Driftwood Social is our poolside perfect 10.
Driftwood Social is our poolside perfect 10.
With so many things to see, do, eat and sip, here on the GC, it’s easy for the existence of our stalwart faves to slip our minds, particularly those spirit-slinging, secret-poolside-havens that hide themselves so well they may have flown under the radar entirely.
Driftwood Social is one such gem hiding in plain sight, tucked just off Ferny Ave bringing blissed-out, Miami pool club vibes to the banks of the Nerang River – and if it’s been a while between drinks, this secluded social spot is every bit as lush as you remember.
So join us in giving a big ‘ole “Omg-how-are-youuuu-it’s-so-good-to-see-you!” to our steadfast waterfront sippery, serving up crowd-favourite retro cocktails, poolside eats… and a superior waterfront vantage which isn’t too hard on the peepers either.
Prepare to be smitten all over again, guys… we can smell the relaxation (with a faint hint of sunset margs, if we’re being honest) from here.
For the uninitiated, let us set the scene – our first taste of Driftwood Social came in 2017, via a revamp of Vibe Hotel and its open-air site snaking along the Surfers Paradise riverfront. The previously under-utilised grounds emerged triumphant as ever, as a secluded luxe destination and newfound social hub.
These days, the venue switches seamlessly between alfresco and indoor spaces, sporting poolside cabanas, giant lawn games, chilled-out tunes and an old-school surf themed bar (a far superior use of the riverfront proximity, in our humble opinions).
The reimagined communal space has graciously invited locals and hotel guests alike, to perch up and engage max relaxation mode ever since – and are vicarious holiday vibes not one of the greatest perks of living on the GC?
To be ‘clear’ (specifically clear, blue and sparkling…) we are talking the full ‘mi casa, su casa’ dealio here, with all Driftwood Social patrons also granted full pool access. So either cool off with a poolside drink or a dip… or both #decisionsdecisions.
A killer location is another notable perk here, one of those rare ‘central-but-chill’ unicorn spots – convenient for gathering BFFs smattered across the city for girls night, but still rife for relaxation, sidestepping the frenetic pace of Cavill Ave a few streets away.
A stacked menu is another real drawcard, and don’t be tempted to assume we’re talking basic bar bites here. Head chef Joel Ramiro Bonino, whose CV reads more like a passport, has crafted a comprehensive and vibrant menu of light and refreshing dishes, as well as shared platters that will cater to all tastes.
Of course there’s a solid selection of light bites and snacks like Cantonese Spring Rolls, Mushroom Arancini and Peri Peri Fried Chicken, designed to seamlessly alternate with sips of your favourite cocktail or Champagne.
But if you’re in the mood for more, the likes of the Linguine Alla Vodka And Prawns will do the trick, with a selection of kid-friendly faves on offer for the little tackers too.
To drink – think sparkling sips, poolside cocktail classics, and house specialties like the Berry-jito (Berry Mojito) and Kew Gardens made with rum, cucumber, elderflower and soda….
Suddenly, we’re feeling very thirsty… *hey google, what time will sunset be today?*
It’s safe to say Driftwood Social really has everything. Just don’t forget the towel (or thirst).
Words by Kellie Leader.
STORY SPONSORED BY DRIFTWOOD SOCIAL
Ah, Surfers Paradise. The jewel in the crown that is our fair city. The place visitors first picture in their minds and have done for the last several decades. While it is the most tourist-dense part of our Coast, what is it local’s love about it? Here we fill you in on the six best reasons locals love Surfers Paradise.
Belt out karaoke at Tune Up
The definition of karaoke, Tune Up is THE place to test out your vocal cords after you’ve had a few cocktails at bar instution The Avenue or a few schooners of ale from House of Brews. It’s an intimate environment that feels much like a house party where you can choose to mingle with everyone in the main bar or take up residence in your own little private room and sing your heart out. Count us in!
Where: Level 1, 23 Cavill Ave, Surfers Paradise (above Gold Coast Real Estate)
Have a Guinness at the D’Arcy Arms
Wet your whistle with a pint of Guinness at D’Arcy Arms where the historic first Guinness keg was brewed in Queensland (and arguably Australia), tapped onsite in 1988. This locals’ Irish pub fave offers a welcome change of pace if you want to take things slow, keep warm by the fireplace or if last night happened to get the better of you. There’s always great home-style food to be had, live music and a few friendly faces with some good craic.
