A Travel Price Comparison for Families, Couples, and Backpackers Surfers Paradise vs. Paihia for Nightlife, Beaches, Families, and Couples

Should you visit Surfers Paradise or Paihia?

Which is cheaper to visit? Which is more expensive for vacation?

If you're trying to decide where to visit between Surfers Paradise or Paihia, this travel comparison, which includes costs, can help. The overall cost of travel is usually a consideration when deciding where to go next, and the cost comparison down below can help you decide based on the average prices from other travelers along with your own travel budget.

Surfers Paradise

Surfers Paradise is a thrilling, active, and ritzy city. Visitors also love the beaches, hiking, and shopping.

Paihia

Paihia is a fun-filled, beautiful, and relaxing coastal town. It's also popular because of the hiking, shopping, and museums.

Surfers Paradise and Paihia: Pros and Cons

Pros
  • Popular museums and historical sights
  • Active nightlife
  • Nice resorts
  • Good scuba and snorkeling destination
  • Popular beach
  • Good for hiking
  • Fun shopping
  • Family-friendly
  • Good for couples and romance
  • Good for backpackers and budget travelers
Pros
  • Popular museums and historical sights
  • Good scuba and snorkeling destination
  • Popular beach
  • Good for hiking
  • Family-friendly
  • Good for couples and romance
  • Good for backpackers and budget travelers
Things to Consider
  • Less popular for nightlife
  • Less popular for shopping


Is there more to do in Surfers Paradise or Paihia?

Tourists will generally find more to do in Surfers Paradise. Although Surfers Paradise and Paihia are both popular with visitors, Surfers Paradise has more sights, activities, and attractions for travelers. Surfers Paradise is more popular for its museums, nightlife, resorts, and shopping, while Paihia is known for its hiking. Surfers Paradise is popular for its long sandy beaches, glamourous party scene, colorful amusement parks, and active water sports. It is also home to the SkyPoint Observation Deck. Paihia is popular for its warm year round climate, impressive beaches, and world class snorkeling and scuba diving.

How is Surfers Paradise different from Paihia?

Which is Better for a Holiday?

Let's take a look at the differences and similarities between Paihia and Surfers Paradise. Then, you can decide for yourself which place is better for your next trip.

Are the Museums and Historical Sights Better in Surfers Paradise or Paihia?

Surfers Paradise
Paihia

Surfers Paradise is a very popular place for its museums and history. Also, Paihia is not quite as popular, but is fairly good for its museums and landmarks.

Visitors can fill many days exploring the museums and attractions around Surfers Paradise. For the best views of the coastline head to the SkyPoint Observation Deck at the Q1 Resort and Spa. It's in Australia's tallest residential tower. You can also visit the Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary, or the Sea World Marine Park, as well as countless other amusement parks or entertainment centers.

If you're looking for an educational opportunity, there are a decent number of museums and historical sights around Paihia. There are some interesting cultural sights in the area like the Waitangi Treaty Grounds and the Museum of Waitangi.


Is the Food Better in Surfers Paradise or Paihia? Which Destination has the Best Restaurants?

Surfers Paradise
Paihia

Local dishes at restaurants are fun to try in both Surfers Paradise and Paihia.

Surfers Paradise has a number of nationally recognized food spots and restaurants. There's a trendy food scene with a number of award winning restaurants in the area. There are high end seafood restaurants, modern international eateries, and niche food bars that all cater to the tourist crowd.

With its innovative style combined with traditional elements, Paihia makes for a great culinary experience. Local seafood, regional produce, and fresh ingredients make dining in the area a rewarding experience. You'll find fine dining restaurants, pizzerias, and local cafes to choose from.

Is Surfers Paradise or Paihia Better for Nightlife?

Surfers Paradise
Paihia

Surfers Paradise is a must-visit destination for nightlife and partying. Also, Paihia is not quite as popular, but is fairly good for its evening party scene.

Surfers Paradise is a world class party destination. This high energy area is filled with glitzy nightclubs and trendy cocktail bars. There are parties that last until the early morning hours and you'll find the most active nightlife scene along the famous Surfers Paradise glitter strip.

Paihia has an active nightlife scene for those who seek it out. As a holiday spot, there are a number of clubs and bars that cater to tourists in the area.

Is Surfers Paradise or Paihia Better for Resorts?

Surfers Paradise
Paihia

Surfers Paradise is a must-visit destination for its luxury resorts. However, Paihia is not a resort destination.

Vacationers flock to Surfers Paradise for its luxury resorts. The high-rise skyline is filled with luxury resorts and trendy hotels. Fancy pools and rooftop views make this is a glitzy and lively place to stay.

Paihia is not a resort destination.


Is Surfers Paradise or Paihia Better for Scuba Diving and Snorkeling?

