16 Amazing Things to do in Rainbow Beach 2023

Things to do in Rainbow Beach

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Rainbow Beach is a small, coastal town that can be found in the Wide Bay-Burnett region. This is on the Fraser Coast and the Great Sandy National Park in Queensland. Check out this guide to find out the things to do in Rainbow beach, as well as some accommodation ideas, tours.

Being that it is the gateway to Fraser Island you would think that it would be a bustling, commercial hub; however, it’s quite the contrary. Surprisingly, it hasn’t changed in decades and is still a quiet, idyllic getaway. Ideally for those who love to surf, fish, hike, explore or 4WD. Otherwise you can just relax and soak up the Queensland sun and lifestyle.

Need help planning your Trip?

Get started by clicking the links to your favourite brands. Find the best accommodation deals on ‘Booking.com’ – Find activities, tours or things to do on ‘Get Your Guide’ or Viator, or hire a car on ‘Discover Cars’. Alternatively, there is also ‘Expedia’, for your total package deals.

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Things to do in Rainbow Beach (Tours)

On the outskirts, the Great Sandy National Park has a plethora of things to do in Rainbow Beach. Start with fantastic walking tracks, 4Wdriving access, camping, hidden lakes and beaches, rainforests, heathlands, swamps and mangrove forests. Additionally, you can also explore the unique flora, fauna and sights of the Cooloola Great Walk, and Double Island Point.

1. Fraser Island

As mentioned before, Rainbow Beach is the gateway to Fraser Island. Most people will plan for a weeklong visit in their own vehicle, while others will take one or two day tours from Rainbow Beach or Hervey Bay. If you’re limited for time, tours are sometimes the best and I’ll have a couple linked below, along with the video of our Tour.

➡  Fraser Island has both day trips and 2 day trips from Rainbow Beach. Check and compare prices HERE for the Get Your Guide Tours, or if you prefer using Viator tours HERE. The Day trip is a nice highlight for those limited with time, the 2 day trip is better and will see more attractions at Fraser

Fraser Island is a world heritage listed historical, cultural and natural sanctuary that spans 123km in length and is approximately 22km wide. It is the world’s largest sand island, covered in ancient rainforests which hide hundreds of freshwater lakes, crystal clear creeks, and is teeming with unique wildlife both on land and in the surrounding waters. 

Some of your best highlights on the island are Lake Wabby, Champagne Pools, The Pinnacle’s, Lake Mackenzie, rainforest growing in sand and the SS Maheno ship wreck. This is one of biggest highlights to the Queensland coast and you won’t regret your visit.

Get a taste of the Fraser highlights – Please click this link to watch my You Tube on A Day trip to Fraser Island

Tour Fraser Island, Shipwreck - Short Breaks from Brisbane

Fraser Island Tours

Numerous tours operate daily from Rainbow Beach and Hervey Bay. You can choose from 1, 2 or 3 day tours that include pick up from your accommodation, meals, and multi-share accommodation on Fraser Island.

Check out these Fraser Island tours

Fraser Island Camping

There are many campgrounds on Fraser Island, but you must remember to book a permit before beginning your stay. Campgrounds with more modern facilities are:

  • Central stations
  • Lake McKenzie
  • Lake Boomanjin
  • Waady Point
  • Dundubara
  • Wathumba

On the other hand, commercial campgrounds with more basic facilities can be located at Cathedral Beach and Dilli Village. Visitors can also camp along the beach and behind the dunes in marked, designated areas.

➡  Looking for your best Accommodation deals? Then, please click HERE to find Rainbow Beach Hotel Deals (or read further on below)

2. Wolf Rock Diving

If your into Diving then Rainbow beach has the amazing Wolf Rock dive site. This is common dive site to visit as there have a congregation of Grey Nurse Sharks all year round. Get up close and experience the adrenaline of being around so many sharks at once. This is not something for everyone, but an option if your into it.

