Rainbow Beach: Best Visitors Guide 2024 (UPDATED)

Best Gympie Region Holiday Destination for families


Rainbow Beach Visitor Guide


Table of Contents

Hi There! Thanks for visiting my post reviewing Rainbow Beach on the Sunshine Coast in Queensland. Outlined below is a table of contents for the post. If you don’t have the time to read through the entire post, simply click on the relevant link to take you immediately to where you want to go.

1. Introduction
2. Where is Rainbow Beach?
3. How to Get to Rainbow Beach
4. Best time to visit Rainbow Beach
5. Beach facilities at Rainbow Beach
6. Things To Do At Rainbow Beach
7. Shops
8. Hotels at Rainbow Beach
9. Where To Eat at Rainbow Beach
10. Coffee
11. FAQs

Once you’ve read the article I hope it will have inspired you to visit this fantastic Aussie beach destination!

(My post about Rainbow Beach may contain affiliate links, which means I may receive a small commission at no additional cost to you).

Read Time: 10 Minutes



Rainbow Beach, nestled along the southern coast of Queensland, offers visitors a perfect blend of relaxation and adventure.

Located on the Sunshine Coast, about three hours north from Brisbane, this sleepy coastal town is known for its stunning natural beauty. It features miles of pristine beaches, sparkling blue waters and towering sand dunes and is a popular destination for outdoor enthusiasts.

The likes of surfing, fishing, hiking and swimming are regularly partaken in here, along with 4WD on its huge expense of the sand.

In this travel guide, I will showcase what Rainbow Beach has to offer as a Queensland beach holiday destination.

Whether you’re looking for a quiet escape or an action-packed adventure, this terrific Sunshine Coast beach offers something for everyone.


With its prime location, this beach is an ideal base for exploring the nearby attractions of the Sunshine Coast.


Where is Rainbow Beach?

Rainbow Beach is located on the southern end of the Sunshine Coast, in Queensland, in Australia. It is approximately 75 miles (120 kilometres) north of Brisbane, the state capital.

The town is situated on a peninsula that separates the Pacific Ocean from the Great Sandy Strait. It is surrounded by natural wonders such as the Cooloola National Park, the Carlo Sand Blow and the Double Island Point Lighthouse.

With its prime location, this beach is an ideal base for exploring the nearby attractions of the Sunshine Coast. They include the world-renowned N’giri (formerly known as Fraser Island), the wonderful Noosa Main Beach and the stunning Glass House Mountains. So overall, it offers plenty for the tourist to see and do on their coastal Queensland holiday.


Distance from Rainbow Beach to Other Destinations

  • Brisbane 249km
  • Mooloolaba 160km
  • Noosa 117km
  • Surfer's Paradise 317km
  • Cairns 1540km
  • Mackay 811km
  • Sydney 1148km
  • Melbourne 2015km
  • Adelaide 2176km
  • Perth 4458km
  • How to Get to Rainbow Beach

    Rainbow Beach is quite a straightforward coastal town to get to.

    The most common way to get there is by car, with the Bruce Highway providing easy access to the town.

    From Brisbane, take the Bruce Highway north and turn off at the Gympie exit. Follow the signs to Tin Can Bay and then on to Rainbow Beach. If driving from the Sunshine Coast, follow the signs to Noosa and then on to Tewantin, where you can catch a car ferry across the Noosa River and continue on to Rainbow Beach.

    Another option is to fly into the Sunshine Coast Airport or Brisbane Airport and hire a car or take a shuttle bus to the beach. Shuttle services run regularly from both airports to Rainbow Beach, with travel time taking around 2-3 hours.

    There are also public transport options available, with buses running from Brisbane and the Sunshine Coast to Rainbow Beach. However, it’s worth noting that public transport services can be infrequent and may not run at convenient times. Subsequently, I recommend you check the schedules in advance.


    Coral Sea View at Rainbow Beach


    Best time to visit Rainbow Beach

    The best time to visit Rainbow Beach is during the cooler months of the year, from March to November, when the temperatures are milder and the crowds are thinner. This time of year is perfect for outdoor activities like hiking, fishing and exploring the national parks and beaches.

    Summer (December to February) is the busiest time of year in Rainbow Beach, with crowds flocking to its golden sand and holiday accommodation often booked out well in advance. The weather during summer is hot and humid, with occasional rain and thunderstorms.

    Another good time to visit the beach is during the whale watching season, which runs from June to November. During this time, visitors can spot humpback whales migrating along the coast, with some even breaching close to shore. The best way to see the whales is by joining a whale watching tour, which typically operate out of nearby Hervey Bay.

    Overall, the best time to visit Rainbow Beach depends on what you’re looking for. If you’re after mild weather and fewer crowds, then the cooler months are your best bet.

