Cooloola Recreation Area, Great Sandy National Park Sunshine Coast

Are you a 4WD enthusiast? Then don't miss the Cooloola beach drive. Photo credit: © Lise Pedersen

Four-wheel drive past towering coastal sand cliffs and coloured sands in the paradise of Cooloola Recreation Area. Photo credit: © Tomek Z Genek

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Cooloola beach drive

Wind down the windows and inhale the salty sea breeze as you cruise the majestic sweep of Cooloola’s long white beaches.

Journey type
Cycle, 4WD, trail bike
60km one way A path where the start point is different to the finish point
Time suggested
Allow 1.5hrs driving time.

Accessible by

  • High clearance 4WD
  • Trail bike

Journey facilities

  • Toilets (non-flush)
  • Scenic drive
  • Cycling
  • Trail bike riding

Explore a stunning coastline on this action-packed 4WD beach drive from Noosa North Shore to Rainbow Beach. Tackle it as a day trip, taking in the sights, or stay overnight in Teewah Beach or Freshwater camping areas, swapping stories of the day’s adventures by firelight.

Soak up views of wide seascapes, curving coastline and high dunes of the Cooloola sandmass. Take a closer look at the swirl of colours in the exposed cliffs on the Coloured Sands beach walk. Explore the Double Island Point lighthouse walk for great views or launch a canoe from the sheltered northern beaches of Double Island Point.

Getting there and getting around

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

  • The drive extends from Noosa North Shore along Teewah Beach, past Double Island Point, and then along Rainbow Beach to the township of Rainbow Beach.
  • The short inland Leisha track bypasses the rocky headland of Double Island Point, connecting the southern (Teewah Beach) and northern (Rainbow Beach) sections of the drive.
  • You can access Cooloola beach drive, from the south via Noosa North Shore or from the north at Rainbow Beach. A vehicle access permit must be purchased. Display the permit on your windscreen before driving in the recreation area. 24hr number plate surveillance cameras in use. Please ensure vehicle registration details are correct on your permit. For more information see:
  • You need a high-clearance 4WD to drive on Cooloola's beaches.
  • At the northern beach access, visit the Manta Ray barge office, Shell service station, Rainbow Beach caravan park (BP service station) or the Rainbow Beach Tourist Information Centre for vehicle access permits, also camping permits and other information (business hours only).
  • At the southern beach access, visit the Great Sandy Information Centre, located near the Noosa River ferry on Moorindil Street for vehicle access permits, also camping permits and other information (business hours only).A vehicle access permit must be purchased. Display the permit on your windscreen before driving in the recreation area.
  • Remember all vehicles must be registered, drivers must be licensed and all Queensland road rules apply, even on beaches.
  • Read 4WD with care for important information on 4WD safety and minimal impact driving.

From the south

  • From Brisbane drive 135km north on the Bruce Highway or the Sunshine Motorway to Tewantin; or from Gympie drive 58km south and east on the Bruce Highway to Tewantin.
  • In Tewantin, follow Moorindil Street to the Noosa River ferry, cross the river to Noosa North Shore, and drive 2.2km on Maximillian Road.
  • Turn right onto Beach Road and drive 2.1km on the bitumen road, then turn sharply to the left (past the first beach access cutting) and head north on the Wilderness Track.
  • Drive 2.8km to the end of the bitumen road to the 4WD-accessible third beach cutting. You must enter and exit the beach via this sand track.

From the north

  • 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 to Rainbow Beach township.
  • At the very end of Rainbow Beach Road, turn left onto Kirchner Avenue, driveAfter 300m, turn right onto Griffin Esplanade and follow this road to the council car park and patrolled beach.
  • At the end of the road is the vehicle access ramp to access the beach.

Wheelchair access

There are no wheelchair-accessible facilities.

Drinking water

Before you visit

Opening hours

Cooloola beach drive 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: