Subscribe      List an Event or Business      Invite a Writer      Write for WN      Writers      Other Locations
list an event      1 million Australian readers every month      facebook

Tangalooma Island Resort Day Trip Guide

Home > Brisbane > Adventure | Day Trips | Family | Island Hopping | Tours
by Roy Chambers (subscribe)
Lover of all things interesting and new
Published August 24th 2022
Pack the most fun & adventure into a Tangalooma Day Trip
The famous Tangalooma Island Resort is also a popular destination for day trips to Mulgumpin/Moreton Island. Options include just spending your day on the beach and at the resort, to joining a range of tours and activities provided through the resort and nearby. Here is what is on offer and how to plan a day trip that best suits you.

The Tangalooma Island Resort on Moreton Island is a popular place for a day trip
The Tangalooma Island Resort on Moreton Island is a popular place for a day trip


About the Tangalooma Island Resort

The location near Tangalooma Point was originally a whaling station before it was converted to a resort that has continued to grow over the decades. It now hosts thousands of guests daily, both on day trips and staying at the resort. While there are a few other options on the island for accommodation, tours, activities, food and shopping, Tangalooma is the main tourist provide on the island.

Day trip options

Planning a day trip starts with working out how much time you want to spend on the island. You have the early morning 7:30 am ferry that arrives before 9 am, the 10 am ferry that arrives around 11:15 am, the return ferry at 4 pm and another later one in the evening. Times may differ across the year, so check the Tangalooma website before planning.

The Tangalooma Island Ferry at the jetty on the island
The Tangalooma Island Ferry at the jetty on the island


The basic day trip tour just includes transfers, a lunch voucher and resort access. But often the best way to do a day trip to Tangalooma is to sign up for a half-day tour. This works out cheaper than booking the day trip and then the tour when you arrive, but sometimes as well, when you are booking at the last minute, you will see a day trip option that includes a tour discounted to a point that it is only a few dollars more than the standard day trip.

Full-day tours options are available but are really designed for people staying at the resort as they might start early in the morning. Private tours are available for people in a group. But you can also hire 4 wheel drives to explore the island on your own. For these, it is best to contact the resort's tour desk directly to discuss this.

Planning your trip

One of the key issues is that if you book your day trip to Tangalooma, they don't really give you a lot of information about the timing until after you have booked, and even then, they keep it pretty vague. As a result, a number of people head over and are not that sure what to do while there.

The best approach if you want to do a range of activities is to book a day tour with one main activity. When booking, you do have some options about what else you might choose, but it only includes a few other options. For an activity-filled day, you need to plan a bit. I have listed all the activities I know about below, but often the best way is to ring the tour desk at the resort and talk to them about what else you can do for the day when they are on, and then put together a plan for your day. There is an information kiosk at the jetty when you arrive and the tour desk is right next to the hotel reception, so you can go and talk to them while you are there.

You get a map of the resort with your ticket, but there are plenty of signs to help you get around
You get a map of the resort with your ticket, but there are plenty of signs to help you get around


Some of the activities and tours are run by separate companies and so just look for signs or shop fronts while you are there. So you don't actually have to plan everything, but the more you plan, the more you can fit into your day - if you are that sort of person. Many people will just enjoy their day relaxing at the resort and on the beach.

There are various businesses providing tours & activities at the Tangalooma Resort
There are various businesses providing tours & activities at the Tangalooma Resort


Resort Facilities

The resort itself is not particularly interesting, with 2 fairly small pools, free sporting activities like volleyball, badminton, tennis and so on, along with an eco-centre, shop, and various restaurants and bars. There are some free tours offered during the day as well, including pelican feeding, kookaburra feeding and the old whaling station. One thing you will find around the resort that is useful are the picnic tables along or even on the beach.

Picnic table on the beach at Tangalooma Island Resort on Moreton Island
Picnic table on the beach at Tangalooma Island Resort on Moreton Island


There are also barbecue facilities at the resort. I only saw 2 though, but no one was using them. It is quite a nice little picnic area where the barbecues are, but I am not sure I would count on getting them on a day trip.

