Carlo Sand Blow | Bush Walk and Sand Boarding at a Natural Wonder
Carlo Sand Blow is a stunning, must-visit attraction on the Sunshine Coast. Picture walking through natural bushland, turning a corner and being met with the breathtaking sight of a vast expanse of golden sand stretching as far as the eye can see and overlooking spectacular coastlines! This is an area of amazing natural beauty and also one of nature’s best free playgrounds! You can walk, take in the views, try sand boarding or sledging down the dunes, spot whales and enjoy beautiful sunsets. We are always on the lookout for fun, free activities to enjoy with kids, and Carlo Sand Blow is somewhere we will visit again and again.
What Is Carlo Sand Blow?
Carlo Sand Blow is a vast and beautiful sand mass covering an area of 15 hectares. With sand dunes perfect for sandboarding or sledging, huge expanses of open sandy areas and stunning views in every direction, it is an amazing natural wonder.
Carlo Sand Blow was named by Captain Cook after a member of his crew, Carlo. It is part of the Cooloola Sand Mass, which is one of the largest coastal sand deposits along the Queensland coastline, spanning more than 42km. This is part of the Great Sandy National Park, an area of unique natural beauty covering over 2,195km2, which features huge sand dunes, rainforests, heathlands, creeks and freshwater lakes.
At the top of Cooloola Drive in Rainbow Beach, you will find the car park for Carlo Sand Blow. From here, it is a fairly easy walk to the sand blow. The walk will take you through beautiful forest along a well-defined trail. It is a 600m trail with a slight incline and some sections of steps along the way. The walk is lovely in itself as it takes you through natural bushland. The area is classified as an Important Bird Area, so look out for birds such as quails, curlews, honeyeaters, robins and parrots, as well as other wildlife.
At the top of the trail, you come to a lookout, and the view from here is simply amazing. A huge area of freshly blown sand stretches all around and just calls for you to run down and make footprints in it! As you head out onto the blow, the 360 degree views are stunning. In one direction, sandy cliffs flank a beautiful view of the ocean off Rainbow Beach, where humpback whales can often be seen breaching from mid-June to October. In the other direction, the sands stretch off into the distance and overlook northern coastline sweeping off into the distance. You can see Rainbow Beach, Double Island Point, Tin Can Bay and even the southern tip of Fraser Island from here.
What to Do There
Carlo Sand Blow is a great place to enjoy a nature walk to an amazing natural wonder, where you can take in the stunning views and get lots of beautiful photos.
The highlight for kids though is the sand boarding. Bring along a body board and you can have hours of fun zooming down the dunes! The sand can be quite deep in places, so look for a good steep section to get the best runs down. It’s hard work going up time after time, but so worth it for the squeals of delight as the kids (and adults!) shoot back down. Little kids will also enjoy playing in the lovely flat areas of sand, so remember a bucket and spade too.
This is also a perfect location to watch the sunrise or sunset, as the views from here are amazing. Just sit back and take the best that nature has to offer.
How to Get There
Driving to Rainbow Beach takes approximately 2hrs 50 from Brisbane CBD. Once in Rainbow Beach, you can follow the signs up to the sand blow. (You can walk from the town, but it is a couple of kilometres and uphill, so would not be advisable with kids.) At the end of Cooloola Drive, you will find the car park for Carlo Sand Blow. From here, it is about 600m walk through bushland to the sand blow. The path is well-defined and not too steep, though there are several sections of steps along the way.
What to Know Before You Go
Visiting the sand blow is free, as is the car park. Do remember that you must not try to access the beach from the sand blow under any circumstances.
The best time to visit is in the morning or in the late afternoon as the sand can get extremely hot under foot in the middle of the day. One lovely idea is to head up late afternoon, expend some energy sandboarding down the dunes, then find a lovely spot to sit and enjoy a spectacular sunset over the coast and dunes. The views will be all the more stunning with a rainbow sunset to match the local sands!
Remember to wear suncream and hats and take plenty of water. It can be hot work climbing up and down the dunes!
Goggles are great for anyone who is sandboarding, to avoid getting sand in the eyes.
It can be quite windy there (it’s not called a sand blow for nothing!), so be careful with loose belongings. Hats may need chin straps, and body boards can take off quite easily.
Keep small and important items in a safe place – you don’t want to be searching for car keys in a giant sand pit!
- The Cooloola Great Walk also starts here, and is a five-day hiking trail. The bushwalk covers 102km through the Great Sandy National Park. It goes from Rainbow Beach, through Cooloola, all the way to Noosa North Shore. There are four campsites along the way, with toilets and drinking water supplies (camping permits are required). You can find out more about the Cooloola Great Walk here.
- Rainbow Beach is a beach town famous for its rainbow-coloured sand dunes. It is a popular tourist destination for its beautiful shoreline and relaxed beach atmosphere. It also serves as a great stopover location en route to Fraser Island.
- Tin Can Bay is a quaint and picturesque fishing village on a peninsula of the Queensland Coast. On the west coast, you can hire a surfboard and learn to surf, while on the east kids can play in the calm waters of the Great Sandy Strait. The highlight though, is doing the wild dolphin feeding. You can read all about that here.
- Fraser Island is a must-visit Queensland destination that can be accessed by ferry from Rainbow Beach. Fraser Island is considered the largest sand island in the world and is listed as a World Heritage Site. It has stunning beaches, turquoise freshwater lakes and sand dunes, and is home to a diverse range of local flora and fauna. You can read all about Fraser Island with kids here.
Carlo Sand Blow can be reached from the car park on Cooloola Drive, Rainbow Beach, Queensland 4581.