mixed with sunshine I am astounded at how much we can see so fast, the whole width of the Gold Coast lies before us. We fly inland a little, looking at the rivers and canals that lie behind the beaches.
The most thrilling part is flying along over the sea, up the long beach with high-rise buildings flying past, the vast ocean to the left, the futuristic skyline of Surfers Paradise to the left.
Our aerial adventure takes only 20 minutes yet I feel as if I have seen so much of the Gold Coast. This is a fabulous experience to do at the start of a Gold Coast holiday.
Prices start at $69pp adult, $59pp child for a five-minute flight. A 20-minute flights costs $199pp adult and $149pp child.
Address: Mirage Heliport D-Arm Marina Mirage, Seaworld Drive , Main Beach QLD 4217
Parking: Closest is the car park at Mariners Cove, or the car park at Marina Mirage
Phone: 07 5591 8457
This is Australia’s highest external building climb and it is definitely not an activity for any teenagers who are truly terrified of heights. The climb is at the very top of the Gold Coast’s highest tower, Q1, indeed it is higher up than the tower itself, since the climb is up the Q1 spire.
Briefing and suiting up commence at the ground level, and then you are whisked up 77 floors to the SkyPoint Observation Deck. From there climbers go onto the outside of the building and take the 298 stairs up the curved staircase to reach the platform at the top.
There are 360° views of the Gold Coast from up here, it is a terrific activity to do at the start of your visit to give you an overview of the whole area. Also to give you a thumping heart.
The climb itself is more mentally than physically demanding, being fairly short. We do spend plenty of time up there with the guide showing us places far away and far below.
‘Now, if you like, you can lean back here and look right over the edge,’ she says.
‘No thanks,’ I reply. ‘I like the wide sweeping views but looking straight down into the abyss is not for me.’
You can climb Skypoint at sunrise, during the day, at twilight and at night. Each climb experience takes about 90 minutes in total. The safety precautions are rigid on this climb. As when climbing Sydney Harbour Bridge you wear a special suit and cannot take anything with you except glasses which are tethered and clipped on to the suit. We had to do a breathalyser test too, good plan. The minimum age for climbers is 12 years, minimum height is 130cm.
Address: Level 77, Q1 building / 9 Hamilton Ave Surfers Paradise
Phone: 07 5582 2700
iFLY Gold Coast
If your teenagers have never tried indoor skydiving before how about treating them to a flight at this wind tunnel in the heart of Surfers Paradise? I have known for many years that leaping out of a plane was not on my own to do list of dangerous activities. Not that I am very risk-averse but there has always been a reluctance to hurtle towards earth at 190 km/h. Trying out the wind tunnel at iFLY is the next best thing, as I found out recently. Indoor skydiving is also quick and easy and does not require getting into a plane.
We suit up and then learn some hand signals and basic techniques, legs straight to move forward and legs bent to move back, push tummy out to go down and suck tummy in to go up. Then each person enters the wind tunnel individually with the instructor; you bend forward and lie down onto the air rushing up. And you can float! It’s an amazing sensation, quite unearthly and even with earplugs the noise is intense. Exhilerating!
Each person’s flying time is usually just about one minute long, then you learn more by watching the other people in your group flying. Then you have more flying time yourself.
Our instructor was very thorough and also informative and interesting, I can see why iFLY has set up classes for kids teaching physics as well as how to fly.
Suddenly I understand the obsession that drives people to leap out of a plane, but the wind tunnel will do me fine for the time being.
Address: 3084 Surfers Paradise Blvd Surfers Paradise QLD 4217
Phone: 1300 366 364
Snorkel With Turtles
Turtles await teenagers who are keen snorkellers and love an outdoor adventure. Just head south to do a boat trip out to Cook Island. The tours start from the charming and rustic village of Fingals Bay just 15 minutes south of Coolangatta, over the New South Wales border.