Wolf Rock Grey Nurse Shark | Things to do in Rainbow Beach
Wolf Rock Grey Nurse Shark | Rainbow Beach

➡  Check and compare prices for all Rainbow Beach Tours HERE with Get Your Guide. Or you can find more options HERE with Viator tours.

3. Dolphins at Tin Can Bay

Now Tin Can bay is only a short drive from rainbow beach and a nice day trip to explore another small fishing town, other places to eat. But even more so is a very popular dolphin experience that been around for years. These dolphins are wild and randomly come and visit the lagoon, which is governed by the volunteers and marine biologists.

You get the opportunity to get up close and feed the dolphins a specially prepared diet. If you’re lucky there might even be a baby around. This is a big hit for the kids, only a small charge, but will require an early visit to Tin Can Bay.

Tin Can Bay Dolphin Feeding, Queensland, Australia
Dolphin Feeding at Tin Can Bay

4. Kayaking Tours

If you would like to bring your own kayak, then you can easily enjoy this sport on your own. However, there is a 4WD beach tour with kayaking that you could also try out. This is a 3-hour adventure with kayaking and four-wheel driving to some of the best parts of Rainbow Beach and The Great Sandy National Park.

➡  Check and compare prices for your Kayaking Tours HERE with Get your Guide. Or you can find more options HERE with Viator Tours.

This is the optimal tour for Dolphin Spotting and one of the area’s highlights. Whales could be migrating through from June to September, and you can see them breaching in the distance. Furthermore, it’s not uncommon to see turtles, sting rays, or maybe even Manta Rays. All this from the comfort of a Kayak!

4WD Adventure Things to do in Rainbow Beach

5. The Coloured Sands Cooloola Coastline

As the name implies, you will not be disappointed by the poly chromatic landscape that Mother Nature has created. Composed of 72 varying shades and hues of red, orange, amber, yellow and brown. This spectacular natural phenomenon stretches for approximately 8km along the southern end of Rainbow Beach. These mammoth sand dunes, believed to have been forming for millions of years, range in size from 80m to almost 200m in height. The vast array of colours comes from iron oxide and vegetable dyes leached into the sand from the surrounding environment.

Note: Do not carve or dig holes in or around the sand dunes, never climb, and Take care parking near the base. They are not stable.

Although the rainbow dunes are mesmerising, there is more to see as you walk along the curved 24km long beach. Investigate the tidal rock pools, various caves and freshwater springs. Or, time your visit to coincide with low tide and watch the millions of soldier crabs make their way along the sand like a living, moving red carpet. Last, but not least, grab a surfboard and catch a few waves, especially around the Double Island Point Area!

The Coloured Sands - Things to do in Rainbow Beach
The Coloured Sands coastline near Rainbow Beach

6. 4 Wheel Driving

In contrast to the many other relaxing activities within the Rainbow Beach area you can pick up the pace and feel the salty air rushing past as you take a 4WDriving adventure along the beaches.

Please be aware that Cooloola access permits are a requirement for all beach driving between Noosa and Rainbow Beach. The main access point to the beach is from Griffin Parade, and you need to start around Low tide. From here you can drive past the Coloured Sands, on Double Island Point, through the Leisha Track to Cooloola Beach/Teewah Beach and eventually at Noosa.

We completed a similar journey recently ( Video Below) but cut through Freshwater Campground and back onto the Highway into Rainbow Beach. It was a brilliant loop track of exploration around the Rainbow Beach area.

(Please click this link to watch my You Tube on our 4WD loop Trip around Rainbow Beach)

The biggest obstruction you need to be aware of Is around Mudlo Rocks. Sands and waves will change this environment every day and will determine how easy or hard it is to get through. Assess the environment first, drive slow, always at low tide and please don’t end up on the “Wall of Shame”. These are people who have had their vehicles claimed by the sands and ocean, by driving at the wrong times.

Similarly, you might like to try some of the following tracks as well ( Permit required on most). This Include Cooloola Way, Poverty Point Road, Teewah Beach, Kings Bore Circuit Track & Freshwater road.

