Exploring the Moreton Island

Enjoy an island getaway amidst the tropics! Snorkel through the reef, see the unique wildlife, and discover the unspoilt natural wonders that Moreton Island is famed for.

Moreton Island can be found 25km off the coast of Brisbane and is the world’s third-largest sand island. Here, you can marvel at glassy lakes and lagoons that are nestled amongst sand dunes, wildflower fields, and sprawling white-sand beaches. The island is perfect for any kind of traveller, including families with young children, senior couples wanting to relax, or even backpackers looking for an adventure.

Moreton Island, QLD

The Wildlife of Moreton Island

Moreton Island is a haven of wildlife that’s renowned for its pristine beaches and impressive sand dunes. Throughout the island, there are plenty of wildlife watching opportunities, from spotting the unique marine life in designated dive sites to dolphin feeding spots, to birdwatching opportunities in the lush forests that sit further inland.

Moreton Island is home to over 180 bird species, making it a popular hotspot for keen birdwatchers. As well as plenty of seabirds, there are also forest birds and birds of prey. Between September and April, wading birds take to the shores after migrating from other countries, and the influx of eugaries and beach shellfish attracts numerous unique species of birdlife. You might be able to catch a glimpse of the pied oystercatcher as they hunt in pairs, or the masked lapwing, eastern curlew, silver gull, and pelicans in and around the shoreline.

Elsewhere on the island, bandicoots, bats, and gliders form the majority of native mammal life and can be found in the forests surrounding the beaches. Keep your eyes peeled if you head inland on a hike for some of the island’s best-loved native species.

When it comes to reptiles, Moreton Island seems to have it all. There are more than 40 species of reptiles living on the island, including rare and unique species that are endemic to Australia. See if you can spot blue-tongued lizards, bearded dragons, major skinks, numerous species of snakes, and marine turtles that have resided in the region for centuries.

The mixed nature of the landscape on the island means there are plenty of other species to spot, too, including frogs and fish in the freshwater lakes, creeks, and swamps.

The sea surrounding Moreton Island is also a haven for wildlife. From Cape Moreton, you have the perfect vantage point for watching marine life, including the majestic humpback whales during their migration from June to November. As well as whales, you can also see dolphins, sharks, and turtles. Between November and February, large populations of Green and Loggerhead Turtles nest on the beaches of Moreton Island, making it the perfect time of year to catch a glimpse of these majestic creatures.

Things to Do on Moreton Island

There is plenty to do on the island, from spotting native wildlife to exploring the rich history. Here are some of the best things to do.

Sand Tobogganing

Feeling the need for speed? With the entirety of Moreton Island made up of sand, there are plenty of opportunities to whizz down the dunes. Grab a board, climb up the tallest coastal sand dunes in the world and surf feet first, on your stomach, or (for the bravest ones in the group) standing up. You can reach up to 60 km an hour, so if you want to get your adrenaline fix, this is the way to do it.

Snorkel the Tangalooma Wrecks

In 1962, 15 boats were deliberately sunk off the coast of Moreton Island in order to create a breakwall, a measure that protects the shallow waters from the battering of waves. As the years have passed, coral and wildlife have moved in and around the boats. Now, those boats have become a hive of activity and a wonder for snorkelers with an array of colourful marine life to discover. The wrecks are a great example of how nature can thrive anywhere.

Feed Wild Dolphins

One of the most popular activities on the island is feeding wild dolphins at sunset. Every day, like clockwork, ten wild bottlenose dolphins come in to feed at the Tangalooma Island Resort, where eager visitors wait to see these magnificent creatures up close.  Learn about the world of dolphins at the Marine Education Centre before heading to the jetty to view the friendly dolphins arrive for their nightly feeding.

Whale Watching

During the winter season (June-October) around 25,000 magnificent humpback whales swim through Moreton Island’s waters. Migrating to the warm waters of the tropics to mate and give birth to their calves. You can see these extraordinary creatures up close, by simply hopping on board the whale watching cruise to see the mighty marine mammals jump out of the water.

4WD Drive

To really see the entire island, why not try out the 4WD tracks. Speed down the beaches on the wet sand and bounce around as you cruise over the rough, rocky areas. The island holds more than 420kms of area suitable for a 4WD adventure.

Walking Trails

Explore the island on foot by walking along one of the many trails. You can find countless amazing sights on your journey including the brilliant Blue Lagoon. The lagoon is a large freshwater lake that is great for swimming or bird watching. The water seeps in from below the ground, causing excellent quality water that some locals even drink!

Cape Moreton Lighthouse

Moreton Island boasts the very first lighthouse built in Queensland. The iconic red-striped attraction was erected in 1857 on a rocky outcrop, and today forms a fantastic viewing point from which you can spot whales, dolphins, sharks, and dugongs. Inside, you can check out the Visitor Information Centre to learn more about the island and its fascinating history. Visit the wartime artefacts dispersed around the island including concrete bunkers, shelters, and gun batteries.

Climb Mount Tempest

If you fancy something a bit more adventurous, try your hand at climbing Mount Tempest – the island’s highest sand dune. At the top, you’ll be greeted by breath-taking panoramic views of both the Sunshine Coast and the Gold Coast.

Getting to Moreton Island

There are numerous ways for you to get to Moreton Island, including by boat, plane, and even swimming (yes, it’s been done before)! The easiest way is by ferry or barge, both of which leave regularly from Brisbane throughout the day.

Bursting with fantastic wildlife and awesome outdoor activities, Moreton Island is the perfect place for getting outside and into nature. Whether visiting on an action-packed day tour or staying for a few days, visitors will be wowed by the beauty of this incredible sand island.

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