There's so much to see in the Rainbow Beach region of Queensland, but if you only have one day to explore, then these are three of the best parts to see - Rainbow Beach, Carlo Sand Blow and Inskip Point.
During my road trip to the Central Coast in Queensland, I was determined to go further north than I had done the year before because there were a couple of very important things I wanted to see. Emma and I were in our trusty campervan and so early in the morning we set off.
The drive to Rainbow Beach from Noosa was about 2 hours in the van, but it was a very easy drive. I'd made a small list of a few things I wanted to do whilst we were there, which included visiting the beach (obviously), visiting the famous rainbow stairs, and checking out the Carlo Sand Blow. When we pulled into town, we were able to park right on the beach in a car park that is designed for people in campervans. We disembarked and started exploring.
Right away we realised that the town of Rainbow Beach is extremely small, with everything located in one small area on the main street. The best place to start off is at the local Rainbow Beach Tourist Centre, which also doubles as a gift shop. There you can buy gawdy stubby holders, sunscreen, snow globes and everything in between. We wanted to get our bearings and find out where the best part of the beach was, where the rainbow stairs and the sand blow were, as well as the best way to get up to Inskip Point for a look. The ladies behind the counter were extremely helpful, giving us maps of the area as well as instructions on the best places to visit (more on that in a minute).
First up were the rainbow stairs. I'm not sure if you've seen these before, but they're an Instagram favourite for a reason. The staircase leads down to the beach from the main street. If you're looking for them, just walk out of the car park to the left (when facing the beach) into the park, and it's the first staircase on your right. They're literally right there. We were fortunate enough as well that no-one else was using them at the time so I had a chance to get a couple of really good shots (thanks to Emma for playing photographer once again).
After this, we headed down to the actual beach. The ladies at the information centre had warned us that due to the cyclone that had gone through only days earlier, the beach was not as beautiful as it usually is. Unfortunately this turned out to be true and the lovely multi coloured sands we were expecting were not there. Still, the water was gorgeous and we had a lovely time enjoying the hot sun.
Next up it was time for lunch, and there was one clear choice! The Deck at Sea Salt is right on the corner and looks out directly across the ocean. It had a wide range of pub style meals (although for inexplicable reason chicken parmas weren't on the menu), as well as a full bar. Two medium steaks, half a kilo of chips and a couple of beers later, and we were feeling extremely mellow. But there was no time to rest!
Carlo Sand Blow
Next up was the Carlo Sand Blow. Now this place is one of those "you have to see it to believe it" type places. "But what exactly is it?" I hear you ask. Named by Captain Cook after one of his deck crew, Carlo, the Carlo Sand Blow is a sand mass covering over 15 hectares and part of the Cooloola sand mass, one of the largest accumulations of wind-blown sand found along Queensland’s coastline. Dense Australian bushland breaks wide open to reveal this huge and unique "moonscape" sand mass. Overlooking the towering coloured sands and the coastline, the massive size of the Sand Blow is almost overwhelming (it's hard to do it justice in explaining it to you).
So how do you get there?
Good question. The Sand Blow is only about 1.5km from the centre of town, but it's a very steep walk. If you have a car I recommend you driving up and parking at the Carlo Carpark. It doesn't look like it when you're driving in, but the carpark is much bigger than it looks and there's plenty of room to turn around to get back out again. Make sure you put away your valuables and lock your vehicle before leaving (not saying anything will happen but it's always better to be safe than sorry).
From the carpark you take a short 600m walk along a very well maintained track. It's an easy walk but keep in mind there are a couple of sets of steps (the big square kind) and none of it is wheelchair accessible. You’ll ascend one last set of stairs before reaching a wooden platform with a guardrail, information about the Sand Blow and a small set of two or three steps leading down to it. We stopped here to take our shoes off and leave them behind heading out onto the Sand Blow. If you're looking out towards the ocean, you're in the best spot to watch the sun rise (if you get there early enough), and if you're facing inland you have a perfect view of Cooloola Cove and Tin Can Bay as the sun sets in the distance. We were there in the mid-afternoon so the sun was high in the sky, but I can tell you that it was absolutely incredible to see.
As I mentioned before, I'd originally planned on us staying at Inskip Point (just past Rainbow Beach) but decided that we like the Habitat Noosa Eco Everglades campground just too good to pass up - and let me just say, boy are we glad we made that decision! Don't get me wrong, Inskip Point is gorgeous, but it's so remote and so basic and so HOT!
Inskip Point has a number of difference campgrounds that you can choose from, and all but one of them are 4WD only. The only one suitable for 2WD vehicles (such as campervans) is the last one (called MV Sarawak), but the drive out there is easy. The thing to note though, if you're planning on staying there, is that there are pretty much no facilities outside a single long-drop toilet.
The beaches however, hoo-ee the beaches, they are stunning! I can't even put into words just how gorgeous it is out there, so I'm going to leave a few photos here to show you rather than try and tell you...
After all these incredible sights we were exhausted and it was time to head home, back to our campsite for the evening.
All up it was an absolutely incredible day, and if you get the chance to go I would highly recommend all these places to see. It's hard to convey how beautiful these areas are based on just photos with an iPhone, but trust me when I tell you that it's worth the trek to get there.
Until next time,