The ferry journey down Brisbane River and into Moreton Bay is immediately relaxing, a slow cruise at first then a steady plough through the swell where the only energy expended is keeping a weather eye out for dolphins, often seen to swim alongside. It’s the perfect chill zone. By the time we reach the jetty at Moreton Island the water is turquoise, crystal clear to the sandy bottom and the sand as white as you’ll find at the Whitsundays… it seems the perfect spot for a lazy lie down, but surprisingly the sun lounges by the pool are all empty. After just one day at Tangalooma Island Resort I can tell you why… this is Brisbane’s own Adventure Island.
If you've been thinking about visiting Moreton Island, here is how you can do it in a day.
7am: Bush Walk
Early rise and shine but if you don’t have two hours to do the full circuit walk to ‘the Desert’, go backwards to the lookout to get a bird’s eye view of the island. As this is the end of the walk on the resort map it’s usually downhill but as this is a short cut you'll find it to be all uphill. After a quick look out to sea and north to the island’s highest point, Mt Tempest, go back the same way, passed the ancient Aboriginal bush camp and its midden, and contemplate your day ahead. One hour.
8:30am: Stand Up Paddleboarding
Water sports are a cinch at Tangalooma with everything easily accessible on the beachfront. Where better to give it a go – than in the calm shallows a few steps from your room (if you are staying longer on the island). I’d seen all the pictures and it looked serene – heck, people even do yoga poses on those boards. Better still, the morning I went out I had the beach to myself … so far so good. What I hadn’t anticipated was what a 10-knot ‘gentle’ breeze feels like standing up on a board. Bumpy! It made for a hilarious first half hour as I tried to get my sea legs and became expert at getting back up on the board from the submerged position.
10am: Sea Scooter Safari
Otherwise known as power snorkelling! The sea scooter is easy to drive by pressing a trigger button on the handle bar and this is the best way to go snorkelling along Tangalooma’s famous wrecks, making it easier to travel further and navigate the current around the wrecks to follow the fish. And there’s plenty to see – from luminescent moon wrasse, parrotfish and striped sergeant majors to kingfish, cod and grouper – among more than 100 species to be found among the rusted wrecks. An eagle ray glided slowly below me and a wobbegong lay partly camouflaged in the underwater shadows on my guided tour.
The water is so clear, you can see plenty from just below the surface but the sea scooter also helps for small duck dives – and maybe the odd barrel roll, according to our diver guide on the day. Tour time is 90 minutes including a pre-snorkel briefing, fitout with all the gear and boat ride to the wrecks.
This the most fun you can have sitting down. On a calm, clear day it’s possible to spot a ray or turtles in the water from the air. Drift up to a drone-defying 150 metres and, while it’s a short ride, it’s one of the best views of the island outside a helicopter. Journey takes one hour, seven minutes in the air.
1:30pm: Desert Sand Tobogganing
Queensland is home to the world’s largest sand islands and this is one of them, so it stands to reason that the ‘Desert’ is part of the adventure playground. First, there is a rollicking 4WD ride getting there through bushland which surrounds the shifting dunes, then it’s a slow walk up with a thin plank of waxed Masonite … the quickest way down. Some people reach speeds up to an eye-watering 40km/h and the hot tip is to keep the front end up and your mouth closed for a good downhill run. The truly fit will go back up for another hit. Tour time 90 minutes.
3pm: Quad Bikes Ramble
Next activity on the list is a ATV Quad Bike tour and don't worry it is a safe way to go – kids from age 10 can ride them. After a safety briefing, wardrobe check (no thongs, hairnets are supplied to wear under helmets) then it’s off for driver training along the beach and we’re split into groups. After a bit of practice on the roads behind the resort – up and down hills – you'll head for the sandy tracks with the promise of getting to put the pedal to the metal so to speak. Tour time 45 minutes. You can ride solo or there are also tandem quad bikes.
4:30pm: Sunset Segway
After the quads, Segways is a smooth cruise along the beach to admire the scenery, enjoy the quiet and do a few (slow) 360s along the way. It’s a tad more challenging on the soft sand when the Segway can come to an unscheduled and abrupt stop in the bumps if you’re not concentrating (hence a helmet is provided). Tour time 45 minutes with snacks provided midway, cost $59 per person.
5:30pm: Illuminated Wrecks Tour
Kayaking along the shore of Moreton Island is a sublime activity but even better when the kayak is transparent and you can see the fish below rather than just off to the side. At night it’s kind of eery by the light of a head torch when there’s no one else around the wrecks. Perhaps less adventurous, but you get to see more at night, is the glass bottom boat tour where an underwater camera also live streams vision to iPads on board. Both night tours, 90 minutes each.
If you've decided to stay longer, there are plenty of other activities that are available on the island including northern 4WD Safari, a Lighthouse walk, a visit to the Champagne Pools, catamaran sailing and end the day with a ranger at the jetty for a close-up with kookaburras and many, many more.