A Travel Price Comparison for Australia Surfers Paradise vs. Rockhampton for Nightlife, Beaches, Families, and Backpackers

Should you visit Surfers Paradise or Rockhampton?

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

If you're trying to decide where to visit between Surfers Paradise or Rockhampton, 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 active, ritzy, and glamourous city. It's also popular because of the food, scuba diving and snorkeling, and beaches.

Rockhampton

Rockhampton is a natural, rural, and traditional town. This is a charming small with plenty of activities, too. It's also popular because of the museums, nightlife, and food.

Surfers Paradise and Rockhampton: 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 for hiking
  • Family-friendly
  • Good for couples and romance
  • Good for students
Things to Consider
  • Less popular for nightlife
  • Less attractive beach
  • Less popular for shopping
  • Less popular with backpackers


Is there more to do in Surfers Paradise or Rockhampton?

Travelers will usually find more to do in Surfers Paradise. Although Surfers Paradise and Rockhampton are popular destinations, Surfers Paradise has more sights and attractions for tourists. Surfers Paradise is very popular for its nightlife, resorts, scuba diving & snorkeling, beaches, and shopping, while Rockhampton attracts visitors for its hiking and small town charm. Surfers Paradise is more touristy than Rockhampton and is known for its long sandy beaches, glamourous party scene, colorful amusement parks, and active water sports. It is also well known for the SkyPoint Observation Deck. Rockhampton is famous for its cultural centers and surrounding national parks.

How is Surfers Paradise different from Rockhampton?

Which is Better for a Holiday?

Let's take a look at the differences and similarities between Rockhampton 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 Rockhampton?

Surfers Paradise
Rockhampton

You'll find a number of very good museums and attractions in both Rockhampton and Surfers Paradise.

With a variety of museums, monuments, and historical sights, a trip to Surfers Paradise can be an interesting and educational experience. 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.

You'll find a good number of museums and monuments packed into Rockhampton. While many people come for the area's natural beauty, there are also educational centers where you can learn about the indigenous culture. Make sure you visit the Dreamtime Cultural Centre as well as the Rockhampton Museum of Art. Also of interest are the Rockhampton Heritage Village and the Mount Morgan Historical Railway Museum.


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

Surfers Paradise
Rockhampton

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

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, Rockhampton makes for a great culinary experience. Despite its small size, the food scene is surprisingly diverse. There are local cafes that offer local produce, waterfront restaurants that have great views, and casual international eateries, as well as low key pubs.

Is Surfers Paradise or Rockhampton Better for Nightlife?

Surfers Paradise
Rockhampton

Surfers Paradise is a world-class destination for its evening party scene. Also, Rockhampton is not quite as popular, but is fairly good for nightlife.

People head to Surfers Paradise just to party. 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.

Rockhampton has an active nightlife scene for those who seek it out. It's a small place, but there are still a number of pubs and bars around town. Many visitors enjoy going to a coastal beach bar for the evening.

Is Surfers Paradise or Rockhampton Better for Resorts?

Surfers Paradise
Rockhampton

Surfers Paradise is a world-class destination for its luxury resorts. However, Rockhampton is not a resort destination.

For the ultimate resort vacation, Surfers Paradise is a great choice. 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.

Rockhampton is not a resort destination.


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

Surfers Paradise
Rockhampton

Surfers Paradise is an excellent place to visit for snorkeling and scuba diving. However, Rockhampton is not a scuba or snorkeling destination.

Many visitors partake in scuba diving or snorkeing while visiting Surfers Paradise. 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.

Rockhampton is not a scuba or snorkeling destination.

Is Surfers Paradise or Rockhampton Better for Beaches?

Surfers Paradise
Rockhampton

Surfers Paradise is a world-class destination for the beach. Also, Rockhampton is not quite as popular, but is fairly good for its beaches.

Travelers come from around the world to visit the beaches in Surfers Paradise. 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.

Many people head to Rockhampton to enjoy the beach. The town is about 40 kilometers inland from the Capricorn Coast beaches.

Is Surfers Paradise or Rockhampton Better for Hiking?

Surfers Paradise
Rockhampton

Rockhampton 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 Rockhampton. The area has several national parks that are perfect for an avid bush walker or anyone looking for an afternoon in nature. Whether you're interested in a day trip or overnight camping trip, there are many natural scenic areas nearby.

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 Rockhampton?

Surfers Paradise
Rockhampton

Surfers Paradise is a world-class destination for its shopping areas. Also, Rockhampton is not quite as popular, but is fairly good for shopping.

Many people travel to Surfers Paradise specifically to go shopping. 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.

Rockhampton is a great destination for shopping. There are several shopping centers in town where you can pick up anything you might need.

