A 75-minute ferry trip shuttles you across the sparkling water of Moreton Bay and deposits you on to an island paradise. Moreton Island is only 35 km from Brisbane but feels a world away. The sun, white sand, and glimmering turquoise waters are simply intoxicating.
Exploring the wonders of Brisbane’s island playground is one of the best experiences Queensland has to offer. The massive sand island is close enough for a day trip from Brisbane, but reminiscent of more famous and expensive islands people fly to. With its jaw-dropping beauty and copious fun, you will feel rejuvenated and excited as soon as you set foot on the island. To see most of the sights and activities included in this article, a long weekend is the very minimum.
If you have rented a four-wheel drive, you’re ready to explore the island with unlimited freedom. From the abundance of wildlife, massive sand dunes, crystal clear waters, dramatic beaches, and breathtaking pool and lakes, Moreton Island is a natural treasure. Prepare to be thrilled.
Quick Links To The Moreton Island Top Ten Attractions
- Four-Wheel Drive
- The Beach
- Snorkel the Wrecks and Reefs
- Island Hikes
- Whale Watching
- Champagne Pools
- Camp Moreton Lighthouse
- Swim the Blue Lagoon
- North Point and Honeymoon Bay
- Sand board the Dunes
Here Goes Each One Of The Attractions In Details:
1. Four-Wheel Drive
Moreton Island is 98% National Park, giving you 166.6 km2 of wilderness to explore and 420 km of dirt and sand tracks to drive. Exploring the island requires a 4WD, as there are no paved roads. The feeling of driving off the ferry and cruising Moreton’s endless beaches in your personal 4WD is the very definition of exhilaration. If you don’t own your own 4WD, you can easily book one with FleetCrew. They have a wide range of recreational 4WD Hire Vehicles.
Driving conditions on Moreton are easy to moderate. Whenever you are four-wheel driving, stay alert and be mindful of safety. Take note of the tide and watch your speed. Speed limits are 60 km in safe conditions. There are sections of beach that have 30 km or 20 km speed limit to protect beach goers and the environment. The vast majority of the beaches are a sand highway, except within the settlement of Cowan Cowan, Tangalooma Resort and areas that are protected or unreachable. Click here for links to map of the Island, speed limits, and inland tracks.
2. The Beach
Fish, swim, surf and relax. Unlike Fraser Island, much of the beaches are safe to swim if you are on the bay side. If you have your own 4WD, you will be able to find a private patch of pristine paradise. The beaches are abundant and endless. Find a quiet spot that suits you, crack open the icebox, sit back and watch the waves come in. Pull out a few rods and enjoy Moreton’s famous fishing. Or simply frolic in the surf looking for dolphins, sea turtles and starfish. Downtime at the beach on Moreton is a must.
Want to learn more about Moreton’s beaches? Click here.
3. Snorkel the Wrecks and Reefs
Crystal clear waters, combined with offshore reefs and numerous shipwrecks make Moreton an excellent spot for scuba diving and snorkelling. Moreton has numerous places to snorkel and dive:
- Flinders Reef
- Curtin Artificial Reef
- The Tangalooma Wrecks
- The Car Bodies
- Bulwer Wrecks
The most famous spot to snorkel on Moreton is the Tangalooma Wrecks, an artificial reef of 15 purposefully sunken ships. Travel far and wide and you’re unlikely to find a place more akin to the Pirates of the Caribbean than this. Tourist and boaters flock here, as do fish and turtles. Tangalooma Wrecks are the busiest spot on Moreton but are not to be missed.
The Wrecks are 100 to 200 metres from the beach. At times there is a strong current running parallel to the shore. If you are going to swim from the shore to the Wrecks it is best to have a boogie board and to venture out at hide tide when the current is weak. Of course fins, snorkel and mask are also essential gear. Snorkelling gear can be hired from the activities hut at Tangalooma Resort, a twenty-minute walk south from the Wrecks. Swimming around massive sunken ships with hundreds of fish surrounding you is often the highlight of a holiday on Moreton Island.
4. Island Hikes
The Island has several tracks, totalling more than 39 kilometres tracing the inner jungles of Moreton Island. They provide remote access to the Island’s forest, stunning views of the ocean, and the world’s largest sand hill, Mt. Tempest.
- Cape Moreton: 1.5 km return, approx. 1 hour, intermediate
- Five Hills Lookout: 1 km return, approx. 30 min, intermediate
- Mt Tempest: 1.5 km return, approx. 2 hours, difficult
- Rous Track: 18 km return, approx. 2.5 hours, intermediate
- Telegraph Track: 16 km return, approx. 6 hours, difficult
- The Desert – Tangalooma scenic walk: 4 km loop, approx. 1.5 hours, intermediate
- Wrecks Lookout: 1 km return, approx. 45 min, intermediate
5. Whale Watching
Humpback whales swim past Moreton Island on their migratory route to and from the southern Antarctic waters where they feed to the warmers waters of Moreton Bay to give birth to calves. 1400 to 1600 Humpback whales make the migration each year, starting in mid-June until the end of October. Whale watching cruises depart from Tangalooma Resort. If you wish to stay on land, Cape Moreton is an excellent place to whale watch.
6. Champagne Pools
On the Northern tip of the Island lie the Champagne Pools. A wall of volcanic rock and sandstone break the surf, causing waves to transform into a waterfall as they cascade down the rocks to the pools below. A refreshing dip into the Champagne Pools is invigorating, and the pools themselves are strikingly beautiful.
7. Camp Moreton Lighthouse
On the far Northeastern tip of the Island is Queensland’s oldest lighthouse. Built by convicts and tradesmen, it is now 23 metres tall. The lighthouse has been navigating ocean vessels since 1857. Moreton Island is the second largest sand Island in the world (second only to Fraser) and the lighthouse sites on one of the only rocky headlands on the Island. The vistas are spectacular and this is a wonderful spot to look for marine wildlife and birds.
8. Swim the Blue Lagoon
The Island has a couple of perched and window lakes scattered around the island. The largest and most popular is the Blue Lagoon. As rainwater is collected across the island, the water table rises. At times, the water table goes above the sand, creating a window lake, such as the magnificent Blue Lagoon. This freshwater lake is infused with tea tree oil, and an excellent place to take a dip. Cool down and wash off the salt and sand with a swim and enjoy the white sandy beach surrounding it.
9. North Point and Honeymoon Bay
Come with a dinner picnic, watch the sunset and enjoy views of the Glass House Mountains across the bay on North Point. Hike down to Honeymoon Bay, an isolated and rocky beach with a 15-meter high rocky cliff behind. Due to strong currents and large waves, swimming is not advisable here. The location is remote and captivating.
10. Sand board the Dunes
Tobogganing down Mount Tempest, the highest coastal sand dune in the world, takes grit and a sense of adventure. Once at the top enjoy 360-degree views and excellent sand boarding! Mount Tempest lies in the heart of the island and accessed via the Middle Road.
Another sand boarding spot is the ‘The Desert’. This moonscape is a 3 km trek from Tangalooma Resort and contains 42 hectares of sand dunes. It is a sand-tobogganing heaven!
Slightly north of The Wrecks, where the Moreton Island Ferry drops off passengers and 4WDs, are smaller dunes that lie next to the beach. This is an easily accessible place to try sledding down. The Big and Little Sandhill’s on the southern end of the Island also provide steep dunes to race down.
Whatever path you take and whatever activity you decide to do, the fun and adventure here is infectious. Plan to linger on the beaches, soak in the sun, spot dolphins, and have a 4WD adventure!
For a detailed map click here
For the Moreton Island National Park and Recreation Area Visitors Guide, click here.