With deep orange sunsets, beach driving, snorkelling, camping, swimming, lighthouse spotting, and even the ruins of World II bunkers to explore, Moreton Island offers up something for every type of adventurer.
- Relax on island time or enjoy a range of activities like swimming, surfing, and snorkelling
- Stunning sunsets with views out to the Glasshouse Mountains
- Plenty of picturesque beachfront and bush camping sites to choose from
- 4WDing across gorgeous Queensland beaches!
Whether you want to relax on the beach, swim in a lagoon, or take a hike, you can do it on the world’s third largest sand island – Moreton Island. But you’ll need a 4WD (and a sense of adventure) to make the most of it.
Day 1: Cowan Cowan Beach and WWII Ruins
We loaded ourselves and our 4WD onto the Moreton Island Ferry to make the 90 minute journey across Moreton Bay to our long weekend island paradise. On arrival at Tangalooma, we headed to the beach camping area at Cowan Cowan for the night, about 5km north via the beach.
This camping area offers up large shady campsites slightly back from the beach and is also within walking distance to ruins of World War II bunker and gun embattlements, which make good photo opportunities at sunset. You can read about the history of these ruins at the information centre near the Cape Moreton Lighthouse at North Point.
Early mornings are perfect at Cowan Cowan with plenty of birdlife around and the bright blue ocean a few steps away. There are no facilities at Cowan Cowan, so if you’re not self-sufficient, stay at Ben-Ewa camping area instead, located in between the Tangalooma Wrecks and Cowan Cowan.
Day 2: Lagoons, Lighthouses and Lookouts
After a relaxing night, we headed inland, taking the sandy Middle Road across to the eastern side of the island. This road was slow going due to the very soft sand. Several cars sank in the sand ahead of us and we had to help to dig them out.
From Middle Road, you can access the hiking trail to Mt Tempest, which is believed to be the highest coastal sand dune in the world.
Once we reached the beach, we headed to the Blue Lagoon, hopping quickly across the hot sand to the cool waters of the freshwater lake for a swim. The lagoon was pleasantly quiet, with only a handful of people enjoying the refreshing water. There’s only a small beach area here and limited shade, but there are toilet facilities nearby and some campsites if you want to stay the night.
After a swim, it was back in the car to visit the island’s lighthouses, Cape Moreton and North Point. Admire beach views and go dolphin spotting from the Cape Moreton Lighthouse. Learn about its history, as well as the history of the whole island, in the adjoining information centre.
Fun fact! The Cape Moreton Lighthouse was the first lighthouse in Queensland. It became a beacon for ships in 1857.
From North Point Lighthouse, there’s a stunning view of Honeymoon Bay and across to the Cape Moreton Lighthouse. Walk down to Honeymoon Bay, or go for a swim in Champagne Pools, a pool of water formed by the waves breaking over the cliffs.
There are toilet facilities at Cape Moreton but no facilities at North Point lighthouse or Honeymoon Bay.
You can camp at North Point campground, which is within walking distance to the North Point lighthouse and Honeymoon Bay, serving as a perfect location for sunset photos. There are basic facilities at North Point campground, but no fires are allowed.
We opted to stay back on the western side of the island for two nights, camping at Comboyuro Point at Bulwer. It’s a scenic drive from North Point to Bulwer along a quiet inland road surrounded by coastal heath.
We found a shady spot at the back of the camping area, less than a five minute walk to the beach and a short walk to the facilities (toilets and cold showers). If you need any basic supplies during your stay here, there’s a small store in the Bulwer township, a short walk from the camping area.
Day 3: Snorkelling and Sunsets
After a lazy morning, we walked up to the artificial reef of sunken ships near the campsite to go snorkelling and for a swim, followed by relaxing in the quiet of the campsite with a good book. The general mood all day was lazy.
The western side of the island is also a great spot for sunsets. Find your own private spot on the beach or head over to points of interest such as the wrecks for a pink and orange tinged photo opportunity. You can even see the silhouettes of the Glasshouse Mountains from here.
Day 4: Tangalooma Wrecks
After another lazy morning packing up camp, we headed back to Tangalooma via the beach and inland roads as we departed close to high tide.
Before departing on the ferry back to the city, snorkel at the Tangalooma Wrecks artificial reef. If snorkelling isn’t your thing or the currents are too strong, a swim and beach picnic is just as nice!
This is a great spot to enjoy the remainder of your time on the island, although it can get busy with day-trippers.
Need to Know Before You Go
Getting to Moreton Island
1. Moreton Island is a 90 minute ferry ride from Brisbane on the MICAT. The boat departs from Brisbane and docks at Tangalooma, north of the Tangalooma Resort.
2. The island is a national park so the usual rules apply – leave the dogs at home, leave no trace and book your campsite in advance. You also need to buy a vehicle access permit to drive on the island.
3. Fires are permitted in some, but not all, campgrounds so make sure you check as fines may apply. You must bring your own firewood.
4. Most camping areas have toilet facilities, and some have cold showers. The camping zones located on the beach don’t have toilet facilities, and groups staying away from facilities are encouraged to bring a portable toilet. There are waste facilities at Ben-Ewa and Comboyuro Point camping areas.
5. Camping areas also have water taps scattered around the grounds, but this water must be treated before use.
6. While distances appear short on the map, travel takes longer than you think owing to soft sand and the tides. Road rules apply on the island, and some beaches have speed limits posted.
7. Some beaches are not trafficable at high tide and you need to use inland routes. Make sure you download a list of tide times before you go.
8. Mobile reception is patchy and often weak on the island and cannot be relied on.
9. You’ll need to lower your tyre pressure to traverse the sand island to around 16 to 18 PSI depending on your vehicle size and softness of the sand. You can pump your tyres back up when you return on the MICAT. However, it’s good practice to have a tyre compressor on hand throughout your trip.
10. Given the time it takes to traverse the island, it’s a good idea if you have limited time or want to maximise your relaxation hours to focus on one section of the island.
11. The itinerary in this article focuses on a northern route extending from Tangalooma to North Point. This route was completed over four days with plenty of down time to relax and swim.
12. You’ll need to be largely self-sufficient as there’s only a shop at Bulwer offering basic supplies such as ice.
- High clearance 4WD
- Camping gear including tent, sleeping mat, and sleeping bag
- Cooking equipment
- Esky or fridge (Ice and basic supplies are available at the general store at Bulwer)
- 4WD recovery equipment
- Air compressor
- Drinking water
- Snorkelling gear
- Beach towels
- Toilet paper
- Radios (if travelling in a group)
- List of tide times
- Garbage bags
- Hat, sunscreen and insect repellent
How To Get There
To reach Moreton Island, take the MICAT ferry from 14 Howard Smith Drive, Port of Brisbane.
You’ll need to book online well in advance of your trip as car spots fill up quickly.
The ferry drops you off north of Tangalooma Resort near the Tangalooma Wrecks. If you haven’t got a 4WD, there are camping grounds within walking distance at The Wrecks Campground. A little further along the beach is the Ben-Ewa camping area. There are several tour companies offering trips around the island taking in points of interest such as the Blue Lagoon.
If you have a 4WD, you can reach the camping areas at Comboyura Point, North Point, and Blue Lagoon via the inland roads or the beach working around the tides.