Rainbow Beach on the coastal fringes of the greater Gympie region is brimming with natural wonders. That’s not an exaggeration. The Rainbow Beach sign on the inward approach to the tiny coastal town even boasts that with so many on its doorstep, you’re never going to want to leave.
Squeezed in between the vast Great Sandy National Park that extends 60km south to Noosa on the mainland and includes Inskip Point and across to Australia’s beloved island and dingo habitat, Fraser Island to the north, Rainbow Beach is a mecca for hikers, campers and 4WD enthusiasts.
Rainbow Beach Coloured Sands
One of the things you’ll come across a lot when figuring out which of the numerous natural wonders you want to venture to is the famed Coloured Sands, sometimes known as Rainbow Sands or Rainbow Cliffs.
Given that the town itself is named Rainbow Beach, one would assume that the sands would be every colour of the spectrum, but a more accurate description would be 50 Shades Of Red. I guess that is why they have named them “coloured sands” as the town’s name would have you believe otherwise.
So, maybe they hadn’t discovered blue, purple or green back then and thought that was the extent of the colour spectrum (just kidding), but don’t let the lack of those colours sway you. The 10 kilometres or so of wind-carved cliffs and tumbling soft sands of every hue of red, yellow, orange, grey and brown that extends to Double Island Point is a truly spectacular natural wonder and something you don’t want to miss while you’re here.
Cruise Or Stroll
There are a two main ways you can go about seeing it. You can hit the beach in your high-clearance 4WD and cruise right on by the intricately carved cliffs. You’ll cover a lot more, but you’ll miss all the details.
Or if you’re not suited up to hit the soft stuff, you can stroll right out of town and “take your time, don’t live too fast.” You won’t be able to see all of it in a day unless you’re a marathon runner, but for the average peep, the start of the good stuff is an easy 1km away. Anything after that is just a bonus.
The problem is though that this is an easily accessible tourist attraction right next to a weekend escape tourist town. That means it gets busy. Not only does that mean there are lots of people strolling the beaches, but also heaps of 4WD enthusiasts zooming up and down the sandy highway. EEK!
If you’re anything like me, you explore nature because you crave peace, silence and solitude, not chaos, so for those who are such inclined, while you might be on vacay, are you really on vacay?
A fantastic way to experience a popular natural attraction while avoiding the crowds is to wake up well before the sun enters the picture and set off down the yellow sand beach.
So, without further ado, here are ten great reasons why you should consider walking the Rainbow Beach Coloured Sands at dawn:
1. It’s Quiet & There’s Nobody But You.
With everyone still fast asleep, face nuzzling their soft pillow and Snorlaxing the best hours of the days away, you get an incredible natural wonder all to yourself.
There’s no chaos, no noise, no traffic. There’s nothing but you and your toes in the sand and the sound of the gentle ocean waves crashing under a moonlight sky.
2. It’s Perfect Romanticism.
Whether you’re there with your family, your significant other or you’re flying solo, there’s an undeniable sense of romanticism that comes with being alone when in the early hours of the morning.
Picture the scene: It’s dark, peaceful and serene. The moon is riding high tonight, and the stars are glistening ever so gently. You’re the only souls here at this moment, and you can’t help but “Look at the stars, look how they shine for you…”
3. Feel Like A Badass, Be A Badass
There’s nothing nicer than snuggling up in bed under a warm doona and dreaming of adventures in your head. Well, except for living an adventure! And folks, while you’re in Rainbow Beach, there’s one right around the corner.
“Destiny is a rising sun”, or at least that’s how you’ll feel when you get up before dawn, before the rest of the world** and trek a lonely beach with the moon and the stars beckoning you across the landscape.
Even though you know you’re not in the middle of nowhere on a mission to save the world when the end is nigh, soloing it out to the coloured sands during the transitionary time between night and day is a very, very, very cool experience.
Not only does it feel like you’re in a scene from a movie, but you’re also going to have the beach to yourself for hours. So, while everyone else is dreaming the dream, you’re living the dream. Well sort of. You might need to throw a bit of imagination into the mix.
