The Growth of Paradise

First Surfers Paradise Hotel 1925

The first Surfers Paradise Hotel constructed for Jim Cavill in 1925.  Image courtesy of Gold Coast City Council Local Studies Library 

The true pioneer of Surfers Paradise is James Beattie, who in the 1870s became the first person to farm the area. He sold out not long after to Johann Meyer, who opened the Main Beach Hotel as a tourist destination.

By 1889 the area had been given the name Elston, which it kept until 1933 when, due to lobbying by Jim Cavill, it was renamed Surfers Paradise – also the name of his popular hotel.

When Kinkabool, Surfers Paradise's first highrise, was built in 1959, it signalled the injection of further entrepreneurial spirit and a drive that would soon define the region as Australia's favourite beachside playground.

The next three decades saw a development boom unlike any in the country, a growth spurt that would push Surfers Paradise and the wider Gold Coast (which was named in 1959) from sleepy coastal holiday town to major urban centre.

Today, the Gold Coast – with Surfers Paradise at its heart – is the sixth largest city and fastest-growing region in Australia. Surfers Paradise is now a home to many and a dream holiday destination to many more. It's a place of work for business owners and professionals and still, a timeless beachside playground for one and all.

Surfers Paradise 1955

 Aerial view from the beach end of Cavill Avenue looking south to Broadbeach 1955. Image courtesy of the Gold Coast City Council Local Studies Library


  • 1935 Fire destroys the original Surfers Paradise Hotel, which is rebuilt in 1936

1940s - 1950s

  • As more motels are built, Surfers Paradise's potential as a tourist destination is realised, culminating in our first highrise in 1959, Kinkabool

1960s- 1970s

  • The development boom began to hit full swing, with several iconic buildings including Iluka, St Tropez and The Pink Poodle going up
  • The Iluka and Apollo became landmarks as the first buildings to reach 20 storeys

1980s - 1990s

  • The 1980s brought strong Japanese investment in Surfers Paradise, with a large number of significant buildings added to the growing skyline
  • The early '90s saw the Surfers Paradise Marriott Resort and Spa make its home in Surfers Paradise, heralding a new era of international hotels on the glitter strip
  • The area's development slowed at the tail end of the '90s, after nearly four decades of solid growth


  • The Surfers Paradise skyline surges into the new millennium with some spectacular additions: Chevron Renaissance, Q1, Jade, Avalon and Circle on Cavill
  • Soul by Juniper and the Hilton Surfers Paradise, both premium properties, mark the next phase of Surfers Paradise's prosperity and growth