Rainbow Ocean Palms Resort review, Queensland: Weekend away

Our rating

4.5 out of 5


You'd be forgiven for thinking backpackers have hijacked one of Queensland's most beautiful natural attractions. Each afternoon, a trail of European accents makes its pilgrimage-like way along a short 15-minute bushwalk to Carlo Sandblow at Rainbow Beach. It might not be spiritual but there's a stunning calm about the experience. As they emerge from the trees, it's like a curtain opening on a beautifully-designed stage setting. Mouths agape, there's an expansive sand dune, to the left a cliff face to the ocean where hang-gliders launch, and to the right a hinterland horizon over which the sun sets in glorious fashion. Locals say it's different every day.


Rainbow Beach is a laid back kind of place and traditionally hasn't had much high-end accommodation. It's a family favourite with good old-fashioned sun and surf activities at the heart of the holiday. That, of course, still exists. But Rainbow Ocean Palms Resort has seized an opportunity to introduce high-end travellers to the beauty of the region. Views to Tin Can Bay are hard to match, particularly from the edge of the resort's infinity pool.


It's difficult to divert attention from the views but there are some nifty design features which make this a peaceful retreat. Ocean breezes make their way up the hill, to the balcony, past the leather couch and six-seater dining table, into the master bedroom which has folding doors you probably won't need. A spa sits next to a window at treetop level and the rest of the bathroom has space to burn, including plenty of cupboard space. There's a certain attraction to waking up to an ocean horizon and stumbling out to a fully-equipped kitchen for morning coffee at a pleasantly breezy outdoor setting.


The town centre of Rainbow Beach is geared towards helping tourists. There's boogie board hire for use at sand dunes or in the waves, bait on sale, and a selection of boutique shops including a day spa. But there's still an old-fashioned country vibe about the place which seems to have been lost at beach resort towns closer to the city. Fish and chips are still wrapped in butcher paper, shop keepers accompany a smile with local advice and the slower pace seems just that little more manageable than it is at home.


Given that Rainbow Beach is more than two hours from the city, it's off the beaten track. As such, it's largely undiscovered. That leads to a couple of wins for travellers. First, crowds to one of the state's best natural attractions aren't huge. Next, it means prices aren't nearly as extravagant as the accommodation. It's not the type of place you visit fleetingly on the way to somewhere else. Rather, it's got a break of peace, tranquillity and relaxation written all over it.


Rainbow Beach is about 2.5 hours north of Brisbane and is best accessed via a turn-off just before Gympie. After hitting Rainbow Beach, turn right at the sports club and follow the signs to Carlo Sandblow. If you hit the car park, you've gone slightly too far – the apartments are on the left at the top of the hill.


Rainbow Ocean Palms Resort, 103-105 Cooloola Drive, Rainbow Beach. The best rates accompany a five-night minimum stay and start at $200 for a one-bedroom apartment. A three-bedroom penthouse starts at around $380. Phone 07 5486 3211, see rainbowoceanpalms.com.au.

The writer was a guest of Rainbow Ocean Palms Resort.