The Gold Coast has always been one of our favourite accessible travel destinations. It truly has something to offer everyone: beautiful beaches, stunning sunsets, thrilling theme parks, exciting events, and more. If it’s been a while since your last visit, or you’re heading there for the first time, you’ll be pleasantly surprised to see a whole lot of improvements and upgrades to the incredible destination as part of Queensland’s Year of Accessible Tourism.
Here are five of the (many!) reasons we love the Gold Coast as an accessible and inclusive travel destination.
1. City of Gold Coast Accessible Visitor Guide
The City of Gold Coast Accessible Visitor Guide is a remarkable resource for anyone planning a trip to the region.
Wondering where to stay? Want to know if public transport suits your needs? Thinking about which theme park would be best for a day out? The City of Gold Coast Accessible Visitor Guide has the answers!
This document – available for free PDF download via the Destination Gold Coast website – contains everything you need to book and travel with confidence.
Information about access is laid out in easy-to-understand question-answer format. Each property listing is comprehensive and detailed, down to the millimetre. This Visitor Guide provides the kind of essential information so often overlooked in mainstream resources, the facts that can make or break a holiday for travellers with disabilities.
2. Getting there and getting around is a breeze
The Gold Coast offers a number of transport options, for getting there and getting around the region, with impressive accessibility across the board.
When you arrive or depart from Gold Coast Airport, there are a range of accessibility accommodations in place to ensure a smooth journey. Their website has a downloadable guide for travellers, with comprehensive information about accessible parking, bathrooms, signage, security procedures, and more. Travellers with hidden disabilities are invited to wear their Sunflower Lanyards, as staff are trained to provide discreet assistance. Gold Coast Airport are also expanding their AmbassaPAW program, with support dogs on site to provide comfort to travellers who need some reassurance.
Once you’re there, you’ll find many accessible transport options to take you around the Gold Coast. If you’re going by train, be sure to save the 24/7 text message assistance number to your phone (0428 774 636). For buses, the MyTranslink app can help you plan your journey.
The HOPO Gold Coast Ferry is a particularly delightful and wheelchair-friendly way to get around. Most pontoons have been upgraded to ensure safe independent access for travellers using mobility aids, with wide gangways and ramps. There are also sheltered waiting areas, tactile ground indicators, and handrails at each stop, plus service staff who are more than happy to provide assistance. Concession cardholders receive discounted travel, too.
3. Accessible accommodation for all
Whatever your needs and preferences, the Gold Coast has an accessible accommodation option to suit.
Whether you choose a luxurious resort, a convenient self-contained apartment, or a budget-friendly hotel, you can expect to find a range of accessibility features including wheelchair-friendly layouts, accessible bathrooms with handrails, lowered counters and amenities, visually-enhanced signage, hearing loop systems, and much more. Some venues even offer specialised equipment hire and have staff trained in catering to specific needs.
For families looking to stay near the theme parks, the Big4 Gold Coast Holiday Park and Motel is a fantastic option. With accessible rooms and cabins, cooking facilities and a cafe, and a wheelchair accessible splash pool, it has everything you need for a relaxing stay that everyone can enjoy.
From the heart of the city, the JW Marriott Gold Coast Resort and Spa offers panoramic views of both the hinterland and the ocean from lavish and well-appointed rooms. Take it all in from your level-access private balcony, the perfect way to unwind after an indulgent spa treatment or a dip in one of their accessible heated swimming pools.
If a south coast getaway is more your speed, take advantage of one of the all-inclusive packages at Gwinganna Lifestyle Retreat. Nestled in the hinterland, you’ll feel a world away from it all (even though you’re just 30 minutes from Gold Coast Airport). If you’re worried about getting around on the natural terrain, they offer buggy transport to take you where you need to go.
4. Wonderful wildlife experiences
If you have a soft spot in your heart for all creatures great and small, like we do, the Gold Coast offers wonderful wildlife experiences for all ages and abilities.
A day at Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary will be an unforgettable experience for all. You’ll get to cuddle up to a koala, feed kangaroos, see stunning birds take flight, and wander through open animal enclosures. Don’t miss the chance to see the vets in action within the Wildlife Hospital precinct, and learn more about the fantastic conservation programs run through the sanctuary. Discounted admission rates are available for Disability Pension Card holders, and companions/carers receive free entry.
Paradise Country is one of our favourite Gold Coast attractions for a fun family day out. There are shows, presentations, and exhibits of all kinds–whether you want to watch dingo pups at play, meet a meerkat, see the stock horses at work, or play in a farmyard paddock. They offer discounted admission to Disability Pension Card holders and companions/carers. Check in with Guest Services at the Homestead on arrival for complimentary wheelchair hire and additional support for your specific needs.
If your tastes veer more to the wet and wild than the cute and cuddly, head out on a Sea World Whale Watch cruise. This award-winning journey from Sea World in Main Beach will take you out to where humpback whales frolic in the water (100% guaranteed sightings). Contact Guest Services on (07) 5539 9299 to make a booking and discuss your specific needs. They’ll be able to ensure you’re booked on a suitable vessel, and point you to resources like sensory guides.
5. Nothing beats the beach
Of course, no trip to the Gold Coast is complete without some time on the beach, and there are several accessible options for people with disabilities. The City of Gold Coast has partnered with local surf life saving clubs and community organisations to provide beach wheelchairs and matting and other supports free of charge.
At Broadbeach, Kurrawa Surf Life Saving Club offers a Sandcruiser beach wheelchair from 10am to 2pm, Monday to Friday year-round, so you can relax on the beach even in the off-season. They also have an accessible beach shower and a Changing Places facility available.
Broadwater Parklands swimming lagoon in Southport is also a great option any time of year, with permanent beach matting, and both standard accessible bathrooms and a Changing Places toilet.
The wonderful team from Volunteering Gold Coast offers assistance at a number of beaches on weekends during the summer months, as part of the Accessible Beaches Program. Keep an eye out for them at Mermaid Beach, Surfers Paradise, Neptune Royal Life Saving Club Tallebudgera, Pacific Life Saving Club and Ian Dipple Lagoon Labrador.
Be sure to take your MLAK key with you for full access to amenities. (Though, if you do happen to forget it, most clubs have a key available for loan.)
Find out more about accessible and inclusive holidays on the Gold Coast by downloading the City of Gold Coast Accessible Visitor Guide from the Destination Gold Coast website.
This feature was produced in partnership with Destination Gold Coast.