Brisbane River Cruises

Discover the magic of Brisbane through its best cruises. From the crystal clear waters of Moreton Island to the charm of the Brisbane River, get ready for an unforgettable experience.

Carla Yaquer

Carla Yaquer

9 min read

Brisbane River Cruises

Cruise and sunset in Brisbane | John

Awaken your adventurous spirit with featured cruises in Queensland's capital city, one of the best things to do in Brisbane. From the famous tour to Moreton Island, home to Tangalooma Island Resort 's ecological center to walks along Australia's east coast, the best things to do and see in Brisbane include the adventure of discovering the waterway.

Admire the urban landmarks before exploring the Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary, a wildlife haven. Dive or snorkel around the Tangalooma Wrecks or discover the island by quad bike or helicopter, Brisbane invites you to an unforgettable experience and here you will find prices, advantages, disadvantages, tips and options not to be missed.

1. Cruise to the Tangalooma Wrecks with dolphin watching from Brisbane

Tangalooma Island Resort| ©Andy Mac
Tangalooma Island Resort| ©Andy Mac

Take a boat trip from Brisbane and visit the famous deliberately sunken shipwrecks of Moreton Island known as the Tangalooma Wrecks. As icing on the cake to the interesting visit to these shipwrecks, you will swim around the dolphins that make their home in the area.

During the dolphin feeding cruises from Brisbane you will be accompanied by experts, often marine biologists from Tangalooma Island Resort 's ecological center who take you to explore this artificial breakwater space created around 1963 so that other vessels could reach safe harbor. As a result, in addition to the human benefits, marine life was also attracted to this refuge.

Dive or snorkel the adventure island with the full equipment provided during these tours. It is common to spot jacks, dolphins, sea turtles, dugongs, wobbegong sharks and many other shallow tropical water fish.

Then, after the water activities, relax on a white sandy beach and delight your palate with lunch accompanied by local wine or ice-cold cocktails.

Details of interest

  • Price: from 142 € per person.
  • Duration: from 10 hours and up.
  • What you should know: you can usually opt for an additional activity on the island such as quad biking in the desert or enjoy the hotel facilities, including the swimming pool.
  • What the tour may include: boat ride from Brisbane to Moreton Island by boat. Snorkeling. Snorkeling. Lunch. Drinks. Visit to the ecological center of Tangalooma Island Resort. Professional marine guide service.
  • Pros: to know closely the marine fauna of Queensland is attractive for adults and children. The area is home to the largest population of bottlenose dolphins in Australia. You also have the opportunity to do it with an expert and to top it off, the resort opens its doors offering extra activities.
  • Cons: Transport service from the accommodation is not usually included.

Book a dolphin-feeding cruise

2. Cruise to Moreton Island from Brisbane

Moreton Blue Lagoon| ©Halans
Moreton Blue Lagoon| ©Halans

Embark on an exciting cruise to Moreton Island an unforgettable journey that begins just 20 minutes from the bustling heart of **Brisbane'**s CBD. From Holt Street Wharf, a catamaran or speedboat will take you to the majestic Moreton Island. The ride is about 70 minutes, and then you can dive into the crystal clear waters and explore the marine wildlife around the Tangalooma Wrecks.

The experience is a true paradise for diving enthusiasts, regardless of experience level and this is just one of the activities the resort offers you, you can also go snorkeling, Stand-Up Paddleboarding and kayaking by the way, the latter included among the best day experiences in Australia according to Australian Geographic.

The setting is lovely and the cruises to Moreton Island are full day cruises loaded with extra activities. How is this? Whichever type of cruise you choose you can enjoy the resort facilities - including the bar, showers, toilets and pool - at no extra cost. Choose between the adrenaline rush of water sports or a relaxing day at the pool.

Details of interest

  • Price: from 164 € per person.
  • Duration: from 10 hours and up.
  • What you need to know: when it comes to boat trips to Tangalooma, you can choose between marine exploration cruises, snorkeling tours or stay all day at the resort's facilities.
  • What the tour may include: round trip transportation service from Brisbane to the port. Boat or catamaran cruise. Snorkeling equipment. Paddle surf equipment. Kayak tour of Brisbane. Access to Tangalooma Island Resort facilities. Diving baptism. Non-mechanized sports on the resort's courts.
  • Pros: the cruise is ideal for families for all the alternatives it offers with a single price.
  • Cons: food and beverages are not usually included. The hotel pick-up option usually costs extra.

