33 things to do on Moreton Island
Updated: 20 July 2021
Stunning Moreton Island is a nature lover’s paradise, its vast, sandy landscape is perfect for exploring, getting adventurous both in out of blue waters and discovering unique wildlife experiences. Located on the doorstep of Brisbane, 40 kilometres from the mainland, Moreton, as it’s known by the locals, is a 75min ferry ride from Brisbane and offers a terrific selection of experiences for day trippers and beyond.
As the third largest sand island in the world, Moreton is restricted to 4WD access only, so visitors can explore the island in two ways: as a guest on the many tours and activities that launch from both the mainland and the island, including the world-famous Tangalooma Island Resort, or as a private visitor to either camp or stay in rental accommodation.
You can take your own 4WD as a self-driving private visitor to the island via the Micat ferry or Amity Trader service and you can book an island adventure prior or once there. 4WD self-drivers and campers can book permits here. Most track trips between known landmarks and settlements on the island take between 30-60mins. It's recommended to allow two days to get the best experience of the whole island by 4WD.
If you don’t 4WD you still have plenty of options with a wide selection of tours and activities that will take you all over the island. You can spend a day (or much longer if you prefer) doing a lot of the fun activities offered by Tangalooma Island Resort. If you choose to get your feet sandy on Moreton Island, here’s our list of things that will please visitors of all kinds. Please note that Tangalooma Island Resort is not currently issuing casual day guest passes, only scheduled day trips or stays. Some of the resort activities listed below may be restricted to accommodation and resort tour guests only.
1. Go sand tobogganing
All of Moreton Island is made of sand, and there is no way to avoid getting sand in everything you own – so you may as well embrace it. Climb to the top of big sand dunes, wax up a wooden board and launch yourself off the edge – you can reach speeds of up to 60km/h. Australian Sunset Safaris, Tangalooma and Sunrover all run this activity tour in The Desert.
2. Snorkel the Moreton Island Wrecks
Fifteen vessels were deliberately sunk in 1963 to create a breakwall for small boats stopping by the island. Fast forward more than 50 years and the rusty ships have become a great attraction for snorkelers with plenty of coral, tropical fish and, if you're lucky, turtles. Australian Sunset Safaris, TangaTours, Sunrover and See Moreton all run this activity. The wrecks are within walking distance of Tangalooma Island Resort so you are also welcome to BYO snorkelling gear or hire it from the resort to explore this underwater paradise by yourself.
3. Feed wild dolphins at sunset
Each evening as the sun is about to set, like clockwork up to 10 wild bottlenose dolphins visit the jetty at Tangalooma Island Resort. The experience is free if you're a guest of the resort, otherwise you'll need to be part of the Dolphin Feeding package where you catch the late Tangalooma Flyer back to Brisbane.
4. Cape Moreton Lighthouse
The island is home to the first lighthouse built in Queensland. Still standing at Cape Moreton, this red-striped sandstone beauty was made by tradesmen and convicts in 1857 on a rare rocky outcrop. The Cape is worth a visit not just to see the lighthouse but also as a great viewing point to spot migrating whales, dolphins, manta rays, dugongs, turtles and sharks below. One of the buildings at the lighthouse has been turned into a Visitor Information Centre and is filled with plenty of facts about the island and its history. The lighthouse is on the far side of the island and you can make your way there by 4WD self-drive or on a tour with Australian Sunset Safaris.
5. Climb up Mt Tempest
One for 4WD self-drivers looking for a challenge. In case you have forgotten, all of Moreton is made of sand so the climb up its tallest mountain isn't easy. Once you reach the top of the 285m climb you'll be treated to breathtaking 360-degree views ranging from the Sunshine Coast to the Gold Coast that make it all worthwhile. The 2.5km walking track is around a two hour round trip, following a 30min 4WD from Tangalooma.
