Elim Beach; unbelievable, protected beach camping near Cooktown

After more than a week exploring the magic Cooktown and Bloomfield region of Far North Queensland, we decided to head out to Elim Beach to check it out.

It had been a while since we’d camped near the coast, and with a relentless south east wind that hammers this region through the dry season we knew our opportunities for nice coastal camping were going to be severely limited.

Elim Beach faces north, which means its protected from the nasty south east wind that virtually blows Cooktown off the map for months at a time, and we were incredibly excited to pull over the last hill and see a bay that was almost completely calm.

Elim Beach is truly amazing
We decided on detouring out to Elim Beach, and are very glad we did
At the Coloured Sands near Elim Beach
Elim Beach was a great surprise for us, including these coloured sands

Where is Elim Beach?

Elim Beach is not too far north of Cooktown, but you have to drive out and around to get there, which makes the total driving time nearly an hour.

Initially we were going to give this a miss due to the detour (and Battle axe road was closed, making it even worse, to take us to the Cape), but we decided to check it out anyway, and I was very glad that we did.

Camped at Elim Beach
Elim Beach is roughly an hour north of Cooktown

Do you need a 4WD to get here?

The road to Elim Beach is almost entirely bitumen, except for the last 1.5km which is fairly compact sand. You’d be fine taking most vehicles in with a bit of clearance, but if you are towing anything heavy you’d probably want a 4WD.

Driving into Elim Beach
The final part of the drive is a bit sandy, and needs some clearance

It’s worth mentioning that the road in is home to a ridiculous amount of wild horses, and whilst we didn’t come close to hitting any, they run freely and are on the side of the road, and through Hope Valley by the hundreds.

It’s pretty amazing to see, but take it easy and be prepared to stop if you need to!

Driving to Elim Beach
Keep a keen eye out for wild horses on your way in

What’s there?

Elim Beach is a small, picturesque private property that butts onto the amazing coastline. It’s home to the coloured sands, and Cape Bedford, which we go into further.

Looking at Elim Beach
Looking back at Elim Beach

When you arrive, you’ll see a number of small buildings, with a fair bit of construction and renovation going on.

The owners in the office were beyond friendly, and took us for a quick walk down to check out the beachside camp sites.

Parked at Elim Beach
Parked near the check in point

There’s a big grassy area for tents and another for caravans and RV’s.

Camping area at Elim Beach
Looking up towards the camping and caravan area

What are the amenities like?

Elim Beach is no fancy caravan park. It’s got basic amenities, but no hot showers, so enjoy a cool shower during the day. When I say basic amenities, that’s meant very literally; the toilet block is old, and pretty average.

The showers are literally water pipes with a shower fitting on the end, but the toilets are decent. By the looks of it, there’s a new one being built soon, which would be great (and hopefully it has heated water!).

You’re allowed to have fires in your own fire pit, or some are set up around the place, and kick back whilst you watch some of the best sunsets you’ll see anywhere nearby.

Amenities are basic
The amenities are really basic, but they suffice

Watch the vlog

Want to see what we got up to at Elim Beach, and then further up Cape York? Check out our vlog:

YouTube video

Coloured sands and Cape Bedford

One of the major attractions for visiting Elim Beach is the Coloured sands, which you drive near on the way in. If you are camping, access to these is part of your stay, but if you visit for the day you’ll need to head to the office, and pay $11 to drive there.

To get there, you head back out of the camp (once you’ve paid your fee’s), and head down towards the beach. You can drive all the way when it’s a receding tide, but water covers the flats and if you pick the wrong time to go you’ll be in trouble real quickly.

Alternatively, you can park at the top and walk down onto the beach and around, which is about 300 metres, plus the actual coloured sands walk.

Driving to the coloured sands
Driving out to the coloured sands (this is fresh water seeping up)
Driving at high tide
This was a few hours after high tide, so pick your times

When we first arrived at the coloured sands, I didn’t think too much about it; we’ve seen plenty of amazing dune colours in WA at places like Francois Peron, but it didn’t take long to realise this is absolutely spectacular.