Surfers Paradise
Paihia

You'll find great snorkeling or scuba diving in both Surfers Paradise and Paihia.

Many visitors go to Surfers Paradise to enjoy scuba diving and snorkeling. There's no shortage of scuba diving and snorkeling excursions that leave from the area. You'll see a diversity of marine life and interesting undersea reefs.

Paihia is an extremely popular place to visit for scuba diving and snorkeling. There are scuba diving and snorkel shops available around town where you can organize trips and excursions to experience the undersea world.

Is Surfers Paradise or Paihia Better for Beaches?

Surfers Paradise
Paihia

Both Surfers Paradise and Paihia have world-class beaches worth visiting.

The beaches in Surfers Paradise are among the best in the world. It's at the heart of the Gold Coast, and you'll enjoy two kilometers of golden sand and beautiful surf. The beaches are lined with high rise buildings and there's plenty of energy and amenities for visitors. This is a popular tourist destination and there is no shortage of water sports and other activities along the beaches.

Paihia is considered to be a world-class beach destination. There are stunning beaches both in Paihia and throughout the Bay of Islands. Paihia Beach is in town. It's small but nice and makes a great picnic spot. For a more secluded spot head to Matauri Bay Beach or Takou Bay.

Is Surfers Paradise or Paihia Better for Hiking?

Surfers Paradise
Paihia

Paihia is a very popular place for its hiking trails. Also, Surfers Paradise is not quite as popular, but is fairly good for its hiking experiences.

Many visitors explore the nearby hiking trails while visiting Paihia. The Bay of Islands is filled with coastal walks and peaceful hikes. This is a great way to soak up the area's atmosphere and take in some spectacular views.

Plenty of visitors go hiking around Surfers Paradise. Outside of town you'll find many coastal hikes and inland trails. You can see waterfalls or breathtaking views of the water.


Is the Shopping Better in Surfers Paradise or Paihia?

Surfers Paradise
Paihia

Surfers Paradise is a must-visit destination for its shopping opportunities. Also, Paihia is not quite as popular, but is fairly good for its shopping areas.

Known for shopping, Surfers Paradise draws large crowds to its stores. Beachside markets sell local items. There are also large shopping malls that are filled with international fashion brands and boutique shops that sell unique items.

Many visitors go to Paihia to go shopping. There are plenty of retail stores around town where you can pick up clothes or enjoy some souvenir shopping.

Is Surfers Paradise or Paihia Better for Families?

Surfers Paradise
Paihia

Surfers Paradise and Paihia are both world-class destinations for the whole family.

Surfers Paradise is an amazing family-friendly city to visit. It's filled with activities that kids and adults will enjoy. There's everything from sandy beaches to amusement park rides and entertainment centers. Check out Infinity, Ripley's Believe It Or Not, or the view from Q1 SkyPoint. There's also countless minigolf places, kayaking, and other water sports.

Paihia is an extremely popular city to visit for families. Beaches, dolphin spotting, ice cream, and chocolate factories make the Bay of Islands the perfect place for a family vacation. There are amazing walking trails like the Manginangina Kauri Walk and opportunities to learn about the Maori culture. There are also adventure spots and great beaches.

Is Surfers Paradise or Paihia Better for Couples?

Surfers Paradise
Paihia

Paihia is terrific for couples. Also, Surfers Paradise is not quite as popular, but is fairly good for romance.

Paihia has so much to offer for a romantic couple's vacation. You can enjoy sunset boat cruises, sip wine with a waterfront view, or walk through pristine natural areas. For thrill seekers there are adrenaline filled activities like parasailing or scuba diving.

Couples visit Surfers Paradise frequently as it offers plenty of romantic activities. Walk along the beach or take in the view from Q1 SkyPoint. There are also many fun-filled adventure activities as well as restaurants and a lively party scene.


Is Surfers Paradise or Paihia Better for Backpackers and Budget Travelers?

Surfers Paradise
Paihia

Surfers Paradise is a must-visit destination for backpackers and budget travelers. Also, Paihia is not quite as popular, but is fairly good for backpackers.

With so many budget-friendly offerings, Surfers Paradise is extremely popular for backpackers. Backpackers who want fun entertainment, a lively beach scene, and water sports will find their place here. There are also hostels with reasonable rates and plenty of backpackers to hang out with.

Paihia is a very popular city for backpackers and budget travelers. There are a handful of hostels around town as well as many great activities for backpackers like scuba diving or parasailing.

Is Surfers Paradise or Paihia Better for Public Transit? Which Is Easier to Get Around Without a Car?

Surfers Paradise
Paihia

Visitors will find good public transit in both Surfers Paradise and Paihia.

Surfers Paradise has some public transit options. Without a car, you can use the shuttle buses, public buses, and light rail to get around.

You'll find some public transit in Paihia, but it may not be enough to take you everywhere. There are ferries and some intercity buses through the Bay of Islands.