6. Swim in Blue Lagoon
Blue Lagoon is a sand-bottomed lake in the middle of the island formed through the natural catchment of rainwater over thousands of years when the water table meets the ground surface. Infused with natural tea tree oils, the fresh water and white sand make it a great place to cool off. You can make your way there by 4WD self-drive or on a tour with Australian Sunset Safaris.
7. Whale-watching cruise (June to November)
Every year, thousands of humpback whales migrate by Moreton Island and Tangalooma Whale Watch Cruises run a whale-watching tour that gets up close and personal with the majestic creatures. Leaving from Brisbane and Tangalooma Island Resort, you’ll spend three hours on a catamaran spotting whales, listen to expert commentary from an Eco Ranger, enjoy a light lunch and refreshments plus receive a whale watching guarantee that allows you a return trip in case of the rare occurrence of not spotting whale.
Cape Moreton on Moreton Island is also another great spot for land-based whale watching. While whales can only be seen from June to November - dolphins, sharks and turtles can be spotted all year round.
8. Kayak the wrecks by night
Launch see-through kayaks from the shore by night with Australian Sunset Safaris. Kayaking is a whole new experience at night with fish and curious turtles attracted to the bright LED strips on the kayaks that light your way. You can book as a stand alone experience or as part of a bigger tour.
9. View the island from the air
Get up and above with Tangalooma Heli Tours. The service offers joy rides of the island and the sky really is the limit. Check with the operator for availability if you are not a guest of the resort.
10. Explore a slice of war history
Moreton Island played its part as one of Australia's major coastal defence bases during both World Wars – at its peak 900 troops called the island home. 4WD self-drivers can discover what remains of this history in a number of concrete bunkers, shelters and gun batteries throughout the island. Check out the bunkers at Cowan Cowan or Rous Battery.
11. Hit the sand tracks in a rented 4WD
If you're not lazing about Tangalooma Island Resort, or camping at The Wrecks campground, you'll need a 4WD to see the island. If you haven't got your own, you can rent one from the resort. Discover 420kms of unsealed bliss criss-crossing the island, whether on sand tracks or along beaches. For the ultimate, drive the full 23km length of Ocean Beach where you can explore freshwater creeks, swim in lagoons or toss in a line.
12. Wallow in the Champagne Pools
Near Cape Moreton on the north-east tip of the island, the Champagne Pools get their name from the sparkling effect created as ocean waves crash over the volcanic rock breakwall. Make your way there by 4WD self-drive or on a tour with Australian Sunset Safaris.
13. Walk the Rous Battery track
Discover interesting remnants of World War II scattered along the 9.8km Rous Battery track. The walk on the southern end of the island takes approximately 3.5 hours each way as you wind through scribbly gum forests.
14. Get pampered at the Massage Hut
Treat yourself to a special massage, facial or detox body treatment at the Tangalooma Massage and Beauty Hut. It is located within the resort grounds and is open to resort guests.
15. Take a photo at Honeymoon Bay
Between the rocky Cape Moreton and North Point (where the Champagne Pools are) lies Honeymoon Bay – a picturesque half-moon shaped 50m-wide beach.
16. Jump on a quad bike
Explore beyond the beach with a quad biking tour. Tangalooma Island Resort runs tours that'll take you on the beach and over dunes for a thrilling adventure like no other.
17. Discover dolphins, marine life and more
See Moreton runs a marine discovery tour around Moreton Island with commentary, fish feeding, a buffet lunch, bar and the option to snorkel the wrecks. This eco-boat tour departs from Brisbane and is one the most popular ways to experience the marine environment of Moreton and get up close and personal with the wildlife, even if you don’t want to get wet.
18. Tour the island with a guide
Australian Sunset Safaris and Moreton Bay Escapes both run one-day and multi-day tours of the island that will help you get to some of the hard-to-reach places on this list.
19. Up away on the water – go parasailing
Fly high above the shorelines of Moreton Island by trying parasailing. Keep an eye out for dugongs, turtles and dolphins as you zip along behind a boat. This activity is run by Tangalooma Island Resort and is open to day and overnight guests.