Heading up the Coloured Sands
The coloured sands were so much better than I expected

The walk takes you over a big, interesting tree near the beach, and you head upwards, through some amazing sand and rock cliffs and formations.

It looks a bit sketchy, and there’s a few places that you need to make big steps to get up, but it just continues to climb.

Beautiful flowers on a tree
You’ll walk under this spectacular tree
Kids exploring the coloured sands
The walk is not well signed, or easy, but its stunning

You’ll eventually get to two trickles of water that were nice for a cool off (as it was seriously hot), and we didn’t go much further than this as it was pretty dodgy with our young kids.

You can walk across the top to the big dune further north though, and then come down this. The views and formations here were really beautiful, and its absolutely worth a look.

Looking back down the coloured sands
The views here are spectacular
Coloured sand rocks
The colours here are phenomenal

Expect it to be windy here though, even if its not windy at Elim Beach, as the wind seems to curve its way around.

Elim Beach Coloured Sands from above
Looking at the Coloured Sands from way out on the drone
Ripper views of the coloured sands
This was a real surprise for us; its truly amazing

Beach front camping

Whilst camping at Bloomfield Cabins and Camping, some other travellers had raved about the beach front camping to us, and we were keen to see what it was like.

You need to pay extra to get these sites, but they are pretty incredible, and actually had less wind than the main camping area, which was ironic.

Insane beach side camping
You pay extra for the beach side camping, but they are unreal

That’s not to say that the grass camping isn’t any good (and in fact the grass is nicer than some of the sandy sites), but the views are amazing, and some of them have a whole new level of privacy, rather than camping amongst a big group of other campers.

Camping as close as you can get
When the tide comes up, its metres from your camping area
Hard to beat the views
We were camped on site number two, which was good

What does it cost?

It’s $15 per person per night here, or $20 per person if you want a beach front site. Children are an extra $5 per night if they are over 6.

We paid $80 for two nights, which although its more expensive than even the Peninsula Caravan Park in Cooktown, it is unique and pretty amazing. Purely based on the location, I think its worth it. The amenity upgrade should also help with this.

Sunset walks at Elim Beach
The sunsets here can be insane

Sand flies and mosquitos

Typically, anything on the coast in Far North Queensland is going to have bucket loads of sand flies, or mosquitos.

We saw a number of sand flies and got bitten a bit, with Sarah and Cooper getting hammered. Mosquitos were around, but not in any big number and overall weren’t really that much of a problem.

The nasty thing about sand flies is that you don’t always feel yourself getting bitten. Of course, when you visit, this could be completely different, so make sure you have some form of protection or repellent for these nasty blighters.

Would we recommend Elim Beach?

This place well and truly exceeded my expectations. It’s nothing fancy or amazing when you drive in, but the camping is fantastic, the owners are absolutely amazing, and you really couldn’t ask for a nicer location, and its up there with the better Camping in Queensland.

There are very few places that are properly protected from the wind along this part of the coast in the normal dry season, and that makes Elim Beach even more special.

Yes, its expensive compared to other places that you can go to within a few hundred kilometres (and the amenities are nothing to write home about), but we didn’t feel like we had been ripped off when we left. It’s a special place, and one that we’ll remember for a long time!

We saw some pretty awesome wildlife here too, which certainly added to the experience, and whilst the kids were super challenging in terms of behaviour, they did love playing in the creek next to our camp too.

Beautiful green tree frog
We found a beautiful green tree frog nearby
Owl in the tree
We saw a pair of owls in the tree above our camp
Dingo at night on Elim Beach
There was a big Dingo walking past camp each night
Mud skippers at Elim Beach
Our kids loved looking at the Mud Skippers
Kids enjoying the creek outside camp
Despite challenging behaviour from our kids here (sorry neighbours!), they loved this creek

If you’re looking for amazing coastal camping heading up towards the Cape, absolutely call in at Elim Beach, and enjoy a few nights!

Camped at site 2 at Elim Beach
We really rated this place, and would go back again for sure

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