Just an hour on a ferry from Brisbane is a laidback island resort lapped by pristine waters.
Just an hour on a ferry from Brisbane is a laidback island resort lapped by pristine waters.

You can stay on the beach and this gem is easy to get to

It was one of those COVID trips. Having never been to Tangalooma before, despite having lived in Queensland since 1970, it seemed like a visit was a tad overdue. We had visited Stanthorpe for the first time in our lives a couple of months earlier so now we were cutting loose.

People are always trying to talk me into visiting North Stradbroke Island (Minjerribah) but the long drive to the ferry puts me off. When I realised that the ferry to Tangalooma on Moreton Island was at Hamilton, just 10 minutes from home, I decided I could manage that.

And I do love a nice ferry ride. About an hour is enough for me on a boat though and since that's how long it took I was fine. Going by ferry is a nice transition and being a bit of a nerd I love to see the industrial hubs at the mouth of the Brisbane River on the way out into Moreton Bay. It's a comfortable ride, you can get a coffee, sit back and watch the water whiz by.

Arriving at Tangalooma Island resort I was immediately struck by the water. Pristine is an overused word but I think I can use it in regard to the stretch that laps the shoreline here. We were staying at one of the Deluxe Beachside Villas and soon settled in, appreciating the fact that we were basically on the beach with just a grassy verge and some palm trees between us and the water.


Snorkling haven: the pristine water at Tangalooma.
Snorkling haven: the pristine water at Tangalooma.

We took a dip almost immediately and revelled in the shallows. We noticed a lot of snorkelling going on further down the beach, around the wrecks that are a big underwater attraction off the northern end of the resort's stretch of beach but we were happy just to loll and then head back to the villa and to repeat this over and over again during our stay.

Being on the beach like this felt like a family holiday from the old days and that feeling was magnified by the fact that this is obviously a busy resort (and quite a big one!) that is very popular with families. The last time we stayed so close to the beach was a holiday in Honolulu and like that holiday this one came with sunsets over the water.

Now Moreton Island (Moorgumpin) is big and most of it is national park and there's quite a lot to do in the great outdoors including helicopter rides, quad biking and other activities on the water and the land but we wanted to just loll around and relax and it's the perfect place for doing that too. We did do a short bushwalk one morning to the Bay Lookout and that's a pleasant walk on a track that rises just behind the resort. There's plenty of birdlife around here and down at the resort curlews are a constant presence. I happen to love curlews and I don't mind their plaintive calls punctuating the night.

The resort was previously known as the Tangalooma Wild Dolphin resort due to the fact that you can feed wild dolphins here. Some people don't approve of that and I noticed some narks making a fuss about that on social media when I posted something about our trip. Get over it guys. It's called fun.


Ocean vista: A view from a villa at Tangalooma Island Resort.
Ocean vista: A view from a villa at Tangalooma Island Resort.

The wonderful thing about the dolphin feeding is that you get to see these beautiful creatures up close … real close. We opted to just watch the feeding from the jetty and there were families gathered here with the kids all excited and I felt that I was on some kind of retro Gold Coast holiday circa 1969. Which was nice.

Wild dolphin feeding at Tangalooma Island Resort
Wild dolphin feeding at Tangalooma Island Resort

It's not exactly a gourmet's paradise (this is Tangalooma not Noosa) but there's plenty of adequate food, several eateries and a bit of a lifesaver for us was Stone Restaurant, which offers decent Japanese tucker. Our Villa was spacious and comfortable and we enjoyed mooching around the resort. The staff are friendly and there is a very relaxed vibe and since we were looking for a short getaway to clear our heads it was just the thing. Sitting there in the evening watching the sunset across the bay framed by a couple of palm trees was a delight.

And all this is just a short ferry ride from the city. So glad we finally got there.

The writer was a guest of the operator

Palmy days: The view from a villa at Tangalooma Island Resort
Palmy days: The view from a villa at Tangalooma Island Resort



Rooms from $159 a night

Deluxe Beachfront Villas, from $459 a night, accommodating six to eight guests. Ferries run daily



Things to do at Tangalooma
Island Resort

ATV Quad Bike Tour: Tours run daily and include a 45 minute briefing and training. You will need to wear enclosed shoes and have a licence. It's $80 a person or $120 for tandem. Book at the Tours Desk.

Bush Walking: Especially in the cooler months bush walking is a perfect way to enjoy Moreton Island's natural beauty. You can pick up a walking map from the Tours Desk.

Snorkelling: Enjoy a guided snorkel tour through the Tangalooma shipwrecks. The crystal clear waters that surround the Wrecks are filled with more than 200 species of fish and 130 species of coral and then there are turtles and dolphins and resident wobbegong sharks (they are harmless) and stingrays. It's just a short boat ride from the beach and all gear is provided. Book at TangaTours at the resort.

Scenic Helicopter Flights: There's nothing like a bird's eye view of Tangalooma and we've seen the pictures but if you want to see it for real you can hop on the chopper. Bookings are open from 9am daily at the Tangalooma Helicopter Hut.

Marine Discovery Cruise: This is for you if you don't want to venture under the water but you do want to see the wonderful marine life and hear about what you're seeing with a full Eco Commentary on every tour. This is a great way for families to understand the rich environment around Tangalooma. Tours happen daily and you can book at TangaTours.

4WD Desert Safari Tour: The Tangalooma Desert is a vast expanse of sand that you can travel across as part of this sometimes bumpy but always fun 4WD bus tour into the heart of Moreton Island. Sand tobogganing is one of the highlights and you can whiz along at speeds of up to 40km an hour if you are that way inclined. Tours happen daily and you can book at the resort Tours Desk

Originally published as Hidden QLD gem: You can stay on the beach, and it's just a short ferry ride away

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