One of my best friend’s family has an apartment in Rainbow Beach. The first time that I went there was in senior year in high school, for schoolies (the Australian ‘Spring Break’). Since then, our friendship group has gone back many times for weekends away. Rainbow Beach is about three hours drive from Brisbane city, and is literally the definition of a little beach town.
While the little town has gained popularity over the years, it still very much feels like a small beach town. The locals are welcoming and very kind, the takeaway shop on the main strip is excellent — though it burnt down (hopefully they will rebuild), and the beach is the perfect place to visit, to have a holiday home, or even to retire. While it is only a mere three hours from Brisbane, Rainbow feels very far away from everything, and it is the perfect place to run away to relax and reset.
You can fish off the main beach or, if you prefer, there are quieter beaches off to the left of the town’s centre that don’t have such busy beach traffic. You can hire horses to ride on the beach — I still haven’t done this but I can’t wait to. You can skydive onto the beach — I haven’t skydived here but I cannot think of a more picturesque place to do so. There is a barge that goes from the far left beach over to Fraser Island, and you can see the island clearly from the quiet point. It is at this point that you can set up a camp ground as well. It is common to drive along the beach, but you need a permit to do so (you can pick one up from a store on the strip).
One thing to keep in mind is to be wary of the tides. Drivers have gotten cocky or not checked the tides at all, and attempted to drive along the rainbow dunes when the tide is too high…the result of this is that sometimes your car will get stuck and eventually be submerged in water — and then it is gone forever. There is actually a board of all of the lost vehicles. So do be careful. The beaches don’t usually have many swimmers (although there is a lifeguard set up along the main strip next to the entry to the beach tracks) because the beach drops off quite literally into the deep, and sharks are a concern — I have never seen any, but have always heard about them. My best friend often will go out fishing in the middle of the night or before the sun rises, on the quiet campground beach stretch.
The photograph in this article is the view from the top of Carlo Sandblow — the monumental sand dune that overlooks the rainbow sand cliffs of the main beach. I recommend Rainbow to everyone that I know, but especially to tourists road tripping through Australia in the summer, or just here winging it without a concrete plan. It is beautiful on a clear day — like this photograph — and it is in photos or, even better, experiences like this that it is easy to see where the coastal line got its name. When you drive along this beach with the windows down, the colours of the water and of the sand dunes weave together to create a memory that you will not forget. And even on cloudier days, it is still an amazing little spot.