Our family Sand Safari Through Surfers Paradise

As a kid I actually lived for about at year on the Gold Coast.  My parents had a unit smack bang in the middle of Surfers Paradise. We didn’t have a yard but I did have paradise as my playground. This weekend I was fortunate enough to take the boys to my old stomping ground and each time I go back I’m reminded by how fun this place really is for kids.

The big draw card for our visit was the Sand Safari and Arts Festival (10 – 26 February).   If you haven’t heard about it,  it’s basically where the entire precinct is transformed into an under the sea themed playground.

At the Surfers Paradise foreshore you will see large scale sand sculptures produced by some of the best sand-scapers in the world, giant inflatable art installations including an octopus who has his tentacles wrapped around a tall building and lots of mermaids called Sandy who will happily sit with your kids and read them a story.

The Sand Safari is good to see day and night because each of the inflatable art installations glow in the dark. The sand sculptures are also very well lit and there is a lot of free entertainment including beachfront markets (Wed, Fri and Sunday 4 – 9pm) to keep visitors occupied.

Tip: Make sure you use the map in your event program to discover some of the sculptures on display in the shopping corridors off Cavill Mall.  There is also a children’s art display in Cavill Lane.

In this lane you will also spot some amazing shop fronts that will delight the kids.  Get in quick though, because I think these are just temporary attention grabbers until they rent the shop space!

Our boys loved the Sand Safari and were on a serious hunt to find Street’s Paddle Pop Lion.  I think they thought there was an ice cream reward in it but I wasn’t going to burst their bubble 😉

Along the way they got hands-on by doing some sand sculpting and creating with sand art.  We also used the opportunity to teach them a little bit about the Commonwealth Games for 2018 which will be hosted here on the Gold Coast.

Where to eat…

The  Gold Coast is well and truly gearing to be on the world’s stage. Large investment is going into updating facilities and we noticed an increase in good quality food options.  The much hyped Betty’s Burgers included – it didn’t disappoint.

Tip: You have to stay for dessert and try the ‘concrete’… in Betty’s terms that’s a custard based ice cream and it’s delicious! Also, don’t be put off by the stream of people waiting to get in. The lines move very quickly and not everyone in the line is eating in.  People also order first and then are seated.

We also enjoyed a pretty spectacular breakfast over at Cafe Alfons.  The family here have a very decent breakfast menu at great prices –  it’s no tourist trap. The food is very good quality and thankfully they make a decent cup of coffee. Highly recommend you take the 10 minute walk from Surfers across the bridge to Chevron Island. Along the way you may also see a sea-creature during Sand Safari! 

Don’t miss…

While we were in Surfers we did something that I haven’t done before. We took a river cruise along the Gold Coast Waterways with Wyndham Cruises. Their multi-million dollar refurbishment has made their cruising experience a complete level up on what you’re used to.

The Gold Coast actually has more waterways that both Amsterdam and Venice combined and if you’re into blue-chip real estate, the trip is worth it just to drool over the riverfront properties. You can truly take in what we think is one of the Gold Coast’s hidden secrets from aboard their super stylish vessel.

If you can also check out Ripley’s Believe it Or Not.  This was my first visit back here since I was a kid and some bits are still the same but a lot has changed. It’s definitely a lot more interactive and has something for big and little kids.   The ‘dance room’ and a Mission Impossible style laser challenge were big hits with our boys.

If you have older children, don’t miss the Infinity Attraction also and our previous review.

Where to stay

During our visit we were guests of Mantra Hotels at the Mantra Towers of Chevron.  This was our second time staying with them and it was just as fantastic. You can read our review here.

What we like is that it’s in a good spot. You’re close to the beach, shops and river action and we had ocean views from our room.  The lagoon and pool facilities are also pretty awesome. The boys played in the man made rock pools, tried to replicate the sandcastles they’d seen earlier in the day and swam so much that even Dory would have been envious.


Sand Safari Arts Festival is inspired by the Sand and the Sea. It runs from 10 – 26 February in Surfers Paradise in Queensland’s beautiful Gold Coast.

For more information on the program of events please visit: surfersparadise.com


We were media guests of Surfers Paradise for the duration of our visit to the Sand Safari and Arts Festival.