    However, if you’re looking to soak up the sun and enjoy the beach, then the summer months are perfect. Finally, if you want to see the whales, then plan your visit between June and November.


    Overall, Rainbow Beach has excellent beach facilities that cater to visitors’ needs


    Beach facilities at Rainbow Beach

    Rainbow Beach is renowned for its beautiful, uncrowded beaches that offer visitors a range of facilities and amenities. Here are some of the facilities that visitors can expect to find at this Rainbow:

    Lifeguards: Rainbow Beach has lifeguards stationed at the main swimming areas during the peak season. The lifeguards patrol the beach and offer advice on swimming conditions and water safety.

    Showers and Toilets: There are public showers and toilets available near the main beach access points. The facilities are clean and well-maintained.

    Picnic Areas: There are several picnic areas located along the beachfront, equipped with tables, benches and barbecue facilities. These areas are perfect for enjoying a picnic lunch or dinner while taking in the stunning ocean views.

    Beach Equipment Hire: Visitors can hire a range of beach equipment, including surfboards, stand-up paddleboards and kayaks, from various providers located near the beach.

    Beach Access: Rainbow Beach has several beach access points that are wheelchair accessible, making it easy for visitors of all abilities to enjoy the beach.

    Overall, Rainbow Beach has excellent beach facilities that cater to visitors’ needs, ensuring that they have a comfortable and enjoyable beach experience.


    Rainbow Beach attractions

  • Visit Fraser Island and see the Maheno Wreck
  • Hike the Carlo Sand Blow
  • Explore the Cooloola Recreation Area and Cooloola National Park
  • Go Fishing
  • Surfing at Rainbow Beach
  • Stand-Up Paddleboarding
  • 4 Wheel Driving
  • Climb the Coloured Sand Dunes
  • Beach Walking
  • Rainbow Beach tours
  • Check out the Great Sandy National Park
  • Head to Carlo Point
  • Visit Inskip Peninsula and Indian Head
  • Photography
  • Things To Do At Rainbow Beach

    Rainbow Beach offers visitors a wide range of activities and attractions to enjoy. For those wanting a Sunshine Coast Beach Holiday, here are some of the top things to do at Rainbow Beach:

    Visit Fraser Island: Rainbow Beach is the gateway to K’gari, one of the best islands in Queensland. Visitors can take a day trip or an extended tour of N’giri, exploring its unspoilt beaches, translucent lakes and verdant rainforests.

    Hike the Carlo Sand Blow: The Carlo Sand Blow is a natural phenomenon located just a short distance from the Beach. It is a vast expanse of sand dunes that offers stunning panoramic views of the ocean and the surrounding countryside. The walk to the sand blow is short but steep, making it a popular hiking spot.

    Explore the Cooloola National Park: The Cooloola National Park is a wilderness area that encompasses both beach and forest environments. Visitors can explore the park’s walking tracks, take a dip in the freshwater swimming holes, or go on a 4WD adventure along the Great Beach Drive.

    Go Fishing: Rainbow Beach is a popular fishing spot, with a variety of fish species available to catch, including bream, flathead and whiting. Visitors can fish from the beach, the rocks, or take a fishing charter out to sea.

    Surfing and Stand-Up Paddleboarding: The waves at the beach are perfect for surfing and stand-up paddleboarding. Visitors can hire equipment and take lessons from local surf schools.


    Sand Dunes at Rainbow Beach Sunshine Coast



    Rainbow Beach has a small but vibrant shopping scene, with several boutique stores and specialty shops offering visitors the choice of a range of unique products.

    Locally-made art, jewellery, clothing and souvenirs are just some of the things you can purchase during your Sunshine Coast holiday there. Here are some of the top shops to check out at this stunning beach destination:

    Surf Shop: This surf shop offers a top-notch selection of surf gear, beachwear and accessories. You can also hire surfboards, stand-up paddleboards and kayaks from them.

    Plantation Resort Store: The Plantation Resort Store stocks a range of essential items for visitors, including groceries, snacks and souvenirs. It is conveniently located on-site at the Plantation Resort.

    Tin Can Bay Seafood: This local seafood market offers a range of fresh seafood caught by local fishermen, including prawns, crabs and fish.

    Pharmacy: This Pharmacy is the place to go for health and beauty products, prescription medication and over-the-counter remedies.

    General Store: The General Store presents a nice range of groceries, snacks and other essentials for visitors. It also has a small selection of souvenirs and gifts.

    Generally speaking, while the area may not be known as a hotspot for its shopping, there are still plenty of options for visitors to explore and pick up some unique items.


    No matter where you choose to stay, the overall standard of family holiday accommodation at Rainbow Beach is very good.