Four Wheel Diving over Mudlo Rocks, Things to do in Rainbow Beach
Four Wheel Diving over Mudlo Rocks, Rainbow Beach

➡  Looking for your best Accommodation deals? Then, please click HERE to find Rainbow Beach Hotel Deals (or read further on below)

7. Double Island Point Lighthouse

If you have a four wheel drive, then you can take a day trip to Double Island Point and walk to the highest point of the headland to the Lighthouse. The entrance is actually on the Cooloola beach side, therefore, you will need to drive through the Leisha 4WD track from Double Island.

It’s only a short 1 kilometre walk, but it’s primarily uphill and a bit of a heart starter. The views from the top are magnificent and you can even find out more about the lighthouse from the information boards. You can see more abut this by watching the 4wd Your video below.

Please click this link to watch my You Tube on our 4WD loop Trip around Rainbow Beach

8. Double Island

Double Island Point is a coastal headland along the Queensland coast and a spot many will visit for Fishing, Surfing, swimming or just getting away from the hustle and bustle of city life. This will also be a day trip stop-off point for people staying in the National Park’s camping spots, like Teewah beach or even driving up from Noosa. 

Everyone needs a towel for swimming! So, click here to compare prices on Travel Towels for your next adventure. They are lightweight, take up less room in your bag and dry quick.

The Views from here will also differ with the tides, and the point could be completely covered during high tides. At low tide, much of the sand bar will appear, and today was used as a late lunch stop-off for us.

We sat around admiring the views and checking out these people learning to surf. It actually looked like fun, and maybe I should give it a go next time.

The sand was dryer in this section and a little softer to drive on – there were many different creeks and streams to get around, but easy to manoeuvre into Leisha track, which is our inland access point to Cooloola Beach.

Views of the Coloured Sands from Double Island Point
Views of the Coloured Sands from Double Island Point

Free Things to do in Rainbow Beach

9. Poona Lake

Poona Lake can be found in the Cooloola Recreation section of the Great Sandy National Park, on the outskirts of Rainbow Beach. The turn off the highway is about 4 kilometres from Rainbow beach and then another 3 kilometres to the Bymien Car Park.

From there you have a 4.2 kilometre return hike through the Rainforest, when then opens up into an amazing freshwater oasis. This has stretches of powdery, white sand surrounding pristine, sapphire blue waters.

Its truly is a small slice of heaven on earth and don’t forget your hat, sunscreen, swimmer and a towel. Make a day of it and take a picnic lunch along to eat beside the water, or use the tables near the Car Park.

Please click this link to watch my You Tube on Hiking into Poona Lake

Poona Lake Rainbow Beach

➡  Check and compare prices for all Rainbow Beach Tours HERE with Get Your Guide. Or you can find more options HERE with Viator tours.

Read More Articles:

Amazing Beaches in Queensland you need to explore

10. Surfing and Body Boarding

You’re lucky that Rainbow Beach has one of the most extended Surf breaks in Queensland or maybe even Australia. So you’ll often find beachgoers along the shores and around Double Island Point either catching their breaks or learning to surf.

The tours for surfing might be a good arrangement, especially if you don’t have a four-wheel drive. The surf depends on the day and where it will be. This means you might need to drive along the beach to find the surf, which is not that convenient on your own.

The same goes for Body Boarding or maybe Paddle Boarding. It would be best if you found where the waves are for the day, which could be directly on the beach in front of the main centre of town.

Surfing the waves at Double Island Point, Near Rainbow Beach
Surfing the waves at Double Island Point, Near Rainbow Beach

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11. Carlo Sand Blow

Carlo Sand Blow is undeniably unique and not something you’ll see much of along the Queensland coast. Only a quick walk through the trees, just to make it out onto a platform. From here to can admire the vast sand dunes or go for a longer trek through the desert. You will be awed by this windblown, ever-changing sand mass covering over 15 hectare.