Where: 2923 Gold Coast Highway, Surfers Paradise
Have a luxe afternoon at Surfers Pavilion
Aptly positioned with ceaseless waterfront views and boasting a substantial mooring site of 400sq metres, means if locals would like to arrive GC-style by boat or jet ski — so be it! Setting and glam aside though, the new arrival is perfect for enjoying our fantastic year-round weather with an outside frosé bar, and for those with a discerning palette, a dedicated oyster and Champagne station keeps the crowd more than occupied.
Where: 30-34 Ferny Avenue, Surfers Paradise
Hit 9 pins at Strike Bowling
Prepare to lose a few hours when you step into this space which is a literal smorgasbord of entertaining activities and feast for the senses. The highlight is the 10-lane glow in the dark bowling alley where competitive urges can be settled with groups big and small. But, it doesn’t stop there either. If you fancy further fun, then a 15-person karaoke room, cocktail bar, two escape rooms, and pool tables should do it.
Where: Circle on Cavill, Surfers Paradise Boulevard, Surfers Paradise
Sip cocktails on The Island Rooftop Bar
Rooftop bars are one of the greatest things that ever happened to the Gold Coast. Period. Now, take this sentiment and couple it with this — the Gold Coast’s largest open-air rooftop bar — and voila, you have one of the best places to drink delectable cocktails, watch live music, and live your best life at the stream of ever-changing events (drag queen brunch anyone?). You are promised great times and vibes when you head to The Island.
Where: 3128 Surfers Paradise Boulevard, Surfers Paradise
Grab breaky at Cuppa on 41
If you find yourself in Surfers Paradise before the afternoon, then you need to head to Cuppa on 41 to energise yourself for the day — as well as for all the other inclusions on this list! The café is an excellent concept that allows local underprivileged youth to become experienced in hospitality, and coincidentally isn’t so hard on your pocket either! Our pick is the Bauernomelett, a German-style omelette straight out of heaven. You’ll leave with a satisfied belly and knowing you have contributed to a change in a Gold Coasters future.
Where: 41 Cavill Avenue, Surfers Paradise
Indulge at Alfrescos Italian Restaurant
Creating picture-perfect pasta and pizza for the last 25 years, you might say what Alfrescos doesn’t know about Italian food and ambience isn’t worth knowing — and you’d be right! This charming family-owned and run restaurant has stood the test of time with locals and continually returning for great Italian classics and drinks to match. If you haven’t been in a little while, be sure to change that, the venue underwent a slight facelift late last year and is looking as enchanting as ever.
Where: 3/3018 Surfers Paradise Boulevard, Surfers Paradise
Boogie on down at Retro’s
When it comes to having a boogie along to cheeky tunes of yesteryear, you no longer have to hide in your bathroom in your towel to do so. All the locals know that Retro’s is the ultimate answer to having a fun night out and dancing the night away to the music you grew up with. With themed nights and drinks specials coming at you from all angles, you are destined to have a good time no matter what day of the week it is at this hotbed of a disco.
Where: 3 — 15 Orchid Avenue, Surfers Paradise
Take in the view at Surfers Paradise Surf Life Saving Club
After a swish refurbishment, this 100-year-old surf club is the faultless place to go for an ice-cold beer for a spot of people watching, seamless views across the Pacific Ocean and to chat to a local. The family-friendly atmosphere is full of locals after their early morning beach walk tucking into a big brekky (but they’re also open for lunch and dinner too!) — a great option straight off the sand and when you feel the need to escape the crowds with some uber-friendly Queensland hospitality.
where: Corner of Hanlan Street & The Esplanade, Surfers Paradise
Words by Alex Mitcheson.
Hands up if you also grew up with the not-so-humble Moreton Bay bug making its strictly annual cameo among the usual Chrissy day spread suspects (one that we were actually happy to see, unlike the trifle #blerg). The proliferation of bug rolls on menus the Coast over – and the resulting ability to wrap our mitts around these pint-sized parcels of seafood-stuffed deliciousness any old time we please – will never be lost on us. Unlike our willpower whenever we’re in their presence, which is demonstrably #MIA.
If you needed proof this little roll of the moment is not going anywhere, we’ve rustled up an entire list’s worth of places get your boujee bug boi fix without even breaking a sweat. And before you @ us, we do know that bugs & lobsters are not the same, but we’ve included both here because #delish.