Under the care of a Watersports Guru guide and with Captain Chris on the helm, we motor along the river and over the bumpy waters of the sandbar. On the day we travel no dolphins appear on the boat journey which is unusual. However, the turtles certainly do appear.
The sea floor around Cook Island has a low growing seaweed which is delicious, ask any turtle. Some very old and enormous green turtles are always found here, perhaps it is a special spot that turtles reserve for their oldest and wisest, a turtle rest home. These enormous creature glide around, elegant, graceful and entirely oblivious to our little band of snorkellers, our eyes out on stalks practically bumping off our masks.
It is exciting being in the waves, whooshing around as we look at huge blue gropers, massive green and blue startfish and some shy wobbegongs well disguised as they skulk around the bottom, looking just like the rocks and weed they flatten themselves against. They are flat, like mottled brown blow-up sharks that have been deflated.
The turtles are the main attraction though, so close to us and so large. We see several huge green turtles and some smaller hawksbill turtles too. Myself and the others on the tour loved having our very enthusiastic and expert guide, Keri Algar, in the water with us, both to keep us safe and to tell us all about the animals we were seeing.
This tour would not be for first-time snorkellers unless they are very confident swimmers. The waves around the island were large and we did need to be careful to stay at a safe distance from the rocks. Watersports Guru provide wetsuits, masks, fins and snorkels and a very effective mask demister.
Address: 10 Lighthouse Parade Fingal Head NSW 2487 Tel:
Phone: 0430 082 890
Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary
Currumbin has such interesting exhibits and experiences to enjoy. If your teenagers feel as if they know everything about Aussie native fauna, let them know that there is a wildlife hospital at Currumbin and you can look in the widnows. Or let them try the 11 epic ziplines found at TreeTop Challenge, they can whizz over the crocodiles for an extra thrill.
The afternoon indigenous dance performance might also be something teenagers enjoy seeing.
Address: 28 Tomewin Street, Currumbin
Phone: 07 5534 1266
Paradise Jet Boating
With spins, slides and plenty of splashing, a jet boat ride is always exciting. Jetboating also offer good value for money compared to other adrenaline adventures. Jet boat tours take you to come interesting and beautiful locations too, and you may see dolphins and other wildlife.
Paradise Jet Boating departs from Main Beach directly into Broadwater so you don’t have to chug slowly up the Nerang Rivers 6 kmph zones before getting going. The company offers free transfers from Surfers Paradise. Jet boating is fast and furious and will get even the boldest teenagers heart rate racing.
Address: Mariners Cove Marina Shop, 7b/60 Seaworld Dr Main Beach
Phone: 07 5526 3089
Surf Lessons + Best Beaches
Surfers Paradise did not get its name for nothing, most days there is good surf and often there is great surf. The whole 16km stretch of beaches from Burleigh Heads to Coolangatta is a world surfing reserve with excellent breaks all up and down its length. You can find surfing lessons from many different companies on most beaches along the length of the Gold Coast, my advice is to choose where you will stay and then do a search for local surfing lessons.
So, if your teenage has never learned to surf, just stay for a week, book daily lessons and they will be flying down the waves in no time.
Your teens might enjoy a visit to Surf World Gold Coast, a surfing museum which is just over the road from Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary.
As for finding beaches just for swimming, boogie boarding and body surfing… well, where to start? The huge sweep of beaches at the northern end of the Gold Coast have life guard towers and flags approximately every 500 metres, so there are lots of options there. During visits to the Gold Coast I have fallen in love with beaches at Burleigh Heads, at Coolangatta and especially with Rainbow Bay and Snapper Rocks at the extreme southern end. The following photos explain why.
Gold Coast Indigenous Experiences
Your teenagers will be interested in the culture and history of the indigenous people of the Gold Coast. The best place to learn all about this is at Jellurgal Aboriginal Cultural Centre at Burleigh Heads. There you will find a cultural centre which you can spend time in, check out the art gallery, the artefacts like nulla nullas, tools and shields, enjoy the boardwalk story board display telling the story of the Yugambeh people. There is a cafe here too.