Once you make it all the way out there are glorious lookout with views of Rainbow Beach’s famous coloured sands, Along with soaking in the stunning 180o panorama views from Double Island Point to the Inskip Peninsula and around to the southern tip of Fraser Island.

In addition, keep your eyes open for a glimpse of the area’s birds of prey and ever-adventurous para gliders. Finally, you may also like to take a walk along the sand dunes or bring a board with you for some tobogganing.

Also note that this walk starts the 155 kilometres trek through the Cooloola Great Walk from Rainbow Beach to Noosa. If you’re into Overnight Hikes, then it might be something you wanna check out.

Aquarius Traveller at Carlo Sand Blow Rainbow beach Queensland

12. Fishing

You will see a lot of people fishing around Rainbow Beach ( in the surf), Carlo Point Marina and Inskip Point. Not sure if it’s great for catching much, but I nice relaxing way to enjoy yourself.

13. Inskip Point

To the north of Rainbow Beach is the peninsula, Inskip Point. This is where you will find the vehicular ferry that transports you over to Fraser Island (MantaRay Barge), and some great fishing spots. The history of Inskip Point includes a small school that was once established specifically for the local lighthouse keeper’s children and the children of the local timber workers.

Sadly, in 2011, part of the local beach was swallowed by a large sinkhole approximately 100m x 50m deep. During a visit in 2019, I was witness to a smaller sand erosion event and you can watch a YouTube clip here of the Sand Event Happening.

Inskip Point Queensland

14. Swimming

Why wouldn’t swimming be at the top of your list if you’re staying in a beachside town? All year round, there is a flagged/patrolled section of the beach for safety. 

This gives you a little peace of mind, but not the only area you can go to. Depending on the day, you can swim anywhere along the beach, but you do need to keep an eye out for the Four wheel drivers.

➡  Check and compare prices for all Rainbow Beach Tours HERE with Get Your Guide. Or you can find more options HERE with Viator tours.

15. Rainbow Stairs

The Laurie Hanson Park, which is also the start of the four wheel driving track, contains the Rainbow Stairs.  It’s a small art piece matching various points around the town which are painted in the same way. Displayed in the colours of the Rainbow and very fitting for the town.

Rainbow Stairs - Things to do in Rainbow Beach
Rainbow Stairs in Laurie Hanson Park

16. Seary’s Creek

Seary’s Creek is located just outside of Rainbow Beach and can be accessed by any standard vehicle. There are only a few car spaces, some picnic tables and bathrooms available. The boardwalk takes a couple of minutes to access the pools in 2 different sections, and crossing over the creek.

After heavy rain, there’s a lot of water passing through here and the waters are always on the chilly side. A beautiful area though, very easy to get to and shallow enough for the younger kids to have a splash around.

Where Is Rainbow Beach

This traditional little surf and fishing town has a population of just over 1000 residents. It’s located approximately 75km from Gympie and approximately 239km from Brisbane.

(Please click here for the Map Directory Link to open or apply directions from your location)

Rainbow Beach - View from Carlo Sand Blow
Views of the Coloured Sand Coastline from Carlo Sand Blow

Is Rainbow Beach worth visiting?

Yes, Rainbow Beach is absolutely worth visiting, and after the many visits I’ve had, I would still go back for more. This area is suitable for those into an outdoor lifestyle, beachside activities, or fun and admiring natural sites. There is so much variety within the Rainbow Beach area that you’ll return for more.

However, I do find with most beachside tourist towns, prices are a little higher for general supplies, tours, and accommodation. This means planning your trip and finding out the costs beforehand to save your pennies in advance. On the other hand, you can save money by staying in the caravan parks, bringing your food for cooking, and doing most of the free things first.

Rainbow Beach Accommodation

Taking into consideration that Rainbow Beach is the gateway to Fraser Island, it offers a great range of accommodation accordingly. With hotels, motels, hostels, Airbnb, camping, glamping and caravanning, travellers are spoilt for choice. If you’re on a restricted budget you can find accommodation starting from as little as $30 per night for campsites or hostels.