Is Surfers Paradise or Rockhampton Better for Families?

Surfers Paradise
Rockhampton

Surfers Paradise is a world-class destination for its kid-friendly activities. Also, Rockhampton is not quite as popular, but is fairly good for its family-friendly activities.

As it has a large number of activities for kids, Surfers Paradise is a very family-friendly destination. 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.

Rockhampton is a very family-friendly place to visit. Kids will enjoy a visit to the Rockhampton Heritage Village. You can also picnic and walk around the nearby Mount Etna Caves National Park or explore the Capricorn Caves which is about half an hour outside of town. Other kid-friendly places include Kershaw Gardens and Rockhampton Botanic Gardens.

Is Surfers Paradise or Rockhampton Better for Couples?

Surfers Paradise
Rockhampton

Surfers Paradise and Rockhampton are both very good to visit as a couple.

Surfers Paradise makes for a fun place to visit for a couple. 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.

Couples visit Rockhampton frequently as it offers plenty of romantic activities. Near several great national parks and interesting outdoor settings, this is a wonderful couple's destination. There are sunset cruises and beautiful gardens as well as wellness spas and great food and wine.


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

Surfers Paradise
Rockhampton

Surfers Paradise is a world-class destination for backpackers and budget travelers. Also, Rockhampton is not quite as popular, but is fairly good for backpackers.

A large number of backpackers visit Surfers Paradise, as it is a very popular city for budget travelers. 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.

Rockhampton is popular with backpackers and budget travelers. There are a couple of hostels in the area as well as a low key backpacker scene.

Is Surfers Paradise or Rockhampton Better for Students?

Surfers Paradise
Rockhampton

Rockhampton is a nice place to visit for its student-friendly activities. However, Surfers Paradise is not popular with students.

Plenty of students visit Rockhampton. The city has universities that attract an international crowd. It's a friendly setting that welcomes cultural diversity.

Surfers Paradise is not popular with students.

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

Surfers Paradise
Rockhampton

Surfers Paradise is a popular place for times when you don't have a car. However, Rockhampton is lacking in options for its public transit.

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

Public transit is generally limited in Rockhampton. There are regional buses operated by Sunbus.


Is Surfers Paradise or Rockhampton a more walkable city?

Surfers Paradise
Rockhampton

Surfers Paradise and Rockhampton are nice when it comes to walkability.

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

Rockhampton is somewhat walkable. It's fun to explore the Riverside Precinct on foot.

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

Should I spend more time in Rockhampton or Surfers Paradise?

How long in Surfers Paradise or Rockhampton?

It's fun to spend time in either Surfers Paradise or Rockhampton. Generally, people tend to spend more time in Surfers Paradise due to the larger number of activities and things to do. Usually, 3-7 days is a good amount of time for Surfers Paradise, and 2-4 days is enough time in Rockhampton.

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

Backpackers and budget travelers should spend more time in Surfers Paradise than Rockhampton 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 Rockhampton? Ideal Length of Stay
    Surfers Paradise 3-7 
    Rockhampton 2-4

One day in Surfers Paradise or Rockhampton?

Visitors enjoy the scuba diving and snorkeling and shopping when visiting the high energy city of Surfers Paradise. You can also relax and pamper yourself at one of the resorts. One day is usually not enough time for a trip here as there is plenty to do. The entire region has so many activities, and you'll want time to do everything.

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

A weekend in Surfers Paradise or Rockhampton?

Visitors enjoy the shopping and museums when visiting the high energy destination of Surfers Paradise. It's a great spot for a beach vacation. This city offers something for everyone. Since there is so much to do in the area, a weekend is probably not enough for all of it.

You'll find shopping and museums around the cultural town of Rockhampton. If you have a weekend, this town makes for a great vacation. Many visitors also spend a good bit of time hiking. The length of your ideal trip is an individual decision. This would be the perfect place to spend a weekend, as it has just the right amount of activities.


Five days in Surfers Paradise or Rockhampton?

Visitors enjoy the museums and nightlife when visiting the thrilling city of Surfers Paradise. People enjoy relaxing at one of the resorts. Many people spend five days here.If you enjoy all that's offered here, then five days is just the right amount of time to spend here. The length of your trip often depends on your style of travel.

Rockhampton is a popular choice for travelers. Make sure you spend some time hiking while you're in the area. It will give you the chance to have new experiences. Five days may feel like too much time unless you plan to do a lot of relaxing.

A week in Surfers Paradise or Rockhampton?

Visitors enjoy the nightlife and food when visiting the destination of Surfers Paradise. Anyone can find something fun to do here. This is a popular place to visit for one week. Travelers enjoy the resorts in the area as well. In one week, you should have a good grasp of this city.

