Day trip to Moreton Island | Explore Brisbane
Who knew you could watch the sun sparkle on the ocean, spot star fish along the sea shore, hand feed dolphins in the shallow water and still be in the Brisbane City Council area?
The sub-tropical paradise of Moreton Island, known as the jewel of Moreton Bay, is perhaps one of the most under-rated holiday and day trip destinations for Brisbane families. Take a 75 minute boat ride from Brisbane and discover pristine beaches and tall sand dunes, crystal clear lakes and lagoons, shipwrecks teeming with marine life (bring your snorkel and googles), and a resort offering stacks of kid friendly activities.
If you don’t have a private boat darling, don’t fear, as there are two passenger boat services operating daily between mainland Brisbane and Moreton Island.
Tangalooma Island Resort Ferry Service
The Tangalooma Island Resort runs a day-tour ferry service, departing Holt Street Wharf at Pinkenba at 7.00am and 10.00am daily, and an additional 12:30pm departure on Saturday, Sunday & Monday. Just over an hour later, you will disembark at the Tangalooma Resort jetty for a day of fun with the kids. Once you’ve swum in the sea, and soaked up some sun, relax with your complimentary lunch (included with day tours). After enjoying everything that the resort offers, you can return on the 4pm ferry and watch the sun sink towards the horizon as you glide across the water. Alternatively, you can choose the extended day tour so you can linger a little longer on the island to participate in the wild dolphin feeding at dusk and return on the last ferry at approx 7pm.
Moreton Island MICAT Ferry
The Moreton Island MICAT ferry service departs the Port of Brisbane daily (except Wednesdays) at 8.30am, with additional Brisbane departures at 1pm on Fridays and 2:30pm on Sundays, and returns at 3.30pm (4.30pm on Sundays), with additional Moreton Island departures at 11am on Fridays and 12:30pm on Sundays (these times can change during peak and off-peak periods). This service takes 75 minutes and drops you on the beach, opposite the Tangalooma Wrecks. If you own a 4WD, you can bring it aboard the ferry and explore the Moreton Island by car. Purchase a vehicle access permit from the Department of National Parks, Recreation, Sports and Racing before you go.
Planning your day
Regardless of how you get to Moreton Island, you are welcome to use the retail and dining facilities of Tangalooma Island Resort, with a restaurant and café (takeaway available) for breakfast, lunch, and snacks, however all non-resort guests must leave the resort by 6pm each night. There are also a number of costed last-minute activities that can be opened-up to casual visitors if available – everything from kayak hire to sand tobogganing, or even a helicopter joy ride! The dolphin feeding program is unfortunately not able to be booked by casual guests.
If you have a 4WD, there are many other places on Moreton Island that are worth a look – the historic lighthouse, the inland dunes of the Tangalooma Desert made up of different coloured sands, beautiful lakes and lagoons and many rewarding walking tracks. Be aware that there is no patrolled swimming area on Moreton Island, so parents must be vigilant.
Want to stay more than one day?
Moreton Island is an excellent day trip location, but an even better holiday destination! Why not stay for a weekend or longer? There are accommodation options to suit all budgets.
Camping at Moreton Island
There are five camp grounds and five camping zones (including North West Camping Zone)on Moreton Island and camp fires are permitted. You will need to book a camping permit before you go with the Department of National Parks, Recreation, Sports and Racing.
If “glamping” is more your style, Moreton Island Adventures have permanent tents set up amongst the melaleuca trees with everything your family could need. They will even provide breakfast and dinner, or you can cook your own in the camp kitchen.
Resort accommodation on Moreton Island
Tangalooma Island Resort offers a range of accommodation options, including self-contained apartments and houses (that can sleep up to 12 guests). If you plan on doing your own cooking in your apartment or at one of the BBQ’s scattered across the resort, you can save a few dollars by bringing some food and drinks with you, as there can be a limited variety of supplies available at the resort convenience store. Resort guests are entitled to bring one esky per room on the resort ferry free of charge. Additionally a buffet breakfast can be included in your resort package.
MICAT adventures also operates Castaways Resort at Bulwer – offering self-contained two bedroom units (can sleep up to six people), a convenience store and an onsite restaurant.
If you haven’t already, put a trip to Moreton Island on your family’s sand bucket list!