Oh and if you’re not a seafood fan, check out our alternate list here instead: 10 ways to be sad #justsquidding #moreforus. But sea-riously, maybe this one’s not the list for you…
Here are 11 places to get your bug (and lobster) roll fix on the GC.
The home of one of, if not the – OG bug rolls, we will forever be indebted to the culinary masterminds at Rick Shores for our introduction, and resulting obsession with the now ubiquitous shellfish slider. The famous Rick Shores Bug Roll has remained a staunch cult favourite that the entire GC (and beyond) has been going cray-sea for ever since.
Their signature combo of golden Beer-battered Moreton Bay bug, sandwiched between slabs of buttery milk bun and topped with Sriracha Mayonnaise and gem lettuce is undoubtedly the one to beat, with the secret lying in the boujee #bugonbug method whereby chopped bug is also incorporated into the mayo for extra sweetness down right deliciousness.
Where: 3/43 Goodwin Terrace, Burleigh Heads
We’re yet to meet anyone who hasn’t been absolutely smitten with one of the GC’s most notable newcomers, kōst. This sprawling stunner of a super-venue has been setting hearts ablaze ever since they sauntered onto Broady’s eat scene, along with literally anything they can throw on their signature charcoal wood-fire grill. It should come as a surprise to absolutely no one that the most boujee sando of the moment, the bay lobster roll, gem lettuce and kōst signature sauce makes an appearance on the kōst menu right alongside their swanky seafood towers and roving champagne and caviar trolleys. Pro tip, you HAVE to add the chilli sauce for a next level spicy experience.
Where: 3 Oracle Boulevard, Broadbeach
Amalfi coast vibing Cooly Breeze is somewhat of a hidden southern gem, boasting both the Coast’s only fine dining rooftop views of the Tweed River surrounds and a pretty claw-some seafood selection, thanks to those Mediterranean roots.
Their answer to this beloved boujee sando is of course served with that same signature Mediterranean twist, with the Moreton Bay Bug, avocado, finger lime, fresh jalapeño, watermelon radish all served on a pillowy bed of focaccia. Our tastebuds are so bready.
Where: level 13/122 Griffith St, Coolangatta
Hitting the shops just went #nextlevel, with David Jones at PAC Fair welcoming its flagship gourmet eatery Squiseato last month – and with it, an entirely new meaning to our never-fail retail therapy mantra: #treatyoself.
A play on the Italian word meaning exquisite, it’s exactly how you’d imagine a DJ’s take on eats would go down. This full service new kid on the block is unapologetically flaunting their appreciation for the finer things in life, serving up Champagne, premium wine, hand-rolled pasta, freshly shucked oysters – and you guessed it – their signature sandwich, the Lobster Brioche Roll. The ultimate way to toast your next bargain hunting expedition.
Where: Pacific Fair, 4 Hooker Blvd, Broadbeach Waters
Bugz & Co
A local catering duo with one delicious specialty: cheeseburgers! Kiddinggg, its gourmet bug rolls, obviously – and some mighty fried ones at that. If the infiltration of these juicy little morsels into our local street food scene isn’t indication the cult sando has o-fish-ally #madeit, we don’t know what is.
Keep your eyes peeled for a whole lot of gourmet goodness to-go being cooked up by the Bugz & Co crew at your local fetes and markets – you can even lock them in for private soirees. Bug rolls that come to us?! How good.
Where: Local fetes, markets & private events.
Mare/Pool Club at La Luna
With the level of luxe La Luna is dishing up daily, it’s absolutely no surprise there’s also a cameo from our beloved bug roll gracing it’s menu. The swanky, euro-chic vibes are immaculate, as is the Crispy tempura Moreton Bay bug in a milk bun, bug mayo, sweet + sour sauce.
Whether you’re luxuriating poolside in one of the sun drenched La Luna cabanas, or sidling up for the full winning and dining experience at Mare Restaurant – one thing’s for sure, when you’re surrounded by yachts, superb sips and noshing on bug rolls, life is good.
Where: La Luna Beach Club, Marina Mirage, 74 Seaworld Drive, Main Beach
Bumbles cafe was not pulling any punches when they delivered their stunner of an offshoot The Blue House earlier this year. With a grown-up new spot for eats and sips sitting pretty by the picturesque Budds Beach promenade, the new venue delivers a delicious hit of #dopaminedecor right along with a knockout bug roll.
