Relax and refresh at tantalising Tangalooma
Enjoy a visit to this subtropical paradise just 75 minutes from Brisbane.
I set myself a challenge as I stepped off the ferry at Tangalooma Jetty, Moreton Island – return home feeling relaxed and refreshed.
While this may seem like the obvious point of a holiday, I am known for trying to cram as much as possible into a trip and often need a couple of days at home just to recover.
I had spent the 75-minute boat trip from Holt Street Wharf, Pinkenba, to Tangalooma Island Resort thinking about everything I wanted to do in my five days on the island and narrowed it down to three key activities: snorkelling the world-famous Tangalooma Wrecks, sand tobogganing and exploring the island away from the resort – the rest of the time would be about relaxing and recharging.
Fighting every inner urge to book the activities straight away, my partner and I bypassed the activities desk and grabbed lunch overlooking the beach before heading to one of two resort pools.
It’s impossible not to feel relaxed when surrounded by Tangalooma’s lush landscaping.
The coconut trees, tropical plants in full bloom and carefully manicured lawns rival any resort in the South Pacific.
Lounging by the pool with a drink in one hand and a book in the other, it was easy to see why many families come to Tangalooma just to enjoy the facilities.
With a kids playground, free sport equipment hire, wild bird feedings and the crystal clear calm waters of Moreton Bay, it would be easy for families to enjoy their stay without spending a single cent on entertainment.
One of the best free activities the resort offers is the nightly wild dolphin feeding.
For more than 28 years a local pod of dolphins has returned to Tangalooma Jetty night after night to be hand-fed small fish by guests.
It felt surreal to be so close to a creature that I’d only admired from afar as I offered the fish to Luna, an eight-year-old male dolphin.
Within seconds he had gobbled the fish and swam a victory lap around the resort’s specially trained Dolphin Care Team.
Each night of our stay we watched the dolphin feeding from the jetty hoping for a special guest appearance from “The Colonel”, a rogue pelican who had the Dolphin Care Team hilariously running about in circles as he tried to steal fish from the buckets used to feed the dolphins – there’s even a person who’s sole job each night is to stop The Colonel’s antics.
Snorkel the wrecks
One of the things that drew me to Moreton Island was the opportunity to snorkel at the Tangalooma Wrecks, a series of 15 junk boats that were first scuttled in the 1960s to create an artificial reef teeming with marine life.
While the wrecks are just a 20-minute walk along the beach from the resort, strong currents and a lot of boat activity meant the safest option was to take a guided snorkelling tour provided by Tanga Tours.
We were kitted up with snorkelling gear and wetsuit to prevent scratching ourselves on the rusty wrecks before a five-minute boat trip from the resort to the northern-most scuttled boat.
For the next hour I floated alongside the wrecks, allowing the currents to pull me south where the boat met us for the trip back to the resort.
Looking through the portholes and swimming between the gaping tears in the skeletons of the rusting ships was a fascinating element that I hadn’t experienced on previous snorkelling trips.
I could have spent all day swimming among the thousands of fish of all sizes and colours that called the artificial reef home.
It’s the opposite of relaxing but sand tobogganing is a must when staying on the third largest sand island in the world.
As we didn’t have a 4X4 vehicle, we joined a tour which took us to the Moreton Island Desert via winding bush-lined sand roads. As we emerged from the bush, mountainous bare sand hills rose up around us and it was obvious that some in our group were wishing they had chosen to lounge by the pool instead.
We collected a small, thin, waxed board and began the slog through hot, loose sand to the top of the sand hill, which really tested your cardio fitness (tip: use the footprints of the person in front of you like stairs). The view from the top of the hill was spectacular with just white sand stretching almost as far as you could see.
Then it was time to slide.
I laid on my stomach on the waxed board, pulled my feet and the front of the board up and zoomed down the hill headfirst at about 40km/h, a huge grin on my face and sand in my teeth the entire time. I made the trek back up the hill for a second run (the average number of goes is two) before heading back to the 4X4 bus, exhausted, completely covered in sand and looking forward to an afternoon of cold drinks on the beach.
While I still managed to pack a number of activities in to the five-day trip, I can honestly say that I returned from Tangalooma Island Resort more relaxed and refreshed than I’d felt in a long time.
STAY: Tangalooma Island Resort
PLAY: Wild dolphin feeding, sand tobogganing, snorkelling the Tangalooma Wrecks
EAT: Beach BBQ Bistro or Gutter Bar at Kooringal (must have 4X4)