In my book, anywhere with a name like Rainbow Beach is going to be pretty special.
Trust Australia then, to come up with the goods!
Most people simply pass through Rainbow Beach on their way to Fraser Island, and to be honest, I did the same.
But now, having had a second chance to spend a gorgeous 24hrs in this stunning coastal town, I can certainly recommend stopping there for a bit longer… at least overnight!
So, to encourage you to do the same, here are my tips when it comes to spending the best 24hrs in Rainbow Beach.
Grab Your Copy of How to Road Trip Australia on a Budget
My ultimate guide to road tripping Australia on a shoestring is now available, meaning you can finally get ALL my top tips for driving around all, or parts, of this amazing country in one handy eBook, including…
- Full Planning & Preparation Guides
- Day by Day Itineraries & Routes
- Complete Packing & Gear Lists
- Top Money-Saving Tips & Hacks
- 10 Best Free Things to Do in Agnes Waters
- Brisbane to Cairns : Perfect 20 Day Itinerary
- The 10 Best Free Things to Do in Airlie Beach
This page contains affiliate links meaning Big World Small Pockets may receive a small commission on any purchases at no extra cost to you.
Where is Rainbow Beach?
Located in southeast Queensland, Rainbow Beach is located north of the awesome beach town of Noosa and south of the world-famous Fraser Island.
It is in the Gympie region of the state and, as you may have guessed from the name, is located on the coast!
A fantastically quiet little, country place, ideal for budget travellers and road trippers, it’s also perfect for nature and beach lovers.
The whole of Rainbow Beach has a very laid back feel – classic Queensland – and is definitely a no-shoe kinda affair (my favourite!) where the ocean culture abounds.
Being in South Queensland, temperatures are pretty good all year round here and swimming in the sea is possible most days!
How to Get to Rainbow Beach
Getting to Rainbow is the hardest part about your adventure here, especially if you don’t have your own vehicle.
Being a little of the way however, does help to keeps tourist numbers down here, which can be a blessing!
There is a Greyhound public bus service, but I really think you would be best hiring a car and driving yourself there in all honesty.
Do bear in mind, any vehicle needs to be a 4wd if you’re heading onto Fraser and with a 4wd you can also drive onto the sands at Rainbow Beach.
Coming from the Brisbane / Noosa direction, I decided to drive the off-the-beaten track way to Rainbow Beach, although it’s an exciting journey, whichever way you go.
First of all, there’s the option of coming up the beach, which involves some action on the sand and can be good preparation for Fraser!
I would have driven up the beach from Noosa for my stay at Rainbow Beach, but sadly, the tide wouldn’t allow me, so do be careful!
If you decide to drive up the beach way, be aware that you can (and people do) get trapped by the rising tide.
No one wants to see their car being washed out to sea (NOT fun), so always check tide timetables and plan your journey accordingly.
You also want to be careful driving on the beach as regular road rules still apply and police do conduct speed and breathalyser tests!
Given the tides though, I decided to head inland through the cute hinterland towns of Pomona and Cooran.
Even 30 minutes from the sea in Australia, and things start to feel different – places are more sparsely populated, the pace of life is slower and towns have a distinct country feel to them.
I love all the older buildings and heritage of these non-coastal areas (something to do with being European I guess) and really liked this classic pub and hotel that I saw in the tiny village of Kin Kin.
It was still early in the morning and the pub was shut, so I took a few snaps and then motored on northwards.
Lucky enough to be driving a Land Rover, I try to take 4wd tracks wherever possible.
Coming out the back of Kin Kin, I discovered there was a track and a shortcut I could take to get to Rainbow Beach, instead of driving on the highway.
As with all the best adventures, I got a bit lost with no maps or Google to help, but eventually, I found myself on the road right and into Rainbow Beach.
Driving into the one-street town of Rainbow Beach, I immediately had a really good feeling about the place.
I love remote tucked away communities (see my posts on Little Corn Island!) and totally fell for the little pot of gold Rainbow Beach turned out to be.
I’d picked a stunning day to visit, so that always helps, but regardless it’s hard to argue that the setting is anything less than idyllic.
If you are travelling to Rainbow Beach from further afield, it’s helpful to know the nearest international airport is Brisbane, so check for flights there if you’re coming from overseas.
Otherwise, Hervey Bay Airport or Sunshine Coast Airport provide nearby domestic flight services.
As always, I use Skyscanner to find the best deals.
Where to Eat at Rainbow Beach
Luckily, there’s a ton of delightful places to head within Rainbow Beach for a spot of lunch.
I headed straight to the lovely picnic benches to have my packed lunch – budget-style of course!
It was situated in a lovely park overlooking the beach with great benches and free BBQ’s.
If you don’t bring a picnic with you, then heading to the nearby Rainbow Beach Surf Club to enjoy some cheap lunch and a beer would be my recommendation.
Overlooking the ocean, it’s hard to beat for views.
Alternatively, if it’s a coffee and sandwich you’re more into, then the espresso bar is probably the place to head.
Tucked down a little side arcade, next to the Rainbow Beach Hotel, this place is open for breakfast, lunch and dinner.
I got a yummy coffee there, after my picnic, and the place was super busy – always a good sign!
