12 ways to experience Moreton Bay
Where the Brisbane River meets the ocean there's a gigantic marine wonderland we call Moreton Bay. Protected from the Pacific Ocean by the world's second and third largest sand islands, North Stradbroke (Minjeribah) and Moreton (Moorgumpin), this mammoth tidal lagoon with clear, calm and shallow seawater is one of the most significant marine habitats on the East Coast of Australia.
Dugongs, dolphins, loggerhead turtles, sub-tropical coral reefs, migrating whales and birds, manta rays, eastern ospreys, mangrove wetlands, grey nurse sharks, seagrass meadows and plenty of fish call the bay home and add to its ecological significance. The local Aboriginal Australians call this beautiful land Quandamooka, and evidence of their lives here goes back more than 25,000 years.
There are plenty of ways to experience, appreciate and explore the glorious beauty of Moreton Bay. We've listed 12 of our favourite things to do in and on Moreton Bay below.
1. Spot marine life on an eco boat tour
Speaking of all the marine life, jump aboard an eco tour and explore the coastline of Moreton Island in search of dolphins, dugongs, green sea turtles, sea cucumbers, manta rays. The Dolphins in Paradise day trip also includes expert commentary fish feeding, a buffet lunch, bar and the option to snorkel the Tangalooma Wrecks. With the Tangatours Marine Discovery Cruise you'll board a purpose-built catamaran and join their eco-rangers out on the bay.
2. Dive below the surface to meet manta rays, leopard sharks, turtles and fish
It's not until you go under the water that you can appreciate Moreton Bay to its fullest. Here there are subtropical coral reefs (some of the most southern on the East Coast) with huge pods of giant manta rays, plenty of fish, turtles, octopus and little leopard sharks. Whether you’re a beginner or qualified, it is possible to go scuba diving with Manta Lodge on North Stradbroke Island. The dive instructors might take you out to Shag Rock or Flat Rock where the average visibility is 15-20m, and up to 30m in summer.
3. See the bay from the air
It’s hard to appreciate the wonderful shades of blue until you’ve seen the meeting of sand and water from above. Tangalooma Heli runs scenic helicopter tours over Moreton Island, and once you get up high in the sky you’ll not only see the magic of the island but also the bay. Book anything from a quick 6-minute aerial view to a 30-minute scenic tour.
4. Sail the bay
We've already mentioned eco cruises, but what if you just want a day out the bay soaking in the sunshine and sightseeing along the way? Aria Cruises sails through Moreton Bay to North Stradbroke Island or, more excitingly, Peel Island. It’s one of the few ways to reach this small, secluded and uninhabited sand island. Enjoy swimming, snorkelling, fishing, beach cricket or just relax. Tours leave at 8am and 1.30pm, and both include morning or afternoon tea and a lunch of prawns, cold meats, cheeses, salads and a drink.
5. Snorkel the Tangalooma Wrecks by day
Fifteen vessels were deliberately sunk in 1963 to create a breakwall for small boats stopping by Moreton Island. Fast forward more than 50 years and the rusty ships have become a great attraction with plenty of coral, tropical fish and, if you're lucky, turtles. If you join a tour Australian Sunset Safaris, TangaTours, Sunrover and Dolphins in Paradise all run snorkelling around the Wrecks.
6. Kayak the Tangalooma Wrecks by night
Paddle out into a moonlit ocean in clear perspex kayak fitted LED lights and wait around the wrecks. The lights illuminate the rusting ships and reefs below, attract plenty of fish, and if you’re lucky, a turtle or two as well. The friendly crew from Sunset Safaris offer a unique two-day adventure experience on Moreton Island with the option to add night kayaking. TangaTours also offer night kayaking with its clear-bottom kayaks from Tangaloooma Island Resort.
7. Eat fresh oysters
There are a bunch of little-known oyster farms in Moreton Bay that produce small, sweet and salty rock oysters. At the southern tip of Moreton Island you can visit Brisbane's most remote bar. The Gutter Bar in Kooringal is just a couple of sandy kilometres from the only oyster farm off Moreton Island and you can enjoy them fresh with another Brisbane export, the Milton Mango (known to non-locals simply as XXXX beer). There is a daily barge between the mainland at Victoria Point and Kooringal, or you can charter a boat.
8. Get your thrills with TangaTours
If the sensation of adrenaline pumping through your body is what you love, TangaTours has plenty of thrilling activities to try. Skim across the water aboard a three-seater banana being towed by a jet ski, or try parasailing and fly as high as 150m with a parachute. Board the Aussie Jets 660hp thrill boat ride, strap yourself in and prepare for freestyle maneuvers such as tail slides, figure 8s, jumps, riding waves, and 360 degree spins. TangaTours operates out of Tangalooma Island Resort and offers more chilled out activities like kayak hire and snorkelling or fishing tours too.
9. Catch the humpback whale migration
Ever been whale watching? It’s spectacular fun. Every year thousands and thousands of humpback whales migrate from Antarctic waters to the tropical South Pacific to breed. On the way they like to stop and the calm waters of Moreton Bay are the perfect spot to splash and play. Join a whale watching cruise with Brisbane Whale Watching or Tangalooma Whale Watch Cruises. More information on whale watching in Brisbane can be found here.
10. Kayak around the Southern Moreton Bay Islands
Closer to the mainland Redlands Kayak Tours paddle in, around and between the smaller collection of Southern Moreton Bay Islands. Here you’ll see diverse and different wildlife and marine life around the mangroves. Beginners can join a short 90-minute tour or half-day tour, while more experienced can go for a four-hour sunrise paddle to Straddie, a full moon kayak by night, or try sea kayaking.
11. Charter a yacht
There’s no feeling quite like being out on the water. And sailing the boat yourself? Well, that would be the icing on the cake. Brisbane has plenty of options for boat hire – whether you want to put around for the day in a BBQ boat you need no licence for, or charter a full catamaran. We’ve written about boating, charter boats and boat hire in Brisbane in more detail here
12. Fly over in a Tiger Moth
You've never quite felt the freedom and thrill of flying until you’ve been up in an authentic open-air Tiger Moth. The perfect way to take in the blue water hues is with a scenic flight, and you can add exhilarating aerobatics to make it a moment to always remember. Antique Airways operate Tiger Moth joy flights around the Redcliffe Peninsula and over Moreton Bay and have more than 40 years flying experience.