I cling to the side of the boat, feet firmly planted on its surface, camera at the ready. I refuse to again be distracted by the squeals of delight and excitement permeating from the other side of the catamaran. The 20-strong crowd is enamoured by two calves who are responding to the attention. I hear the water spray from their blowholes, their hauntingly beautiful calls echoing from the ocean.
I hold steady at the empty rail. I will not miss the whales this time.
My determination and patience is soon rewarded, an elusive creature parting the deep-blue ocean with a jaw-dropping breach. She is even larger than I could have imagined, and just as I am recovering from the beautiful sight, she concludes with a joyful tail slap.
As quickly as she appears, she is gone, her footprint leaving the choppy water smooth as glass. We are in luck today, notching up 22 humpback whales during the three-hour cruise. Considering July is quite early in the season – the whales are still on their northern journey – we have had an exceptional experience.
As the captain calls it a day and the boat begins the short journey back to Moreton Island, I sit and take in the view. As the third largest sand island in the world, Moreton is something special; a beautiful combination of white sand hills, craggy outcrops and native bushland.
How it has taken all of my 35 years to find this paradise is beyond me.
Soon, the sprawling Tangalooma Island Resort emerges. Consisting of a few select apartment blocks, dining precinct, and the beach, the resort is simple. And, it is perfect for this island.
Disembarking from the boat, we are greeted by Tangalooma’s friendly staff before being ushered into our home for the night – a tropical-themed resort room with five-star views across the bay.
It is the ideal spot to watch the rich, burnt-orange sunset behind the backdrop of Brisbane city.
As night falls around us, we celebrate today’s successful cruise with a nightcap at the resort’s only bar, and chat excitedly about the day ahead.
In their wisdom, the team behind Tangalooma Island Resort has created a holiday spot that suits all budgets, ages and tastes. If it’s relaxation you seek, they have the answer in the way of eco-walks, massages, easy kayak tours and of course, the beautiful beach. Meanwhile, for those chasing an action-packed adventure there are helicopter rides, parasailing and ATV (all-terrain vehicle) tours, the latter which caught our attention.
What better way to start your Sunday than with a fast-paced, adrenalin-pumping cruise around a stunning island?
It has been at least 15 years since I last sat behind the steering wheel of an ATV, but as I pull on my safety helmet, I can feel that old excitement seeping through. Within moments we’re off, trailing our instructor up the winding paths, and around the specially-designed course, to the top of the island.
As we slow our bikes to a stop, and take in the turquoise and deep-blue palette below, my heart flutters.
Not from the rush of driving, but at the beauty that lies in our own backyard.
*The writer was a guest of Tangalooma Island Resort.
IF YOU GO
The Tangalooma Island Resort Ferry Terminal is located at Holt Street, Pinkenba, which is about 100 kilometres from the Sunshine Coast. Holiday transfers and day cruises depart at 7am, 10am, midday and 5pm daily. Travel time is around 75 minutes. A return trip for resort guests costs $84 per adult, $46 for a child aged three to 14, and infants are free. An open-air, secure car park is available for guests at the wharf and costs $15 per vehicle per day, or $60 per week. For a VIP experience, helicopter transfers are available and start at $880 for a one-way transfer for up to three people.
Located an easy 75-minute catamaran ride from Brisbane, Tangalooma Island Resort is a simple, family-friendly resort. Beachfront accommodation ranges from three-and-a-half to four stars. Budget rooms start at $159 a night and range up to the $459-a-night deluxe beachfront villas. One-bedroom family suites with kitchenette are priced from $289 a night. We stayed in the comfortable three-and-a-half star resort room (priced from $239), which boasts a kitchenette and stunning beach and pool views. Holiday home rentals and apartments are also available. In addition to the sprawling beach, there are two outdoor pools, a playground and barbecues.
Resort guests have access to a range of eateries including the Beach Cafe, Beach BBQ (serving up delicious steaks), The Coffee Lounge and the unique Fire and Stone, which blends modern Australian fare with traditional Asian cuisine. B&B’s Bar, with its comfy couches and stylish fireplace centrepiece, is the perfect place to unwind after an action-packed day.
The activities are endless, from bird and wild dolphin feeding to snorkelling, whale watching tours, helicopter joy flights, beach bike and kayak hire, parasailing, sand toboganning and Segway beach tours. The list goes on. Be sure to get your hands on a copy of the Weekly What’s On guide, which highlights daily tours, restaurant hours, special deals, tide times and free guided walks.
MORE INFORMATION: Visit tangalooma.com