We love exploring the islands in Queensland. A favourite for us is Moreton Island because as far as Queensland holidays go, it’s so easy to hop over from Brisbane and a short ferry ride takes you to a sand island that feels a million miles away from the city.
Where is Moreton Island located?
Moreton Island, Brisbane is a 37km long sand island located in Moreton Bay, off the coast of south-east Queensland, Australia. Moreton Island lies 35kms off Brisbane, making it on of the most accessible islands off Brisbane.
Moreton Island is the third largest sand island in the world, behind Stradbroke (now North and South Stradbroke Island since the island was split during a fierce storm) and the largest, Fraser Island. The main Moreton Island accommodation for families is called Tangalooma Island Resort (there are other options if you’re looking for Moreton Island camping options, private rentals or small resorts but Tangalooma is the main place to stay and is set up to cater for families looking for a fun beach holiday).
The weather on Moreton Island is subtropical with average temperatures of 28 degrees in the warmer months and 20 degrees in the cooler months.
I have visited Tangalooma Island Resort on Moreton Island twice now on press trips while writing travel articles for Australia and New Zealand magazine. All opinions are my own. This post contains affiliate links which means the site earns a commission if you buy through some of these links at no extra cost to you. Our full disclosure is available in the footer.
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How to get to Tangalooma Island Resort on Moreton Island
How to get to Moreton Island from Brisbane
Whether you’re taking a Tangalooma day trip, or you’re heading over to Tangalooma Island Resort for a weekend or longer, you need to catch the Tangalooma ferry. The Tangalooma ferry departs Hold Street Wharf in Pinkenba, Brisbane and takes 75 minutes. There are four services in operation daily (as of the time of writing this post. Please check current Tangalooma ferry times here.)
Tip: If you are heading on a Tangalooma day trip and you have the option, my advice is to take the earliest boat. Leaving at 7am might not sound like fun but it gives you extra precious time at the resort in between activities. Currently, the second boat of the day departs at 10am which means by the time you arrive and orientate yourself, it is already lunchtime which means half of the day is gone.
Tangalooma ferry prices
If you’ve booked an organised day trip to Tangalooma, that includes the cost of your ferry transfer. If you’re staying over, the Tangalooma ferry costs $80 per adult, $45 for children aged 3 – 14 return, and children under two go free. (Prices valid for travel before 31/03/2019. From 01/04/2019 Adult transfers will be $84 and Child $46 return.)
Tangalooma car parking
You can leave your car in the secure car park at Holt Street for $15 per vehicle per day, or $60 per week. If you’re just visiting, you can book a shuttle through your hotel – check out the details here.
What to take to Tangalooma Island
If you’re heading on a Tangalooma day trip, take: sunscreen, towels, swimmers, water bottles, hats, a beach rug and your camera in a rucksack.
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If you’re staying over, you can check in luggage. Guests staying in accommodation and traveling on the launch transfers are permitted one checked-in suitcase or bag (max 20kg) per person plus one esky/cool bag (max 20kg) per accommodation booking. It’s well worth taking soft drinks and food with you so you don’t need to eat and drink out all the time.
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Tangalooma Island accommodation for families
We’ve done a day trip to Tangalooma Island Resort and also stayed over in a Tangalooma family suite at the Tangalooma Resort. Personally, I would recommend staying if you have the time as it gives you a more relaxed experience (our kids actually cried when our day trip came to an end and begged if we could stay for the night as it just wasn’t long enough).
The Tangalooma family room was well-equipped but basic. It had a little kitchen area, fridge and microwave as well as two tvs and a dvd player (which came in useful when the kids needed some downtime). Having a separate bedroom was also a bonus – it’s always tricky when five of us have to cram into one bedroom together. It was simple, clean and comfortable as a base for our weekend break. Don’t forget – you can bring over some food in a cool bag/esky so if you want to cater for yourselves some of the time you can.
