Welcome to the Gold coast! The GC airport is quite straight forward there is little room for error when arriving or departing. Though getting to and fro might be a bit confusing
The easiest way to get to Mermaid beach, Main beach, Surfers paradise, Broadbeach and Southport is actually quite simple when you realize they’re all in a row with a tram covering most of them. So don’t bother with a taxi ($50) or an Uber ($40) unless you have at least 4 people with you.
When I arrived I was so confused trying to get to Mermaid beach that I jumped off the bus as soon as I saw a Mermaid beach sign.. Little did I know Mermaid beach stretched pretty far and my suitcase was heavy.
Once you clear customs you should make a beeline (after the toilet) to the Tourist info centre. There you should purchase a one day tourist pass for $10 which will be good for your bus and tram ride and any other public transport you use that day (score).
The bus terminal is to the right of the airport if you’re looking towards the exits. Once you go out the doors you’ll see a little crowd forming. The easiest (and biggest) landmark you can aim for should be Pacific Fair which is a giant shopping mall. All locals know where this is so if you get lost you can ask for help.
To get there you’ll hop on the 777 bus to Broadbeach South aka Pacific Fair which departs every 15 minutes. This ride should take about 45 minutes. This is a bus terminal and the last/first stop of the Gold Coast tram as well. Next you’ll take the tram which will zip across all the beaches mentioned above. Be aware that to get downtown Surfers you should get off at Cavill station not Surfers.
Et voila, that’s how you get to the gold coast from Coolangatta airport.
When you leave do this in reverse, you can purchase the tourist passes again at most hotels or 7-11’s/convenience stores.