Queensland isn’t short of gorgeous tropical islands – from Hamilton to Hayman, to Lizard and Heron – but with their isolated beauty come the long journeys to get there. Happily, if you’re short on holiday time or looking for an easy day trip from Brisbane, there’s Moreton Island – the world’s third-largest sand isle is only an hour from the Queensland capital by ferry. Head to Tangalooma Island Resort, the island’s only hotel accommodation, to snorkel the famous Tangalooma wrecks, explore on a quad bike, take a sunset or whale-watching cruise, or just unwind on the beach with a book. Whatever your dream day looks like, there’s an activity or stretch of sand to suit.
Things to do
While it’s tempting to spend the day skipping between the warm sand and the crystal-clear calm waters of Moreton Bay, there is so much to see and do at Tangalooma that your island time is bound to fill up quickly. Tanga Tours on the beachfront at the resort can coordinate activities to match your interests and energy levels.
The Tangalooma wrecks – 15 ships sunk offshore between the 1960s and 1980s to create a protected channel for boats to moor – brim with sea life and are an ideal spot to snorkel, dive or kayak in a glass-bottomed craft. You’ll always see schools of colourful fish (more than 100 different species) and abundant coral, and there’s a strong chance you’ll spot sea turtles and the shy Wobbegong shark.
Daredevils should take the 4WD Desert Safari Tour for the chance to toboggan down a seriously steep sand dune at speeds of up to 40 kilometres an hour – a lot faster than it sounds when you’re zipping down the slope head first on your tummy. (There’s even a photographer standing by to capture the fun/fear on your face!) The safari is a great way to see the pristine island beyond the scene-stealing shore. For even more thrills, take a quad bike tour around a purpose-built course, then hoon down the beach and up to a point above the resort for a panoramic view over the sea toward Brisbane.
One of the island’s most incredible experiences is Tangalooma’s whale watching cruise. During the migration season – an estimated 36,000 Humpback whales migrate from Antarctica to Queensland (and back again) between June and October – the resort guarantees you will see a whale. When we visit, in early August, the giant creatures are active for the duration of the cruise, including a group of three swimming side by side, a juvenile breaching alongside the boat and even more spotted surfacing in the distance.
Where to stay
If a day on Moreton isn’t enough, book a stay at Tangalooma Island Resort. There’s a range of room types – from standard hotel rooms to deluxe villas and large apartments for families – as well as swimming pools, a convenience store (pick up snacks, bread, milk and cereal) and plenty of dining options. Start your day at the Tursiops breakfast buffet and then choose from burgers, pizza and fish and chips at casual Beach Cafe, Sichuan Chinese meals at Fire, modern pub fare at Stone and relax with an evening tipple at B&B’s Bar. There are plenty of fun free activities for the kids, including daily pelican and kookaburra feeding and an Eco Centre where they can learn more about the 98 per cent national park island.