4. Ideal Temperature
Oceanside destinations are always popular during spring and summer. If you’re visiting Rainbow Beach during these months, it can get pretty hot walking across an open beach despite cooling coastal breezes.
If you’d prefer to keep yourself from getting sweaty condensation all over your clothes and lower your chances of getting deep fried if you forgot to slip, slop and slap, heading out before the sun’s up is an ideal way to avoid the heat of the day. And because it’s summer, the warm nights mean you don’t need to dress to the nine, so you don’t freeze your ass off. Win, win.
6. An Ocean Sunrise***
On the east coast of Australia, there aren’t many places you can see an ocean sunset. But if you are willing to drag yourself up from the warmth and comfort of bed before dawn, there are many beautiful areas where you can enjoy an ocean sunrise, and the Rainbow Beach Coloured Sands is a perfect location to do that.
As the sun rises and the landscape reveals its shapes and forms, Double Island Point in the distance makes itself known as the sunrise backlights the prominent geographical feature. As it ascends higher into the sky and illuminates the earth, the true beauty and allure of the Coloured Sands comes to light as every colour, hue and texture that makes this place so special unveils itself.
7. Great Time For Photography
Not only are you rewarded with a beautiful landscape all to yourself at sunrise for rising and shining so early, it’s also a fantastic way to get your photography on.
Photographers call this time of day after the sun rises and before the sun sets “Golden Hour” and there’s a great reason why they are drawn to it time and time again. It’s the same reason we all love those times of day, but understanding how light works and it can affect your images, you’ll never what to photograph landscapes at any other time of day ever again.
And when you’re somewhere as spectacular as the Rainbow Beach Coloured Sands, where the low, soft light of the rising sun*** is exposing and contrasting every colour, edge and texture of its rugged landscape, yeah, you’re going to want to get up for that.
(This writer may or may not have taken A LOT of photos here.)
8. Have The Place to Yourself* For Hours
Not only will you have the place to yourself because you got yoursel* out of bed nice and early and wandered the dark beach like Caine from Kung Fu, but it’s likely going to be like that for hours!
Slow, detailed exploration in natural silence in a beautiful location so even after the sun has risen, you can truly appreciate the spectacular natural wonder that you find yourself aside before everyone else hits the beach and breaks the serenity.
9. You Won’t Have To Play Dodgem Cars.
There’s nothing wrong with dodgem cars. They’re a great past time for a lot of us. Real-life dodgem cars though, that’s a whole ‘nother ball game.
You don’t really have to dodge cars, and they don’t really have to dodge you, but this is a popular beach driving area, and once they start coming, they don’t stop ’til they get enough. Or, you know, high tide or night comes around.
With so many cars zooming by and soon after an influx of walkers coming out to enjoy the Coloured Sands, the calm and serenity thing sort of goes out the window. By heading out early, you’re able to avoid much of the crowds and enjoy this beautiful area undisturbed.
Waking up early from a good snooze is hard. But some things are experienced best during those calm, serene moments in the morning before the world** has woken up. Being there with only the sounds of nature as the day is coming into being has a very spiritual quality.
It’s moments like this where you feel the most present, the most connected to nature, and to the mechanisms that make it work. It’s a very gratifying and humbling way to experience the world we live in, and it’s a very satisfying way to invigorate the soul, and I highly recommend experiencing the Rainbow Beach Coloured Sands this way.
Pros and Cons
- It’s calm, serene and romantic.
- It’s invigorating.
- You feel like a badass.
- It feels existential and badass.
- You’ll have the place to yourself and it’ll be that way for hours*.
- You can take your time.
- Ocean sunrise.
- Amazing time to photograph.
- Feel closer to nature and can better appreciate the stunning geographical features
- Increases your chances of seeeing animals
- If your torch dies, sunrise will be around soon
- Sucks if you need help. Have a 24 hour emergency number on you if you need it.
- Tide times
- If you need to sit down and rest, be careful where you plant your butt. You don’t want to get run over or have a boulder crush you.
*I can’t guarantee your party will be the only ones out there, but more than likely will be.
**Not the rest of the world, but you know, dramatic effect.
*** You may or may not get a good sunrise. That my friends, is up to mother nature.
List based on my experience during the summer of 2020.
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