Up and down the Queensland coast you'll find sandy beaches, sun-kissed promenades and cool waters. But in between the tropical Sunshine Coast and the hippy Byron Bay is the people-pleasing Gold Coast.
It's a place where kids splash in pools and scream in theme parks and where schoolies flock to "celebrate" the end of high school/being legal.
For lovers, it's a getaway with just enough going on to entertain for a weekend and so little going on that you don't mind spending a little extra time at the pool relaxing. Which is exactly how we ended our recent trip.
Romantic restaurants: Hyde Paradiso, Little Truffle Dining Room & Bar, Four Winds Revolving Restaurant, Glass Dining and Lounge Bar.
Cost: $2,626.80 for two, including flights and 5-star accommodation
Who are a couple of travel makers?
We're Stef and D, a pair of married jetsetters. We've visited over 50 countries in total, and are determined to see even more. And all while working full-time and paying off a mortgage. We count our dollars at home and away and are here to share our tips on how you can travel on a budget.
Adults-only accommodation isn't unheard of on the Gold Coast, but if you want to be part of the postcard, one of those family-friendly skyscrapers on the beachfront should be your romantic getaway.
If you want to keep it upscale, Palazzo Versace is an opulent hotel akin to an Italian palace that I've had my eye on for yonks.
Sadly, we didn't stay there during our trip but we did pass its beauty on the way to the Gold Coast's Fishermen's Co-op with our jaws dropped.
Where we did stay was the Peppers Soul. You'll notice it instantly in all those coastal pics, piercing the sky at 77 storeys high. It has one bedroom apartments, but the sad part is they only come with ocean views. Hold on, let me explain.
Now what you really want is a sky view. This guarantees you'll be at least 40 floors up and waking up to the sun rising above the clouds. These are only available as two bedroom apartments and cost an extra $100ish per night. But trust me, they're worth it.
It sounds obvious but travel outside the school holidays and you'll reap the benefits of smaller crowds and cheaper rates. What we loved about Peppers is that it constantly offered reduced rates, even over weekends. So we waited until the price dropped to snap our room up.
Also, look at the cancellation and changes policy. We altered our room, upgrading it from a one bedder to a two during another reduced rate period and scored an even better price. We weren't charged for the change as it was made well enough in advance.
Things to do on the Gold Coast for couples
As a large coastal city, you've boundless activities to pick and choose from. The reality is though that most are geared at families. Think Movie World, Sea World etc.
So if you're looking to fill that itinerary with adult-friendly activities, here's what we got up to over the two or so days we were around.
1. Go to the beach
It's right there on your doorstep, and it's long enough that you can find a patch of sand that you and your other half can lay on without being disturbed by anyone.
As we visited at the end of February and the weather was a little gloomy, the beach was especially empty – score!
2. Hang out at the resort pool
When the beach fails to deliver or the thought of leaving your hotel is way too much effort, the hotel pool is your best friend.
Stay along the esplanade and you may even get beach and water views from your deckchair.
Hint: Before you book your stay, take a peek at what the pool looks like. If there's an adults-only section and a swim-up bar, then you're all set.
Searching for something a little more adventurous than hot air ballooning? Try parasailing. It's available as a tandem ride so both of you can be lifted up together for an intimate 10-minutes.
While this is popular with families, you won't have to share the airspace with anyone but each other.
Other tandem sports you can do on the Gold Coast are kayaking and jet boating.
5. Comb the beach festivals
From Carnivale and Holi to music, arts and movie festivals, there's always something going on in the theme park capital of Australia. And yes, a lot of it tends to be free.
Destination Gold Coast is the place to hit up for all the gossip to fill your day with that extra bit of colour.
When we were there, the Sand Safari Arts Festival was in town, showcasing larger-than-life sandcastles to the theme of fairy tales that were absolute masterpieces.
When booking activities, check out sites like Klook, RedBalloon and Adrenaline for better prices or discount codes. Klook often has codes, discounts or the chance to earn rewards to use in the future while RedBalloon and Adrenaline often do sales on activities for two.
Romantic restaurants on the Gold Coast
From intimate restaurants serving up mouth-watering degustation experiences to restaurants with a view – the Gold Coast has it all.
Here's a shortlist of loved up dining rooms to book a table at:
Hyde Paradiso: Not your standard hotel restaurant, Hyde Paradiso conjures up images of European islands with its summer vibe and glass windows overlooking the beach. Come in from breakfast, lunch or dinner.
Little Truffle Dining Room & Bar: A proposal and Valentine's hotspot, Little Truffle is a small award-winning restaurant on Mermaid Beach. Book your spot early.
Glass Dining and Lounge Bar: An unsuspecting restaurant in Marina Mirage, once you've walked past the watersport storefronts, you'll come across this beauty. It overlooks the water and serves some hearty Australian dishes.
Four Winds Revolving Restaurant: Hungry? Whether it's for an endless amount of seafood or a sea view, Four Winds offers both. This revolving restaurant offers buffet lunches and dinners and high tea in-between.
For something a little different, we also recommend the Gold Coast Fishermen's Co-Op where you can purchase the first catch of the day right off the boats at a fair price. We scored a kilo of fresh bugs for $50 and tucked into them at our hotel.
How much did we spend?
Accommodation. A sky-view 2-bedroom apartments at Peppers was $1,138 for 2 nights
Car hire and petrol. $121.50
Meals and drinks. $440
Activities and experiences: $299 (we were guests at Gold Coast parasail and Balloon Down Under's hot air balloon ride via Klook).
Stephanie Yip is the travel editor at Finder and has been writing about travel and lifestyle for over a decade. She has written for Travel Weekly, Escape, Showpo, The Nibbler and Hostelworld. She was also the editor of kids magazine DMAG. Stephanie has a Bachelor of Communications from the University of Technology Sydney and has visited 55 countries (and counting).
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