[Updated September 2020]
Rainbow Beach is for you if you like heavenly sub-tropical coastal towns with awesome holiday vibes and plenty of four-wheel-drive tracks to explore.
We think it’s one of Australia’s best kept secrets. So, if you’re looking for your next holiday destination, look no further and read on to discover all that Rainbow Beach has to offer.
Rainbow Beach is a destination that can’t be missed by 4WD enthusiasts. If you don’t own a 4WD, you could opt to hire a 4WD from FleetCrew in Brisbane. It will take approximately 3 hours or 240kms north to reach the small and peaceful town of Rainbow Beach from Brisbane. Rainbow Beach is the gateway to some of Australia’s most incredible attractions.
Rainbow Beach isn’t just an off-roading destination, you can bring the whole family or make it a boys weekend. There’s ample opportunity for swimming, surfing and fishing along kilometres of pristine white sand beaches or head inland to explore rainforests and freshwater lakes or even try your hand at paragliding!
While you shouldn’t say no to a weekend getaway at Rainbow Beach, we’d recommend spending a week here to truly explore all this area has to offer. Ideally, combine it with a Fraser Island 4WD adventure to make it a truly unforgettable trip.
While Rainbow Beach is a small town, the large number of tourists mean you’ll be able to find a range of accommodation options including hotels, motels, resorts and caravan parks. You could also rent an apartment or a holiday home for longer stays. Please beware that you can only camp in designated camping areas.
For those wishing to explore the 4WD tracks of the national park, there are plenty of places to camp including right along the Great Beach Drive at Teewah Beach. Bookings can be made online through the national park service.
When it comes to dining at Rainbow Beach you’ll be pleasantly surprised by a wide range of choice. Whether you’re after a quick takeaway meal, breakfast at a café or a fine dining experience with a panoramic ocean view, there’s something to suit everyone. We’d recommend the Rainbow Beach Hotel for great pub food at reasonable prices.
There’s also a well-stocked IGA supermarket for those who want to self-cater. Be sure to stock up on food and other supplies before heading into the national park as you won’t find any facilities there.
For the ultimate Rainbow Beach 4WD circuit, complete the following tracks in order of camping along the way or pick off one every day.
Track distance: 40km
Difficulty: Easy to moderate
From Rainbow Beach, head south to access the 4WD only beach road which makes up part of the Great Beach Drive. The first section past Mudlo rocks is often impassable so talk to the locals and head out at low tide to avoid ending up on the ‘wall of shame’.
Along this 40km stretch of stunning coastline, you’ll pass the famous multi-coloured sand cliffs on your way to Double Island Point, one of Australia’s top 10 dive spots. Walk up to the lighthouse for spectacular views and if you’re there between July and December keep an eye out for whales and dolphins!
Continuing south on this beach highway will take you through camping and day-use areas. Stop anywhere along the way for a swim or a surf. After reaching Laguna Bay at the southernmost point, head towards Tewantin town before making your way up to Kin-Kin Road to join up with the next track, the Cooloola Way.
Track distance: 32km
This dirt and sand road from Kin Kin-Wolvi Road heads back towards Rainbow Beach Road though wet heath plains and native forest. It offers great views over the Cooloola sand mass and provides access to Harry’s Hut Road, a 10km rough sand side-trip that winds through woodlands and rainforest to the camping and day-use area on the banks of the upper Noosa River.
Track distance: 7km
Once you reach Rainbow Beach Road, head towards Rainbow Beach for a few kilometres before turning off on to this rough and sandy high clearance 4WD track. At the end of the road you’ll find an idyllic waterfront day use and camping area.
From here, backtrack to Rainbow Beach Road and continue a few more kilometres towards Rainbow Beach before taking the Kings Bore Circuit turn off on the right-hand side of the road.
Track distance: 18km one way or 40km circuit
Access to this fire road track is off Rainbow Beach Road. You’ll need a high clearance 4WD to navigate some of the rougher sections of this track. If incorporating into our Rainbow Beach 4WD circuit, take the final, one-way section of this track to Teewah Beach. This track is remote and unsigned so make sure you’re self-sufficient and have recovery gear with you before heading off.
Once you reach Teewah Beach, turn left and head north along the beach highway until you see the turnoff for Freshwater road.
Track distance: 19km
From the beach, this rough sand track will take you back towards Rainbow Beach via coastal rainforests, blackbutt forests, scribbly gums and banksias. The Bymien picnic area is ideal for a pit stop and has toilets and tables.
Once you reach Rainbow Beach Road, turn right and after a few kilometres you’ll hit Rainbow Beach.
If you want to get out and stretch your legs at Rainbow Beach, there’s no shortage of activities.
For water lovers, there’s kayaking, fishing, snorkelling, diving and surfing. There’s also endless swimming spots both at the beach and in freshwater lakes in the national park. Here you’ll also find great hiking trails including the popular Cooloola Wilderness Trail.
You can also ride horses down the beach, skydive and paraglide for those who are a little more adventurous.
Make sure to take a short hike to the top of the Carlo Sandblow – the area’s number one attraction. The cliffs are a looker! Made out of sand with over 70 different colours and shades.
Do you need a 4WD for Rainbow Beach?
You need a 4WD vehicle if you want to explore Rainbow Beach, Double Island Point and Teewah Beach. A few spots are exempted, but we would recommend a strong 4WD to get the full experience.
Do I need a permit to drive on Rainbow Beach?
You need a permit to drive on the beaches in the Cooloola Recreation are. Find out more.
Can I get to Rainbow beach without a 4WD?
Most of the places require a 4WD vehicle to explore this area. However, alternatives near Rainbow Beach are Inskip Point (10 min away from Rainbow Beach) and the Carlo Sandblow.
Since your already at Rainbow Beach, why not extend your trip to include the must-see Fraser Island as well?
Rainbow Beach is the southern gateway to this world heritage listed and 4WD friend island. Simply head a few kilometres north from Rainbow Beach and take a Manta Ray Barge across to Fraser Island from Inskip Point.
Some of the things you’ll find there include:
It’s one of Australia’s most epic 4WD destinations and the perfect trip extension from Rainbow Beach. For everything you need to know about four-wheel-driving and staying on Fraser Island, check out our complete 2-part guide here and here.
Don’t delay getting your next adventure sorted.
Explore one of the best 4WD playgrounds Australia has to offer. Simply pick up your 4WD from FleetCrew on your way out of Brisbane. FleetCrew is the leading specialist in 4WD hire with:
Choose the 4WD that best suits your adventure by viewing our recreational 4WD fleet. For other questions or a quote, contact a friendly FleetCrew representative today and let us help you to get on the road to Rainbow Beach!