From the centre you can go on walking tours with indigenous people to learn all about their country. Do call or check out the website to book ahead.
Address: 1711 Gold Coast Highway, Burleigh Heads
Phone: 07 5525 5955
Gold Coast Wake Park
Learning to ride a wake board or a knee board is heaps of fun. You will find Gold Coast Wake Park at Oxenford, very close to MovieWorld. This wake park is suitable for absolute beginners and for experienced wakeboarders. There are two cables, one faster and one slower. Tip: book in for a two hour session, especially if you are a beginner.
There is also an inflatable aqua park which is hilarious fun for any family member.
Address: 34 Maudsland Road Oxenford QLD 4210
Phone: 07 55228222
Gold Coast Theme Parks
All of the theme parks are located north of the main beach area, but they are all easy to reach by car and by public transport. Once you have chosen which theme parks to visit, check out the ticket options to see whether you will save money buying one of the passes on offer. I would advise a full day for each of the major theme parks.
Warner Bros. Movie World
See movie exhibitions and shows, meet the stars and experience thrill rides at Warners Bros. Movie World. This is a full day of fun with shows and experiences aimed at teens and some thrilling rides, like the HyperCoaster, the longest, tallest and fastest ride in the Southern Hemisphere. Extra options include a stunt driver experience, one for the teen speed freaks.
Address: Pacific Motorway, Oxenford
Dreamworld + WhiteWater World
For teenagers the thrill rides are the main attraction at Dreamworld, check out the Buzz Saw, Gold Coaster, Pandemonium, The Claw and the Giant Drop. Some of the animal exhibits will also be of interest. They will also have fun on the white water rides which are open from September – March.
Address: Dreamworld Parkway, Coomera
Although mainly of interest to aquatic animal lovers, Sea World has some new thrill rides too, the Vortex is open now and the Leviathan and Trident open in June 2021. Keeper talks and wildlife presentations about dolphins, seals, rays, polar bears and little penguins are educational as well as exciting to watch and there are many of them daily. For our family seeing the polar bears both above and below water was a massive thrill. The watersports stunt show is also very teen-friendly.
Address: Seaworld Drive, Main Beach
Braver teenagers will head straight to Aqualoops, falling through a trapdoor into freefall then racing through the tubes at speeds of up to 60kmh. Eek. There are six other thrill rides as well as dozens of less adrenaline-inducing watery activities at Australia’s largest water park.
Address: Pacific Motorway, Oxenford
Gold Coast Hinterland For Teenagers
Friends tell me that there are dozens of cool spots to take your teenagers up in the Gold Coast Hinterland. We must get there some day soon. In the meantime, here is a list of places I think our family would enjoy, plus links for further reading.
- Tamborine Rainforest Skywalk
- Tamborine Mountain Glow Worm Tours
- Thunderbird Park
- Curtis Falls and other waterfalls
- Natural Bridge at Springbrook National Park
- Currumbin Rock Pools
- Lamington NP Walks
- O’Reilly’s Rainforest Retreat
Read more about Tamborine Mountain on the Destination Gold Coast website here.
Find out more about Springbrook National Park here.
Find things to do at Lamington National Park here.
You might like to read more Australian family holiday ideas, or about things to do with teenagers in Sydney. Also our article on Lennox Head just south of the Gold Coast may be of interest, or our Road Trip: Sydney to Brisbane article.
I hope this article has given you plenty ideas for teenagers’ activities on the beautiful Gold Coast.
If you have ideas to share with Hello Sydney Kids readers, please do leave a comment below. Your help is much appreciated!
Happy Gold Coast holiday planning.
Disclaimer: I have travelled to the Gold Coast independently, paying my own way, plus most recently as a guest of Destination Gold Coast.