Find here the best things to do on Moreton Island, including a 72-hour itinerary for this Queensland destination that could easily be described as a big sandy playground.
Rolling dunes and native flora cover the island that’s surrounded by turquoise waters dotted with rusty shipwrecks.
Moreton Island has a podium position with it being the third-largest sand island in the world after Fraser and nearby North Stradbroke.
Moreton is well-known for its Tangalooma Wrecks, and rightly so, as the 15 sunken shipwrecks just off the coastline are one of the major Moreton Island attractions. But don’t just stop there! If you plan a trip to Moreton, it is worth exploring more of the 170km2 adventure playground.
Three nights, four days was a perfect time to gain a taste for the island life as I describe below:
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Featured Image: North Point © Tourism & Events Queensland
Table of Contents
How to Get to Moreton Island
Only 90 minutes from Brisbane, the best way to get from Brisbane to Moreton Island is on board the Micat Ferry with Moreton Island Adventures. The ferry operates on a demand-based timetable. Typically during the quiet months, the ferry will not operate on a Wednesday, and then only once per day on other days, except for Fridays and Sundays where it may run twice. Travelling during the peak holiday season it is advised to book well in advance, and bookings are essential for passengers and vehicles at all times.
Tips Before you Go
- Purchase a National Park vehicle permit
- If camping, purchase a camping permit
- Insect repellent will help with the mosquitoes and sandflies
- Take an esky and water
- Print a Moreton Island map before you go or collect one from the Micat, as there is little reception on the island.
- Don’t forget to slip, slop, slap
- Print a tides chart as the best time to travel is around low tide.
- There are no patrolled beaches on Moreton Island.
- Watch for cars on the beaches
- You will need a 4WD if you want to explore away from Tangalooma Island Resort
Need an esky for your trip? Read here the best iceboxes to buy and what to consider
Things to do on Moreton Island + Itinerary
The below guide is for 3 nights and 4 days exploring the top sights on Moreton Island. If you have the luxury of time or prefer a slower pace extend your stay. A couple of additional nights would also allow for the tides and possible weather interruptions.
1. Tangalooma Wrecks
You can’t visit Moreton Island without spending some time around Tangalooma, in particular the Tangalooma Wrecks. As the Micat descends on the beach next to the wrecks, this is a perfect place to spend the day if you arrive mid-morning.
The 15 ships that are now home to various rainbow marine life were deliberately sunk not far off the shore to create a break wall for small boats. The crystal-clear waters and marine animals found in the area make it a popular place for snorkelling and scuba diving. For a more secluded beachfront location, and a perfect place to enjoy the shallow calm waters away from the boats and fisherman head a little further north along the beach.
Tip: It is possible to swim out to the wrecks to explore further, but be aware of the boats and strong currents that sweep through the wrecks.
If you arrive in the afternoon, with the daylight fading locate your campsite or accommodation, settle in and gather your bearings on where you are located (if it’s your first visit). This will enable you to start the day running in the morning.
2. Exploring Bulwer
If your accommodation is at Castaways or one of the campgrounds along the north-eastern corner of Moreton Island explore the Bulwer Wrecks, located in front of the Bulwer township. The half-submerged rusty wrecks are where you will find an abundance of tropical fish. As there are very few locations on the east coast of Australia that allow you to witness a sunset over the ocean, it is also a popular choice to head down to the beach in the late afternoon. Watch the sun fall behind the mainland as the sky is illuminated with vibrant pinks, orange and red hues.
Moreton Island Tours
If your time is limited or you would prefer to take a day trip to Moreton Island, there are many tours available that will see you cruising around turquoise waters and getting up close to amazing marine life.
The links below will take you to some of the top-rated day trips.
The best way to explore Moreton Island’s 420kms of sealed tracks is with a 4WD, stock the esky with essentials for when you work up an appetite and pack the beach/camping equipment as you won’t be wanting to return home quickly.
Located in the top north-east corner of Moreton Island are two of the star attractions, but you’ll come across some walking tracks and lookouts that you won’t want to miss before reaching them.
3. Five Hills Lookout Track
Five Hills Lookout Track (moderate grade) is off Bulwer-North Point Road, found on your drive to the popular north point coast. For 360-degree views over the north end of Moreton Island walk the 1-kilometre (return) sandy path up to Five Hills Lookout. Pass native flora, hear the sing of insects in the air and witness the contrast of the green scrubby landscape to the turquoise ocean waters.
Some other hikes in Moreton Island National Park are:
- Blue Lagoon – 500 m return. Easy grade
- Honeyeater Lake – 60 m return. Easy grade
- Cape Moreton – 1.5 km return. Moderate grade
- The Desert – 4 km circuit. Moderate grade
- Mount Tempest Lookout – 2.5 km return. Moderate grade
- Telegraph Road – 16 km return. Difficult
- Rous Battery Track – 9.8 km one way. Moderate grade
4. Honeymoon Bay
At the northern end of the north point camping area, a 700-metre return walk through cleared bushland takes you directly to Honeymoon Bay. The 50 metres of sandy white beach sheltered by 15-metre rocky hills is picturesque and one of the star locations on Moreton.
The narrow path off the beach will lead you around the curved bay towards the highest point in the area for a birds-eye view of Cape Moreton.
Tip: There is also a pathway leading to Honeymoon Bay from North Point Beach near the Champagne Pools.
