Here at QB, we love the idea of combining your hens & bucks’ festivities into one big-fun weekend away. After all, when it comes to strengthening the bond between besties, you can’t go wrong by taking a trip together or trying something new. Preferably both! A bridal party weekend invites everyone to let loose after the stress of planning the perfect wedding — and where better to celebrate than Australia’s premier holiday destination of the Gold Coast?
To get the golden ball rolling, Rhonda Bannister shortlists a few favourites for you and your whole crew.
All Images: Destination Gold Coast
Take to the skies
Full disclosure: when it comes to hot-air balloons, I’m a full-blown coward. While others enthuse about taking to the sky, the thought of huge spheres sailing in the wind without a steering wheel or brakes was always rather terrifying to me. Meaning balloon flights have always been second-last on my bucket list, pipped only by ‘jumping out of a plane’. But there comes a time (especially after the year that was) when you just have to feel the fear and do it anyway …
So, I did! And it was one of the most exhilarating experiences of my life — I know it will be a great bonding experience for your crew too. That moment when you start rising from the earth, just as the sun is peeking over the horizon, is awesome. As is floating across valleys with panoramic views of the distant mountains. It calls for an early morning start but you do get to enjoy a Champagne breakfast at O’Reilly’s Canungra Valley Vineyard afterward.hotair.com.au
Enjoy extreme water sports
The Broadwater, a calm, protected waterway at the northern end of the coast, is an aquatic playground where you can go jet boating, parasailing and jet skiing, as well as enjoy the gentler pursuits of sailing and SUPing. If you’ve never been parasailing, this is the perfect place for your group to give it a go. I did my first parasail in Penang, Malaysia. And, whilst I survived, it was a bit scary having to go around twice to land safely. I reckon it’s much better to try it right here!
Picture you and your honey flying in tandem 100 metres up as an irresistible scene of sparkling blue water teeming with boats and jet skis unfolds below — ah-mazing! But if staying on the water is more your style, see jet ski safaris, where you can whizz by the beauty of South Stradbroke Island with the wind in your hair and a face full of ocean spray. Or, for a pure adrenaline rush, jump in a jet boat for the ride of your life. Hitting speeds of 75kph with 360-degree spins and high-speed slides — yikes, it’s stomach-churning stuff (best enjoyed on an empty stomach). Try the group-specialists at ParadiseJet Boating who offer an awesome jet boat/parasail/jet ski safari package.
The taste of friendship
There’s nothing like sharing a few ales with friends, especially when you can taste the very best craft beers on the coast. Trust me, your whole crew will enjoy a Hop On Brewery Tour. The selection of boutique beers is sensational, and they even brew up low-carb and gluten-free options. My favourite at Miami’s Lost Palms Brewery was an ‘Espressotini Porter’ that tasted exactly like a coffee martini — now that’s my kind of drink! The most interesting part was learning about the brewing process from start to finish. I have to say, I’m super-proud of our local brewers, not just on the coast but throughout this great state. Cheers to them!
The magic of the mountains
A weekend on the Gold Coast wouldn’t be complete without a visit to Tamborine Mountain, around half an hour from the waves. This hinterland haven of lush rainforest and breathtaking valley vistas is a favourite weekend retreat for local city folk. And I can’t think of a better way to discover the magic of the mountain with a group of friends than a full-day winery tour. It’s like looking at life through rosé-coloured glasses!
Our recent sip-sup-shop adventure with Pineapple Tours included taste-testing some of the state’s best wines at Cedar Creek Winery and Witches Falls Winery before a scrumptious lunch (and more wines) at Hampton Estate Wines. We backed this up by sampling hand-crafted liqueurs at Tamborine Mountain Distillery and popping into a few of the 70 specialty shops on Gallery Walk. A fabulous day out!
Accommodation for your whole crew
Apartments are great for groups. So, if you’re staying at the northern end of the coast, we suggest Xanadu Main Beach Resort for its easy access to the Broadwater and Marina Mirage, spacious rooms, and excellent facilities. Oh, and the ocean views are superb! When we want to stay close to the action and great restaurants of Broadbeach, Vue Broadbeach is our go-to locale. Almost brand new, the apartments are stylish and spacious, the sea views dazzling, and the amenities first-class. Plus, you’re just steps from the beach and the tram stop. While further south in the buzzing hub of Burleigh Heads, Gemini Court Holiday Apartments offers sweeping views of the coastline, with the local dining scene and eclectic boutiques just a short stroll away. Their apartments are gigantic!
Where to eat & drink
Food is always better when shared with friends, so plan on indulging in some of the best while you’re here. There’s just too many fabulous dining options to list them all — so here are a few favourite restaurants and cafes we know you’ll love.
For brekkie or snack time:
- Burleigh favourite Paddock Bakery is simply a fabulous spot to chill. Grab a plate of their Insta-darling doughnuts and a table under the trees in the garden, or head up to The Loft in the 1950s cottage and enjoy a gourmet breakfast that will last you through to dinner.
- Tarte Bakery & Cafe brings a dash of Parisienne style to the heart of Burleigh Heads and is the place to indulge in beautiful pastries and tarts that you can watch being baked. That’s if you haven’t already filled up on one of their tantalising breakfast or lunch plates.
- Fuel up on amazing smoothies, fabulous coffee and food, and a friendly, funky atmosphere at Commune Cafe, Burleigh Heads.
For dining & after-dark fun:
- Maggie Choo at Broadbeach is the latest place to be ‘grammed sipping a kick-ass cocktail (try the gin-based Kitty Luck which is served with a fortune cookie) and devouring the delicious Asian-fusion food. As their sign says “if the music’s too loud, you’re too old” so get your party vibe on for this one.
- Make your way to Maman Bar & Kitchen (pronounced ma-mo) in James Street, Burleigh to enjoy share-style platters of Mediterranean-inspired delights. Stunning decor, inspired cocktails, and great food combine to make this a very special laneway locale. Why not book the private dining room for your nearest and dearest?
- Reading the reviews of Las Palmas restaurant and its Latin American menu prompted us to discover this laid-back yet super stylish bar/restaurant, overlooking beautiful Palm Beach. The tightly crafted menu draws on goodness from the sea, land and earth, with dishes designed to be shared.