There are a couple of barbecues for people who want to cook something up on a day trip to Tangalooma Island Resort
There are a couple of barbecues for people who want to cook something up on a day trip to Tangalooma Island Resort


There are also two pools, which are good for people who enjoy relaxing on a banana lounge by a pool on a subtropical island. They are also good for kids who might not be ready for the ocean.

One of the pools at Tangalooma Island Resort
One of the pools at Tangalooma Island Resort


When it comes to free sports, you will be competing with lots of kids for the table tennis tables, volleyball net and badminton court. There are also pool tables near the cafe indoors. The tennis court tends to be less used, and if you didn't bring your own rackets or paddles, ask at reception about them.

Volleyball on the beach at Tangalooma
Volleyball on the beach at Tangalooma


It can also be worth walking up to a vantage point at the top of the resort by following the trail up several sets of stairs. This can give you a great view of the resort, beach and Moreton Bay.

Nearby

There are 2 key attractions within walking distance of the resort, which are The Wrecks, which is great for swimming, snorkelling and kayaking, or The Desert, which is often used for sandboarding tours but you can just do a circuit walk that goes along the beach, across the desert, and back along the road.

The Wrecks is a sheltered place great for swimming, kayaking & snorkeling a short walk from the Tangalooma Island Resort
The Wrecks is a sheltered place great for swimming, kayaking & snorkeling a short walk from the Tangalooma Island Resort


About a 20-minute walk from the resort, The Wrecks are 15 ships that were purposely sunk off the coast of the island to create a sheltered harbour for boats, with the first being sunk in 1963. At low tide the wrecks are clearly visible, with the water covering most of them at high tide. What these sunken vessels have done is create an artificial reef that attracts a myriad of sealife. Often swimming at the wrecks you will find yourself surrounded by fish.

Snorkeling at The Wrecks on Moreton Island
Snorkeling at The Wrecks on Moreton Island


There are vendors there, especially Moreton Island Adventures. You have the choice of hiring kayaks, snorkels and other gear from the resort, or hiring them on the spot at The Wrecks.

You can hire kayaks, snorkels & wet suite from Moreton Island Adventures
You can hire kayaks, snorkels & wet suite from Moreton Island Adventures


1 km in the other direction is The Desert. This area of sand dunes lies a little bit in from the coast. It is not really known how it formed, but the shifting sands seem to prevent the surrounding vegetation from returning.

Most people come here as part of a Sand Tobogganing Tour, but you are also free to walk to and across it if you want. Just watch out for people careening down the dunes on waxed up masonite boards. You can walk it as a circuit that includes walking down the beach and then back via the Desert Road.

Activities & Tours

The free facilities of the resort are a little boring, but there are a lot of paid activities at the resort. Some of these are free, but most are paid for, and while some are independent a lot are tours.

Free Eco Ranger Tours including pelican feeding, kookaburra feeding and whale station tours. You can ask when you arrive about the schedule for these tours, or when you see a crowd gathered around some pelicans or kookaburras, just join them.

Free pelican feeding eco tour at Tangalooma Island Resort
Free pelican feeding eco tour at Tangalooma Island Resort


A popular activity is kayaking, especially down by The Wrecks. They have guided tours or you can hire the kayaks at the resort and paddle down to The Wrecks while some people just paddle at the beach in front of the resort.

Kayaking at The Wrecks on Moreton Island
Kayaking at The Wrecks on Moreton Island


Stand-up paddle boards are very popular now, and if you are standing up on one, you get a great view of any sea life below you, and there is plenty of sealife down by the wrecks. Just one thing. Keep clear of the rusty ships, as if you fall off your board onto one of the wrecks, it could be pretty nasty.

