While the Costa Dorada is known for its lively social life and nightlife, the Costa del Sol is characterized by a relaxed and carefree lifestyle. Both regions are largely driven by tourism, which adds an omnipresent holiday feeling to life along both coasts. The bustling Surfers Paradise is popular with tourists and is the ideal place to enjoy busy beaches and be entertained late into the night. Main Beach and Broadbeach have many shops, restaurants and luxury accommodations.
However, in general, the lack of outlet stores compared to Gold Coast may be a downside for some. While the region certainly has everything you need in terms of basic goods and some brands, the most die-hard retail shopaholics may be a little disappointed. Rail routes also connect the main centers of the Sunshine Coast and the south with Brisbane, and most bus and train connections are sufficient to minimize waiting times. Those who are planning a longer stay on the Sunshine Coast also have the option of taking the trip to the spectacular Fraser Island; a trip that can be done in a single (long) day, but it is much more recommended to do more than two or even three days to avoid haste.
Apart from these, that is the extent of what the Sunshine Coast culturally offers in terms of man-made monuments. Gold Coast also has many playgrounds of different sizes; on weekends, the Carrara markets offer live entertainment, face painting and lots of snacks to accompany toys and crafts; the obvious natural appeal and wildlife of Tamborine Mountain are another attraction; the treetop walk at O'Reilly's is ideal for families; and much more. It's also the preferred neighborhood by default if you're looking for a night that lasts until 3 in the morning, as most establishments on the Sunshine Coast close at midnight. In addition to activities, Gold Coast also has a number of accommodation options that are specifically adapted to families (something you probably want to avoid if you are traveling alone), such as the excellent Paradise Resort, among others, which has activities, facilities and equipment for children.
Despite this fact, Gold Coast is still one of Australia's nightlife capitals, and its variety of quirky bars, clubs and other establishments remain a major attraction for young, single and partygoers, both domestic and foreign. Finally, if you really want to spend a day shopping, there are opportunities to take a trip to the northern part of Brisbane's large Westfield resort; this is especially feasible if you're staying in one of the southern suburbs of the Sunshine Coast and can do so in approximately 45 minutes by car, assuming traffic is reasonable. The only thing Gold Coast lacks in terms of nature is one of its main highlights: there are no spectacular Great Barrier Reef, Uluru or Jim Jim waterfalls here; however, the overall package is solid and surprisingly well preserved given its popularity. Both Gold Coast and Sunshine Coast are destinations where natural beauty is one of their main denominations, with wonderful beaches and inland areas.
With an average of nearly 300 days of sunshine a year, the Sunshine Coast more than deserves its name and its geographical location makes it one of the highest insolation rates in the world. Temperatures on the Gold Coast are in an ideal area, where highs are rarely too high and lows are rarely too low. The average annual maximum is 25.1°C (77.2 °F) with an average low of 17.2°C (63°F), making all but three months (June to August) suitable for going to the beach, and even winter days are still pleasant when you're in the sun. Located about 100 kilometers north of Brisbane, the Sunshine Coast is like the quiet sister of the Gold Coast.
The lack of people outside peak season also makes it much more possible to experience a sense of isolation when going to the beach on the Sunshine Coast than on the Gold Coast. If you make a little effort to walk, even on its most popular beaches, you can probably find a quiet spot in the sun. They are quite similar in terms of environment, structure and design, and are basically side by side when it comes to beautiful beaches; although those on Sunshine Coast tend to be more protected and slightly more family-friendly than those on Gold Coast. So which coast should you choose? It really depends on what kind of experience you're looking for: if you're looking for an active nightlife scene with plenty of shopping opportunities then Gold Coast may be your best bet; however if you're looking for a more relaxed atmosphere with plenty of natural beauty then Sunshine Coast may be your ideal destination.