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Queensland does island weekend getaways better than most.
Whether you want to stretch out on your sun lounge and have cocktails by the pool, or have sand blown in your face as you fly down a dune on a toboggan – you can do all this and more on Queensland’s most adventurous island, Moreton Island.
When people think of adventurous islands in Australia, their minds immediately draw a picture of Fraser Island (K’gari).
And while you simply must check out Fraser Island, if you want somewhere a little quieter but no less adventurous, then Moreton Island is an excellent alternative and one we knew nothing of until our visit.
Moreton Island is a little off-the-beaten-path, but it’s becoming well known for its stunning pure white sand beaches, four-wheel driving adventures, and of course, the Tangalooma Wrecks.
But if you’re not sure how to visit Moreton Island and what there is to do, then be sure to keep on reading as we explain everything you need to know!
Where is Moreton Island?
Moreton Island, or Mulgumpin as it’s known by Quandamooka’s Ngugi people, the island’s traditional owners, is a large sand island off the coast of southeastern Queensland, Australia.
The island has a rich history. It is said that in 1770 Captain James Cook, the British explorer, visited the island and named its northwest extremity Cape Moreton. Another British explorer, Matthew Flinders, was who surveyed the whole island and drew up its map in 1799.
It’s just above North Stradbroke Island which is located just across from Brisbane.
Moreton Island is just 25 kilometres from the coast of Brisbane and is the third-largest sand island in the world. 98% of the island belongs to Moreton Island National Park and is protected, so you can bet there is nothing but unreal natural beauty here.
Moreton Island is protected by Moreton Bay and connects to the Coral Sea. It’s about a 75-minute ferry ride from Brisbane.
Is Moreton Island Worth Visiting?
If it’s true that first impressions count, then I immediately knew this was going to be a fun weekend getaway from the moment I saw Moreton Island appear on the horizon from the ferry.
Our adventure started onboard the 75-minute ferry ride across Moreton Bay when we kicked off our shoes and chatted with Greg and Nicole from Sunset Safaris, who we were booked to tour the island with.
I looked left, I looked right, and I looked directly over the Tangalooma Wrecks as we came into the beach to disembark off the ferry. Moreton Island was putting on its best “first impression”. The water looked amazing and vibrant, and tourists were having fun in and out of the water.
And I saw the kind of highway that we like best – nature’s highway!
Over the next three days we spent exploring the island, it only got better. So yes, I can confirm that Moreton Island is definitely worth visiting.
How to Get to Moreton Island
Moreton Island is really easy to get to since you can catch a ferry direct from Brisbane.
You can get both vehicle and passenger ferries and they operate several times per day. The first ferry leaves around 6.00am and the last ferry back is at 9.45pm, so it’s possible to visit Moreton Island on a day trip if you don’t plan on staying.
The ferry companies to the island are all privately owned and you will find they all have their own prices and timetables. You can book online with Moreton Island Adventures, or go to the marina and book from the ticket offices.
Things to Do on Moreton Island
If you’re not sure what there is to see and do on Moreton Island, here are all the top things to do and activities you can enjoy!
As you can see, there are a lot of attractions on Moreton Island to keep you busy for a long time!
1. Go Transparent Kayaking at the Tangalooma Wrecks
The first thing we did at Moreton Island is strip down into our boardies and swimmers in preparation for a new kind of kayaking.
We paddled straight off the beach to explore the Tangalooma shipwrecks in these very cool and unique “Transparent Kayaks”.
It felt like we were sitting on top of the water as we glided over the top of the sunken shipwreck with clear vision through the bottom to get up close with the fish and coral.
We didn’t spot any turtles on our paddle but as we found out later they are around.
So cool that this wreck is just off the beach. Easy access for families with young kids like ours. And these kayaks are something else!
2. Take A 4×4 Beach and Bush Driving Experience
After quickly drying off after kayaking we threw our gear and ourselves in the back of Greg and Nicole’s purpose-built 4wd midi coach and headed north to check in at our accommodation.
It was our first glance at the 4wd beach driving fun on Moreton Island and as much as I like to get behind the wheel with an open beach and little traffic, it was great to kick back and take in the scenery as Greg drove and shared some local knowledge of the island and the day ahead.
Of course, you can opt to take a self-guided tour and rent a four-wheel drive yourself. The best place to rent from is the Tangalooma Island Resort on the island, otherwise you’ll likely have to rent from the mainland and take the vehicle ferry over which is more costly.
3. Go Glamping at Castaways
When we arrived at Castaways, and I don’t know who was happier, me or the kids?!
When you’ve just spent 18 months traveling around Australia and taking 90 minutes to set up your camper trailer over 100 times, having no tent to set up, no beds to make, and our own private bathroom, daddy got a little excited!
