Camping at Elim Beach

Elim Beach and the Coloured Sands blew our minds, with its beauty and serenity. We’ve lived here most of our lives and can honestly say, this is one of the best kept ‘secrets’ of the region. I had heard of it and seen a few pictures, but I had no idea of what we would find, when we visited. What we found was a tropical paradise, and one of the best places to get off grid and into nature. This adventure destination packs a big punch with its seriously beautiful beaches, towering cliffs of coloured sand, big blows of white silica sand and a side serve of 4WD action on the beach, and traversing the inland roads to Cape Bedford.

Behold the Coloured Sands. Climb to the top for amazing views and race down the sand blow to the beach. Impressive from every angle.

Elim Beach, the Coloured Sands and Cape Bedford – Let’s Go

Elim Beach Campground – more affectionately known as Eddie’s Camp – is the place to stay when you come up this way, and it’s a 5 hour drive north from Cairns, coming via Cooktown and Hope Vale. The camp is named after its founder, Eddie Deemal, a Thiithaarr Elder who passed away in 2021. It’s located on Guugu Yimithirr country and is now run by Eddie’s son, Ivan Deemal. The spacious campground has unpowered beachfront sites and shaded sites, with basic amenities including a camp kitchen, toilets and showers. For more information and images on the campground itself, check our Camping at Elim Beach review (and if you don’t have a camper trailer or caravan, you can hire one of ours). From Eddie’s Camp, the Coloured Sands is around a 10-15 minute drive along the beach, and access is tide dependent. Conditions permitting, you can drive on the sandy inland roads to Cape Bedford, an impressive tabletop cape and dominate feature of the landscape.

“We first visited Elim Beach, the Coloured Sands and Cape Bedford in August 2023. We loved it so much, we went back the following month with some friends. If I had to compare this destination to somewhere, I guess Fraser Island is similar with its sandy beach driving and outstanding natural beauty. You feel a sense of freedom here, climbing the sandy cliffs, racing back down to the beach with the tradewinds blowing your hair, finding nautilus shells at Cape Bedford beach and exploring the tidal shallows. It’s the place for sandy feet and happy hearts for sure.” – Julie Johnston

Climbing The Coloured Sands And Running Down The Sand Blow

First thing you need to know, is that access to the Coloured Sands involves beach driving and you will need a 4WD. Access is tide dependent, so check in with the people at Eddie’s Camp as to when the best time to go to the Coloured Sands is, during your stay. Second thing you need to know is, wear shoes and bring your camera, as this place is seriously beautiful! The drive from Eddie’s Camp to the Coloured Sands takes around 10-15 minutes. It is easy driving on the beach, but it must be done at low tide. The cliffs of Coloured Sands rise up around 120m from sea level, and you can explore them with tracks winding up through the ravines. The changing faces, colours and contours of the sand is stunning! It’s a relatively easy climb to the top, where you are rewarded with spectacular views to sea. From here, you can walk along the headland to a powdery white sand blow of silica sand, providing the quickest and most fun way to get back down. NB: There are some prickly plants on the headland, so make sure you are wearing shoes. Watch to the end of the video below and you will see the terrain and distance between the Coloured Sands ravine and silica sand blow.

Elim Beach Campground and the Coloured Sands are located in a bay area of the Cape, which has shallow waters and beautiful white sand beaches. At low tide, you can explore the shallows and look for starfish. Other than the sandy cliffs, another dominate feature of the landscape here is the large tabletop mountain of Cape Bedford. You can take the inland roads over to explore Cape Bedford and its beach, but again this is 4WD only and you really should have some prior beach driving experience before tackling this.

4WD Inland Tracks, Beach Driving And Mountain Climbing

The lure of the inland roads was strong, so we deflated the tyres and set out to make our way over to Cape Bedford. The sandy track offered challenging driving conditions, with some water crossings, hills and steep sides. On our first visit we had no issues and got straight through, on our second visit we were not so lucky, but we had some maxtrax and after letting the tyres down a little more, achieved operation success! Ha – that’s part and parcel of 4WDing I guess. The inland road takes you to another beach, which you drive along towards the headland. As you get closer, you’ll find another inland track and this one takes you nearly to the top of the mountain. It’s a steep track and you need to be very careful – some people parked and walked and if you are not confident, then I’d suggest doing the same.

The views from the top are epic and the tradewinds are blowing and gusting. We spent some time here just enjoying the view and marvelling at the landscape. On one side of us, the mountain slipped away straight down to the sea, with a rocky cliff-face. On the other side, undulating hills with several large boulders strewn across grassy area, as if a giant had been playing marbles with boulders. In short, it’s a very special place. We did some beachcombing on the drive back and saw several nautilus shells. Please note: This review is based on our visit in 2023. Summer of 2023-2024 was extremely wet for North Queensland, including at Elim Beach. We are unsure of the road conditions to get to Cape Beford at this time. Best to check with the folks at Eddie’s Camp before making plans to drive to Cape Bedford.

It’s a steep ascent to Cape Bedford, with panoramic views for days. This is for experienced 4WD drivers only. If in doubt, park and walk.

