Rainbow Bay and adjoining Snapper Rocks Beach are the southernmost beaches in Queensland. Rainbow Bay (1600) is a relatively small, 300 m long, north facing beach that is bordered in the west by Greenmount Hill. It ends at a low, rocky point, beyond which Snapper Rocks beach (1601) continues on for another 100 m to Snapper Rocks; part of the larger 30 m high Point Danger that forms the border with New South Wales.
The Rainbow Bay Surf Life Saving Club is the newest on the Gold Coast, being formed in 1962. It is located on the low, rocky point that separates the two beaches. A road runs along the back of both beaches, ending in a parking area behind Snapper Rocks Beach. There is a grassy foreshore reserve behind Rainbow Bay Beach.
Both beaches receive waves that are lowered after moving around Point Danger to an average of about 1 m. The width of both beaches and offshore bar conditions depend on both the prevailing waves and, in particular, the status of sand waves moving around Point Danger. When the bars are present, the beaches are connected by sand, there is a wide surf zone and excellent surfing conditions. When the bars are absent, the beaches are separated by the rocky point, are narrower and there is an attached bar cut by one rip at Snapper Rocks Beach and two at Rainbow Bay. Low rocks dominate the Snapper Rocks surf zone and are a hazard for swimmers.
Rainbow Bay in particular is a popular swimming beach, owing to its protected location and usually low waves. However watch for the changing bar conditions and presence of rips, particularly near the rocks and Greenmount Hill. The safest swimming is in the patrolled area on Rainbow Bay Beach. Swimming is not recommended at Snapper Rocks Beach because of the rocks.
When the bars are right, the two beaches can combine to produce a classic, long, easy right-hander, that at times has been known to reach adjoining Coolangatta Beach. There are usually reasonable waves that are popular with the surfers during southerlies, when the winds blow offshore.
This is a popular fishing area, as the name of Snapper Rocks suggests. There is good beach fishing into the usual rip holes and outer troughs, together with rock fishing off Greenmount and Snapper Rocks.
Queensland’s southernmost beaches are both picturesque, even if somewhat developed. They provide continually changing bar conditions and a nice place to watch the sun set over the Gold Coast high rises.