Rockhampton 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 find that one week is more than enough time to see everything.


For some great organized tour ideas, see The Best One Week (7-Day) Tours in Australia, The Best 10-Day Tours in Australia, The Best 2-Week Tours in Australia, and The Best 3-Week Tours in Australia.


Which place is cheaper, Rockhampton or Surfers Paradise?

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

The average daily cost (per person) in Surfers Paradise is $105, while the average daily cost in Rockhampton is $173. 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 Rockhampton in more detail.



Accommodation
  • Accommodation Hotel or hostel for one person
    Surfers Paradise $67
    Rockhampton $103
  • Accommodation Typical double-occupancy room
    Surfers Paradise $134
    Rockhampton $206
Compare Hotels in Surfers Paradise and Rockhampton

Looking for a hotel in Surfers Paradise or Rockhampton? 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 Rockhampton


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: Rockhampton Hotel Prices.

Local Transportation
  • Local Transportation Taxis, local buses, subway, etc.
    Surfers Paradise $11
    Rockhampton $20

Hired Cars and Shuttles in Surfers Paradise

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

  • Private Transfer to Brisbane/BNE Airport from Gold Coast/OOL Airport( 1-7 pax): $232
  • Private Transfer from Gold Coast Airport - Surfers Paradise: $51
  • Private Transfer from Brisbane Airports to Surfers Paradise: $108
  • Gold Coast Theme Parks: Shared Hotel Transfers: $15
  • Gold Coast Hot Air Balloon + Winery Breakfast + Return Transfers: $296
  • All-Inclusive Dolphin & Tangalooma Wrecks Day Cruise (Gold Coast Transfer): $151

Is it cheaper to fly into Surfers Paradise or Rockhampton?

Prices for flights to both Rockhampton 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
    Rockhampton $50

Food Tours and Cooking Classes in Surfers Paradise

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

  • Buffet Dinner Sightseeing Cruise: $79

Entertainment
  • Entertainment Entrance tickets, shows, etc.
    Surfers Paradise $24
    Rockhampton $40
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
    $79

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: $80
  • 2.5hrs Jetski Tour with island stopover / Self Drive / Surfers Paradise: $263
  • Barefoot Luxury Mount Tamborine Winery Tour from Gold Coast: $154
  • Buffet Lunch Sightseeing Cruise: $60
  • Catch a Crab Tour with Optional Seafood Lunch: $54
  • Glow Worms - Nocturnal Rainforest/Waterfall Adventure: $73
  • Gold Coast 1.5-Hour Sightseeing River Cruise from Surfers Paradise: $30
  • Gold Coast City Lights Cruise: $37
  • Gold Coast Hop On Hop Off Sightseeing Cruise 1 Day Pass: $30
  • Gold Coast Quack'rDuck Amphibious Tour from Surfers Paradise: $37
  • Half-Day Whale Watching and Canal Cruise from Surfers Paradise: $80
  • Kangaroo Watching & Koala Spotting Private Tour: $229

Tours and Activities in Rockhampton

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

  • Self-guided adventure hunt: Explore Rockhampton: $13

Alcohol
  • Alcohol Drinks for one day
    Surfers Paradise $11
    Rockhampton $13


When we compare the travel costs of actual travelers between Surfers Paradise and Rockhampton, we can see that Rockhampton is more expensive. And not only is Surfers Paradise much less expensive, but it is actually a significantly cheaper destination. So, traveling to Surfers Paradise would let you spend less money overall. Or, you could decide to spend more money in Surfers Paradise 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 Rockhampton would naturally cost you much more money, so you would probably want to keep your budget a little tighter in Rockhampton than you might in Surfers Paradise.

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 Rockhampton Expensive?.


Which is Bigger, Surfers Paradise or Rockhampton?

Rockhampton has a larger population, and is about 4 times larger than the population of Surfers Paradise. When comparing the sizes of Surfers Paradise and Rockhampton, 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.


When is the best time to visit Surfers Paradise or Rockhampton?

Both destinations experience a temperate climate with four distinct seasons. And since both cities are in the southern hemisphere, summer is in January and winter is in July.

Should I visit Surfers Paradise or Rockhampton in the Summer?

Both Rockhampton and Surfers Paradise are popular destinations to visit in the summer with plenty of activities. Many visitors come to Surfers Paradise in the summer for the beaches, snorkeling, the hiking, and the family-friendly experiences. Also, most visitors come to Rockhampton for the beaches, the hiking, the small town charm, and the family-friendly experiences during these months.

Surfers Paradise is around the same temperature as Rockhampton in the summer. The daily temperature in Surfers Paradise averages around 25°C (77°F) in January, and Rockhampton fluctuates around 27°C (81°F).

