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Moreton Island, or Mulgumpin to its traditional owners, is a holiday paradise just 40km north-east of Brisbane. With clear turquoise water lapping at miles of unspoilt beaches, the highest coastal sand dune in the world (Mount Tempest), the famous Tangalooma Wrecks and a multitide of natural attractions such as Champagne Pools and Blue Lagoon, you’ll find plenty of things to do on Moreton Island.
I headed up to Brisbane recently (where I previously spent a year as a foreign exchange student) and decided to add a Moreton Island day trip onto my itinerary. I wasn’t disappointed!
Situated in Moreton Bay, the island is the third-largest sand island in the world and extremely undeveloped. If you’re visiting Brisbane and fancy a scenic getaway, read on to find out the best things to do on Moreton Island.
Things to Do on Moreton Island: Table of Contents
To skip to a certain topic, just click on the links below.
1. How to Get to Moreton Island: Ferry & Barge
If you prefer to do your own thing or go camping rather than join a tour, you have the following options to get to Moreton Island. The ferry ride takes 75-90 minutes each way.
Moreton Island Car Ferry/Barge
If you want to take your four-wheel drive over, you’ll need to book onto the Micat car ferry with Moreton Island Adventures. You’ll set off from Port of Brisbane and be dropped off near the Tangalooma shipwrecks and The Wrecks camping ground. Prices start from around $70 each way. You’ll also need to purchase a vehicle permit.
Foot Passenger on Moreton Island Car Ferry/Barge
If you want to go on a day trip without a car, the cheapest option is to book a passenger ticket on the Micat car ferry with Moreton Island Adventures. You’ll need to have all your own food and drinks for the day, as you won’t be allowed access to Tangalooma Island Resort, and the island’s cafes are not within walking distance. There are toilets at The Wrecks camping ground, where the ferry drops you off. A return ticket costs around $57.
Tangalooma Island Resort Ferry with Resort Access
I chose to travel on the Tangalooma Island Resort ferry, which costs around $89 return for their ‘Beach Day Cruise’ option. This includes a $20 meal voucher for the resort’s restaurants, a free hot drink on the ferry and full access to the resort facilities, including two swimming pools.
You’ll leave from Pinkenba in Brisbane and be dropped off at the resort. You can walk along the beach to the shipwrecks in about 20 minutes. If you’d like some activities thrown in, such as snorkelling the wrecks, read the option below.
Tangalooma Island Resort Ferry with Resort Access, Snorkel, Kayak or SUP Hire & Land Activities
This adventure day package, from $99 per adult, includes a return ferry trip from Brisbane to Tangalooma Island Resort, as well as access to the resort (including restaurants and swimming pools), a three-hour kayak or stand-up paddle board session, three-hour snorkelling equipment hire and use of land activities such as tennis, volleyball and croquet.
Note that it is not a guided tour, just includes use of the resort’s equipment, which you will need to carry down to the wrecks yourself if you want to explore them (about a 20-minute walk).
2. Moreton Island Tours & Cruises
If you prefer to travel with a group and guide, there are plenty of guided tours of Moreton Island on Get Your Guide. In hindsight, a tour would have been a much better idea for a day trip than just coming over on the ferry without any activities planned like I did.
Without a car you’re pretty much confined to the resort and the wrecks, and there is much more of the island to see than this. Here are some great options if you want to join a tour. Just click on the headings to read more or book.
This return cruise to Moreton Island from Brisbane sets sail on a purpose-built vessel with viewing platforms to spot marine life with commentary from a marine naturalist. The trip includes a guided snorkel tour of Tangalooma wrecks, morning tea, tropical lunch and time on the beach with free use of sporting equipment.
This day trip to Moreton Island includes return transport from Brisbane or the Gold Coast, a guided tour of Tangalooma wrecks, a guided snorkelling experience, lunch on the beach, viewing the wrecks in transparent kayaks, a 4WD experience and sand tobogganing on the dunes.
Enjoy an adrenaline-fueled adventure across the dunes on a quad bike as well as access to Tangalooma Resort, lunch and a dolphin presentation at the Eco Centre.
3. Tangalooma Island Resort
If you’d like to spend a weekend or longer at Moreton Island instead of visiting on a day trip, the main accommodation option is the sprawling, absolute beachside Tangalooma Island Resort. I had a day pass to use the facilities at this 3* resort, which were fantastic. Here’s what to expect.
Tangalooma Island Resort: Villa and Apartments
You can choose from luxury apartments overlooking the beach, jetty and dolphin feeding area, or 2 or 3-bedroom beachside villas that sleep up to six people. You can even book apartments with full kitchens if you prefer to prepare your own food.
