What is your first impression of a vacation in Gold Coast? For me, it was theme parks and beach. Boy, I couldn’t be more wrong! My runcation to Gold Coast has shown me that Gold Coast is so much more than theme parks and beach.

During my pre-GCAM runcation, we tackled SkyPoint, Australia’s highest external building climb, and visited NightQuarter, a weekend night market. After the race, we didn’t waste much time and rushed to our next thrilling adventures to make the most of our time in Gold Coast.

Paradise Jet Boating

The Broadwater Adventure that we signed up for is a 55 minutes Jetboat Cruise that gives riders the thrills of exciting manoeuvres such as full 360 degrees spin, high speed drifting and other manoeuvres that guarantee you won’t come out dry. Beside thrilling moments, there was also a calm period where we were captivated by the waterfront properties of the rich.

Paradise Jet Boating

Paradise Jet Boating is a great choice for adrenaline junkies. The cruise costs AUD 70 and leaves every hour from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Tips: if you are prone to motion sickness, take some anti motion-sickness pills before the cruise.

Day Trip to Tangalooma Island Resort

Did you know that Moreton Island is the world’s third largest sand island? Yes, it is. Tangalooma Island Resort, located on Moreton Island, offers a wide variety of fun activities, land-based and water-based. Visitors have the option to stay at the resort or just take a day trip. We took a day trip and had a blast.

From Gold Coast, we departed our hotel at 5 a.m. and made our way to Holt Street Wharf (the wharf in Brisbane from which the ferry leaves) via Con-x-ion. The journey with Con-x-ion took around 75 minutes. At the wharf, we checked in at the counter to get our prepaid activity vouchers printed, and then checked in our luggage. The ferry leaves the wharf at 7 a.m. and arrives in Tangalooma at 8:15 a.m.

The ferry at Tangalooma Island Resort’s jetty

As day trip guests, we had the access to the VIP lounge to rest in between our activities. There is free flow coffee and tea, shower facility with towels, paid locker facility and TV at the lounge.

Our first activity in Tangalooma was shipwrecks snorkelling. Full sleeve wetsuit, mask, fin and boat transfer to the wrecks are included in the snorkel tour. It was fun to snorkel at the wrecks, we encountered colourful corals and schools of fish roaming around the wrecks.

The shipwrecks where we snorkelled at

After the snorkel, we changed quickly and rushed to our next activity, the ATV Quad Bike tour. It was our first time riding the ATV Quad Bike and we loved it. We rode along the beach and into the bushland. It was frightening and fun at the same time.

ATV Quad Bikes

When it was lunch time, we went to Beach Café located just beside the Reception. With our AUD 20/person lunch voucher (included in day trip package), we ordered a Salt & Pepper Calamari (AUD 18) and Wagyu Rump Steak (AUD 25). They were awesome.

Lunch at Beach Cafe

The Desert Safari Tour was one of the highlights of the day. We had a hilarious driver who made the bumpy ride to Tangalooma Desert enjoyable. As I stepped out of the 4WD bus, my jaw dropped. 15 minutes ago we were at the beach and now we were in a desert.

After the briefing about the sand tobogganing procedures, off we climbed to the top of the sand dune carrying a wooden surfboard and a pair of goggles. One by one, we slid down the dune with the board accompanied by cheers from the staffs and fellow visitors. Yes, when you’re on top, you can clearly hear the shouts of the people at the bottom of the dune.

Sand tobogganing at Desert Safari tour

Some people had sand attack on their face because they didn’t lift the front part of the board to cover their face, and I couldn’t help but laugh.

On the way back from Desert Safari tour, our guide said that if we wanted to catch sunset, we ought to run to the beach right after we arrive back at the resort. So, we did.

Sunset at Tangalooma

Our final activity for the day was dolphin feeding! We lined up, grabbed a small dead fish and walked into the water waiting for the dolphin to approach us. Echo, a sweet 25-year-old male dolphin, came and took the fish from our hands; he made our day.

Dolphin feeding

The ferry back to Brisbane leaves right after the dolphin feeding, which is around 7 p.m. Tangalooma is the perfect place to get away from the mainland and enjoy the nature.

Day Trip to Brisbane

Brisbane, the capital of Queensland, is just an hour drive from Gold Coast. Brisbane has quite a long history, and what better way to learn about Brisbane than a walking tour? Brisbane Greeters offer various free tours which can be booked online. The Greeters, or guides, are locals who love Brisbane, familiar with the city and aim to spread their love to visitors of Brisbane.

Our group with Emma, the Brisbane Greeter guide

Our guide, Emma, brought us for a tour of laneways and street art in Brisbane’s Fortitude Valley. The valley was a thriving shopping district in 1950s but lost its popularity in the 70s due to the closure of tram network. The urban renewal program that was started in 1990s gradually brought back the Valley’s charm to what it is today.

Chinatown at Fortitude Valley

Emma pointed to us the decorated signal boxes, wall murals, TRYP Fortitude Valley Hotel – the first art hotel in Brisbane CBD. Emma also shared history of Bakery Lane as well as The Beat MegaClub. We wouldn’t have gained these valuable insights to Fortitude Valley and Brisbane had we not join Brisbane Greeters tour.

Decorated signal box
McWhirters Building in Fortitude Valley

Our afternoon in Brisbane saw us appreciating Marvel Exhibition at the Gallery of Modern Art (GOMA). Marvel fans wouldn’t want to miss this exhibition, which runs until 3 September 2017. The exhibition features over 500 unique objects that were used during the filming of Marvel movies, including Thor’s hammer and Iron Man’s suit of armour.

Captain America at the Marvel Exhibition
Iron Man at the Marvel Exhibition

One of the most popular sections of the exhibition is the photo booth where visitors may pose to be in the movie poster. In conjunction with Marvel Exhibition, the GOMA Café Bistro offers special Villain Burger. It’s a must-try for Marvel fans.

Villain Burger at GOMA Cafe Bistro

We spent our late afternoon and evening strolling around Queen Street Mall, which has over 700 retail stores. Located in the heart of Brisbane, Queen Street Mall welcomes more than 1,000 events and 26 million visitors a year. Some of the biggest shopping centres at Queen Street Mall are Myer Centre, Wintergarden, Queens Plaza and Brisbane Arcade.

Queen Street Mall
Queen Street Mall
Apple store at Queen Street

We ended our stroll at Brisbane River, and had a pleasant dinner at Bar Pacino, accompanied with the serene nightscape before heading back to Gold Coast.

Night scene of Brisbane River

Surfing at Surfers Paradise

In Gold Coast, we told ourselves that since we’re already in Surfers Paradise, we have to learn surfing. We signed up for a surfing class with Go Ride A Wave, they’re located at just opposite the Surfers Paradise sign, at the corner of Cavill Avenue and Esplanade. The 2-hour lesson costs AUD 69 and includes surfboard, wetsuit and rash vest hire.

Warning sign at Surfers Paradise beach

Our lesson started at 10 a.m. We were given both theory and practical sessions. After the lesson, we paid another AUD 20 to continue surfing until the end of the day. It was such a memorable experience to surf at Gold Coast.

Surfing lesson

With so many activities in Queensland, there’s always a reason to return to Gold Coast Airport Marathon. Will you join next year’s 40th GCAM?

Eva Natalia

Eva is a casual runner who has been hooked on marathons since her first race in 2011. She’s content to spend her weekends only on running. She is also a hiking enthusiast and traveling addict. When she’s not doing outdoor activities, she indulges in reading.

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