➡  Looking for your best Accommodation deals? Then, please click HERE to find Rainbow Beach Hotel Deals

Check out these Accommodation Choices

  • Plantation Resort At Rainbow – Perfect location right in the city and has units overlooking the main street, or the beach
  • Debbie’s Place – We have stayed at Debbie’s twice now over the past few years. Always a nice stay, friendly, helpful staff and reasonably priced.
  • Rainbow Ocean Palms Resort – Great option if you want something away from the city and a little more luxury. It’s actually right near the start of the Carlo Sand Blow.
  • BIG4 Breeze Holiday Parks – Rainbow Beach – This is your Caravan Park option and staying in the fixed accommodation of cabins, units or villas.
  • Rainbow Sands Resort – I have stayed here once before and enjoyed my stay. It’s easy to get to on the main street and 10 mins walking to the city section.

Comparatively, if you wanted to stay in style then there’s the option of luxury accommodation for approximately $320 per night. Click below to help find the right accommodation for your needs:

Rainbow Beach Camping

Admittedly, camping is not allowed on Rainbow Beach itself due to it being a 4Wdriving beach. However, there are a few camping options nearby, with the area being along the Fraser coastline. Consequently, the majority of campgrounds are only accessible via 4WD or by hiking in. Another important point to remember is that in order to camp in a National Park in Queensland, you need to have a permit. You can Pre-book your camping permit here. A few campgrounds to consider are Teewah Beach, Freshwater Camping area, Poverty Camping Area and Inskip Point Camping area.

Rainbow Beach Caravan Parks

Similarly, if you’d like to stay within Rainbow Beach township, there are 2 Holiday Parks to choose from:

Rainbow Beach Breeze Holiday Park ( near the Carlo Point Marina). It offers 60 powered sites starting at $40/night and plenty of unpowered camping sites starting at $30/night. Additionally there are over 50 powered caravan sites. If you’d like something more comfortable, the park has a variety of 1 and 2 bedroom cabins and spas. The park also has all the amenities you need for a comfortable stay along with a playground and jumping pillow for the kids.

Rainbow Beach Holiday Village offers unpowered campsites starting and powered campsites. The village also has beachfront sites. For those who’d like experience something a little more luxurious, Rainbow Beach Holiday Village has a variety of villas and chalets.

Where to Eat and Drink

There are a few amazing places to eat and drink. Sea salt’s “Deck”, definitely has the beachside views, The Rainbow Beach hotel has some awesome meals. And the Rainbow Beach surf living saving club is location right on the cliffs. The Great thing is, most of these places are open pretty early if you’re craving that first coffee hit or a quick snack to eat.

Rainbow Beach Hotel

Rainbow Beach Hotel is where it’s at when it comes to entertainment! Newly redesigned, this beautiful ‘Queenslander’ style, traditional country pub has a charming persona, yet sophisticated atmosphere for visitors and locals alike to enjoy a delicious meal at the Plantation Bar and Bistro. If you’re up for something with a little more gusto, you can enjoy the regular live bands or belt out a tune or 2 whilst doing karaoke.

Rainbow Beach Weather

Summer spans from December to February. The maximum temperature averages at approximately 30oc, and the minimum at approximately 22oc. During this period Rainbow Beach also has it’s heaviest rainfalls as it’s Queensland’s wet season.

Winter spans from June to August. This period tends to be cooler, but not so cold that you can’t still enjoy a swim or surf at the beach. Temperatures average at a maximum of 24oc, and a minimum of 11oc, but the sun still shines and the breezes are minimal.

Carlo Sand Blow in the Great Sandy National Park - Things to do in Rainbow Beach
Carlo Sand Blow in the Great Sandy National Park – Rainbow Beach

Rainbow Beach – Frequently Asked Questions?

Do you need a 4WD to get to Rainbow Beach?