So, after my coffee, I headed down to the sand, to enjoy the brilliant sunshine and glorious-looking water.
Situated at the end of the main street, the gorgeous beach at Rainbow really is hard to turn down.
With its white sand, it’s an incredibly popular spot for locals in this neck of the woods and is a big hit with tourists too!
Swimming here is really safe, with far less of the crazy waves and mad currents that you may be used to on East Coast Australia (sorry, not sorry surfers!)
The beach is also fully patrolled, which makes it very popular with families and timid swimmers like me!
Don’t Miss: Coloured Sands
In which case, one of the top free attractions at Rainbow Beach you have to see is the coloured sands.
These huge striped dunes extend along the beach from the cliffs down to the ocean below.
They are formed by layers of sediment in the sand becoming exposed due to coastal winds.
In order to visit these cliffs, you need to walk a fair distance along the beach, but that’s all.
Nature is easy to marvel at here!
The other way to see the Coloured Sands is to drive to them.
Yes, that’s right drive along the beach!
No, you haven’t gone back in time to the 1950’s, at Rainbow, the beach is a veritable highway!
This means one the best ways to have free fun in Rainbow Beach is to bump and bounce around as you go 4WD sand driving!
However you get there, the coloured sands are definitely one of the prettiest places in Queensland to visit.
If you pick a sunny, clear day to go to Rainbow Beach, then blue sky, white sand and purple layers of the dunes form a particularly stunning combination.
The Highlight: Carlos Sandblow
I was already talking about moving to the town – I mean who doesn’t want to live in a place called Rainbow?! – and that was before we visited the Carlo Sandblow!
This is probably the best part of Rainbow Beach and definitely the highlight of my day there.
After following the signs to the sandblow, parking the car and making the short walk, I was greeted by the most gigantic sand dune of the most beautiful colours imaginable.
It’s that fantastic spectrum of brilliant blue against brilliant white that Australia does to perfection and that never fails to amaze me.
The sandblow slopes right down to the beach on one side and leafy green of the town on the other, making it a photographer’s dream!
Many people were surfing the sand there using whatever suitable sled-like object they could get their hands on, and this looked a lot of fun!
Kids were rolling down the sides of the dune and teenagers were surfing on adapted snowboards too.
There were also plenty of old cardboard pieces left by others that you could easily use to make a free board and join in!
I spent a good hour or so there, watching the colours change, the sand blow, the waves roll and taking a million photos!
Carlo Sandblow would make the most killer sunset-watching spot and during whale season I couldn’t think of any better place to try and spot them!
No need to pay for a tour, just come here!
This place really sealed it for me and topped off a great day at Rainbow Beach.
Other Things to Do in Rainbow Beach
Sadly I’d run out of time at the lovely Rainbow Beach, but if you wanted to stay a few more days, you’d find plenty to occupy yourself.
From sky-diving to scuba-diving, fishing trips to horse riding, there’s plenty to get stuck into here.
And, of course, there’s some good relaxing to do too!
Where to Stay in Rainbow Beach
As well as families, Rainbow Beach is a popular spot for those adventuring to or from Fraser Island, so can get pretty busy despite its size.
There is plenty of budget accommodation to choose from however, so you’ll never be stuck for choice.
For backpackers, there are 3 hostels located just back from the main street; and judging by the cars / vans / 4wds outside, all of them seemed to be popular.
I liked the look of Fraser’s on Rainbow Beach best.
Rainbow Beach also boasts a couple of campsites, which is great if you have a tent and /or 4WD.
Otherwise, VRBO has a great selection of rental properties in the town too.
Check out this top-rated apartment which is just 100m from the beach, with epic ocean views, sleeps up to 6 people and is owned by certified premier hosts.
5 Essential Packing Items for Rainbow Beach
#1 Good Camera – You will be pretty much snapping non-stop in Rainbow Beach and will need a good camera to do this gorgeous destination justice. I highly recommend the Sony A6000, which I use for all my travels and love, not least because it’s light, compact and robust!
#2 Good Walking Shoes – There will be a lot of walking in Rainbow Beach – from the town to sandblow! Make sure your feet are comfortable therefore with a pair of New Balance Trainers. Perfect for beachside strolling, I love mine.
#3 Good Guidebook – I’m still a massive fan of the Lonely Planet Guidebooks and do think their Australia edition is well put together if you’re heading onwards from Rainbow Beach to other destinations.
#4 Good Water Bottle – Travelling in hot old Queensland can be thirsty work, so make sure you have a metal water bottle that you can refill as you go, because tap water is drinkable here… and free!
#5 Good Sun Hat – And there’s no denying you’ll need a good sun hat for protection in Rainbow Beach too. In my opinion, you can’t go past this Hello Sunshine one, which is both gorgeous and ideal for keeping the rays off your face.
PIN IT TO PINTEREST!
So there you have it folks, the best travel guide to visiting Rainbow Beach.
It’s one of the prettiest places I’ve been north of Noosa, so make sure you don’t just drive through and miss it like I almost did!
Have you visited Rainbow Beach?
Do you have any top tips to share with other travellers?
Please drop them into the comments box below…