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Tangalooma: The place to get wrecked

Tangalooma: The place to get wrecked

WITH excited underwater gestures, our guide points to a large turtle in the shipwrecks off Moreton Island.

My young son, propelled by a sea scooter, repeatedly dives down, looking for the elusive creature. I join him but have little luck in spotting it.

We are near the end of our Sea Scooter Safari with Tangatours as part of a super energetic weekend of activities which includes two boat trips, quad bike riding and tobogganing down 10 storey high sand dunes in the 'desert' behing the Tangalooma Island Resort.

This is the home of dolphin feeding, parasailing, glass bottom boat tours, transparent kayaking, snorkelling, fishing or just enjoying a cocktail, massage or facial by the white sands.

My son and teenage daughter join me exploring the wreck. It's the first time they've worn a wetsuit, first time they have had such a snorkelling experience, and first time they have got to use sea scooters, which propel you along about 4 to 5 kilometres an hour.

With a reasonable current that afternoon, I am especially grateful for the devices, wondering how others can get around without them.

They are buoyant so even if you are not a good swimmer, you can hold onto them.

Jumping into the water you are immediately surrounded by fish of an endless variety of colours and sizes.

There are also wobbygong or 'shaggybeard' sharks, which are harmless, as well as stingrays, squid, and plenty of baitfish available to see, depending on your luck.

Sam is on a junior version of the scooter, which goes a little slower, but is super easy to control, while a GoPro mount means our underwater adenture can be recorded.

The beauty of the scooters is that it is easy to zoom in and out of the wrecks, and come back together, even going against the current.

There are some 200 species of marine life to discover but it is the sighting of the huge turtle that provides the biggest thrill for my 12-year-old boy.

For the less adventurous, there are plenty of other ways to see the wrecks and marine life, including the recently introduced illuminated night tours.

Tangatours, which took out the adventure tourism category at the 2016 Queensland Tourism Awards, is run by Brad Ross, a young family man whose enthusiasm for the island is infectious.

He tells of the thrill factor of the night tours as LED lights attract fish to the boat.

"It's very cool when you pull the boat close to, or even over the shipwrecks and you see a sleeping turtle under the viewing chamber. That's the wow factor."

Brad said when the lights are off, 'all you see is the stars'.

"You switch that magic switch and it illuminates the underwater life. The kids and the families, they love it.

"It makes a really cool atmosphere for the shipwrecks."

Ironically, the new activity was launched after P&O Cruises, a regular visitor to the island, mistakenly advertised glassbottom boat tours.

Brad, who has experience working on the Great Barrier Reef, said the glassbottom tours had been in the pipeline for some time with a lot of work put into getting the boat just right.

He said visitors to the island are amazed by the variety of marine life, often comparing it to that on the Reef, while he says the sands of the beach are whiter than many overseas spots.

AT A GLANCE

Sea Scooter Safari is one of the many activities you can do at Tangalooma Island Resort on Moreton Island. You can encounter over 200 species of local sealife including fish, stingray and turtles. It covers more area of the wrecks in 30 to 40 minutes. It costs $79 per person via Tangatours.

Tangalooma Island Resort is on Moreton Island. Visit www.tangalooma.com