When you think of an island getaway where you can snorkel a shipwreck in the morning, take a desert safari by day and feed wild dolphins at night, chances are Brisbane’s coast doesn’t come to mind.
But think again, because it turns out Tangalooma Island Resort situated just an hour from the city, not only lets you feed the adventurous side of you bursting to be let loose but it also ticks off every box on the island getaway list.
Nestled in the middle of the 37km sand island, you can’t help but be enchanted by Tangalooma’s long white sandy beaches, exhilarating activities, unrivaled views and wild animal encounters.
And with Winter well and truly on its way, we eagerly made our way to the island with images of delicious cocktails and turquoise water lapping up on the shores etched into our minds- and thankfully the hidden gem didn’t disappoint.
How to get there?
Tangalooma may be just over an hour off the coast of Brisbane but getting there is made super easy by numerous daily ferries to-and-from the island.
We took the first ferry of the day and while we were a bit wary of the rough water, our minds drifted to the TV screens, which were filled with images and information of the idyllic island awaiting us.
For those who want to take in the vast island in the comfort of their own wheels, there’s also a car ferry that runs daily and if you’re more of a luxurious traveller, there’s the option of taking a helicopter to the island.
What to do?
If there was ever a resort that catered for thrill seekers and sun worshipers alike, then Tangalooma is it, with the resort offering over 80 activities for guests.
Once you’re booked in for your ferry you’re given a ‘What’s On’ booklet, detailing each and every activity available to you on the island – with some days spanning over two pages.
On arrival at the island we were greeted by the resort manager, driven to the reception on an island buggy and given a glimpse of the activities in full swing.
People were paddle boarding, riding down the beach on segways and trampolining, while others were parasailing, taking in the marine life in transparent kayaks and quad biking.
Here’s what we tried out on our trip:
After checking into our Deep Blue apartment, which features views of the open water and picturesque jetty, we made our way to the north end of the resort for our quad biking experience, which costs $65 for an adult or $90 for a tandem bike.
The tour guide brought us down onto the beach, up through the rugged terrain of the sand island, past the incredible shipwrecks and through swirling obstacle courses.
As a first time quad biker, I’m not going to lie I was quaking in my runners about getting behind the wheels, but fast-forward an hour and I was rearing to do the course all over again.
Snorkel the wrecks
The island is teaming with vibrant wildlife and I couldn’t wait to don my scuba gear and get out there to explore it all.
Just to make things even more inviting, 15 shipwrecks - which were deliberately sunk in 1963 - now sit only a five-minute boat ride from the Tangalooma shore and you can snorkel them for $55.
Kingfish, yellow fish, tropical fish and vivid coral formations are only the starting point on the tour as if you’re lucky enough you might spot a dugong or even a massive turtle.
Be sure to let the tour guides know your swimming level as they separate people into groups before bringing them out on the water - so make sure you get the most out of your time.
Each day at 4:45pm a member of the Tangalooma Marine Education and Conservation Centre comes out the front of the Deep Blue apartments with strips of beef and summons four of five Kookaburra to them.
It’s not only a great way to get to know more about the local wildlife but you’ll get a close-up view of our feathered friends with the distinctive laugh-like call.
The biggest thing I was looking forward to in my Tangalooma itinerary had to be the dolphin feeding.
Where else can you wade into water right in front of your apartment and get within touching distance of a pod of bottlenose dolphins?
So needless to say I was first in line that night at 9pm to hike up my shorts and follow the instructor into the water to meet the extremely friendly Echo and Nari.
Within seconds it was over and while I could have stayed out there all night with the pretty animals I had to let the other few hundred people waiting on the beach have their go.
4WD Northern Safari Tour
We were swept away from the allure of the water activities on the final morning of our trip to experience everything the island has to offer.
Comfortably seated in a 4WD alongside five other passengers, we set off for a four-hour expedition through the sand island.
When our tour guide told us to hold on to the roof and “make sure we move our bodies with the bumps” it sounded like we were about to embark on a rollercoaster ride but needless to say it was worth the mildly rough ride when we came out onto the beach on the west side of the island.
From there we visited the distinctive red and white lighthouse at the southern tip of the island before taking a bush walk to natural pools and making our way back through the two towns on the island..
With heavy hearts we bid farewell to the island and boarded the ferry back to the mainland - relaxed, exhilarated and sure we’d be back.