Moreton Island Diving Excursion from Brisbane

3. Brisbane Whale Watching Cruise

Brisbane Whale Watching Cruise| ©idunbarreid
Brisbane Whale Watching Cruise| ©idunbarreid

Embark on a Brisbane whale watching cruise to Tangalooma Island Resort on Moreton Island. The tour is usually divided into two parts. After boarding at Holt Street Wharf the boat makes its way to take you to meet the crustaceans, especially the majestic humpback whales in their natural habitat.

Watch the whales from an excellent angle on the deck of the ferry or catamaran, while receiving detailed commentary on the habitats and behaviors of these impressive creatures. Afterwards, savor the light lunch and snacks that the boat has prepared for you on the ship.

Later on, the ship usually docks at the third largest sand island in the world, Moreton Island, where the ship is located. There you will have full access to its pool, beach, restaurants and bars.

At the end of the day, you are taken back to the pier in Brisbane, giving you an unforgettable whale watching experience off the coast of Australia.

Details of interest

  • Price: from 90 € per person.
  • Duration: between 10-12 hours.
  • What you should know: although whales can be seen all year round in Brisbane, you will increase your chances of whale watching if you travel between June and November, which is the best time to see humpback whales.
  • What the tour may include: catamaran or ferry cruise. Featured commentary about the crustaceans that live around Australia. Unlimited non-alcoholic beverages such as water, soft drinks, coffee or tea on board the boat. Access to Tangalooma Island Resort facilities. ATV ride in the desert. Snorkeling and diving activities.
  • Pros: The tour allows you to enjoy activities on land and sea, with whale watching as the highlight of the adventure.
  • Cons: Transportation service is not included. Activities such as quad biking in the desert, snorkeling and scuba diving may be available for an additional cost.

Book a Whale Watching Cruise

4. Sightseeing river boat tour in Brisbane

Day Cruise| ©Marco
Day Cruise| ©Marco

Grab your sunglasses, hat and sandals to embark on a sightseeing river cruise in Brisbane. The ride allows you to capture the best postcards of the city, thanks to the different perspective of the sightseeing boat.

It's an approximately 90-minute experience, and is designed to relax with the Australian sea breeze brushing against your skin. Listen to live commentary from an expert guide who will share the fascinating history of the places you'll see such as Kangaroo Point Cliffs Park, part of Brisbane's northern and southern suburbs and Story Bridge, a must-see historical landmark in the city.

Choose from morning or afternoon tours, which include tea, coffee and water. While gazing at Brisbane's stunning skyline, you can savor your beverage during, which takes you straight to the East List, one of Brisbane's best river cruises. A map of the city is provided to guide you during and after your tour.

Details of interest

  • Price: from €34 per person.
  • Duration: approximately 90 minutes.
  • What you need to know: this is an ideal boat tour for a quick look at Brisbane's landmarks. At the end of the tour, having listened to commentary and with your map in hand, you can approach the places that caught your attention to discover them in detail.
  • What the tour may include: catamaran or ferry ride. Live commentary by an expert guide. Unlimited non-alcoholic beverages. Map.
  • Pros: The tour passes through all the touristy part of Brisbane. The tour is suitable for all audiences.
  • Cons: No shuttle service to hotel or accommodation is included. Food is not included.

Take a sightseeing river cruise in Brisbane

5. Cruise to Tangalooma with snorkeling and helicopter ride

Tangalooma Snorkeling Cruise| ©rzahlerjr
Tangalooma Snorkeling Cruise| ©rzahlerjr

This is one of the most popular activity packages at Tangalooma Resort because it allows you to capture the best views of Moreton Island while having a close encounter with marine wildlife.

This type of day tour takes you to discover the underwater magic by snorkeling the barrier of ships known as Tangalooma Wrecks, home to an amazing diversity of marine life replete with sea turtles, dolphins, jacks and coral formations mainly. Then, move on to your next activity: a helicopter ride.

