5 Best Things To Do In Rainbow Beach Australia - Updated 2024

things to do in rainbow beach australia
Contributing Writer
| 4 min read

The beautiful town of Rainbow Beach is located on Australia’s east coast in the sunshine state of Queensland. Rainbow Beach is near to Fraser Island, the biggest sand island in the world, and the town is therefore a perfect starting point to explore the surroundings. The many beaches and national parks provide all types of experiences for every type of traveller.

1. Visit one of the many beaches

rainbow beach
Source: Photo by user texaus1 used under CC BY 2.0

Rainbow Beach didn’t get its name for no reason. There are plenty of beaches in close proximity to the town. The town is named after the region’s most popular natural attraction: coloured sand cliffs. These multi-coloured cliffs arc their way around Wide Bay, and offer a breathtaking panorama from the lighthouse at Double Island Point. The colours are truly magnificent and are the most beautiful in the early morning light.

The sand cliffs are up to 200 metres (656 ft) in height and the colours have been produced due to a combination of iron oxide and leached vegetable dyes. Experts say that the sand cliffs have been forming since the last ice age.

People who enjoy fishing won’t come too short here in Rainbow Beach. Head to Tin Can Bay for abundant beach fishing spots.

Other ways to explore Rainbow Beach are horse rising or paragliding. Animal lovers will be pleased to hear that pods of dolphins are often sighted from Rainbow Beach. You can get close to them by taking part in a kayaking tour or ferry cruise.

Of course, you can also just sunbath or relax. The beaches are wide and quiet.

Rainbow Beach

Website: Rainbow Beach

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2. Take a trip Cooloola National Park

Fraser Island Cathedral cliffs
Source: Photo by Wikimedia Commons user [Unknown] used under PUBLIC DOMAIN

Cooloola National Park stretches from Rainbow Beach to the Noose River, providing an enormous area of rainforest and an abundance of indigenous flora and fauna. The national park is home to extensive beaches, lakes, mangrove wetlands, and more than 100 species of birds and other wildlife.

Visitors can enjoy scenic drives, bush walks, fishing and swimming. The bush walks are especially interesting during spring, when the wildflowers start to bloom. Between August and October, you might be able to see some whales in the distance. Dolphins and manta rays are sighted more regularly during other months, too.

Take the two kilometres (1.24 mi) walk to Murrawar Lookout where you can enjoy stunning views over Wide Bay and Fraser Island. Just four kilometres (2.48 mi) south of Rainbow Beach, you can find Freshwater Road that passes through woodlands. After driving this road, you will have to climb a steep hill in order to reach one of the most beautiful picnic areas you will ever come across: Bymien Picnic Area. The area is welcoming visitors all year around and has free gas barbecues, tables, toilets and fireplaces. From here, you can go on several hikes, or continue by 4WD.

If you are interested in beach camping, head to Teewah Beach. On this beach, you can also admire the wreck of a 1600-ton (1,451.4 tonne) cargo ship that sailed from New Zealand to Brisbane in 1973. This beach also provides great spots and conditions for fishing.

Head to East Mullen Car Park for the starting point of the Cooloola Wilderness Trail (46 kilometres / 28.6 mi on the way). Plan at least three days to complete this route.

This national park is a truly unique experience. If you like nature and animals, or simply being outdoors, make sure to include it in your itinerary.

Cooloola Recreation Area

Website: Cooloola Recreation Area

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3. Visit the world's largest sand island: Fraser Island

Fraser Island freshwaterlake
Source: Photo by Wikimedia Commons user [Unknown] used under PUBLIC DOMAIN

Fraser Island is the world’s largest sand island, and is listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Rainbow Beach is in close proximity to this island, and at some viewpoints you can even see it in the distance! Because of its location, Rainbow Beach is one of the main starting points for trips to Fraser Island. Ferries run regularly between the two places and just take a little longer than 10 minutes.

Fraser Island is a unique and breathtaking place. You will be able to experience Australian wildlife — such as dingoes — and stunning nature, such as beaches, lakes and rainforest.

Most people spend two or three days on the island as there are many things to see, do and visit. You can go camping or you can choose to stay in one of the resorts on the island.

No visit to the island is complete without swimming the blue waters of Lake McKenzie, surrounded by pure white sand. Also Eli Creek — a freshwater creek is fun to visit as you can float with its current all the way to the beach. The champagne pools are another famous natural sight on the island. The ocean crashes over a rock wall into calm bubbly rock pools.

If you join a 4WD adventure, you might be able to drive along the beach yourself — fun is guaranteed! All other streets are made of soft sand, too.

If you are a true adventurer, then the Fraser Island Great Walk might be the right thing. This 90 kilometre (55.9 mi) walk takes about six days to complete, passing by most of the island’s natural attractions.

Fraser Island

Website: Fraser Island

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4. Watch whales and dolphins in Tin Cin Bay

Tursiops aduncus, Port River, Adelaide, Australia - 2003
Source: Photo by Wikimedia Commons user Aude Steiner used under CC BY-SA 1.0

Another reason why Rainbow Beach is so popular amongst local and international tourists are the whales that migrate into the are between May and October. The huge creatures make their way up to Queensland, to warmer temperatures where they will relax and breed.

Tin Cin Bay, just a short drive from Rainbow Beach, is popular for watching dolphins. Every morning, professional dolphin handlers wait for a few dolphins that come to the shores for feeding. Get the chance to take a close-up look at these majestic animals. The dolphins are friendly and playful, and always provide great photo opportunities!

Barnacles Dolphin Centre

Website: Barnacles Dolphin Centre

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5. Learn how to surf in Rainbow Beach

Source: Pixabay

What is a trip to Australia without learning how to surf (or at least giving it a try)?

Just like any other town along Australia’s east coast, Rainbow Beach has plenty of great surf spots for all levels. No matter if you are an absolute beginner or if you want to show off with your expert skills, you will definitely find the perfect waves for you.

There are many board rental shops and surf schools around town.

Surf lessons in Rainbow Beach

Website: Surf lessons in Rainbow Beach

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Rainbow Beach: more than just the gateway to Fraser Island

Rainbow Beach is popular amongst visitors to Fraser Island, but the town has a lot more to offer than just that. Surrounded by the Pacific Ocean, a huge national park and many beaches, Rainbow Beach is full of natural attractions. Outdoor lovers especially won’t come too short here.

Any must-sees we missed? Tell us about them in the comments section or write a post here to help out fellow travelers!
Disclosure: Trip101 selects the listings in our articles independently. Some of the listings in this article contain affiliate links.


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Sarah is a digital marketer and freelance writer currently based in Spain. Having been to almost 40 countries, Sarah has quite some travel experience. Her favourite destinations are the...Read more

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