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Ethan’s Thoughts On Camping At Elim Beach

I loved Elim Beach because of the amazing activities you can do there, like 4WD on the beach and tracks and playing in the mud at low tide. My favourite thing to do there is exploring the Coloured Sand ravines, climbing up them and then running down the sand blow. When you’re having lots of fun running down the steep sand blow, you can feel the powdery sands hitting against your ankles. It’s not hard to run down, but is it really, really hard to run up. I also loved driving up to Cape Bedford and on the way there, we were beachcombing and found some nautilus shells on the beach. On our second visit, and at low tide, you can walk out on the tidal flats and look for starfish in the shallow waters. When I first went to Elim Beach I thought it was really beautiful and the 4WD tracks were so cool and so much fun. The only downside of camping at Eddie’s Camp was the showers. The water was cold and I struggled to reach the tap. Also the light went out at 9pm. You should take your kids, they will love it!

Fun at Eddies Camp Hopevale

Questions About Elim Beach, And The Coloured Sands

Where is Elim Beach and the Coloured Sands?

Elim Beach and the Coloured Sands is around a 5 hour drive north of Cairns. It’s considered to be a part of Cape York Peninsula and lots of people include this destination, as a part of their ‘Trip to the Tip’. To get there from Cairns you drive towards Cooktown and then through Hope Vale and follow the signs to Eddie’s Camp at Elim Beach.

Do I need a 4WD to get to the Coloured Sands?

Yes, this is a 4WD destination, you will not be able to access the Coloured Sands or Cape Bedford without beach driving. Remember to bring all of the equipment required to deflate and inflate your tyres, as well as maxtrax and other recovery gear, is a good idea. Access to the Coloured Sands is tide dependent and you will be beach driving.

Where can I stay when visiting the Coloured Sands?

The best place to stay when visiting the Coloured Sands is at Eddie’s Campground at Elim Beach. They do not have a website, but they do have a Facebook page which you can contact them through. For more details on camping at Elim Beach at Eddie’s Camp, visit our Tropical Trailblazers website, where you can also hire our offroad caravan or camper trailer to make this trip.

Is visiting the Coloured Sands worth it?

Yes – visiting the Coloured Sands is definitely worth it! This place is just so beautiful. Make sure you remember to wear shoes though, as there are prickly plants growing on top of the headlands.

Where is Eddie’s Camp at Elim Beach?

Eddie’s Camp is at Elim Beach. It offers a limited number of absolute beachfront sites, as well as shaded sites set amongst the paperbark trees and established vegetation.

Is Eddie’s Camp still open?

Yes – Eddie’s Camp is still open. However, please note it is seasonal – much like other Cape York destinations and is generally open from March to November, but this is dependent on rain. It is best to touch base with them before heading out there.

Do I need to make a booking to stay at Eddie’s Camp?

Yes – it is best to make a booking to stay at Eddie’s Camp. It’s a long way off the ‘beaten track’ so you don’t want to drive all that way just to find they are full. You can contact them through their Facebook page or call (07) 4060 9223 or email elimbeach@gmail.com https://www.facebook.com/elimbeach We provide photos and images of Eddie’s Camp, on our Tropical Trailblazers’ website.

How far is Elim Beach from Cairns?

Elim Beach is around a 5 hour drive from Cairns, taking the inland road to Cooktown and then past Hope Vale to Elim Beach.

How do I get to Eddie’s Camp?

To get to Eddie’s Camp you go through Hope Vale and then follow the signs. It is about a 35-minute drive from Hope Vale to Eddie’s Camp.

How far are the Coloured Sands from Cairns?

The Coloured Sands are around a 5 hour and 15 minute drive from Cairns. You will need a 4WD to get there, as there is beach driving and access is tide dependent.

What is at the Coloured Sands?

The Coloured Sands are the main attraction here, with the ravine reaching up to the headlands. It required beach driving to get there, then you can walk, climb and explore. There are no facilities as such at the Coloured Sands.

How do I get to Cape Bedford?

To get to Cape Bedford, you take the inland road from Eddie’s Camp. Please note this one is for experienced 4WD only and it does involve lots of sandy track and beach driving. You will need to bring all of the equipment required to deflate and inflate your tyres, as well as maxtrax and other recovery gear. It’s also a good idea to travel in pairs.

Is visiting Cape Bedford worth it?

Yes – visiting Cape Bedford is definitely worth it! Epic views, beach driving, tradewinds, all of it is just beautiful and getting there is half the adventure.

Is Elim Beach open all year?

No – Elim Beach is not open all year around. Like many other places on Cape York Peninsula the campground is open seasonally and this is usually March or April to October or November. Always best to touch base with them directly before heading out. Check their Facebook page or call (07) 4060 9223 or email elimbeach@gmail.com

Camping At Elim Beach What You Need To Know

Firstly, this is a 4WD destination. You will be beach driving to access the Coloured Sands and/or Cape Bedford. You will need to bring everything required to inflate and deflate your tyres and it’s a good idea to take maxtrax and recovery gear. Eddie’s Camp is at Elim Beach and is the best place to stay when visiting the Coloured Sands and Cape Bedford. The campground is pretty basic but in an awesome location to enjoy some seriously spectacular sunsets. For more information specific to the campground and images, please see our review of camping at Elim Beach on our Tropical Trailblazers website. There are no shops here, so you will need to bring your food and beverages with you. All sites are unpowered. They are not open all year round, so make sure you contact them prior to heading out there.

  • 4WD Destination
  • Unpowered sites at campground
  • Bring your own supplies
  • Beach driving
  • Beach combing
  • Coloured sands and sand blows
  • Getting off grid

About the Author

Julie was born in Cairns and grew up running around in the cane fields south of the city. She has explored, breathed and loved everything about our amazing Cairns region her whole life. Excited to be able share this wonderful place with our son and see it all again through ‘new’ eyes. Watch this space for more info on the people, places, destinations and things you can do up here.

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