5. Cape Moreton Lighthouse
Cape Moreton Track is a short drive from the north point camping area. Brush up on the island’s history in the information centre situated along the 1.5km circuit before continuing on your way to Queensland’s oldest lighthouse. The impressive lighthouse with the candy-cane façade dates back to 1857 and offers the most remarkable backdrop from the east coast lookout area, where you may see turtles, dolphins and whales.
6. Champagne Pools Moreton Island
After a few walks admiring the spectacular scenery, it will be time for a break to enjoy Moreton Island’s warm and inviting waters. Drive the beach track off Bulwer-North Point Road, along the sand to North Point. Wide flat beaches, salty swimming holes, a slight swell off the point make this a popular area for beach-goers wanting to enjoy some sand, sun and surf. A refreshing dip in the unique Champagne Pools has become an irresistible stop along the magnificent coastline. Shallow lagoon pools are filled with water cascading over the rock edges. Timing is everything with the pools as the tides will make the difference between a relaxing salty dip or a tumultuous salty spa.
Tip: If you don’t have a 4WD you won’t miss out with many day tours available to take you to the hot spots around the island. For instance, this Sunset Safaris Brisbane to Moreton Tour includes a Moreton Island Sightseeing Tour.
7. Fishing at Moreton Island
Cast a line at Comboyuro Point in the north-eastern corner of Moreton Island. The submerged logs and tide eddies at Comboyuro are a great spot to catch a fresh dinner, and the kids will love fishing in the crystal-clear waters of the Moreton Bay Marine Park. Find more information on fishing around Moreton Island here.
8. Blue Lagoon Moreton Island
After a day frolicking in the salty water, the freshwater Blue Lagoon is a popular swimming location thanks to the shallow calm waters and a small beach area offering a place to set-up and relax. Contrary to its name, Blue Lagoon is a tea-like colour due to the natural tea tree oils infused in the lake. The 42-hectare freshwater lake is unique because streams and lakes do not feed it, but from underground water that rises through the sandy soil. The native wildflowers and flora around the lake make it a hot-spot for bird watching.
After visiting the Blue Lagoon, a trip along the eastern beach is required before heading over to the western side of the island. The turbulent waves on the east coast are an extreme contrast to the opposite side, but the water colour and scenery are just as spectacular.
9. Four-Wheel Drive Moreton Island
To reach the south-west end of Moreton Island, it requires following Middle Road through the heart from east to west. Some 4WD skills are required as you drive through narrow chasms with high rock walls, soft sand, and rough terrain.
The south-west coast of Moreton has some of the most beautiful locations to visit, but not always possible to reach even in low tide. It is a popular choice for boaters who can pull up near the shore and set up camp under the mangrove and native trees that line the shore.
10. Sandboarding Moreton Island
South of Tangalooma is where you can find the awe-inspiring Big and Little Sandhills that stretch across the island’s southern tip. Expect some leg burn as you climb the magnificent peaks, but also an adrenaline rush as you zip down the soft dunes on a sandboard of your choice.
Zipping down the dunes at an epic speed you’ll no doubt be covered in Moreton Islands finest sand, and the best way to clean off is found only metres away. Find a secluded area along this long stretch of coast and enjoy the calm, pristine waters.
For the Kids: Trawling the beach at low tide hundreds of light-blue soldier crabs can be seen in huge groups on the south-east corner of Moreton.
11. Snorkel in The Moreton Island Marine Park
If you missed the Tangalooma Wrecks (mentioned above) on day one, this would be an excellent opportunity to visit the popular Moreton Island shipwrecks by taking a short detour when travelling back from the southern end of the island.
Find below more snorkelling or diving hot spots on Moreton Island:
- Car Bodies
- Bulwer Wrecks
- Curtin Artificial Reef Dive Site
- Flinders Reef Dive Site
Pro Tip: The Tangalooma Wrecks become very busy on the weekend with many boating enthusiasts, and visitors taking a day trip to Moreton Island. If you would prefer fewer crowds try visiting on a weekday.
With 98 per cent of the island being a national park you’ll likely receive a wake-up call each morning from the Moreton Island birdlife. These early wake-ups will allow you to squeeze every minute out of the day. Before the Micat departs spend what time you have lounging on the beach or enjoying the tranquil waters.
Moreton Island Accommodation
Camping on Moreton Island
There are 11 campgrounds on Moreton Island offering a variety of camping experiences. A camping permit must be purchased before arriving on the island and displayed at the campsite.
Castaways, Moreton Island
If you would like a glamping experience, Castaways in the township of Bulwer offer 11 glamping tents surrounded by melaleuca trees and only 100 metres from the beach. Find rates and availability here.
Tangalooma Island Resort
Tangalooma Island Resort has various accommodation options from holiday apartments to a beachfront hotel. Enjoy all the creature comforts while surrounded by manicured gardens and sitting on the doorstep of a spectacular beachfront. Find rates and availability here for a villa/apartment.
I hope you enjoyed the above guide to Moreton Island and find it helpful when planning your trip. If you are camping at Moreton and need help choosing gear, you may also be interested in our guide to selecting the best family tent along with the best esky on the Australian market. Or read our review on a top beach cart to take on your trip.
Do you have any questions about Moreton Island? Feel free to ask in the comments below.
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