No, you do not need a 4WD to get to Rainbow Beach. Sealed roads are available from the Gold Coast, Brisbane, or the entire coastline. The roads in and around Rainbow Beach and the town centre are also passable with a standard two-wheel drive vehicle. There is a car park beside the beach, and it will take about 1 minute to walk down the stairs and have access to the beach. Also great to know Carlo Sand Blow is also sealed!

Yes, you will need a 4WD (Four Wheel Drive) vehicle to Drive on the beaches at Rainbow Beach, Double Island Point, Inskip, or Teewah Beach. However, you’ll need to purchase the Cooloola access permit beforehand. 

It’s a long way to walk on the beach from Rainbow Beach to Double Island Point, but this can be done for free, and you don’t need a 4WD. This is the same for the Inskip beach sections. However, you need to be safety conscious and look for cars, as they can drive around you.

Where do I get a Rainbow Beach Beach Permit?

The 4-wheel driving permit for Rainbow beach can be purchased online HERE through the Qld National Parks website. Remember that camping permits are separate from this and must be added through the same website.

Are there dolphins at Rainbow Beach?

Yes, there are Dolphins, Mantas, and Turtles in and around the Rainbow Beach waters. However, you will not likely see them off the beach near town. Consequently, if you’re exploring the ocean waters on a kayak, Jetski, or maybe a small tinny boat, then you might be able to find some on your own.

Know that the boat ramp is situated on the west coast of the Point, near the Marina and the Big 4 Holiday Park. Therefore, if you want to launch off the east coast, this would be off the beach.

Is Rainbow Beach or Hervey Bay better?

Probably comparing apples to oranges here, and both Rainbow Beach and Hervey Bay have unique qualities. Apart from the fact that you can access Fraser Island from either, they both promote beachside activities and an outdoor lifestyle. However, Hervey Bay’s ocean is calmer, protected by Fraser Island.

This means if you’re going for surf or waves – Rainbow Beach would be your clearer choice.

Can you get around the rocks at Rainbow Beach?

As mentioned before in the 4 Wheel Driving section of this blog, there is a place called Mudlo Rocks. This area can be unpredictable, dangerous, and constantly changing. This either allows you to drive down the beach or it can stop you from passing. Many vehicles have been photographed and entered into the “Wall of Shame.” You don’t want to make that mistake and need to know what you’re in for!

Therefore, you must pass Mudlo Rocks at low tide and when enough sand is covering some of the rocks. Please watch the 4WDriving video to get a better feel for the area. Note: these rocks are not always passable, even at low tide.

Please click this link to watch my You Tube on our 4WD loop Trip around Rainbow Beach

Do you need a 4WD for Inskip?

You don’t always need a 4WD vehicle to access Inskip point or the campsites. There are areas to park your car on the side of the sealed road and walk a short distance to the beach. Additionally, I often see people park their 2-wheel drive vehicles on the road near the campsites. This could be to visit friends or carry their gear to the camp.

A four-wheel drive vehicle is always recommended for all campsite areas near Inskip point. However, there are a few areas near the road at the SS Dorrigo campgrounds where a two-wheel drive vehicle can be set up. Keep in mind that actual sites are not booked at Inskip, and you won’t be guaranteed to get one that is 2WD assessable.

Can you have dogs on Rainbow Beach?

Yes, you can have a dog on Rainbow Beach & Inskip Point, but it must be leashed the whole time. Dogs aren’t allowed in The Great Sandy National Park area, south side of Rainbow beach, including the Carlo Sand Blow.

Sunrise Views on Rainbow Beach
Sunrise Views on Rainbow Beach

Wrap up to Things to do in Rainbow Beach

Thanks for reading todays blog on Things to do in Rainbow Beach and I hope you found what you were looking for.

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The Writer

“Hi, I’m Chris Fry, the writer and photographer behind Aquarius Traveller, where I share my outdoor journeys, provide valuable information and inspiration for your land and underwater travels. I live in Australia, have travelled extensively across Australia and to 36 other countries”

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Until next time

Chris 😀

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