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Visit the world's first sand hostel

A hostel built out of sand is open for business on the Gold Coast. But hurry – it’s only here for a few days. 

By Simon Webster
Published: 21 September, 2017

When backpackers describe their dream hostel, most of them say it should be on the beach. So this new hostel on the Gold Coast should be incredibly popular – it doesn’t only sit on the sand, it’s actually made of sand. The world’s first Sand Hostel is already booked out – sadly it’s open only from Wednesday 20 to Friday 22 September – but visitors can still drop in for the three-day Sand Hostel party. In true backpacker style, it’s going to be a lot of fun. 


Sand Hostel, Broadbeach, Queensland

The Sand Hostel is quite a sight. Built from 24 tonnes of local sand, it’s taken months to plan, three weeks to build and was designed by a movie production designer and a world champion sand sculptor. It’s also an admirable feat of engineering. Inside you’ll find a functioning accommodation space with an eight-bed (bunks) dorm, a private double room and swish bamboo panelling under its tightly packed roof.

The hostel is booked out, but everyone is welcome to come and check out the lounge area and bar, and enjoy the live music, food stalls and fun and games on the beach. The fact that it’s located on Queensland’s picturesque Gold Coast doesn’t hurt, either. You’ll find the hostel right in the thick of the action at Broadbeach, one of the area’s most popular stretches of sand. 


Sand Hostel, Broadbeach, Queensland

Most of us give up building sandcastles when we’re still little, sadly – but not Dennis Massoud, aka Sandman. He’s travelled around the world perfecting his craft, carving sensational sand sculptures everywhere from Abu Dhabi to the Gobi Desert.

He and movie production designer Jon Dowding (whose credits include Mad Max and The Blue Lagoon) are the talents behind this unusual space, which was designed to showcase just how exciting a great hostel can be.

“We want to challenge the perception of hostels and show how they are amazing social hubs where you meet open-minded travellers and create extraordinary memories,” says Niall Walsh, spokesperson for hostel booking site Hostelworld. Walsh and the rest of the Hostelworld team worked with Gold Coast Tourism to turn the Sand Hostel dream into reality. “You have to be there to truly experience it – it’s very special,” he says. “When the sun goes down and the lights come on the ambience is amazing.” 


Sand Hostel, Broadbeach, Queensland

The Sand Hostel’s fate will be the same as that of all sandcastles. OK, technically it won’t be trampled by a toddler, but it will be dismantled. By Monday, all that will remain will be memories.

But while the Sand Hostel may not be here for a long time, it’s here for a good time. Surf lessons, beach yoga and sand-sculpting lessons with Dennis Massoud himself will all be on offer, as well as something no Aussie beach trip is complete without: beach cricket.

There will also be live music, fire-dancing performances and food stalls – with organic burgers from Food Kartel and wood-fired Mexican from Zicatela. Of course, you’ll also get the opportunity to meet fellow travellers from all over the world, which, at the end of the day, is what makes staying in a hostel so much fun. If you’re in the area, feel free to drop by and take part in some of the activities – they run until midnight on Friday 22 September. 


Sand Hostel, Broadbeach, Queensland

More than 300,000 young travellers (aged 18-30) visit the Gold Coast each year, and it’s easy to see why. Just south of the Queensland capital Brisbane, the Gold Coast is a string of coastal neighbourhoods each with its own personality, backed by a beautiful World Heritage rainforest hinterland.

As well as its succession of pristine beaches, the Coast is Australia’s theme park capital. It has a vibrant nightlife, boutique breweries and an emerging street-food scene that helps ensure there’s always something great to eat for everyone, from the well-heeled to the cash-strapped. 

Make sure you head inland to explore the waterfalls, swimming holes and untouched ancient rainforests of Springbrook. Check out some markets, climb the outside of the Q1 resort building and meet Australia’s wildlife at Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary. But don’t forget to kick back and get some sand between your toes. There’s plenty of it.

Check out Australia’s other hostels – one has rooftop views of Sydney Opera House!