Pristine beach, rolling sand dunes and mouthwash-blue coastline — there’s a reason Tangalooma is dubbed the ‘jewel of Moreton Bay’.

This nature paradise, just a 75 minute ferry ride from Brisbane, is spoiled for marine life and untamed beauty — with a few man-made perks chucked in for good measure (the Tangalooma shipwrecks, made up of 15 sunken vessels, are the stuff of snorkelling/diving bucket lists).

Tangalooma wrecks from above
Heaving with shipwrecks, marine life and giant sand dunes, Moreton Island is an adventure paradise. (Tangalooma Island Resort)

And while there’s nothing wrong with kicking back in a hammock and enjoying the serene surrounds, if its chill time you’re after, you’re not utilising Tanga to its full, adventure-packed potential.

From getting astonishingly up close with marine life to speeding face-first down a giant desert dune, here’s our top five reasons to pay Tangalooma a visit next time you’re in Brisbane.

1. Feed wild dolphins at dusk

Tangalooma dolphin feeding
The dolphin experience is so moving, we were practically tearing up. (Tangalooma Island Resort)

Each evening at 6pm, resort guests and island visitors can funnel out to the jetty or line up at the beach for the chance to hand-feed a wild bottlenose dolphin — an experience so special, we were practically tearing up.

The tradition started by accident — apparently a staff member used to dump food scraps off the jetty, and those clever mammals soon caught on. Twenty years later, and they’re still frequenting the jetty for a free feed.

Arrive in shorts or swimmers (if the former, note that you will get wet) and wait for staff to hand you a fish, and guide you into the water — remarklably, the dolphins know to wait in neat lines for their supper, it’s quite the sight.

Resort staff also run conservation programs and keep tight tabs on the dolphin regulars, ensuring they’re only fed three per cent of their daily fish intake each evening. It’s easy to see why dolphin feeding has become a signature experience at the resort, almost as iconic as the namesake wrecks attraction.

2. Explore reef-covered shipwrecks

Tangalooma wrecks night glass bottom boat tour
A night viewing let’s you see nocturnal marine life and bioluminescent algae. (Tangalooma Island Resort)

An outing to the Tangalooma wrecks is mandatory on this pristine stretch, and there’s a few ways you can tick it off.

If the weather gods are kind and you luck onto a balmy evening, sign up for an Illuminated Wreck Tour, where you’ll be treated to the additional phenomenon of bioluminescent algae via the resort’s purpose-built, glass-bottomed boat.

Once in position, guides activate special boat lighting to attract the mysteriously algae (which glow blue when disturbed), and in turn lure an abundance of nocturnal marine creatures, setting guests up with the perfect perch to spot reef fish, dugongs, turtles and more.

3. See the most spectacular sunset

Queensland puts on a dusk sky show like no other, with brilliant ember-like hues of orange radiating upwards from the horizon, like a distant wildfire.

Just when you think it surely can’t get anymore photogenic, you’ll find yourself pausing a few minutes later to take another snap — lest you miss out on that money shot.

If you’re an East Coaster, like myself, the novelty of soaking up a sunset won’t be lost on you. The ‘gram will be drowning in dusk prettiness.

4. Speed down sand dunes on a dessert safari tour

Tangalooma sand dune tabogganing
(Tangalooma Island Resort)

Did you know Moreton Bay is Australia’s third largest sand island? So what I’m saying is, it’d be rude not to speed down their giant dunes on a crudely made wooden board, right?

Tangalooma’s Desert Safari Tour begins with a bumpy ride in a six-wheel-drive bus named Betsy, captained by the chatty Allistair (aka “Ali Baba”), who appears to enjoy watching tourists squirm through sudden drops and precarious corners (“this next dip is known as Death Valley — and let’s just say it’s not called Death Valley for nothing”).

Once there, visitors young and old are issued wooden boards — and Instagrammable candy-hued goggles, you know, for eye protection — and advised on the best way to tear down their steeply pitched dunes without copping a mouth full of sand and veering hopelessly (dangerously) off course. Just place your knees on the sand below the board, lie flat on your belly, lift the front of the board up, and off you go!

The captain himself will give the bottom of your board a quick wax before sending you on your way — and believe me when I say, that first ride down can be a scary one.

Aside from that publishing climb up the dune ahead of each go, it’s a surprise highlight of the trip.

5. Take to the skies on a parasailing adventure

Tangalooma parasailing
Is there a prettier – or more thrilling – way to take in Moreton Bay Island’s beauty? (Tangalooma Island Resort)

Tangalooma’s serene patchwork of blues are a sight to behold from above, so where better to take to the skies on a parasailing jaunt than this luscious patch of Oz?

Visitors can book both solo and tandem parasailing experiences from the island’s Tanga Tours hut, but the activity is weather dependant.

While up there, keep your eyes peeled for wild dolphins, turtles and rays — those Moreton Bay waters are obscenely clear in parts.

6. Channel your inner hoon with a quad bike dune safari

Tangalooma quad bike tour views
Turquoise views from the Tangalooma summit. (Tangalooma Island Resort)

Here’s an insider’s tip — for the best views in Tangalooma, the resort’s quad bike tours takes visitors well above the tourist fray and coastal brush, for uninterrupted vistas that stretch out to the Aussie mainland. It really is one hell of a view.

Following a weaving sand track, rev heads can make their way up to the island’s summit on a four-wheeled beast, zooming over sand dunes and racing around tight corners at thrilling 45 degree angles.

And clearly the guides know they’re onto something special, pausing at dreamy vantage points to let guests snap pictures and admire the halo of turquoise enveloping the island.

7. Spot ocean giants on Australia’s largest whale watching vessel

You can’t imagine the thrill of spotting one of these majestic creatures in the flesh, and Tangalooma’s humpback-seeking excursions come with the added bonus of a money back guarantee if you don’t spot one.

From Semptember to November, these mammals make their way up the coast along the “Humpback Highway” flanking North Stradbroke and Moreton Island — which arguably makes land-based whale spotting a high possibility. And with the season drawing to a close for 2019, now is the time to go.

The three-hour boat tour includes a light lunch, refreshments and a beverage, as well as expert commentary by a keen-eyed eco ranger, who have a real knack for spotting these elusive giants.

Where to stay

Tangalooma Island Resort offer a range of accommodation types, from budget rooms and family suites to swish beachfront apartments.

Our ground-floor standard hotel room (from $209 a night) is ideally located near the resort’s main building, comprising a mess hall, cafeteria-style seating, mutiple restaurants and a bar.

Come summer ’19, visitors can also take advantage of a new pool and garden area, luxe day spa and revamped beach hut accommodations, which were still under construction at the time of visiting.

How to get there

Ferry’s depart Holt Street Wharf in Pinkenba, Brisbane a few times a day for Tangalooma Jetty, with adult tickets from $89 return.

The writer visited as a guest of Tangalooma Island Resort. For more information and bookings visit tangalooma.com.

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