And who couldn’t use a bit of glamping anyways?
When your away for a short break and traveling light, you want to spend as much time as possible getting amongst the activities and enjoying the destination, not unloading and packing up!
Our tent was furnished with a queen size bed plus a set of bunks, and a nice deck to chill on. We grabbed a quick bite to eat for lunch at the on-site cafe – I recommend one of their burgers – then jumped straight back in the truck for an afternoon of adventure!
If you prefer to camp more traditional style, you’ll find several other campsites on the island such as the Ben-Ewa Campsitem where you can pitch a tent.
4. Take a Scenic Day Tour with Sunset Safaris
If you only have a day to spend on Moreton Island, then a scenic day tour is the way to go.
We headed towards the northern tip of Moreton Island, down bush tracks with stunning views of the ocean and back around.
Kalyra rode shotgun up the front with Greg and Nicole and little Savannah was happy to bounce around in the back with us.
No traffic lights or congestion here. Just nature tracks, fresh air, and pristine beaches.
5. Visit the Yellow Patch
They call this spot “Yellow Patch” because of the sand patch in the side of the hill. It’s also the place they make Coca-Cola on Moreton Island, just look at how many free refills you can get.
Don’t forget your straw, lol.
We stretched our legs here for a bit, met some of the local pelicans, and watched a few surfers carving up what was a very nice wave just offshore.
6. Visit Honeymoon Bay
A pretty stop on the northeastern tip of the island is Honeymoon Bay. If you go for a swim here, beware as it can get quite rippy so stay close to shore. We just sat and admired the view.
7. Check Out North Point
Around the headland from Honeymoon Bay is North Point and a rock pool area called Champagne Rocks. If you’ve been to Fraser, this is a mini-version of its Champagne Pools.
A band of volcanic rock and sandstone forms a break wall from the surf and on the beach side of this rock there’s a crystal clear water pool with waves that cascade over.
The surf wasn’t doing its thing for us whilst we were there, but looks like a great spot to relax in as the water foams and bubbles around you.
9. Visit the Cape Moreton Lighthouse
On a rocky promontory near North Point sits the 23 metre high Cape Moreton Lighthouse, the first lighthouse built in Queensland and lit for the first time in 1857, built by tradesmen and convicts.
Inside the old caretaker’s cottage, there’s an excellent museum that highlights the history of the lighthouse and Moreton Island, and the views from the lighthouse down along the rugged east coast of Moreton Island are spectacular – we saw a whale breaching in the distance!!
From Cape Moreton Lighthouse, we took on the open east coast shoreline. The tide was coming in which made for some fun maneuvering as we made zig-zag tracks in the sand.
If it was me driving with just Caz and the kids in our vehicle, I’d have been a little concerned at the tide and being isolated, but no problem for someone as experienced as Greg and his truck, which I’m sure could pretty much go anywhere.
Even when the sun was going down and we had to make quick tracks back to the west coast of the island for sunset on the beach, the tide was basically all the way in and any higher, and things could have got REAL adventurous! But our guide was unphased.
10. See the Birds at Blue Lagoon
Moreton Island has a few natural freshwater lakes and lagoons, and one of the popular stops is Blue Lagoon, a lake infused with tea tree oils that were formed through the natural catchments of rainwater over thousands of years when the water table meets the ground surface.
The water temperature was a little chilly for us to jump in, and being there late in the day the sun wasn’t in the best location for photos, and I’m guessing sunrise would be an optimal time for a nice light to be shining on the lake.
Apparently, this lake is also great for wildflowers and birdwatching.
11. Enjoy Sunset drinks, Moreton Island style!
What better way to end an adventurous day exploring an island than with champagne and canapés on the beach watching the sun go down over the wreck.
We had a mixture of fruits, berries, cheese and crackers and bubbly and couldn’t have asked for a better sunset.
I’ll drink to that, cheers!
12. Go Night Kakaking in an Illuminated Kayak
Once the sun had dipped below the horizon it was time for one of the most interesting kayaking experiences we’ve had.
It was back in the transparent kayaks for an illuminated nighttime paddle of the Tangalooma Wrecks.
Little Savannah was having none of it and stayed on shore with Nicole as me, Kalyra, Caz, and Greg paddled out in the darkness with our torch-lit floating kayaks showing us the way.
It was eerily awesome as we explored the shipwreck in silence.
Baitfish jumped into our kayak attracted by the lights, giving Kalyra a thrill, and we must come back to Moreton and do this activity again at a different time of the year. Not to be missed and unique to Sunset Safaris.
13. Stay at Tangalooma Resort
Besides Castaways or camping with your own equipment, the main accommodation option on the island is Tangalooma Island Resort.
