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Gold Coast Bliss Before Real Life Begins

Our next stop after Brisbane was Surfer’s Paradise, a popular beach destination on Australia’s Gold Coast. Our good friends Emily and Mark were gracious enough to invite us to stay with them for a few days in their ocean-view apartment at Peppers Soul. The timing of our move to Australia could not have been more serendipitous and I’m so grateful we were able to spend a few days on the beach with some of our favorite people.

What Do You Mean Leave the Beach?!?

The apartment at Peppers was nothing short of stunning. We had our own bedroom and bathroom, a full kitchen and the most incredible balcony complete with a plunge pool. Thank you, Emily and Mark!!! It was sunny and steamy when we arrived in Surfers after our drive from Brisbane and we didn’t waste any time before hopping in the pool. With adult beverages of course.

Chris and I had initial ambitions to head inland to chase waterfalls and hike at Lamington National Park. Until I started researching, I had no idea this national park was part of the largest subtropical rainforest in the world. But, the pool and the beach beckoned and we were just excited to relax and catch up with Emily and Mark. So, much like Brisbane, we need to get back to this part of the country. When two Minnesotans leave the dead of winter and arrive on the beach? They don’t leave the beach. Or the pool.

Day Trip to Byron Bay

Since rainforest hikes were out of the question, we decided to take a quick road trip south to Byron Bay. Chris and I visited Byron as part of our Australia and New Zealand trip the previous year. I absolutely fell in love with it and nearby Lennox Head where our friends Jo, Laith and their two kids live. If I can’t live in one of these places, how about a vacation home? That’s doable, right?!?! I wish.

While we didn’t do the hike with Emily and Mark, I wholeheartedly recommend the Cape Byron walking track. Chris and I did this hike in March of 2017 with Jo, Laith and the kids. The entire track is nearly 4 kilometers and loops around the whole Cape Byron State Conservation Area. With the heat and little people in tow, we just did a section of it starting at Wategos Beach. This beach is breathtaking and is a great spot to watch surfers who really know what they’re doing.

From Wategos the trail winds pretty steeply up the coastal cliffs through the rainforest, complete with jaw-dropping views of the shoreline. The day we walked with Jo and Laith, it was warm and my Minnesota winter body was still not used to the heat and humidity. So, it was refreshing to be near the ocean and its breezes. As we climbed, Laith spotted a small pod of dolphins. I definitely recommend bringing binoculars on this hike, especially because you might spot Humpback whales between June and November. Other highlights of this hike include stopping at the eastern most point of Australia, and of course, the beautiful Byron Bay lighthouse.

If hiking is not your thing, you can drive up to the parking lot near the lighthouse. We did this with Emily and Mark after spending time on the main beach and grabbing lunch with Jo and Laith. If beautiful Australian beaches are on your wish list, definitely head to Byron Bay.

Surfing at Surfers

One of the things Chris missed the most living stateside was easy access to the ocean for surfing. He didn’t hesitate to find a nearby surf shop to rent a board. I plan to take a lesson at some point, but wasn’t feeling ultra brave on this trip. After our day trip to Byron, Chris grabbed his board for one last surf on the Gold Coast. I walked the beach, waded in the surf and took in the briny ocean breeze while watching Chris in the waves. I love seeing him so relaxed and happy. We’re definitely going to take advantage of being close to the sea while we are here.

I also cannot say enough about how much fun we had with Emily and Mark. We relaxed by the pool, explored Byron Bay, went to a super fancy grocery store and had a fantastic Valentine’s Day dinner with the spoils from our shopping trip. It’s been the most incredible gift to start this journey with one of my very best friends.

From here, our Australian vacation is mostly over. We’re on our way to Melbourne to adult. All of the fun things, like getting a job, a place to live, a bank account (at least for me), and a drivers license (plus more practice driving on the left side of the road) are ahead of us. Although, learning the ins and outs of a new city will be a big adventure in and of itself.

More to come!