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“Pack light everyone, we’re going on an island adventure this weekend”. That was the brief as we kept our packing list very simple for our weekend getaway. Our family of five was Brisbane bound to catch the ferry to Moreton Island and stay at Tangalooma Island Resort. 

I was feeling super grateful we had a clear weekend – literally. Sunny, clear skies, no lockdown and no borders to cross. In all this COVID craziness we were all feeling the fuzz and couldn’t wait to slow down, have some fun and set our watches to island time for a few days. 

Only seventy-five minutes by ferry and you reach the turquoise shores of Moreton Island and Tangalooma Island Resort. It’s breathtaking upon arrival – you can literally feel the relaxing vibes the minute the ferry pulls into the dock. If they handed me a frozen cocktail and flower necklace as we disembarked the ferry, you could have convinced me we sailed into an island in the South Pacific! 

Moreton is the third largest sand island in the world behind K’gari (previously Fraser Island) and North Stradbroke Island. Rolling, white sandy hills to the sky and turquoise blue seas lap the shore – simple, yet stunning. 

You can go slow, sunbake, read and eat on your beach lounge or soak up some island adventures. We chose the latter and filled our days with fun!

Get wild 

Tangalooma Island Resort’s most iconic activity is hand feeding dolphins, and it’s a must for all ages. It happens at dark so keep that in mind when you’re making dinner plans – the dolphins eat first! With the help of the resort’s expert Eco Rangers, each evening you can queue up and feed the majestic animals by hand. Beware of the cheeky pelicans that also like the fish that’s on the menu – they keep the crew on their toes as they try to pinch the fish right out of the buckets, but give the tourists loads of laughs.

Any keen bird lover will enjoy the docile curlews that roam the resort, and I lost count of how many kookaburras we spotted. The resort offers a feeding session for these iconic birds where you can spot a dozen or so perched at feeding time. Keep an eye out for huge sea eagles in the less populated areas of the island, too. 

Lucky for us we travelled in the midst of whale watching season so you could spot the beasts from land, sea or sky. As we toured the island, we passed what they call the Whale Highway and you could literally hear and see the whales as they played passing us by. 

Quad Bike Tours

Let’s roll kids! After our safety briefing and test drive we got to explore the resort through the quad tracks with some gusto. This was probably my favourite island activity; a combination of adrenaline from racing through the purpose-made track (an impressive network!) and laughter watching our kids navigate their own vehicle and turns. Kids over ten can have a go on their own ATV and we had an experienced guide show us the way – high into the desert sand dunes and back down to the shoreline following along a super fun course of winding sand tracks and hills. The views were divine and the kids were brave! If the bikes are a bit too adventurous for you, you can still explore the desert on a bus tour.

Island eats

We kept the weekend very simple with just our carry-on luggage so the breaky buffet was a sweet way to start the day and fuel us for our daily adventures. It was fully loaded with all the traditional eats along with fruit, pancakes and some baked goods. You can fuel up on coffee, snacks and sweets throughout the day – the kids said their holiday isn’t complete without ice-cream (okay, I may agree!) and us adults loved the sunset cocktails and the bucket of ice cold beers as the sun sunk over the water. There is a convenience store for resort guests, however it’s island prices so keep that in mind if you’re there for longer. The weekend beach BBQ was a hit and if we happened to stay longer, we heard there is trivia and games on offer some nights so the resort, guest/team building vibes are really fun.

Wrecks Snorkel Tour

The wrecks are a sanctuary of brightly coloured fish and calm turquoise waters that house coral formations (and loads of other marine life). A guide takes you on a tour, sharing their local insights and going with the current – this makes it a lot easier, especially for the little kids. You can tick off all the colours of the rainbow in the fish you see! If snorkelling isn’t your thing, you can also see the wrecks and marine life by kayak or boat tour. If we had more time, I would certainly have gone back by paddleboard or kayak to cruise around the area at lower tide with my GoPro.

Around the island

The whole family loved exploring the island by 4×4 (you can rent these at the tour desk) and we covered all corners of the island in our one day adventure. Here are our top spots to check out:

  1. Champagne pools (at the northwestern tip) for a big splash as the waves crashed over the rocks to cool us down
  2. Cape Moreton Lighthouse (northside) was the first lighthouse built in Queensland and stands bright with its red stripes and the best view of whale watching we found. It was here that you could hear the whales passing by!
  3. Blue Lagoon is more of a browny blue due to the tea tree, but it’s nevertheless an oasis to freshen up and take a deep dive and cool off. 
  4. Big sand dunes are so worth the climb, if only to take in the superb view and then land giant strides back down the sandhills.
  5. The Gutter Bar is a step back in time but the beer is cold and the fish is fresh so it’s a fun spot to pitstop on your way back to the resort at the end of the day.

Stay where it suits

This island adventure suits all budgets and room varieties, whether you plan a couple’s escape or travel with a few families in tow. You can choose from 3 ½ stars to 4-star quality beachfront accommodation. We stayed in the Deep Blue Apartments with a breathtaking view over the water. With the glowing sunsets, you could pinch me – that could be the same view from the beaches of Fiji. 

Accommodation options at Tangalooma Island Resort include:

  • Deluxe Beachfront Villa: A comfortable option for families wanting to stay close to the beach. These two-level air-conditioned townhouses are fully self-contained, with beautiful beach and garden views. Sleeping up to eight guests, these villas are the perfect option for larger families.
  • Standard Beachfront Villa: Situated to the north of the resort, these two-bedroom townhouses feature private balconies with spectacular views across Moreton Bay to Brisbane and the Glasshouse Mountains. You can walk out the front door and head straight to the beach out front, with manicured lawns for the kids to play on.
  • Family Suites: Tangalooma’s one bedroom family suites are furnished for relaxed comfort and are located only 50 metres from the beachfront. They’re also designed to take advantage of the refreshing Moreton Bay breezes through large sliding glass windows and differ from resort units as they offer a separate bedroom and living area.
  • Resort Units: Resort units are a quintessential 3.5 star Queensland beach holiday unit, furnished with relaxed island décor. All units are studio-style and offer air conditioning, an ensuite bathroom, dining table and chairs, and a kitchenette.
  • Hotel Rooms: Comfortable and spacious, hotel rooms in Tangalooma’s Kookaburra Lodge can accommodate up to four guests. Located just a short walk from the Resort Centre and only 50 metres from the iconic Tangalooma beach, each spacious room opens onto a private furnished balcony.

Our verdict? Though our stay was short but sweet, it was high fives from the whole tribe – how could it not be? We can’t wait to soak up the sun, sand and sea at this island paradise again. We may just pack for a bit longer next time.

More information visit www.tangalooma.com 

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haven is all about family, life and style in Brisbane's inner city suburbs, the Gold Coast, south to Byron Bay. We have been keeping parents in the know for over eight years, with fun, fresh and helpful stories that they can take tips from or treasure in their own library.