Tangalooma Whale Watching Day Trip
For the closest whale watching experience to Brisbane, the Tangalooma Whale Watching Cruise is the ultimate. After just a short trip over to Moreton Island, you’re all set for the adventure of a lifetime. We spent a whole day enjoying what this special island has to offer families.
Getting to Tangalooma
If going for the day, the best way to reach Tangalooma is to book a seat on the Tangalooma Island Resort Ferry. This passenger ferry service departs from Holt Street Wharf at Pinkenba, not far from the Gateway Bridge crossing of the Brisbane River. You can choose from one of four departure times from Brisbane—7am, 10am, 12pm, or 5pm—with each taking only 75 minutes to reach the island. When coming home, the launch departs from Tangalooma Island Resort Jetty at 8:30am, 2pm, 4pm and approximately 7pm (after the daily sunset wild dolphin feeding session concludes).
Stay and play for the day
The Tangalooma Whale Watching Cruise runs each day from 12pm to 3pm, during whale watching season (early June to mid-October annually). Bookings for this cruise can be made online, and your package will also include your return trip to the island from Brisbane and back again. Your cruise ticket will also include –
- 3 hour whale watching cruise with commentary by one of Tangalooma’s Eco Rangers
- A light lunch pack per passenger, with refreshments and other snacks available for purchase on-board
- A voucher for downloading one low-res photo of your group aboard the cruise
- Day-long access to all the facilities at Tangalooma Island Resort (including swimming pools, restaurants and bars)
- Unreserved access to any free presentation at the resort by one of Tangalooma’s Eco Rangers (including ‘Discover the World of Dolphins’, Kookaburra Feeding, and more)
Tangalooma Day Trip Itinerary
If you’re up for it, you really can plan to spend the whole day at Tangalooma. On our recent visit, this is how our day went –
- 7am – Ferry transfer to Tangalooma Island Resort from Holt Street Wharf, arriving on the island at approximately 8:15am.
- 8:45am – 1 ½hr Desert Safari Tour out to the Tangalooma Desert, including sand tobogganing. Read our full review of this super fun experience here.
- Free time to explore the resort facilities and beach, including morning tea at The Coffee Lounge. Find out more about things to do at the resort.
- 12pm – 3hr Tangalooma Whale Watching Cruise departs Tangalooma jetty, returning at approximately 3pm.
- Free time to explore the resort facilities and beach some more, including a drink from B & B’s Resort Bar for the grown ups.
- 4:45pm – Kookaburra feeding on the beach front, hosted by one of Tangalooma’s Eco Rangers.
- Early dinner at one of the resort’s restaurants.
- 6pm – Wild dolphin feeding adjacent to the Tangalooma Island Resort Jetty (included in the Premium Whale Watching Cruise package – must be booked). Read our full Wild Dolphin Feeding review here.
- 7pm – Tangalooma ferry departs for Brisbane, arriving at Pinkenba at approximately 8:15pm.
Whilst this is a really full itinerary for a day, it showcases the best Tangalooma has to offer and is guaranteed to have you booking a longer return stay as soon as you can! We all arrived home tired, but thrilled after a day spent soaking up Tangalooma’s magic.
The Tangalooma Whale Watching Cruise
Moreton Bay provides the closest location to Brisbane to spot the majestic whales on their annual migration from south to north and back again throughout the months of June to October. This beautiful, tropical location provides some jaw-dropping opportunities to get up close to these creatures, with the three-hour Tangalooma Whale Watching Cruise being an ideal way to take advantage of this unique experience.
Shortly after departing the Tangalooma jetty, and after a brief safety presentation, all guests on board the cruise are invited to collect their packed lunch from the kiosk. Although described as ‘light’, these fresh and healthy meals were sizable and included half a ham or chicken and salad sandwich and half a ham or chicken and salad wrap, an apple, a full-sized muffin, Jatz crackers and cheese. Vegetarian and gluten free options were also available, though do need to be ordered upon booking your tickets for the cruise.
The cruise travelled north for around 30 minutes before clearing the northern-most point of Moreton Island into more open sea. It was here that we spotted our first whales in what was to be a non-stop WOW experience lasting almost 2 hours straight! The first two whales were staying close by each other, we suspect because one was a baby that appeared only a day or so old. The baby was a sight to behold, being very light in colour and frequently breaking the surface for us to spot a glimpse of white.
In the distance we spotted another two whales, though they weren’t too excited to see us and soon swam off. It was the fifth whale we saw that provided the next hour and a half of breathtaking whale watching. In an experience we are told is very rare, this whale breached no less than 30 times! The exclamations from the passengers on board (and, indeed, the Tangalooma staff themselves) were continuous. Breaking the surface, breaching and flopping into the water with a loud slap, our show-off whale put on quite the performance in what was a thrilling spectacle for first-time whale watchers like ourselves. Miss 8 and Miss 12 captured some amazing photos and videos on their little waterproof cameras, which we’re so glad they brought with them. We all just could not wipe the grins from our faces as we repeatedly capture sensational views of this whale crashing into the water right near us.
This was a once-in-a-lifetime experience, and, whilst we cannot guarantee you’ll see a whale that likes to show off quite as much as this guy did, the Tangalooma Whale Watching Cruise does offer a money back whale sighting guarantee. The staff and skipper will do everything they can to ensure the most incredible encounter possible for everyone on board, so that nobody will be left disappointed after an action-packed afternoon on the ocean. The Tangalooma Eco Ranger on board will not only point out the whales visible from the cruise, but will also fill the afternoon with information about whales that you may not already know; making it both educational and enjoyable for all ages.
You can get a taste of our Tangalooma whale watching adventure in this video –
Brisbane Kids thanks Tangalooma Island Resort for sponsoring our writer and her family on their day trip to the lovely Tangalooma Island Resort and Moreton Island. Costs were covered. All the opinions stated in this review are true, honest and genuine with the sole aim of providing enough information for families to make an informed decision about future holidays to this wonderful local leisure destination.
To find out more about the Tangalooma Whale Watching Cruise, please visit this link. This website also has information about Tangalooma Island Resort itself, including accommodation options and other tours on offer. If you’d like to learn more about our experiences at Tangalooma, please click here to read more of our reviews.