I always thought Rainbow Beach was just a gateway to Fraser Island, but after spending the weekend there, I can confidently say that it is a fantastic holiday destination in its own right.
Rainbow Beach is a 'one-street', beachside town roughly three hours' drive north of Brisbane. As its name would suggest, the town's focus is its beautiful stretch of beach, lined with the rainbow cliffs that give the town its name.
If you can drag yourself away from the beach for a few hours, however, you'll find heaps of other ways to fill your days. A short boat ride (or drive) will take you to Tin Can Bay where you can hand-feed wild dolphins. For the landlovers, there is the Carlo Sand Blow, a 15-hectare mass of sand with stunning views out to Double Island Point and inland to Tin Can Bay.
When the sightseeing is done, Rainbow Beach's main street has all of the things you could need: a cafe, a pub, a bakery, a fish and chip shop, a grocery store, an ice creamery and, most importantly, a surf club with cold beer and a view of the ocean. (Hot tip: the Shak Cafe serves delicious food and is really well-priced - it is no coincidence that it was consistently the busiest place all weekend).
[ADVERT]There is plenty of accommodation in Rainbow Beach, although my one complaint is that there was very little middle ground between the hostels and the five star resorts, which really just provided me with the excuse I needed to splash out on a flash apartment.
So give the usual Sunshine Coast haunts a wave as you fly past on the way to Rainbow Beach. The beach is clean, the water is clear, the beers at the surf club are cheap and cold: this is the perfect antidote to the stress of the Bruce Highway.