There are also options of hiring one of the Tangalooma villas – these can either be booked through Tangalooma or a booking site, or you can also find them rented out as private rentals like through Air BnB. Booking a Tangalooma holiday house gives you way more space and would be great if you plan to spend a week on Moreton Island.
Things to do in Tangalooma Island Resort, Moreton Island
There are lots of things to do at Tangalooma Island Resort, so you won’t get bored. There is a big activity programme to choose from, not to mention the beach and watersport hire.
Tangalooma Desert Safari
We’ve been on the 4WD Desert Safari twice now and, trust me, it’s a lot of fun. The first time it was pouring down so we weren’t able to do the sand tobogganing. Instead, my boys and I climbed the biggest sand dune I’d ever seen then we ran down it at full pelt. Then as it was still so wet, the tour took us to the beach to see the Tangalooma Wrecks – a line of 15 vessels that act as a man-made reef to form a break wall for small boats (and a fantastic snorkelling spot).
The next time we went was a brilliant, sunny winter’s day so the whole trip was about sand boarding. We grabbed our planks of wood and climbed the gigantic dune. I wore sunglasses and the kids wore goggles (which were provided) to stop the sand going in their eyes. We stood at the top of the steep dune, grabbed our planks of wood, lifted the front of the boards, as directed by our hilarious guides, and zoomed down. It was so exciting and so much fun!
I got worn out quickly but my kids kept venturing up the hill and coming back down over and over until it was time to leave.
Be aware that the walk up the dune is HARD, HOT work. Make sure you wear lots of sunscreen, take hats that you can fold and put in your pocket while riding the board and take drinks (although the bus has plenty of water on board so you can go and get some shade and water after riding). I was shocked at how exhausted I felt after it – it reminded me that I need to get fitter before coming back! Even in winter it was hard going in the heat. But it was well worth it!
The kids think this is the best thing they’ve ever done and keep asking when we can go back to do it again.
Snorkelling the Tangalooma Wrecks
Snorkelling family fun over the weekend at the #Tangalooma Wrecks. The boys didn’t like the cold, deep water so hubby kindly stayed on the boat with them so I could do the guided snorkel. I wish we were still there instead of back home tackling a mountain of washing. #familytime #familytravel #MoretonIsland #familyfun #gopro
A big draw of Moreton Island for divers and snorkellers is the Tangalooma shipwrecks. I did the Tangalooma wrecks snorkel on a chilly August day. My sons were going to join me on the organised tour but the shock of the cold water put them off and they got back into the boat with their daddy and I did it on my own.
It felt incredible to be back in the water as I love to snorkel. I’m gutted to say my camera died on me just before we got into the water so I didn’t get any footage of the colourful marine life and the thriving coral, but it was definitely one of the highlights of my weekend.
Whale watching at Tangalooma
Another highlight of Tangalooma is the Tangalooma whale watching cruise (you can read more about my whale watching tips here).
I did the tour alone as my husband gets incredibly seasick. It was a wise decision – the water was really choppy and I was pleased I didn’t have to a) worry about him and b) worry about small people getting thrown around the boat as they stayed with him on the beach.
This was my first experience whale watching in Australia. I’d been once before in Tahiti, but nothing prepared me for how amazing this trip was. There were SO MANY WHALES and they were right next to the boat. It was just the most incredible feeling watching them. They splashed about on the surface, waved their fins at us and then did huge tail flips before coming back and performing all over again. I was totally in awe and could have stayed there watching all day.
Tangalooma dolphin feeding
The Tangalooma dolphins are a big draw for visitors to Tangalooma Island Resort. Every evening, wild dolphins visit the Tangalooma beach and guests line up to feed them in small groups. The dolphins come to the beach of their own accord, so there are no guarantees about how many will arrive on a given night. The staff follow strict rules about how many fish the dolphins are given so as to not make them reliant on being hand fed.