    Hotels at Rainbow Beach

    For those needing overnight or holiday accommodation, there are plenty of options. They include a nice range of hotels and holiday apartments to suit all budgets. (Unfortunately, there are no Rainbow Beach camping options).

    One of the top-rated hotels in Rainbow Beach is the Rainbow Ocean Palms. It is located near the beach and features spacious rooms and apartments with modern amenities such as a large outdoor pool, restaurant and bar on-site.

    Another popular choice is the Plantation Resort At Rainbow, which offers comfortable units with kitchenettes or full kitchens, a swimming pool and a spa.

    If you’re looking for a self-contained holiday apartment, Rainbow Getaway Holiday Apartments is a great option. The apartments feature a fully equipped kitchen, spacious living area and private balcony and the property also boasts a swimming pool and barbecue area.

    Alternatively, the Rainbow Ocean Palms Resort offers spacious and luxurious apartments with balconies overlooking the ocean. Its amenities include a pool, spa and barbecue facilities.

    You can make a reservation or find out more details about any of these places by clicking here.

    No matter what Rainbow Beach accommodation you choose to stay at, the overall standard of family holiday accommodation at Rainbow Beach is very good. During the high season, they do tend to book out early, so its worth making a reservation long in advance of your visit.


    Rainbow Beach Cafes and Restaurants

  • The Deck Cafe and Bar
  • Rainbow Beach Sports Club
  • Arcobaleno On The Beach
  • The Fat Fish
  • Café Jilarty at Rainbow
  • Carlo Sand Blow Cafe
  • Where To Eat at Rainbow Beach

    Rainbow Beach has a good range of dining options to suit all tastes and budgets.

    Here are some of the best places to eat in Rainbow Beach:

    The Deck Cafe and Bar: This beachfront cafe offers delicious breakfast and lunch options, excellent coffee and delicious cocktails. The menu features locally sourced ingredients and several vegan and gluten-free options.

    Rainbow Beach Sports Club: This family-friendly club offers affordable meals with daily specials, as well as live entertainment, a gaming lounge and sports bar.

    Arcobaleno On The Beach: This Italian restaurant serves authentic homemade pasta, pizza and seafood dishes, with a good selection of Italian wines.

    The Fat Fish: This casual fish and chips shop offers fresh and locally sourced seafood, as well as burgers, salads and vegetarian options. You can enjoy your meal on the outdoor terrace overlooking the beach.

    Café Jilarty at Rainbow: This laid-back cafe serves all-day breakfasts, burgers, salads and smoothies. It also has a small retail section with local products and gifts.

    Carlo Sand Blow Cafe: Located at the base of the famous Carlo Sand Blow, this cafe offers breakfast, lunch and coffee and homemade cakes and slices. It also has a beautiful outdoor seating area with stunning views of the sand blow.

    These are just a few of the many dining options available in the area. Wherever you choose to eat, you’ll be able to enjoy the relaxed coastal atmosphere and friendly hospitality of this charming beach town.


    Beach View at Rainbow Beach Queensland



    If you love coffee, don’t worry, you’ll be able to get your caffeine fix during your visit.

    Overall there are a few decent places where you can grab a cup of coffee. For a cosy café experience, head to the Beach Surf Club, where you can sip your coffee while enjoying ocean views.

    Another great option is the Cooloola Berries Café. As well as terrific coffee, it also also offers delicious homemade pies, jams and other treats made from local produce.

    If you’re looking for a more laid-back vibe, head to the Beach Kiosk. Located right on the beachfront, you can enjoy your coffee while taking in the stunning ocean views.



    How Far Is Rainbow Beach from Brisbane?

    Rainbow Beach resides about 240 km from Brisbane. It will take you just under three hours to drive to this part of the Sunshine Coast from the CBD.


    Can you visit Rainbow Beach without a 4WD?

    While you can easily visit the beach without a 4WD or 4×4 you can't get very far along it without one. The beach is very long so you won't be able to easily walk it. Also as the sandy is quite pluggy, its not suitable for most regular cars.Indeed, the only places where you can take you car near Rainbow Beach is close to the Carlo Sandblow and around Inskip Point and near the Carlo Sandblow - both are to the south of the beach's main town.


    Can you swim at Rainbow Beach?

    Yes, you can swim and it is patrolled by surf lifesavers. However, you need to exercise extreme caution as the area is notorious for rips and generally quite hazardous.


    Can you camp anywhere on Rainbow Beach?

    Unfortunately, there is no Camping at Rainbow Beach. However, you will find an excellent campsite next to it. Alternatively, you can camp at Teewah Beach.


    Can you see whales at Rainbow Beach?

    You can often spot whales at Rainbow Beach, either from the shore or via a whale-watching vessel. Several tour companies come to the area from Hervey Bay throughout the whale watching season.


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