It rains a lot this time of the year in Rockhampton. It's quite rainy in Surfers Paradise. In January, Surfers Paradise usually receives more rain than Rockhampton. Surfers Paradise gets 167 mm (6.6 in) of rain, while Rockhampton receives 124 mm (4.9 in) of rain each month for the summer.


  • Summer Average Temperatures January
    Surfers Paradise 25°C (77°F) 
    Rockhampton 27°C (81°F)

Should I visit Surfers Paradise or Rockhampton in the Autumn?

Both Rockhampton and Surfers Paradise during the autumn are popular places to visit. Most visitors come to Surfers Paradise for the hiking trails and the shopping scene during these months. Furthermore, the autumn months attract visitors to Rockhampton because of the hiking trails, the shopping scene, and the small town atmosphere.

In the autumn, Surfers Paradise is around the same temperature as Rockhampton. Typically, the autumn temperatures in Surfers Paradise in April average around 22°C (71°F), and Rockhampton averages at about 23°C (74°F).

It rains a lot this time of the year in Surfers Paradise. Surfers Paradise usually gets more rain in April than Rockhampton. Surfers Paradise gets 101 mm (4 in) of rain, while Rockhampton receives 51 mm (2 in) of rain this time of the year.


  • Autumn Average Temperatures April
    Surfers Paradise 22°C (71°F) 
    Rockhampton 23°C (74°F)

Should I visit Surfers Paradise or Rockhampton in the Winter?

The winter attracts plenty of travelers to both Surfers Paradise and Rockhampton. The winter months attract visitors to Surfers Paradise because of the museums, the shopping scene, and the cuisine. Furthermore, the museums, the shopping scene, and the cuisine are the main draw to Rockhampton this time of year.

In July, Surfers Paradise is generally around the same temperature as Rockhampton. Daily temperatures in Surfers Paradise average around 15°C (59°F), and Rockhampton fluctuates around 16°C (61°F).

In July, Surfers Paradise usually receives more rain than Rockhampton. Surfers Paradise gets 70 mm (2.8 in) of rain, while Rockhampton receives 29 mm (1.1 in) of rain each month for the winter.


  • Winter Average Temperatures July
    Surfers Paradise 15°C (59°F) 
    Rockhampton 16°C (61°F)

Should I visit Surfers Paradise or Rockhampton in the Spring?

The spring brings many poeple to Surfers Paradise as well as Rockhampton. The beaches are the main draw to Surfers Paradise this time of year. Additionally, many travelers come to Rockhampton for the beaches and the small town charm.

Surfers Paradise is cooler than Rockhampton in the spring. The daily temperature in Surfers Paradise averages around 21°C (69°F) in October, and Rockhampton fluctuates around 23°C (74°F).

Surfers Paradise receives a lot of rain in the spring. Surfers Paradise usually gets more rain in October than Rockhampton. Surfers Paradise gets 103 mm (4 in) of rain, while Rockhampton receives 47 mm (1.9 in) of rain this time of the year.


  • Spring Average Temperatures October
    Surfers Paradise 21°C (69°F) 
    Rockhampton 23°C (74°F)

Typical Weather for Rockhampton and Surfers Paradise

Surfers Paradise Rockhampton
Temp (°C) Rain (mm) Temp (°C) Rain (mm)
Jan 25°C (77°F) 167 mm (6.6 in) 27°C (81°F) 124 mm (4.9 in)
Feb 25°C (77°F) 157 mm (6.2 in) 27°C (80°F) 120 mm (4.7 in)
Mar 24°C (75°F) 140 mm (5.5 in) 26°C (78°F) 109 mm (4.3 in)
Apr 22°C (71°F) 101 mm (4 in) 23°C (74°F) 51 mm (2 in)
May 19°C (66°F) 91 mm (3.6 in) 20°C (69°F) 59 mm (2.3 in)
Jun 16°C (61°F) 61 mm (2.4 in) 17°C (63°F) 35 mm (1.4 in)
Jul 15°C (59°F) 70 mm (2.8 in) 16°C (61°F) 29 mm (1.1 in)
Aug 16°C (61°F) 46 mm (1.8 in) 18°C (64°F) 30 mm (1.2 in)
Sep 18°C (65°F) 30 mm (1.2 in) 20°C (69°F) 27 mm (1.1 in)
Oct 21°C (69°F) 103 mm (4 in) 23°C (74°F) 47 mm (1.9 in)
Nov 23°C (73°F) 118 mm (4.6 in) 26°C (78°F) 78 mm (3.1 in)
Dec 24°C (76°F) 129 mm (5.1 in) 27°C (80°F) 125 mm (4.9 in)