This post was made possible by our friends at direct-travel.co.uk
Ah, the Sunshine coast. Queensland more laid back, and much less glitzy coast. My readers will not be surprised I guess that this is the coast I prefer over the much more hectic (and more fake tanned) Gold coast. The main star of the Sunshine coast is Noosa, and with how close it is to Brisbane it is no wonder this beach destination attracts the number of visitors that it does. But for those wishing to dig a little deeper into the Sunshine coast, there is Rainbow Beach.
Where Is Rainbow Beach?
Rainbow beach is located on Queensland’s sunshine coast, and is about 241 kilometers from Brisbane – about a 3 hour drive. The small town is nestled between Cooloola National Park (part of Great Sandy National park) where you can see the rainbow sands, and Tin Can Bay where you can hand feed the dolphins. Rainbow beach is also a great setting off point to visit Fraser Island, and has a much shorter ferry ride involved than if leaving from Hervey Bay.
What to do at Rainbow Beach
Morning – Hand feeding dolphins at Tin Can Bay
34 km’s from Rainbow beach is the small community of Tin Can Bay. The bay has it’s own resident Indo-Pacific humpback dolphin pod. Local legend has it that back in the 1950’s an injured dolphin beached himself near the Barnacles cafe, and was nursed back to health by the local population. That dolphin continued to return to the area, and taught the rest of his pod to do so as well. Now, most mornings, the descendants of this original injured male dolphin return to a spot near the Barnacles cafe where they are hand fed.
The feeding starts at 8 am, but try to get there earlier if possible. We arrived at about 7:30 and there was already a queue of people eager to get up close and personal with the dolphins. We were by no means the last people in line that day, but Dan was the last person that the dolphin decided to take a fish from before deciding he was full and swimming off. As these are wild dolphins, Barnacles cafe can not guarantee that the dolphins will come to be fed, or how many will arrive. On the day we visited, only one dolphin came to be fed.
Dolphin feeding costs $5 for the fish, and is staffed by volunteers. If you don’t have your own transport, there are also dolphin river cruises which depart from Rainbow beach at approximately 7:20 am and which bring you to the dolphin feeding at Tin Can Bay.
Our hostel, Frasers on Rainbow helped book these cruises, although we had our own transportation for the day and decided to self drive.
Afternoon – Coloured Sands of Rainbow Beach
About a 2 km walk down the beach at Rainbow beach, you will come to the coloured sands which give Rainbow beach its name. These cliffs of coloured sand are created by different mineral deposits in the area. The best time to view, is during low tide.
Evening/Sunset – Carlo Sand Blow
Just a short walk from town (but up a hill!), is the Carlo Sand Blow, located at the entrance to the Great Sandy National Park. When the sand blow first came into view I was astonished. It’s MASSIVE. The sand blow is a 120 m high sand dune, and from the top you are rewarded with great views out over the ocean and the coast. When I visited there were couples enjoying the sunset, families throwing a frisbee, and sand boarders getting sand in places where sand should not be.
I was staying at Frasers on Rainbow hostel – a base backpackers affiliate hostel – and they offer free guided walks up the sand blow daily. They also provide sand boards and give boomerang throwing lessons as well as the sun sets over the dune. My bus arrived just before the afternoon tour departed, so it was a great little introduction to Rainbow Beach.
How long should I stay at Rainbow Beach?
You can easily see the main attractions in one day by following the guide presented above. However, if you want to stay longer, don’t forget that Rainbow Beach also serves as an excellent base for exploring Fraser Island.
My stay at Rainbow Beach was paid for using my complimentary base jumping cards from Base Backpackers. Frasers on Rainbow is a Base affiliate hostel. Make sure you check out their free guided walks to the Carlo Sand Blow during your stay.