The Gold Coast Airport, also known as Coolangatta Airport, is in Coolangatta to the south. It may be unique in the world in that, because it straddles the New South Wales (NSW) and Queensland borders, you land in one state and arrive in another.
It is a fairly small terminal but handles around 3.5 million passengers per year with frequent connections from major Australian cities and some international flights from New Zealand and Asia. It is around 30 minutes drive to Surfers Paradise. There is a shuttle bus connecting the airport to the main Surfside buses route between Tweed Heads and Surfers Paradise.
A viable alternative, especially if renting a car, is to fly into Brisbane Airport. You can catch a direct train from the airport (105 minutes) to Nerang 8km to the west of Surfers Paradise, and connect with the local buses. Otherwise it is a 90 minute drive down the Pacific and Gold Coast Highways.
Queensland Rail runs an electric CityTrain service from Brisbane to Coomera, Helensvale, Nerang and Robina. Trains run half hourly from 6 am to midnight, 7 days per week taking approximately 70 minutes from Brisbane Central to Nerang and Robina. The trains can get crowded at peak times. Buses connect from Helensvale, Nerang and Robina to Surfers Paradise, Coolangatta, and into northern New South Wales.
As the train runs parallel to the coast you should check which station is actually closest to your final destination in the Gold Coast.
Surfside Buslines provide the main form of public transport around the Gold Coast and stops are located on most main roads. Buses run 24 hours a day, but are more frequent in the daytime. All the main tourist attractions are serviced by bus. The frequency of services up and down the coast along the beach between Coolangatta and Surfers Paradise is very good at least every half hour. For other routes, and theme parks, it is best to check the timetable in advance.
Surfside Buslines uses the Translink GoCard Ticketless system which allows you to deposit funds into the card and use them up as you travel.
Airport Transfers (shuttles) operate 'door to door' between Coolangatta Airport and accommodation along the coast and are a popular alternative to taxis. They cost approximately $21 per person.