Top tip: Wear swimmers for the dolphin feeding and a t-shirt over the top or shorts that you can roll up. Have your things ready for a quick change afterwards if you are heading back on the ferry the same day. It leaves as soon as the dolphin feeding is over, so you will need to get changed quickly. If you are staying over, it’s a good idea to do your dolphin feeding on one of your stopover nights so you don’t have to rush off afterwards.
To feed the dolphins, you wash your hands, grab a fish from the bucket and go into the water in small groups or pairs. You hold out the fish and a dolphin gently takes it out of your hands. It is an incredible experience. You will get a photo taken too which you can download later.
If you are keen on the idea of feeding dolphins in the wild, another great place to do this is Tin Can Bay in Queensland – read my post about that here.
The beach at Tangalooma
The beach at the Tangalooma Island Resort is idyllic. It’s really child-friendly and the water is shallow and clear. My kids loved jumping the little waves, build dams and building sandcastles.
There are many more activities at Tangalooma such as quad biking, kayaking and parasailing. There is no way you’ll be bored!
If you are considering visiting Moreton Island near Brisbane but would like to stay somewhere else, check out where to stay on Moreton Island here.
Where to eat at Tangalooma
There are a range of eating options at Tangalooma. There is a beach cafe serving pizzas, burgers, chips and light meals. We enoyed a beach bbq on one of our trips. A highlight for us is dinner in the Fire and Stone restaurant – the resorts Chinese restaurant so be sure not to miss it. The food and service are both excellent. If you are staying over and you’re kids can’t stay awake (as happened to us during one stay) they can also pack it up as a take away so you can go back to your family room to eat instead.
Tip: If you are on a Tangalooma dolphin feeding day trip you might find you still have time to enjoy an early dinner in Fire and Stone before the dolphin feeding. Get there as soon as it opens and let the staff know when you are being seated that you are on a tight deadline. We had half an hour for dinner and the meals came out within minutes – we were so impressed – and we had plenty of time to eat and make our way to the dolphins. You can also order things like chicken nuggets food for the kids if they don’t like Chinese food.
The bar is also an awesome place for sundowner cocktails too.You can sit outside watching the kids play as the sun goes down – it is an incredible experience!
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Perfect spot to watch the sun go down – drinking these while watching the kids play tag on the sand @tangaloomaislandresort #tangalooma #tangaloomaisland #tangaloomaislandresort #hosted #presstrip #famil #australiaandnewzealandmagazine #beachlife #travelwriter #cocktails #thisisqueensland #winterinqueensland -#moretonisland #visitmoretonbayregion
Day trips to Tangalooma Island Resort
If you are keen to explore Moreton Island but are short on time, you can also book day trips to Tangalooma Resort. Explore day trips here
There are day trips to enjoy the beach, feed the dolphins or to enjoy other experiences such as the desert safari and whale watching. Book your day trip here
We did the full dolphin feeding day trip and this gave us access to the VIP lounge at the resort. When you’ve only got a day at the resort, having an air conditioned lounge with coffee machine, toilets and showers is really handy. It gave us somewhere to cool off, leave our things and get changed.
Resources to help you plan your trip to Moreton Island
Plan your trip to Moreton Island with these handy resources.
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Lonely Planet guides are awesome, and if you’re heading to Moreton there is a good chance you will want to visit other locations on Australia’s East Coast too.
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If you’re specifically visiting coastal Queensland, this guide book is very handy.
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If your trip is centred around Brisbane, then this pocket guide book to Brisbane and the Gold Coast is also useful.
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Visit Moreton Island, Queensland
If you’re a family looking to visit Moreton Island in Queensland, Tangalooma is a great choice. You leave your car and your worries on the mainland and venture across Moreton Bay to a tropical gem where you can swim, laze and be as active as you choose. It’s one of our favourite Queensland family holiday destinations.
Thanks so much to the PR team at Tangalooma Resort for hosting our press visits, and to all the staff that made our stay so special. We’ve had such a great time – we’re already planning our next visit. I feel very lucky to know that we’re living this close to such a perfect island off Brisbane.
This post contains affiliate links. Read my full disclosure policy in the footer.