If you really want to seas the day, pair one of the classic Bug rolls made with little gem lettuce and sriracha sauce, with one of those blue-tiful house cocktails as the sun sinks low (rain, hail or shine all works tho tbh).
Where: 19-23 River Drive, Budds Beach, Surfers Paradise
If by now you’re wondering if the limit of seafood laden sliders exists (it doesn’t), the professional sanga slingers at Joe’s Deli are here to throw their unique blend of American diner style, Italian inspired eats into the mix for your culinary consideration.
The Joe’s crew are renowned for their ability to put together a next level sandwich, and the Lobbie Roll delivers on that promise (and then some), made with Lobster, Crab, Kewpie Mayo, Shredded Iceberg Lettuce, Chives, Black Caviar and Lemon. So much yes.
Where: Pacific Fair, 4 Hooker Boulevard, Broadbeach Waters
Nestled just off the bustling Orchid Ave strip, Ms Margot’s is certainly no stranger to all things luxe with a name like Hilton Surfers Paradise behind (and atop) her. Settle in for a spot of people watching, fave cocktail in hand with the swanky sandwich of the hour and let the good times roll.
Ms Margot’s dishes up a generous baguette roll loaded with a tempura style battered Moreton Bay Bug burger, gem lettuce, avocado and bread and butter pickles, all drizzled in chipotle mayo for a little extra smokey goodness.
Where: 6 Orchid Avenue, Surfers Paradise
Tarte Beach House
Never one to do anything by halves (unless it’s literally to cut one of those stacked signature NY Bagels in two), when our beloved Tarte takes on the lobster roll, of course it was never going to be anything other than next level.
The Tarte Beach House offering includes real deal Southern rock lobster, loaded in hot butter, celery, chives and lettuce all wrapped up in the most perfect of packages – a toasted housemade brioche. If you need us, we’ll be scoffing these buttery bug boi’s creek side allll summer long.
Where: 1/4 Thrower Drive, Currumbin
FINEPRINTCO Art Bar
We all know they serve up delicious cocktails (thanks Rumtin) alongside the art, but did you know FINEPRINTCO Art Bar also dishes up epic bug rolls? Well, technically they’re bug brioche, but all you really need to know is they’re the goods. With Moreton Bay Bug, Lemongrass, Kaffir Lime Leaf and Sesame we’ve now given you the perfect excuse to drop into Brickworks. Just don’t blame us if you accidentally walk out with a Slim Aarons too.
Where: Brickworks, Shop 302, 107 Ferry Road, Southport
Words by Kellie Leader.
If you ask anyone what their numero uno ‘must have’ is when looking at staycays here in our beautiful city, chances an insta-worthy (or family-friendly) pool experience would take pole position. Okay, so a cosy spa is WAY more appealing right about now but let’s be real, winter lasts for a millisecond on the Gold Coast and before we know it, we’re back to sweating bullets and channelling poolside hangs.
So our point remains – a pool maketh the staycay, and we’re here to give the low-down on the best pools in town coz girls (and guys) just wanna have sun…and swims…and preferably with a cocktail in hand.
JW Marriott Gold Coast Resort & Spa
Awarded Australia’s Best Hotel Pool 2021, take a dip alongside tropical fish in the famous saltwater lagoon and sorry, it doesn’t get much cooler (literally) than this. Enjoy white sandy beaches, waterfalls, and a swim-up grotto. And, for small peeps, the freshwater pool with an epic waterslide will keep them entertained for hours while you chillax in a jacuzzi or poolside cabana #VIP.
Where: 158 Ferny Avenue, Surfers Paradise
InterContinental Sanctuary Cove Resort
Swim in the crystal blue water of the one-acre saltwater lagoon, float around on colourful beanbags, or relax on a sun lounger sipping on an InterContinental coconut! There’s also a 15-metre-long terrace swimming pool and spa, surrounded by lush tropical gardens, reclining sun loungers and plenty of space for family activities. Just like Adele, you’ll be rolling in the deep (end).