One of the easiest ways to get up close and personal with the sealife at the wrecks is snorkelling. You can easily bring a mask and snorkel with you, but if you don't have your own, you can rent them from the resort along with flippers. In cooler weather you might want to also rent a wetsuit. You can just hire them and walk down to the wrecks to swim or join a tour where you will be taken down by boat.

Tangalooma Island Resort snorkeling tour
Tangalooma Island Resort snorkeling tour


While snorkelling will give you a pretty good view of at The Wrecks, and you can always dive down to explore a little deeper by just holding your breath, The Wrecks are a great place to try SCUBA diving. The tours will give you instruction, take you down to The Wrecks by boat and you will be able to try SCUBA diving in a safe place near the shore with great marine life.

Preparing to SCUBA dive at The Wrecks
Preparing to SCUBA dive at The Wrecks


For snorkelers and experienced SCUBA divers, you might want to rent the Sea Scooters. They are just a motor you can use to zoom around the water or under it. The area is not that big, so they are not really necessary, but can be fun.

Back on the surface of the water, they also rent out small sailing catamarans. These are fun, fast, stable and easy to sail. They are a fun way to boat around the area and learn some sailing skills.

You can hire catamarans for sailing fun at Tangalooma Island Resort
You can hire catamarans for sailing fun at Tangalooma Island Resort


If you want to stay on top of the water and see what is underneath the Marine Life Tours use Glass Bottom Boats and take you down to The Wrecks. I always find sitting in a boat looking down at the sealife a little disappointing, but can be a good option for people who can't swim or are less mobile.

Boats use for some of the tours at Tangalooma Island Resort
Boats use for some of the tours at Tangalooma Island Resort


There are still lots of things to do on the land. For day trippers, one of the tours you can easily join are the Quad Bike Tours. Children as young as five can ride with their parents on a tandem bike, and there are also bikes suitable for children from the age of 10.

Exploring the trails around Tangalooma Island Resort on a quad bike tour
Exploring the trails around Tangalooma Island Resort on a quad bike tour


You can also cruise down the beach on a Segway Tours. Do a quick introductory class to learn how to ride one and then join a scenic tour. While no one really looks cool on a Segway, they are still an enjoyable way to get around.

Cruising down the beach on Segways at Tangalooma Island Resort
Cruising down the beach on Segways at Tangalooma Island Resort


You can also join a The Desert Tour and enjoy the beautiful shifting colours of this patch of sand dunes, and then jump on a bit of waxed masonite and Sand Toboggan down them at thrilling speeds. This is the biggest thrill activity on the island.

Well maybe the parasailing could be considered a bigger thrill. Be lifted up into the air behind a speeding boat and get a birds eye view of the island and Moreton Bay. They gently return to the ocean and ask "Can we do that again?"

During whale watching season, which runs from June through to November along the east coast of Australia, one of the best day trip options is a whale watching cruise. This includes a visit to the island, and depending on what time you took the ferry over, plenty of time for other activities, then you get on the whale watching boat that goes around the north of the island to the whale highway where you will see pods of whales migrating along the coast. In the other months when whales are back in Antarctica they have dolphin tours instead.

Whales off Moreton Island on a Tangalooma Island Resort Whale Watching Tour
Whales off Moreton Island on a Tangalooma Island Resort Whale Watching Tour


One very popular option at the resort are the helicopter tours. You will see their little black helicopter flying over the island most of the day as people seek to get the best view of everything from the air. The tours range in length, so you can do a quick teaser or a longer tour.

Get a bird's eye view of Moreton Island on a Helicopter tour at Tangalooma
Get a bird's eye view of Moreton Island on a Helicopter tour at Tangalooma


One of the most famous activities at the resort is the wild dolphin feeding. You will need to book this one in advance as it happens at sunset and you take the later ferry back.

Restaurants, bars & food

There are a number of restaurants at the resort. The most likely place people will go to, whether for lunch or a snack will be the Beach Cafe, with things like fish & chips, burgers, salads, pasta, pizzas and other basic foods. The price of most meals match closely the value of your meal voucher.