Tangalooma Island Resort Facilities
The complex has two lovely outdoor swimming pools, tennis courts, sporting equipment for hire and other activities such as watching the pelican and dolphin feeding.
Cafes and Restaurants at Tangalooma Island Resort
There are a number of eateries at the resort. The large reception area has a choice of cafes with indoor and outdoor seating. They were reasonably priced and in a very basic room, almost like a food court. I would try the restaurants if you prefer to eat somewhere fancier.
4. Other Moreton Island Accommodation
If you don’t fancy staying at the resort, here are your other accommodation options on Moreton Island.
Castaways at Moreton Island (Glamping & Apartments – 4*)
To get back to nature in style, Castaways offers glamping tents with a communal kitchen as well as 2 and 3-bedroom apartments sleeping up to six people. They can pick you up from the Micat ferry to take you to the accommodation in Bulwer, 12km from Tangalooma, and the resort has watersports equipment, gardens and an on-site restaurant.
The Island Retreat, Moreton Island
If you’re travelling as a group and have 4WD access, The Island Retreat has four bedrooms as well as a fully equipped kitchen and barbecue, an outdoor fireplace, internet and TVs.
Camping at Moreton Island
If you’re self-sufficient and have the right equipment, there are a number of national park camping grounds on Moreton Island, including one right by Tangalooma Wrecks.
5. Tangalooma Wrecks
The most famous attraction on Moreton Island has to be the Tangalooma Wrecks! This row of 15 sunken shipwrecks were actually deliberately sunk by the Queensland Government between 1963 and 1984 to form a break wall, creating a safe area for small boats to anchor in.
The shipwrecks lie much closer to the shoreline than I was expecting (although I think the tide was out) and can be easily viewed from the beach or explored from the water.
I chose to simply walk to the wrecks from Tangalooma Island Resort (20 minutes each way) and view them from the beach. It was a quiet day in winter when I visited, so I didn’t fancy swimming out, particularly as no one else was in the water at all.
6. Other Things to See and Do on Moreton Island
There are plenty of things do on Moreton Island, but these do depend on whether you are bringing a car or not. Here are your main options.
Day Trip Without a Car
If you’re coming over as a foot passenger on the car ferry, you will be able to enjoy the beach and water around the wrecks. If you want to snorkel you’ll need to bring your own equipment, as well as food and drink. If it’s good weather, you can easily enjoy a good beach day.
Day Trip or Longer with Tangalooma Resort Access
If you’re staying at Tangalooma Island Resort, you ‘ll find a huge amount of things to do. You can join a number of tours, including segway, 4WD, quad bike and wrecks tours. You can hire equipment such as snorkels, kayaks and motor boats. There are also free activities such as dolphin, pelican and kookaburra feeding, as well as free use of two swimming pools, squash courts and tennis courts.
If you’re visiting the resort for the day you can enjoy their on-site swimming pools, cafes and facilities for free or hire kayaks and snorkels. Just check your ferry times against the schedule for dolphin feeding etc if you want to join those.
Day Trip or Longer with Your 4WD
If you’re bringing your four-wheel drive over to Moreton Island, you’ll find plenty of things to see and do. You can visit the naturally bubbling Champagne Pools, Cape Moreton Lighthouse, the beautiful Blue Lagoon, Honeymoon Bay up at North Point, the historical Rous Battery or head to Mount Tempest for a hike with spectacular views!
That’s it for my recommended things to do on Moreton Island! In summary, I think a day trip or longer holiday with a four-wheel drive is the best option if you prefer to get out and explore by yourself. If you’re staying at the resort, you’ll have plenty to do on site, whether that’s just relaxing by the pool or hiring sports equipment.
For a day trip without a car, like I did, I would definitely join a tour to see the island or bring/hire snorkels or kayaks to see the wrecks properly. Since it was a bit cold to swim when I visited, there wasn’t much to do apart from walk to the wrecks and back, then sit by the pool. It’s such a long way to travel (it took me two hours each way to get to the wharf in Brisbane) that you may as well pay a bit extra to really make a day of it.
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Lisa Bull, founder of Dreaming of Down Under, has been living in Australia as a British expat since 2015. After travelling to every state and territory in Australia and living in Perth, Brisbane and Sydney, Lisa knows from first-hand experience the best destinations to visit in Australia and the best budget travel tips. Her guides on this blog have been read by over 700k readers and helped thousands of people achieve their dream of living in or travelling Australia.