The resort offers luxurious accommodation surrounded by lush, crystal clear waters. You can walk just a few steps from your room to the white sandy beaches of Moreton Island – can you think of a better way to spend your vacation?
Aside from the modern and spacious rooms, the resort also offers guided tours and activities, as well as the chance to enjoy a variety of water sports.
There are three restaurants on-site, the Tursiops buffet restaurant, Fire & Stone Restaurant, and the beachside café.
We dined at the Beach Café which has uninterrupted water views and your typical island cafe menu.
If you don’t plan on staying on the island, you can purchase a day pass to use the resort’s facilities such as the showers and toilets.
14. Take A Marine Discovery Cruise
We jumped on the two-hour Marine Discovery Cruise which took us along the coastline to Moreton Bay Marine Park in search of wild dolphins, dugongs, green sea turtles, and rays!
It was a relaxing activity compared to day one of our trip with lovely views back over the island from the water and, we got lucky, spotting several dugongs, a few turtles, eagles and enjoyed another close-up view of the shipwreck.
15. Go Sandboarding
Perhaps you’re looking for a more adrenaline-fueled activity on Moreton?
The inland Tangalooma desert is home to some impressive sand dunes. The dunes were originally formed by the wind, but are now covered in vegetarion.
It’s home to the world’s largest dune, Mount Tempest, which reaches 912 feet (278 metres).
As part of the Desert Safari Tour, you can grab a sand board, pop on some goggles, and go sandboarding down the dune at speeds up to 40km/hr.
It was a ton of fun, besides the workout walking up the soft sand dune – but hey we needed the exercise – and we got sand in places you can only imagine! Do yourself a favour and go inland for some fun!
16. Enjoy Dolphin Feeding time at Tangalooma Resort
Before dinner and meeting the dolphins, the kids had a play on the beach as we took in another pretty Moreton Island sunset.
Tangalooma is well known for its wild dolphin feeding program, which originally came about around 35 years ago when lights were fitted to the jetty attracting bait fish in the nighttime which the dolphins would hunt.
Now around 10 dolphins regularly show up after sunset and there’s an opportunity to hand feed them, following strict guidelines put in place by the dolphin care program.
Here’s a shot of the jetty just before the throngs of people arrived and the dolphins were just starting to play near the shore.
We chose to stand on the jetty the whole time and just watch the dolphins frolic near the shore. Being nighttime with bright lights and the movement of the dolphins it was hard to get any good shots.
The challenge was that it was right at dinner time, the kids were hungry and tired after a long day and the line was quite long.
If you do this, wear the appropriate clothes and fill your kiddie’s tummies early to avoid any meltdowns, and don’t forget to book in to avoid missing out.
17. Snorkeling the Tangalooma Wrecks
It was mummy and daughter play time as Caz and Kalyra took to the water to go snorkelling around the Tangalooma Wrecks – yes, there are many ways to explore this shipwreck.
Savannah is too young for snorkeling so I stayed on board with her and fed some fish and took some shots.
It’s a guided snorkeling tour with all gear included, and from all reports, it was definitely worth getting wet for, and to get a different up-close perspective of the wrecks – and excitingly they saw a wobbegong shark and puffer fish!
There are so many fish and corals by the wrecks, it makes for excellent snorkelling adventures.
18. Go on A Quad Bike Adventure
Caz took off on her own adventure on a Quad Bike Tour whilst I took the kids for a swim in the pool. I did the last quad bike tour in Western Australia, so it was her turn to tear it up!
She went up behind the back of Tangalooma Resort through the dunes and bushland with views over the water and shipwreck, then back down along the beachfront.
This is a guided tour and kids from 10 years old and up can operate their own bikes, otherwise, they can jump on the back of mums or dads.
19. Go Scuba Diving
Set sail from Brisbane’s Holt Street Wharf on a luxury catamaran to the iconic Tangalooma Wrecks. The wrecks are unique in that they are covered in vibrant coral and attract an abundance of sea life.
Whether you’re a newbie diver or you’re experienced, this is a great area for diving. Just be sure to tell your diving guide of your experience level before you go.
After scuba diving, you can experience the rest of the island and use the resort facilities.
Final Thoughts on Visiting Moreton Island
So there you have it, this is everything you need to know about Moreton Island and its top attractions.
There is so much to see and enjoy here, we hope that you have as much fun adventuring around the island as we did!
Disclaimer: We partnered with Tourism Queensland for this family getaway, but all thoughts and opinions in this guide are our own. If you need any more information about Moreton Island, they also have great blog posts and videos on Moreton Island to get you excited about your visit.
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Have you been to Moreton Island? Share any tips or stories in the comments down below!