The seating in front of The Beach Cafe at Tangalooma Island Resort
The seating in front of The Beach Cafe at Tangalooma Island Resort


For lunch, the premium place to visit is the Fire & Stone restaurant. The Fire is Chinese food and the Stone is Vietnamese food. They claim to be serving Sichuan style Chinese food, but it is mostly western Chinese staples, like sweet and sour pork, mongolian beef and salt and pepper calamari. But they do have a few Sichuan favourites on the menu. The Vietnamese menu is heavy on the noodles, including pho and egg noodles. The prices here mean if you have a lunch voucher, you will also need to pay a little extra on top of that to have a meal here.

For a cheap snack, there is the Coffee Lounge. With things like sandwiches, pies, cakes and ice cream, you can find something to eat here from $5. You might be able to stretch out your day trip voucher to include morning tea, lunch, afternoon tea and a beverage by just eating here.

If you are looking for a few beers and cocktails in the afternoon then B&Bs Private Lounge is where to go. They do have entertainment in the evenings, but for a day tripper, it is just for the drinks, pool or darts.

There is also a little shop on the island. They have a few souvenirs, drinks and snacks, along with essentials like sunscreen and a hat. It is pretty popular with the day tripping crowd.

But it can also be worth self catering a little on a Tangalooma trip, especially if you are going to be walking off down the beach. You don't have to bring a lot, but bringing a bottle of water, some snacks and so on are worthwhile. After all, you will probably be bringing other things like towels and a change of clothes in a bag anyway.

Comparison with the MICAT Ferry

A lot of people choose to do a day trip with the MICAT Ferry that drops people off directly at the wrecks. This is the cheaper option, but at the time of writing this, the MICAT ferry was $65 for a return trip and a Tangalooma day trip was $89, but this includes a $20 lunch voucher at the resort, please a voucher for tea, coffee or a soft drink on the ferry across. So with those includes, a Tangalooma Day Trip is about the same price, plus you get access to the resort facilities, free eco tours, paid tours and activities, and actually longer on the island than with the MICAT ferry.

The MICAT ferry is the other way to get to the Island
The MICAT ferry is the other way to get to the Island


Overall

Tangalooma is a bit of a tourist trap, in that there are only fairly limited options on the island that don't involve spending money at the resort. However, that isn't necessary a bad thing, as there are plenty of people who can enjoy the whole day on the beach, while others will want to join multiple different activities during the day. Plus, Tangalooma doesn't overcharge for these services, and if the price is a little high, it is never unreasonably so, and really just reflects the location and costs of providing the service.

So, if a day trip to Mulgumpin/Moreton Island is on your mind, then a Tangalooma Day Trip actually is pretty good value for money whether you are sitting on the beach all day relaxing or signing up for as many tours as you can fit into your schedule. I think when people know what they will get out of the experience, the better they will plan and they will enjoy it much more.

The author travelled to Mulgumpin/Moreton Island as a guest of the Tangalooma Island Resort.
Help us improve  Click here if you liked this article  60
Share: email  facebook  twitter
Why? There is a lot of fun & adventure to be had on a Tangalooma Day Trip
When: Ferries service starts at 7:30 am in the morning
Phone: (07) 3637 2000
Where: Ferries leave from 220 Holt St, Pinkenba QLD 4009
Cost: Day trips from $89
Your Comment
We are so lucky to have it on our Brisbane doorstop.
by Gillian Ching (score: 3|5389) 35 days ago
Thank you! This was very informative. This is a place I have wanted to visit for a long time. Your article provided all the info I need and made it seem less hassle than I was imagining. Definitely going to visit once the weather warms up!
by donna (score: 0|8) 34 days ago
Thank you! This was very informative. This is a place I have wanted to visit for a long time. Your article provided all the info I need and made it seem less hassle than I was imagining. Definitely going to visit once the weather warms up!
by donna (score: 0|8) 34 days ago
Featured
Top Events
Popular Articles
Categories
Lists
Questions