The experience offers breathtaking views of Tangalooma and Moreton Island, from its shallow beaches to the wrecks. From the heights you can see brown and gray brushstrokes appear in the blue sea - pods of dolphins and schools of fish! The walk is picturesque, it will be about 15 minutes with panoramic views to remember this destination in Oceania that you must visit.

After the guided activities you will have time to explore the island at your own pace. Swim in the pools, walk along the beach, tour the eco-tourist center, have a drink at the resort's bars, or sign up for one of the other activities such as the desert safari. In the late afternoon you will be taken back by boat to your point of origin in Brisbane.

Details of interest

  • Price: from 240 € per person.
  • Duration: approximately 12 hours.
  • What you should know: this type of tour is not suitable for children under 5 years old.
  • What the tour may include: Cruise to Moreton Island. Helicopter ride. Eco Ranger experience. Access to Tangalooma Island Resort facilities. Snorkeling around the Tangalooma Wrecks. Lunch. One cocktail. Non-alcoholic beverage on board the boat. Professional guide service in the included activities.
  • Pros: offers an air, land and sea view of Moreton Island. You can sign up for additional activities offered by the resort once on the island.
  • Cons: Drinks included are limited. Transportation service to the accommodation is not included.

6. Brisbane River cruise with entrance to the Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary

Lone Pine Koala| ©B. Erger
Lone Pine Koala| ©B. Erger

Get to know Australia's fascinating biodiversity with the Brisbane River Cruise and entrance to the Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary, home to a hundred of these adorable marsupials. Starting from Southbank, this relaxing type of tour takes you along the capital's main waterway. The activity could be defined as a city tour by boat, where you'll listen to live commentary while appreciating some of the landmarks of Queensland 's capital city all the way to the world's largest koala sanctuary.

Explore the sanctuary at your own pace and discover the Platypus House, home to these elusive creatures. Marvel at the Birds of Prey show, where owls, kites, and a variety of birds display their talents (sorry, Harley Queen will not be present but the close encounter with the animals justifies the visit). Watch wild lorikeets feeding and admire eastern water dragons, snakes, and huge lizards.

Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary adds to the excitement as you witness a group of sheepdogs in action, expertly herding sheep. After exploring Lone Pine, return to your boat for the trip back to the Southbank, capping off a day full of natural wonders and unforgettable experiences.

Details of interest

  • Price: from 60 € per person.
  • Duration: 3 - 4 hours.
  • What you need to know: the cruise is live commentary while the visit to the sanctuary is done on your own, this activity includes only the entrance fee.
  • What the tour may include: cruise on the Brisbane River on a ferry or sailboat. Expert guide commentary. Entrance to the Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary. Lunch. Non-alcoholic beverages such as water, tea and coffee on board the boat.
  • Pros: You have free time to explore the sanctuary at your leisure. The cruise will allow you to see icons of the city such as the cliffs of Kangaroo Point, Kinellan Point, Story Bridge, Merthyr Park, New Farm Park and colorful waterfront homes.
  • Cons: Although the activity is available to the public, people with reduced mobility should take into consideration that the entrance to the sanctuary is preceded by 28 steps and the visit is self-guided. Experiences such as photographs with koalas, encounters with farm animals, snakes and hawks are not part of the park entrance fee and require an additional supplement.

Tips for a cruise in Brisbane

Day Cruise| ©Bernard Spragg. NZ
Day Cruise| ©Bernard Spragg. NZ
  • Language. All tours are usually offered in English only.
  • Activities on Moreton Island. Cruises to this popular resort allow you to choose at least one of the activities offered at the resort. What are the options? ATV desert safari, Segway rides on the beach, scenic helicopter flights, wreck snorkeling excursion, sunset transparent-bottom kayaking excursion, underwater scooter safari, parasailing and more.
  • Duration of cruises. Cruises from Brisbane are usually a day cruise. On the other hand, the tours around the city are usually a half day, so you have plenty of time to explore the spots that caught your attention the rest of the day.
  • Transportation from accommodation. The usual meeting point is at the port on Holt Street. Often you will have to make your own way to the port to catch your cruise. Transportation to and from your accommodation is usually not included.