Is Surfers Paradise or Paihia a more walkable city?

Surfers Paradise
Paihia

Surfers Paradise and Paihia are good when it comes to walkability.

Surfers Paradise is a somewhat walkable city. There are walking and bike paths around town.

Paihia is somewhat walkable. It's possible to explore parts of the town on foot.


For even more information, also check out Is Surfers Paradise Worth Visiting? and Is Paihia Worth Visiting?.

Should I spend more time in Paihia or Surfers Paradise?

How long in Surfers Paradise or Paihia?

In either Surfers Paradise or Paihia, you'll find plenty of activities to fill your time. Most visitors tend to spend more time in Surfers Paradise than Paihia because of the overall number of sights and activities. Usually, 3-7 days is a good amount of time for Surfers Paradise, and 3-5 days is enough time in Paihia.

Families should spend more time in Surfers Paradise than Paihia. Because of the many family-friendly attractions and fun things to do for kids in Surfers Paradise, it's a great place to visit with the whole family.

Couples should spend more time in Paihia than Surfers Paradise. You'll find plenty of romantic sights and fun activities in Paihia that are perfect for a weekend getaway or a longer couple's trip.

Backpackers and budget travelers should spend more time in Surfers Paradise than Paihia if your budget allows for it. With a larger number of budget-friendly sights, good nightlife, and active things to do, anyone traveling on a budget would have a good time in Surfers Paradise.


  • How many days in Surfers Paradise or Paihia? Ideal Length of Stay
    Surfers Paradise 3-7 
    Paihia 3-5

One day in Surfers Paradise or Paihia?

Many travelers enjoy the scuba diving and snorkeling and shopping when visiting the destination of Surfers Paradise. It's a great spot for a beach vacation. But since there are so many activities, you'll likely want to spend more than one day exploring.

You'll find scuba diving and snorkeling and shopping around the beautiful destination of Paihia. Hikers are also drawn to this area. With so much to do, one day is probably not enough time to see everything. This coastal town offers a variety of activities to choose from.

A weekend in Surfers Paradise or Paihia?

Surfers Paradise is a great place to explore. With so much to do, a weekend is probably not enough time to see everything. Your budget might influence how long you stay.

You'll find shopping and museums around the beautiful coastal town of Paihia. It's also a great beach destination, too. The length of your ideal trip is an individual decision. Most people head to the area for the beaches. But since there are so many activities, you'll likely want to spend more than a weekend exploring.

Five days in Surfers Paradise or Paihia?

It's hard to know how much time to spend in Surfers Paradise. For many, it makes a great getaway for five days. Most people come for the beaches. With all of its activities, you can easily fill five days here. It has many unique tourist attractions and fascinating things to do.

Paihia is a popular choice for travelers. Five days here is typical. Make sure you spend some time hiking while you're in the area. It will give you the chance to have new experiences. This would be the perfect place to spend five days, as it has just the right amount of activities.


A week in Surfers Paradise or Paihia?

Many travelers enjoy the nightlife and food when visiting the glamourous destination of Surfers Paradise. This city offers a variety of activities to choose from. Many visitors spend time at the beach while visiting the area. If you have one week, this is a great place to go. This would be the perfect place to spend one week, as it has just the right amount of activities.

Paihia is a great place to explore. Many travelers plan to spend time hiking while in the area. Take your pick from the many activities offered here. Most people head to the area for the beaches. Most people find that one week is more than enough time to see everything.


For some great organized tour ideas, see The Best Romantic Tours for Couples in Australia, The Best Contiki Tours to Australia, Tours for Outdoor and Nature Lovers in New Zealand, and The Best Adventure Tours to New Zealand.


Which place is cheaper, Paihia or Surfers Paradise?

These are the overall average travel costs for the two destinations.

The average daily cost (per person) in Surfers Paradise is $108, while the average daily cost in Paihia is $82. These costs include accommodation (assuming double occupancy, so the traveler is sharing the room), food, transportation, and entertainment. While every person is different, these costs are an average of past travelers in each destination. What follows is a categorical breakdown of travel costs for Surfers Paradise and Paihia in more detail.



Accommodation
  • Accommodation Hotel or hostel for one person
    Surfers Paradise $69
    Paihia $35
  • Accommodation Typical double-occupancy room
    Surfers Paradise $138
    Paihia $70
Compare Hotels in Surfers Paradise and Paihia

Looking for a hotel in Surfers Paradise or Paihia? Prices vary by location, date, season, and the level of luxury. See below for options and compare which is best for your budget and travel style.

Hotels in Surfers Paradise


Hotels in Paihia


Kayak helps you find the best prices for hotels, flights, and rental cars for destinations around the world. Compare prices for multiple destinations when planning your next trip.