Where: Sanctuary Cove, Manor Circuit, Hope Island
The Star Gold Coast
The Star houses an all ages-friendly, glisteningly gorg pool side area decked out with cabanas, a relaxing water feature, spas, and plenty of sun lounges and seating. Or, if you’re really hamming it up at The Darling, it’s a case of “to infinity (pool) and beyond”! Situated on the nineteenth floor with breathtaking GC views, this elegant infinity pool is a showstopper.
Where: 1 Casino Drive, Broadbeach
Dorsett Gold Coast
Dorsett (located within The Star) doesn’t just have a pool, but its own super on-fleek Isoletto Pool Club #TooPoolForSchool! Experience the 12-metre-long viewing wall overlooking Broadbeach, delish light eats and drinks, comfy cabanas around the pool deck, as well as our fave ‘wet lounges’ built into the pool itself! They’ll even deliver your spritzers and cocktails straight to your cabana. Suns out, buns out we say!
Where: 1 Casino Drive, Broadbeach
The Langham Gold Coast
Whether you love a luxurious indoor pool, or prefer a five-star outdoor pool experience, The Langham has you covered. The 20-metre-long indoor pool is perfect for those channelling a (multi) million-dollar Pacific Ocean view with their workout. Meanwhile outside, another 20-metre-long outdoor pool awaits, with a highbrow swim-up pool bar, a sandy lagoon-style entrance, and plenty of swanky pool lounge chairs. Fancy feels for days!
Where: 38 Old Burleigh Road, Surfers Paradise
Sea World Resort
Another one with its own water park, find us a kid who won’t go bonkers for this place! Whilst the pool and spa area may be closed until the 16th of August for remedial works, the ever-popular SpongeBob Splash Pads and Aqua Play will remain open. Once the maintenance and ‘shoosh-up’ are finished, create everlasting family memories with a 50-metre lagoon, complete with waterfall and soothing 12-seater spa. Bliss!
Where: Sea World Drive, Main Beach
Voted Australia’s Best Family Resort for the 11th year in a row, you just know this place gives a good pool! Heaven for kids and paradise for parents, it even has its own water park with a giant water playground, lagoon pool, large, heated spa and two enormous aqua play attractions. And, for mum and dad, stay tuned for the new Parents Retreat unveiled, featuring an adults-only (eee!) swimming pool and lounge bar #KidsWhatKids?
Where: 122 Ferny Avenue, Surfers Paradise
Sheraton Grand Mirage Resort, Gold Coast
Experience beachfront bliss and soak up ‘dem luxurious feels as you take in the vast pool surrounds – 6,727 square feet of them to be exact! Plus, there’s just something about a pool that’s a hop, skip and a jump away from the ocean! Oh and remember, it’s a rite of passage to treat yo’self to a cocktail or five (daily) at the swim-up bar… no judgement.
Where: 71 Seaworld Dr, Main Beach
Mantra Sun City
Aquaholics listen up coz good times and tan lines await at Mantra Sun City. With three swimming pools and a sauna, you can cool off and warm up on repeat or in the words of Dory, “just keep swimming just keep swimming”. The whipper snappers are well catered for here too, with several waterslides making their staycay an adventure they’ll always remember!
Where: 3400 Gold Coast Hwy, Surfers Paradise
Mantra Crown Towers
Relax poolside and get your zen on as you laze by the lush tropical lagoon pool at Mantra Crown Towers. There’s no “I’m bored mum” here, as the kids are too busy living their best life in the splashtastic children’s pool. With its own sandy beach, waterslide and pirate ship, they won’t want to leave – and neither will you!
Where: 19 Palm Avenue, Surfers Paradise
We reckon we’ve seen at least 3 million poolside selfies here last year alone. An exotic poolside oasis, Palazzo Versace showcases an award-winning 63-metre pool with its very own white sandy beach and Australia’s first-ever Water Salon. The exclusive cabanas add a whole new dimension of luxe, with breezy sheers for more private poolside luxury.
Where: 94 Seaworld Drive, Main Beach
Mantra Towers of Chevron
So much water, so little time! It’s an eternal case of pool hair, don’t care when you’re swimming in Mantra Towers of Chevron’s 600m2 lagoon style pool ‘Beaches in the Sky’. Proving that life looks better from a lounge chair, it’s pure #poolgoalz. For those keen to mix things up, there’s also an indoor pool to frolic in, because variety is the spice of life, no?
Where: 3240 Surfers Paradise Boulevard, Surfers Paradise
Words by Bianca Trathen.