Right in Brisbane’s backyard, there’s an island made entirely of sand. Moreton Island may not have any sealed roads, but what it does offer is the perfect setting for coastal camping, shipwreck snorkelling, and beachside dining.
By Stephanie Williams & Leah Dobihal
Moreton Island is the backdrop for laid back beach holidays and adrenaline adventures alike. White sandy beaches line the island's ocean side and are ideal for swimming, surfing and fishing, while the sheltered western side is more relaxed, with crystal clear blue water gently lapping against its shore. The Moreton Island National Park covers 98 per cent of the island's area.
- Enjoy watching the sun set over the water
- Feed the wild bottlenose dolphins by hand
- Burn down the sand dunes on a toboggan
How to get there
Moreton Island is located 40 kilometres (25 miles) off the coast of Brisbane. Many day cruises leave from Brisbane, or you can take a Micat (allows vehicles) or Tangalooma ferry. Brisbane Airport has links to most Australian capital cities as well as international ports. The three settlements on Moreton Island are all on the western side, including Kooringal in the south, Cowan in the middle and Bulwer in the north.
Top things to do on Moreton Island
Stay at Tangalooma Island Resort
Set among the island’s lush landscape, Tangalooma Island Resort will bring the comfort of home to your holiday. From villas and suites to luxury apartments, Tangalooma Island Resort puts the island's dazzling beaches front and centre. Check into one of the exclusive island holiday houses with million dollar views over Moreton Bay and the Glass House Mountains. The resort features five restaurants and cafes as well as barbecues if you prefer to cook for yourself. The Resort Shop has all the supplies you’ll need to make the most of your holiday.
Feed wild dolphins by hand
The star attraction at Tangalooma Island Resort is the opportunity to hand-feed the bottlenose dolphins which visit the beach each evening. The resort has a licensed feeding program and is the only place in the bay where dolphin feeding is allowed. Learn all about these loveable animals from marine biologists at the Marine Education and Conservation Centre.
Dive and snorkel the wrecks
To create a safe mooring area, boat owners came together in 1963 and proposed to deliberately sink a line of 15 old Harbours and Marine Department steam driven dredges and barges on the edge of a sandbank to create a breakwall. The Tangalooma Wrecks are now an amazing man-made wreck dive and snorkel site. The wrecks are not far off the beach so it is possible to swim out to explore them. It is a great vantage point to enjoy the spectacular sunsets back across Moreton Bay, the mainland mountain ranges and Glass House Mountains.
See passing whales as they migrate
During the 1950s Moreton Island was the site for one of the largest whaling stations in the southern hemisphere. Today, during the annual whale migration from June to October, you can witness these gentle giants from the coast at Cape Moreton or from a whale-watching cruise. To learn about the island's history, visit the Moreton Island National Park Information Centre, located near the More Island Lighthouse in one of the old light-keeper's cottages.
Enjoy a 4WD sand safari
Moreton Island consists entirely of sand and is home to the highest coastal sand dune in the world, Mount Tempest. Join a 4WD desert safari and take a thrilling toboggan or quad bike ride down the sand dunes. Speeds of up to 40 kilometres an hour (25 miles) can be reached.
Walk and hike Moreton Island
Moreton Island has many walking and hiking trails ranging from easy strolls to half-day hikes. Walking is one of the best ways to appreciate the island's environmental features and discover the various wildlife habitats. The 20 minute Blue Lagoon walk is great for children because there is a swim at the end. Walk to the top of Cape Moreton to see Queensland's first lighthouse, built of sandstone in 1857. For something a little more challenging, walk to the summit of Mount Tempest, the highest sand dune on the island. You'll be rewarded with 360-degree views across the coastline. Experienced hikers will love the 16-kilometre (10 mile) Telegraph Track which, during spring (September to November), is lined with heathland flowers.
Explore the Moreton Bay Marine Park
The Moreton Bay Marine Park stretches for 125 kilometres (78 miles) along the coastline from the Gold Coast to Caloundra. The park is internationally listed as a RAMSAR wetland and provides a vitally important site for migratory birds. More than 180 different bird species have been recorded on Moreton Island. You can join a wildlife eco cruise to see a range of birds, and you might also be lucky enough to see dugongs and turtles.
Take an all-around island tour
Moreton Island may be small, but there’s a lot to explore. Australian Sunset Safaris offers full-day tours that hit all the highlights, including snorkelling, kayaking, 4WD adventures, and a picnic lunch on the beach. If you’re lucky enough to spend more than a day on the island, consider a two-day tour with even more to explore, like the naturally-bubbling Champagne Pools and exhilarating night-time diving. You’ll also be able to choose your overnight accommodation.
Enjoy island eateries
A trip to Moreton Island is all about kicking back, and the dining is no exception. For a lazy lunch, head to Castaways, a café and general store offering everything from holiday essentials to eggs benedict. For fresh fish and local oysters, stop by The Gutter Bar, a good vibes venue with rustic wooden tables and island décor. Castaways and The Gutter Bar are open for lunch every day and for dinner on Friday and Saturday evenings.
Many visitors choose to camp on Moreton Island, but you can also take your accommodation up a notch. Castaways glamping offers fully-furnished tents with a bed, private en suite, and solar-powered lighting. You’ll still have a true back-to-nature experience with kayaks and snorkels for hire, a communal camp kitchen, and a veranda overlooking giant Melaleuca trees.
Make your trip happen