Cooloola Recreation Area, Great Sandy National Park Sunshine Coast

Take your camera on the Coloured Sands beach walk where spectacular eroded cliff lines expose swirls of coloured sands. Photo credit: Briony Masters © Queensland Government

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Coloured Sands beach walk

Discover why this beach is named Rainbow Beach on this walk to the stunning naturally-sculpted cliffs of coloured sands.

Journey type
8km return Start and finish points are the same and the traveller must return via the same path
Time suggested
Allow 3hrs walking time.
Grade 3 walking track

Accessible by

  • Conventional vehicle

Journey facilities

  • Walking

Wander along Rainbow Beach and discover a natural ‘art gallery’, where wind and rain constantly re-sculpt cliffs of coloured sands. Over thousands of years, iron-rich minerals have stained the sand with a complex array of yellow, brown and red hues, while pure white sand has been leached of all nutrients.

Walk south from Rainbow Beach township and you’ll soon begin to see the spectacularly-eroded cliff lines of swirling coloured sands. Marvel at the magical ‘earthy’ rainbow created by the mixing of sands of different colours. The cliffs extend along the beach to Double Island Point so you can walk as far as you wish before retracing your steps.

Refer to the Cooloola and Inskip recreation areas discovery guide (PDF, 4.3MB) for a map and more details.

Getting there and getting around

Coloured Sands beach walk is in Cooloola Recreation Area, Great Sandy National Park, on the Sunshine Coast between Noosa Heads and Rainbow Beach (155km–240km north of Brisbane).

  • This walk is in the northern part of Coooloola and can be accessed from Rainbow Beach township.
  • You can also stop along sections of this walk on the Cooloola Beach drive, between Double Island Point and Rainbow Beach.

From Rainbow Beach

  • To start the walk, drive through the town to the end of Rainbow Beach Road, then turn left onto Kirchner Avenue, drive 300m, turn right onto Griffin Esplanade and continue down to the patrolled bathing reserve. Begin the walk from the beach access ramp at the end of the bitumen road.

Getting to Rainbow Beach

  • From Brisbane, drive about 160km north on the Bruce Highway towards Gympie. At the southern edge of Gympie, turn onto Tin Can Bay Road and drive 42km, then turn right onto Rainbow Beach Road.
  • From Maryborough, drive 57km south on the Cooloola Coast Road, then turn left onto Tin Can Bay Road and drive 3.5km, then turn right onto Rainbow Beach Road.
  • Drive 29km along Rainbow Beach Road into Rainbow Beach township.

Wheelchair access

There are no wheelchair-accessible facilities.

Before you visit

Opening hours

Coloured Sands beach walk is open 24 hours a day.

Check park alerts for the latest information on access, closures and conditions.

Visiting safely

For more safety information see Visiting Cooloola Recreation Area safely and Walk with care.