Beach Driving Tips
See our Beach Report for current conditions.
Off-road driving at the coast
Queensland's magnificent beaches with their unspoilt beauty and attractive climate are great places to fish, swim, camp, explore, view the scenery, or simply 'get away from it all'. You might want to drive a vehicle on the beach but, before you do, check with the QPWS or your hire company to see where beach driving is allowed and please follow these tips to help protect and maintain our valuable beaches and dunes.
Where you can drive?
Drive on the harder sand between the waterline and the high tide mark to get the firmest surface. Remember that other people use the beach, so stay alert, follow the normal road rules and drive carefully! Use only designated access points to the beach and keep off the sand dunes. If you do the right thing other drivers will follow your good example, and these areas will remain open for 4WD use.
Where can't you drive?
Vehicles should be kept off the sand dunes except at designated crossing points for access to and from the beach. Don't 'bust dunes'; protect them. Nor should vehicles be driven on sandy areas along the debris or drift lines as these are potential sites for the formation of new dunes. Plants growing on or near these lines trap windblown sand to form new dunes.
Hints for beach driving
- Travel at low tide, or within two hours either side.
- You may choose to reduce tyre pressure to maintain traction, but if you do, do not forget to re-inflate your tyres to resume speed on harder sand or surfaces.
- Always carry a pressure gauge together with a pump to re-inflate your tyres before travelling on normal roads.
- But remember to keep within your manufacturer's specifications if you do decide to adjust your tyre pressure. And don't forget to consider the load your vehicle is carrying.
- Reduced tyre pressure will affect your vehicle's performance. Remember to avoid sharp turns, sudden braking, high-speeds and driving over rough surfaces. Tyres have been known to come off their rims and serious accidents have occurred.
- Being prepared will help you get your vehicle out if you get bogged in soft sand. Carry a shovel, tow rope or traction aids – and know how to use them.
Before you drive on beaches you should find out about restrictions and the need for permits as regulations and controls relating to the use of vehicles are in force along most of the Queensland coastline. Contact QPWS for this information.
Rules for beach driving
You can gain considerable pleasure from driving on beaches. However, if used inconsiderately, your vehicle can also annoy other beach users and damage the natural beach environment. It takes only a few inconsiderate people to damage the reputation of all 4WD vehicle users.
By following these tips you will help protect our beaches and have a safe and enjoyable visit.
- Observe all the laws and regulations relating to the use of vehicles on beaches. Remember these regulations vary from place to place.
- Drive on the harder sand between the waterline and the high tide mark to get the firmest surface.
- Keep off the sand dunes except at designated crossing points for access to and from the beach.Vegetated sand dunes are easily damaged. Strictly avoid these areas.
- Recognise the right of others to use the beach. Be alert and drive slowly and carefully.Do not drive when you are tired.
- Do not drink and drive.Respect the wildlife. Some animals are easily disturbed and disturbance can affect their survival.
- Keep the beaches and dunes clean; carry your rubbish home. If others have left a mess, consider cleaning it up.
- Ensure that your vehicle is mechanically sound before your visit.
- Consider reducing your tyre pressure when driving on soft sand but keep within the manufacturer's specifications.
- Ensure your vehicle is in 4WD when on sand.
- Always carry a tyre gauge, air pump, towrope, first-aid kit, adequate water, food, fuel and spares on all trips.
- Ensure you have a valid vehicle permit for those areas where a permit is required.In remote beach areas travel with at least one other vehicle to reduce the risk in case of trouble. And let a responsible person know where you are going and when you expect to return.
Why protect dunes?
Most beaches in Queensland are backed by vegetated sand dunes. These dunes are very effective coastal protection features. They absorb the erosive energy of waves generated by cyclones and storms and are reservoirs of sand to nourish the beach during periods of wave erosion. Vegetation on the dunes traps and holds sand blown from the beach aiding dune build-up and stopping sand from being blown inland and lost from the active beach and dune system.
Dunes with their covering of grasses and other plants are so fragile that even footsteps can damage or kill the plants and weaken the dunes. Driving vehicles on dunes has a worse effect and greatly increases the chance of dune destruction. Vehicle tyres destroy dune vegetation exposing the sand to wind erosion which lowers the dunes and reduces their effectiveness as coastal protection features. Beach erosion increases because of the lower volume of sand in the dune directly behind the beach.