Island escapes just a boat ride from Brisbane - Visit Brisbane

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Island escapes just a boat ride from Brisbane

You are never far from a warm winter break in Brisbane.  

So close to Brisbane’s urban centre, the islands of Moreton Bay offer multiple opportunities to escape from city life. Expect crystal-clear waters brimming with wildlife and adventures - you will not be disappointed.

The two largest Moreton Bay islands are North Stradbroke Island (Minjerribah) and Moreton Island (Mulgumpin). Both are accessible via car and passenger ferry.

Have a need to put your feet in the sand? You can do it in a day or create your own multi-day stay for maximum fun and adventure. If you only have a morning, a whale-watching cruise is a perfect way to explore Moreton Bay while also seeing the islands from the comfort of a luxury boat.

North Stradbroke Island (Minjerribah)

North Stradbroke Island is a 50-minute ferry ride from Brisbane. The world’s second-largest sand island, Straddie, as the locals call it, is a subtropical haven where summer never seems to end.

The island’s coastline features dramatic gorges and long stretches of white sand beaches. Inland, bushwalks wind around freshwater lakes.

What to do

Minjerribah’s beaches are perfect for surfing and stand-up paddleboarding, but you can also snorkel the surrounding reefs and kayak in calm waters. Fishing is a popular pastime here, as is four-wheel driving and swimming right through winter! It’s also nature’s wonderland, spot koalas, kangaroos, manta rays and even migrating whales (June - November).

The island has a deep Aboriginal culture which can be explored through a Quandamooka Coast guided walk around the gorge or a guided Yura Banji Scooters tour. Browse North Stradbroke Island Arts Collective, Salt Water Murris Quandamooka Art Gallery, and Delvene Cockatoo-Collins’ studio. Here you will see works from local artists that further explore the island’s Quandamooka history.

While a Straddie stay is usually about relaxing by the beach, there are still great local shops to browse at Point Lookout. The Amazing Shop at Dunwich is a treasure trove that will definitely amaze, and the North Stradbroke Island Historical Museum shares the island’s intriguing background as an asylum.

Where to eat 

North Stradbroke Island is known for its fresh seafood. You will find everything from prawns and oysters (in season) to freshly caught reef fish at Amity Point and Point Lookout. Locals will tell you that sunset cocktails at the newly opened KOKOMO Beach House are a must-do, the croissants at Dunwich are too good to miss, the specialty coffee at Amity is impressive, and to keep an eye out for the island’s food vans for delicious snacks and dinners.

Where to stay

A wide range of accommodation means there is something on this island for everyone. Dedicated campers will find secluded beachfront spots, while those who prefer glamping can indulge in comfort. The island has everything from hotel, apartment, and villa accommodation to whole houses for rent.

Moreton Island (Mulgumpin)

A popular destination for day trippers, campers, four-wheel driving enthusiasts, and anglers, Moreton Island is a 75-minute ferry journey from Brisbane. The world’s third-largest sand island, it is 95 per cent national park and perfect for your next relaxed winter adventure.

What to do

Moreton Island is a place where you need to get out and about to explore. Start by grabbing your snorkel and discovering the underwater world of the Tangalooma wrecks. If you don’t have your own gear, hire it from the nearby Tangalooma Island Resort. Guests at the resort can also feed the wild bottlenose dolphins who dine around the jetty at sunset.

Climbing to the top of the vast sand dunes and sliding down on a waxed wooden board is another Moreton Island must-do.  

Built-in 1857 and the first in Queensland, a trip to Cape Moreton Lighthouse is a perfect way to explore the island. It’s also a prime vantage point to see migrating whales (June to November) and spot dolphins, dugongs and turtles in the water below.

Where to eat

Dine on the freshest local seafood direct from the trawlers and locally grown oysters at The Gutter Bar at . Other places to eat include Castaways at Bulwer or the restaurants at Tangalooma Island Resort.

Where to stay

Accommodation on Moreton Island ranges from resort-style at Tangalooma Island Resort to beachfront camping. There’s also glamping available and units or houses to rent on the island.

How to get there

Both islands can be reached via vehicle and passenger ferries. Permits are required for off-road and beach driving on both islands.

Public transport

Water taxis and ferries to North Stradbroke Island leave from Toondah Harbour, Cleveland. Bus links are available from Brisbane Airport and Cleveland Train Station to the departure point.

Coach transfers are offered to Moreton Island’s passenger ferry departure point at Holt Street Wharf, Pinkenba.

Car/Drop off

Drive your car to Toondah Harbour, Cleveland, where the North Stradbroke Island ferries depart. Either take your car on the ferry or leave it in the mainland car park. The island bus service will transport you around the island, or you can hire a scooter.

The Micat car ferry to Moreton Island departs from the Port of Brisbane.

Find more inspiration for your Moreton Island or North Stradbroke Island adventure.