Although it's been a popular getaway for Brisbanites and southeastern Queenslanders for many years, in 2013 Moreton Island was firmly placed on the cruise map, thanks to a maiden call from P&O Cruise's Pacific Jewel on a sailing from Sydney. The ship visited the island six times in 2013, and since its debut, thanks to positive feedback from passengers, the island has regularly appeared on P&O SeaBreak short cruise itineraries. The cruises offer a full day of fun on the island, arriving early in the morning and leaving around 8 p.m., with a relaxing sea day each side to and from Sydney.
Moreton is the third largest sand island in the world and an ecological jewel, located about 22 miles off the coast of Brisbane on "Nemo's Super Highway," or East Australian Current. The island sits in the picturesque Moreton Bay and its Marine Park and is an ideal place to escape the traffic, crowds and hubbub of city and suburban life.
Moreton Island is also famous for spectacular marine life and impressive sand dunes; its balmy waters teem with dolphins, whales, dugong, manta rays and stingrays. The island is 23-and-a-half miles (38 kilometers) long, and just less than 5 miles (8 kilometers) at its widest point, with 95 percent of the land zoned as a national park to protect its unique natural qualities. There are no sealed roads on Moreton Island, so it tends to attract people with a sense of adventure, as well as a love of the great outdoors.
Bulwer, a small holiday village for local travellers with a handful of basic services and a passenger ferry terminal, is one of three townships on the island, while Cowan Cowan is another, famous for World War II relics and wrecks, as well as the Toulkerrie Oyster Farm and the private beach resort of Tangalooma.
The resort was originally established as a whaling station and is now a marine education and conservation centre; it's also one of the few places in Australia where you can enjoy the unique experience of feeding wild bottlenose dolphins. Tangalooma Island Resort has partnered exclusively with P&O Cruises to offer passengers a wide range of activities when the ship visits. The resort also is home to a beach festival when ships call, with music and food stalls.
Ships anchor off Tangalooma Island Resort and use tenders to transport passengers to a pier.
Tangalooma Island Resort and its many activities await your full day in port at Moreton Island. If you're not keen on a tour of the island or participating in any activities on offer, you can enjoy the resort facilities, which include a pristine beach, lunch ashore, cold drink at the bar or swimming in one of two pools.
If you decide to go on a tour involving quad-bikes, wear closed shoes, be careful when driving and pay attention to the safety drill before you start. If you visit Moreton Island in high summer, bring plenty of sunscreen and a hat because temperatures can soar, and it can get very humid.
The only way to get out and see other parts of the island from Tangalooma and your ship is by taking an organised tour. Options include 4WD bus tours, bay cruises and heliflights. You may be able to hire a 4WD taxi at the resort, but on days when a ship is in port, they are usually busy operating tours.
A limited number of 4WD vehicles are also available to rent at Tangalooma Resort, but they are not available when a ship is in port either because they are also used for tours.
The local currency is the Australian dollar. There are no banks on Moreton Island. There is an ATM at the Tangalooma Resort, however, and the resort also offers currency exchange. For updated currency-conversion figures, visit www.oanda.com or www.xe.com.
Australians speak English with an Aussie accent, and on Moreton Island, the language is much the same as you'll find in the rest of the country. The majority of local tourists will be from Brissie, otherwise known as Brisbane, and don't forget your cossie, which is Australian for a swimsuit -- you'll definitely need one on a visit to this island with all the beaches and watersports activities.
Moreton Island has a limited number of places to eat, with a focus on casual food such as burgers and salads, locally caught fish and chips and seafood -- including the famous Moreton Bay bugs, a species of tiny lobster found in the Pacific.
Closest to your ship are eateries at Tangalooma Island Resort, with options including The Beach Cafe, offering bistro dining with views of Moreton Bay and family meals like made-to-order pizza, burgers and salads.
For a coffee and sweet treat, such as an ice cream or cheesecake, head for The Coffee Shop, while the Wrecks Bar is open daily until late, serving cold beer, wine and cocktails, with entertainment including a pool and music.
If you're able to get beyond Tangalooma Island Resort, there are a few options to consider. Castaways Restaurant (100 Moreton Street) is a casual eatery in Bulwer at the northern end of the island and part of a small resort with a convenience store. It has an island-style thatched roof and is known for lazy lunches with shoes optional. There's also the famous Gutter Bar in Kooringal, on the southern end of the island (21 Kooringal Esplanade), which specializes in seafood, especially fresh oysters, with takeaway available.
Moreton Island isn't a place for shopping. Besides buying a trinket or two from Tangalooma's Lucky 7 resort shop, your best souvenir could be a photograph of you feeding the dolphins.