Moreton Island: the land of snorkeling, shipwrecks, and sand dunes. On recommendation from a friend, I joined Australian Sunset Safaris’ Moreton Island Day Trip. While possible to do on your own, it does require a bit of planning on your part (as a tourist) because a 4WD car is imperative. So, why not let someone else do the work for you?
We were told to meet outside Hotel Jen at 6:50am, ten minutes prior to departure. I hadn’t known the meeting point prior to booking my Brisbane hostel, so I was quite pleased to discover that Hotel Jen was only a ten minute walk from YHA Brisbane.
Our guide, Matt, introduced himself and we began our forty-minute drive to the port where we boarded a ferry to Moreton Island; this ferry took about an hour and a half. 5FT Tip: Sit on the top deck and soak up the sun. For me, it was a much-needed hour and a half to get some work done!
From the ferry, we went straight to Australian Sunset Safaris’ designated spot on the beach, Here, we were greeted by Beau, Alex, and Peanut, our guides leading the kayak and snorkeling portions of our Moreton Island adventure.
We began our morning by hopping into some transparent kayaks. Australian Sunset Safaris is the only tour company in Australia to use transparent kayaks, and only one of two companies to use them in the whole world (with the other being in the Bahamas).
The current was a bit strong, and the guides very clearly warned that if you couldn’t paddle strong then it wouldn’t be the right activity for you. Knowing my shoulder weaknesses, I reached out to Peanut to ask if I could join him in his kayak to avoid strain on my shoulders yet still get the experience of their unique kayaks. Next thing I knew, not only was I put into his kayak, but not even given a paddle! I guess I could accept being a princess every now and then…
But, in all seriousness, I’m truly grateful to the Australian Sunset Safari team for being so accommodating wth me. Being able to kayak so close to the shipwrecks, and to be able to look down through the kayak to see all of the fish under you, is a really special experience. There’s nothing like it!
5FT Fun Fact: Australian Sunset Safaris is the only company in Australia to offer night kayaking. They take out the transparent kayaks lined with LED lights. Those lights create a 5-6 meter radius, allowing you to get a look into the ocean and marine life at night without having to go for a night dive. This is most definitely something I will not miss next time I visit Moreton island!
After an awesome kayaking experience, we suited up to go snorkeling. Australian Sunset Safaris supplied all gear necessary: wetsuits, flippers, snorkels, masks, and gloves. 5FT Tip: If you’re having trouble getting into your wetsuit, and you’re small like me, have someone lift you up by the shoulders and try to wiggle yourself down into it. Yes, this happened to me.
The water isn't all that cold, and more than bearable, but it’s just more comfortable with a wetsuit on. Australian Sunset Safaris also supplies life jackets and boogie boards should you want or need.
Our snorkel trip was led by Beau and Alex, and they made sure that one of them was always in front leading and that the other was in the back with a rescue float should something go wrong. The extra safety measure were something I truly appreciated after my last ocean experience in Byron Bay.
While the shipwrecks were artificially created by the government, they’ve fostered an abundance of marine life. We saw swarms of fish, a stingray, and even two small sharks! It was really quite cool, and the guides’ enthusiasm definitely enhanced the experience as a whole. What was the highlight of the snorkeling trip for me? Being smacked in the face by a fish! I kid you not. The only time my GoPro was turned to my face during the entire snorkel, a fish decided to swim right into my mask! The fish were very intrigued by my GoPro and swam up to check it out on multiple occasions.
After an exhausting snorkeling session, and swimming in against the current, it was time for lunch. Burritos, dorritos, and water provided just the right fuel that we needed for the rest of the day.
Next stop? The desert! After spending the morning in the water, you’d never expect to hop on a 4WD truck and end up in the desert! 5FT Fun Fact: Moreton Island is home to Mt. Tempest, the largest stationary sand dune in the world, standing at 285 meters above sea level. We had the opportunity to sand board down the dunes. While I was originally going to pass, as I’ve taken quick the tumble down a sand dune before, I figured that I might as well and hopped on the board in my bikini, hoping for the best. My ride wasn’t as smooth as everyone else (surprise surprise), but at least I didn’t pop out of my top!
On our very bumpy ride back to the beach, Matt enlightened us on the formation and sustainability of Moreton Island.
- Moreton Island was established 700,000 years ago above a large water reserve.
- There are 60 different varieties of eucalyptus trees on Moreton island, but no koalas.
- There are six perched lakes on Moreton Island, which are high above sea level and naturally fed from rainwater only.
- The feeding of dolphins has been around for 30,000 years. Aboriginals used to use them to bring in fish, and whatever fish was leftover, they would feed back to the dolphins. Because this tradition had been in place for so long, the wild dolphins come back for feeding everyday.
- During World War II, Australia was under threat from Japan; Moreton Island was the last line of defense for Brisbane. Only two shots were fired during war time, and neither for a real threat. In fact, the army on Moreton Island misfired, sunk one of their own ships, and killed 20 Australian personnel!
All in all, Australian Sunset Safaris' Moreton Island Day Trip was fantastic! If short on time, this one day experience is the way to go. If you have an extra day, however, do sign up for the two-day tour so that you could experience their extremely unique kayaking experience. As a non-diver and beach-lover, I know that I’ll be returning!