20. Check out Harper's Rock
At the base of Cape Moreton on the eastern side of the island is a fascinating cluster of red sand formations ready to be discovered by 4WD self-drivers. The landscape is like stepping onto the set of a sci-fi movie as you climb through an area that must be seen to be believed.
21. Scuba dive at Flinders Reef
Off the shore of Cape Moreton, Flinders Reef is a well-known scuba diving spot with excellent marine life diversity, including more than 175 species of fish, turtles and migrating whales (June to November). From the island you can book with Tangatours or from Brisbane you book with Go Dive.
Grab a drink and feast on fresh seafood at the Gutter Bar on the southern end of Moreton Island, where local character and a laid-back tropical island vibe hold sway. Best way to access The Gutter Bar is via vehicle barge from Victoria Point on the mainland with Amity Trader. Otherwise travel via 4WD self-drive from Tangalooma, either via the western beach (although this is sometimes difficult to navigate due to debris) or crossing the island and travelling south via Ocean Beach.
23. Do the short climb to Five Hills Lookout
On the road to Cape Moreton, stop and check out this prime spot. It's an easy 1km return walk to Five Hills Lookout that gives you 360-degree views of Moreton Island.
Explore the coastline of Moreton Island in search of dolphins, dugongs, green sea turtles, sea cucumbers, manta rays and more. Tangalooma Island Resort has a purpose-built catamaran and runs eco ranger-guided tours in Moreton Bay.
25. Glamp at Castaways
If camping is too primitive, but you don't want to stay at the resort – give Castaways a try. The accommodation has nine glamping tents with hot showers, flushing toilets and king-size beds to relax on.
26. Go for a banana boat ride
One for adults and kids alike, strap on a life vest and let TangaTours take you out for a ride.
27. Catch a fish
Moreton Island is a fisherman's paradise – whether beach, ocean or spear fishing. Try for whiting along the western beach, tailor along Ocean Beach and North Point and flathead in the gutters along Ocean Beach and in the tide eddies and submerged logs near Tangalooma Point and Comboyuro Point. Ocean fishing will net you snapper, king fish, tuna, mackerel and marlin. The area surrounding the island is Moreton Bay Marine Park so be aware that restrictions apply in some areas.
Tangalooma Island Resort is home to several places for dining and a drink that are open to those staying at the resort and to day guests. Enjoy a hearty buffet breakfast at Tursiops, sample sensational traditional spicy Sichuan cuisine at the beach-side Fire Restaurant or go casual with oven-hot, made-to-order pizzas, burgers, salads, and light meals at the Beach Café overlooking the bay.
29. Surf's up
The eastern side of the island meets the full force of the Pacific Ocean. Strap a surfboard to your 4WD and head east to catch a wave off one of the beaches.
30. Hire a boat
Hire a boat and head out to the island, or if you're wanting to navigate your own journey on the sea, hire one from Tangalooma Island Resort.
31. Explore the Aarhus Dive Site
North of Moreton Island lies a 50m iron barque which sank in 1894 after a 122-day sail from New York, carrying a cargo of kerosene, glassware, wire bails and alarm clocks. Timber artefacts under the sand have been preserved from being drenched in kerosene. Only accessible with a permit, this is a site for advanced divers – but is worth the extra effort, with a lot of colourful pufferfish, sweetlips, wobbegongs, stingrays, lionfish, gropers and schools of cardinalfish waiting to greet you.
32. View historic grave sites
History buffs will appreciate viewing the historic graves of two children – one who died at sea in 1883, and another in 1895, both located less than 1km south of Bulwer for those travelling by 4WD. These are some of the oldest grave sites in Queensland.
33. Check out the other wrecks
Three ships were deliberately sunk by Robert Alexander Gow in the 1930s to shelter his 12m boat. Known as the Bulwer Wrecks, this makes another great snorkelling and sheltered swimming spot. Located directly on the beachfront in front of Bulwer township, 4WD self-drivers can park in the township as the beach here is vehicle free.
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