Our Analysis
We've analyzed the average and typical hotel prices based on guest reviews, star ratings, and hotel amenities here: Paihia Hotel Prices.

Local Transportation
  • Local Transportation Taxis, local buses, subway, etc.
    Surfers Paradise $12
    Paihia $12

Hired Cars and Shuttles in Surfers Paradise

Also for Surfers Paradise, here are a few examples of actual transportation services:

  • Private Transfer from Brisbane Airports to Surfers Paradise: $110
  • All-Inclusive Dolphin & Tangalooma Wrecks Day Cruise (Gold Coast Transfer): $154

Is it cheaper to fly into Surfers Paradise or Paihia?

Prices for flights to both Paihia and Surfers Paradise change regularly based on dates and travel demand. We suggest you find the best prices for your next trip on Kayak, because you can compare the cost of flights across multiple airlines for your prefered dates.





Food
  • Food Meals for one day
    Surfers Paradise $27
    Paihia $29

Food Tours and Cooking Classes in Paihia

For Paihia, here are some samples of tours and activities related to meals and dining experiences:

  • Private Modern Vegetarian Cooking Class with Anna in Northland: $195

Entertainment
  • Entertainment Entrance tickets, shows, etc.
    Surfers Paradise $24
    Paihia $36
Typical Entertainment Prices in Surfers Paradise

Below are a few sample prices from actual travelers for Surfers Paradise's activities, tours, and tickets:


  • Surf Lesson
    $81

Tours and Activities in Surfers Paradise

For Surfers Paradise, here are a few prices for actual activities, tours, and tickets provided by various companies:

  • Evening Rainforest & Glow Worm Experience - Small Group Tour: $82
  • 2.5hrs Jetski Tour with island stopover / Self Drive / Surfers Paradise: $269
  • Buffet Lunch Sightseeing Cruise: $61
  • Catch a Crab Tour with Optional Seafood Lunch: $55
  • Fisherman's Friend Morning Tea Cruise: $34
  • Glow Worms - Nocturnal Rainforest/Waterfall Adventure: $75
  • Gold Coast - Hopo 2 Hour Sightseeing Cruise: $20
  • Gold Coast 1.5-Hour Sightseeing River Cruise from Surfers Paradise: $31
  • Gold Coast City Lights Cruise: $38
  • Gold Coast Hop On Hop Off Sightseeing Cruise 1 Day Pass: $31
  • Gold Coast Quack'rDuck Amphibious Tour from Surfers Paradise: $38
  • Half-Day Whale Watching and Canal Cruise from Surfers Paradise: $82

Tours and Activities in Paihia

For Paihia, here are a few prices for actual activities, tours, and tickets provided by various companies:

  • Adrenalin Junkie Tour - 60 mins (min 2): $111
  • *Popular Cruise Ship Tour* Bay of Islands and Glow Worm Caves Shore Excursion: $131
  • 3 Hours // Hole in the Rock Cruise & Bay of Islands Tour: $78
  • 3 Hours // Hole in the Rock Cruise & Island Stopover: $78
  • Bay Combo Tour - 60 mins (min 2): $111
  • Bay of Islands Cruise & Island Tour - Snorkel, Hike,Swim,Wildlife: $93
  • Bay of Islands Discover the Bay cruise including Dolphins: $93
  • Bay of Islands Half-Day Private Tour: $263
  • Bay of Islands Scenic Tour : $61
  • Bay of Islands and Hole in the Rock Scenic Helicopter Tour: $179
  • Carino Wildlife Cruises - Island and Wildlife Day Cruise: $118
  • Day Cruise & Island Tour - Snorkel/Wildlife/Paddleboard/Islands: $78

Alcohol
  • Alcohol Drinks for one day
    Surfers Paradise $12
    Paihia $23


When we compare the travel costs of actual travelers between Surfers Paradise and Paihia, we can see that Surfers Paradise is more expensive. And not only is Paihia much less expensive, but it is actually a significantly cheaper destination. So, traveling to Paihia would let you spend less money overall. Or, you could decide to spend more money in Paihia and be able to afford a more luxurious travel style by staying in nicer hotels, eating at more expensive restaurants, taking tours, and experiencing more activities. The same level of travel in Surfers Paradise would naturally cost you much more money, so you would probably want to keep your budget a little tighter in Surfers Paradise than you might in Paihia.

If you're trying to decide if either of these two destinations are within your price range, also see Is Surfers Paradise Expensive? and Is Paihia Expensive?.


Which is Bigger, Surfers Paradise or Paihia?

Surfers Paradise has a larger population, and is about 10 times larger than the population of Paihia. When comparing the sizes of Surfers Paradise and Paihia, keep in mind that a larger population does not always imply the destination has more attractions or better activities. So, always research the type of place that you want to visit along with the activities and attractions that interest you.