A Weekender's Guide to Rainbow Beach

Where you can ride a horse along the beach or glide right over it.
Sarah Ward
Published on June 29, 2020

in partnership with

Located in the Wide Bay-Burnett Region just past Gympie (about three hours' drive from Brisbane), Rainbow Beach takes its name from the multi-coloured dunes that line its shores and stem from deposits of minerals such as rutile, ilmenite, zircon and monazite. The former sand-mining site turned Sunshine Coast holiday town might be big on different shades of the granular stuff that gets between your toes, but it's tiny in terms of population. Just over 1000 people call it home, in fact — so when we say it's small, we really do mean it.

It's gorgeous, and just the right kind of quiet, and as Rainbow Beach is perched on the edge of the Great Sandy National Park it overflows with outdoorsy activities. Whatever type of experience you're after, here's our guide to the ultimate Rainbow Beach weekend.

From pristine beaches and bountiful wine regions to alpine hideaways and bustling country towns, Australia has a wealth of places to explore at any time of year. We've partnered with Tourism Australia to help you plan your road trips, weekend detours and summer getaways so that when you're ready to hit the road you can Holiday Here This Year.

While regional holidays within Queensland are now permitted, some of the places mentioned below may still be closed due to COVID-19 restrictions. Please check websites before making any plans.


Arcobaleno on the Beach

Arcobaleno on the Beach


Whether you're hungry or thirsty, your first point of call really should be the Rainbow Beach Hotel. And probably your second and third, too. It's the number one watering hole in town, with a typical seasonal bistro menu of pizzas, pastas and pub food to satisfy the stomach. You'll also find more Italian offerings at Arcobaleno on the Beach at the same address, as well as a hearty breakfast selection.

Next, because every beach spot has a pub and a surf club, you owe it to yourself to grab a meal at the latter. Rainbow Beach Surf Life Saving Club is open for brekkie on Sundays with bacon and egg rolls, pancake stacks or eggs benedict. Go for lunch or dinner and you'll find family favourites like fish and chips, burgers, seafood platters and schnitzels.


Great Sandy National Park via Tourism and Events Queensland


The main reason anyone would want to visit Rainbow Beach is so obvious that it's right there in the town's name, and it really doesn't disappoint. Spying as many as 72 different colours of sands in the cliffs two kilometres from the main township is a bucket list moment (make sure your phone is charged so you can take plenty of pics), but it's not the only thing to do. Visit the Carlo Sand Blow to witness 15 hectares of sandy land that has been compared to a moonscape, and looks particularly stunning at sunset and sunrise. It was actually named after one of Captain Cook's deckhands, and shares its historical links with Double Island Point, a popular dive spot to the south that's accessible via 4WD, and is also home to a 132-year-old operating lighthouse.

Alrighty, so you've seen some absolutely stunning natural sights — now it's time to get active in the elements. Want to ride a horse along the beach (or swim with one in the ocean — yes, really)? Or grab a rod, throw a line in and fish from the shore? Great, because you can do all of that here, plus kayak, hang glide, paraglide and skydive. If you're not feeling that adventurous, make a beeline to Rainbow Beach Sports and Recreation Club instead. That's where you can enjoy a game of barefoot bowls or a spot of tennis. Hey, everyone needs a rest now and then.

Tourism and Events Queensland

And, don't forget that Rainbow Beach is just a ten-minute barge ride away from Fraser Island via the nearby Inskip Point, which is just seven kilometres north of the main drag. Booking onto a tour is your best bet given that 4WDs are the only appropriate form of transport on the biggest sand island in the world. Boom, that's a whole day's itinerary sorted. Thankfully, you really can't get enough of the great outdoors out here.


Plantation Resort

Plantation Resort


In a town this cosy, accommodation options aren't what you'd call abundant. Here, it's all about quality over quantity, but there's still something available for every budget. If it's luxury you're after, then you'll want to check into either Plantation Resort at Rainbow or Rainbow Ocean Palms Resort. Both feature the type of furniture, fixtures and facilities you'd expect of resort-style hotels, plus beach-adjacent locations and panoramic views.

Or, venture a few streets away from the shore to find peaceful, more modest homes-away-from-home that are the Rainbow Getaway Apartments. Rainbow Sea Resort is also a bit further away from the water, but offers ocean views from its more modern digs. And don't overlook Debbie's Place, a motel perfect for one-night stays run by someone who just might be the friendliest of hosts.

A handful of hostels can also be found in Rainbow Beach for those really looking to save their pennies (and are up for sharing their holiday experience with strangers). Whether you choose Dingo's Rainbow Beach Hostel or Pippie's Beachhouse, they're located on the same block, so they're rather easy to find.


Whether you're planning to travel for a couple of nights or a couple of weeks, Holiday Here This Year and you'll be supporting Australian businesses while you explore the best of our country's diverse landscapes and attractions.

Top image: Great Beach Drive, Tourism and Events Queensland.

Published on June 29, 2020 by Sarah Ward
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