Gold Coast Transport - Theme Park Shuttle Bus Transfers
A fast and efficient way to get to the main theme parks, Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary or HarbourTown for discount shopping is to use the theme park shuttles. These buses pick up at major hotels and resorts around Gold Coast and take you directly to the theme parks - door to door.
Theme park and attraction transfers can be quite confusing, check out the guide which includes all the options and tips about how to get the best value.
As well as the theme parks, there are other attractions or day trips you can be picked up from your accommodation and transported to Brisbane, Australia Zoo, Byron Bay or other locations, so you don't have to worry about driving to those places yourself if you don't want to.
Gold Coast Transport - Taxis
Taxis can be useful for getting around the Gold Coast. For example if you are staying in Surfers Paradise or Main Beach and want to go to Sea World and there are 4 of you, then a taxi could be a very cost effective and flexible option.
Hotels will be able to hail you a taxi cab, or if you are staying in an apartment resort the front desk should be able to get one. Put Gold Coast Cabs phone number in your phone 131 008, just in case you get stuck.
Taxis on the Gold Coast are booked through that number. Always use a name they can confirm with you to make sure it is your taxi.
I find them pretty good, and you can book ahead with a time and place for them to pick you up. You pay a little bit more for the booking, but it isn't much for the convenience.
You can also book larger taxis and ones that can take wheelchairs. Taxis on the Gold Coast usually have what is called CabCharge or credit card facilities, but you may pay a surcharge for that convenience.
When you are thinking of using a taxi, it is best to make sure you have an idea how much it will cost you. Getting from Coolangatta to Dreamworld in a taxi could give you an unexpected and unpleasant surprise. This link should take you to their hard to find taxi fare estimate page. You will need to know suburb name from where you are leaving to where you are going but it will give you an idea.
Gold Coast Public Transport - Buses, Trams & Trains
Public transport in the Gold Coast includes local buses, G:Link Trams and trains for connections through to Brisbane.
I get a quite a few questions about getting to and getting around Gold Coast using public transport, however, I always issue this warning:
Using Public Transport whilst on holiday in Gold Coast is a compromise between cost and your precious holiday time.
Whilst public transport is usually the cheapest option, especially if
you get a GoCard to save money, it can take a long time to get between
places. For example the trip from Surfers Paradise to Movie World
takes about 20 to 30 minutes by car but about 1 hour to
1 hour 20 minutes on public transport depending upon what time you leave.
A few basics about the public transport system in Gold Coast.
G:Link tram is now the backbone of the network for
tourists, however, you will still need to use the bus network to get to
most places. Sadly, my experiences with the buses are NOT great. I have been left waiting for buses that don't run on time or don't even turn up - including once leaving Sea World early to get on a bus, and having to wait an hour :(
The Gold Coast is quite a large area and you often have to catch more than one bus to get from your location to where you want to go. When buses are late or don't turn up and you have to catch a second or a third, you end up having to allow plenty of extra time - time I'd rather enjoy relaxing or doing another activity.
If you happen to be staying close to a main bus stop, that may not be as big a problem, especially if you only need to take one bus. Any routes where you need to change buses once or more times, is going to take you quite a while to get to your destination.
G:Link tram is fantastic in comparison to
using the buses, but it is all stops. So if you have to go from one end
to the other, it is going to take quite a while and there aren't any
expresses! It now connects Helensvale Station through to Broadbeach South
The tram service has made a huge difference to the connections between Broadbeach,
Surfers Paradise, Main Beach and Southport. It's now easy to stay
in one location and head out for dinner or entertainment in one of the
Trains do not run along the coastal strip, but along the inland route with stations being at Varsity Lakes, Robina, Nerang, Helensvale (for
connections via Express Bus to Movie World, Wet n Wild, Paradise Country, Australian Outback Spectacular,
Dreamworld & WhiteWater World) and Coomera Station.
I don't recommend using the train system to get to the theme parks unless you happen to be staying very close to Varsity Lakes, Robina or Nerang Stations. You are better to look for bus
and/or tram options.
Trains are useful for travelling up to Brisbane for a day trip, or for connecting through to Brisbane Airport.
How To Get From Hotel To Theme Parks & Other Locations Around Gold Coast?
There are too many options to write about here. My go to resource for public transport - buses, trams, trains and ferries (Brisbane only) - is the Translink Journey Planner. It's quirky, so you need to know a few things before trying to use it, but once you get the hang of it, you will find it quite useful.
When you are ready to use the journey planner, you will need to know the street address you are starting from, and the destination address (or landmark) you want to get. You can set how much distance you are prepared to walk, your prefered types of transport, date you are travelling (they have dates about 2 to 3 weeks in advance) and the time you want to arrive at your destination by, or the time you want to leave from your starting location.
It will then give you several options around the times you set. Some routes will be quicker with less changes. I tend to pick the ones with the least amount of changes, as they are more likely to deliver me where I want to get to without missing a connection.
I hope that brief introduction to the journey planner makes it easier for you to use and get useful information out of. As for fares, those are far too complicated to go through here, check them out on the website.
Most locals use GoCards, which are pre-paid cards that you simply tap on and off at the entrance and exits on buses, trains, trams and ferries. If you are going to be using public transport system quite a bit, then that can be a good option as you save at least 30% than a single paper ticket, get extra discounts when you travel off peak times and once you make a certain number of journeys* within a 7 day period from Monday to Sunday your travel is further reduced regardless of the zones travelled excluding AirTrain. Make sure you check all the terms and conditions which you will find through the links on the journey planner.
You can buy GoCards online and have them sent you before your holiday, or buy them when you arrive. Any unused money on the card can be refunded after your trip (check all the terms and conditions).
You need a card or ticket for every member of your family or group travelling (except Children under 5 years, who travel free). They call children's fares Concession Fares - however age 15 years and over it becomes a little more complicated as you need to prove you are a Queensland student. For visitors from overseas or interstate, 15 years and over is considered to be an adult.
If you are travelling from or to Brisbane Airport - there are additional fares for the Airtrain that can be paid with the GoCard, but these journeys are on a privately owned railway and are always charged. Children between ages 5 and 15 years travel for free on AirTrain, when travelling with a paying adult to any Brisbane city station.
* Journeys have a specific definition and you should check all the terms and conditions on the website. My laypersons understanding is that a trip is one leg of a journey and may be from A to B. If you touch on for another trip within 60 minutes of touching off the first leg, the second trip becomes part of the first journey. It's unclear on the translink website, but the AirTrain fares to and from Brisbane Airport are not included as part of the free journeys as they are a privately owned and operated railway separate from Translink.
Gold Coast Transport - Resort Bus
Very few, if any of the resorts offer this service for free anymore. Usually a small mini bus that takes guests to the major attractions only.
Usually organized through the concierge at your accommodation or resort. You should check if it is a courtesy bus service or if there is charge.
They usually run to a schedule with only one pick up or drop off from each location every day. Therefore you will have to fit in with their schedule.