Moreton Island vs Fraser Island: Which is Better For Families, Friends and Adventure

March 19, 2024 | By

Moreton Island and Fraser Island make for the best 4WD adventures in Queensland, Australia. But if you can only pick one, which should it be?

I explored both islands extensively and found them very similar, yet so different! Neither has paved roads, and they both require a 4WD vehicle to visit independently.

But there are several stand-out factors that make them strikingly different, including the attractions, how easy it is to get to, and the beaches.

So, which was better?

A 4WD track going to the east of Moreton Island
The inland track going from the west to east of Moreton Island

Moreton Island vs Fraser Island: My Verdict

If you had to ask me, after considering all the factors, which is better, I’d say Moreton Island.

But it’s not as simple as picking one over the other. There are many things to consider, such as timing, camping, accommodation preferences, and your 4WD experience.

I cover these and more in this detailed guide to Moreton Island vs Fraser Island.

PS: If you’re reading this and have visited both islands, please let me know which you prefer (and why) in the comments section below. This will help my readers who are struggling to decide between the two.

Moreton Island vs Faser Island open fires
I loved Moreton Island as you can have open fires in the beachfront camping zones

Summary of Fraser or Moreton

Things to considerMoreton IslandFraser Island
Title3rd Largest sand island in the worldLargest sand island in the world
Size44 km long x 10 km wide120 km long x 22 km wide
Distance from BrisbaneLocated off the coast of Brisbane. 90-minute ferry.Located off the coast of Hervey Bay (300 km north of Brisbane). 30-minute ferry.
Things to doLess to exploreMore to explore
4WD Tracks4WD required to travel without a tour.4WD required to travel without a tour. More challenging tracks to get to the west of the island.
Days needed (recommended)34
AccommodationCamping & limited hotel optionsMore camping & hotel options
Open fires allowedYesNo (heavily restricted)
BeachesAmazing beaches with calm water on the west side.Difficult to access the beaches on the west side of the island. Swimming is better in lakes.
My highlightsThe beaches and campsites with sunset viewsCamping in the forest at Central Station
Crowds (size)Busy in certain areas (Tangalooma Wrecks)More popular, but doesn’t feel crowded as the island is so big.
Accommodation Moreton or Fraser Island
Central Station is my favourite campground in Fraser Island

Which is bigger?

Winner: Fraser Island

Fraser Island is the largest sand island in the world. It covers a distance of 120 km long and 22 km wide and is home to a diverse array of landscapes, from stunning forests to deserts. There are numerous lakes, walking trails, and 4WD tracks to explore.

Moreton Island is smaller than Fraser, measuring 44 km long and 10 km wide. But it still holds the title of the third-largest sand island in the world.

Which is easier to get to?

Winner: Moreton Island

Moreton Island is located off the coast of Brisbane, making it easier to access if you’re coming from the Gold Coast, Sunshine Coast or Brisbane. The ferry ride from the mainland to the island is longer, though. It takes 90 minutes to get from the ferry dock to Moreton. Here’s my guide on how to get to Moreton Island.

Fraser Island is 300 km north of Brisbane, and the drive can take up to 4 hours. Most people renting vehicles or joining a tour will fly into Hervey Bay instead of Brisbane. But if you’re driving from southern Queensland and looking for a “quick weekend away”, Moreton is the better option.

Beaches on Moreton Island
The Beaches on Moreton Island (like this) are better than Fraser Island

Which has more attractions?

Winner: Fraser Island

Fraser Island is bigger than Moreton Island and, therefore, has many more attractions. These include:

  • Beautiful rainforests at Central Station
  • Lake Mackenzie
  • Lake Wabby
  • SS Maheno Shipwreck
  • Champagne Pools
  • Wangul Sandblow
  • Eli Creek

Find out more about the best things to do on Fraser Island here.

Moreton Island, on the other hand, is smaller and has a handful of attractions, including:

  • Tangalooma Wrecks
  • Blue Lagoon
  • Cape Moreton Lighthouse
  • Champagne Pools
is Moreton island better than fraser island
Moreton Island and Fraser Island have “Champagne Pools”, but this one on Fraser is more impressive

Which has the more challenging 4WD tracks?

Winner: Fraser Island

Most people only visit the east of Fraser Island as the 4WD tracks far north and west are incredibly challenging. Car rental operators don’t allow people to take their vehicles here, and no group tours venture this far north. If you take your own 4×4 to Fraser Island, you’ll need all the right recovery gear to take on these tracks – and expect to get bogged!

Other than that, the inland tracks that lead through Central Station and those east of the island are much easier to navigate.

When it comes to Moreton Island’s 4WD tracks, you can easily access the east and west of the island, and there are no hectic tracks compared to those north of Fraser. You’ll still need recovery gear, as there are a few dodgy entry points.

Which requires more days?

Overall: Fraser Island

This one depends entirely on how much time you have. If you’re short on time and looking for a weekend away, rather visit Moreton.

Because Moreton Island is smaller, it’s quicker and easier to get around the entire island in 3 days. You could also do this in 2 days, but I recommend 3 (2 nights).

You’ll need more time on Fraser Island because of its size. If you’re following a standard itinerary, you’ll need four days (3 nights) to see all the main attractions. But if you’re planning on visiting north or west of the island, add an extra two days to your itinerary.

Do you need a 4wd for Moreton Island and Fraser Island
You need a 4WD if you want to visit Moreton Island or Fraser Island independently

Which has more accommodation options?

Winner: Fraser Island

Fraser Island is a lot more popular than Moreton Island and therefore, has more variety of places to stay. Beach shacks, campsites and hotels are scattered all over the island, with prices to suit every budget. The most famous is Kingfisher Bay Resort.

Moreton Island has limited accommodation, with most of it concentrated near the ferry landing point. Tangalooma Resort is the most famous place to stay. Camping on Moreton Island is extremely popular, with many sites offering amazing sunset viewpoints.

Which has dingoes?

Overall: Fraser Island

The dingoes on Fraser Island are the purest form of dingos in the world. This is due to the remoteness of the island.

While they may seem harmless, there is a cause for concern as dingoes are wild animals. There have been numerous attacks on children over the past few years, and you need to be dingo-safe when visiting Fraser Island.

Most Fraser Island campsites and accommodations are fenced-in, offering an extra level of safety for travellers.

Moreton Island doesn’t have any dingoes.

Moreton island for families
There are dingoes on Fraser Island

Which allows for open fires?

Winner: Moreton Island

All beachfront camping zones on Moreton Island allow for open fires. This is one of the biggest differences between Moreton Island vs Fraser Island.

Fraser Island is a lot more restricted when it comes to fires. There are only two selected campgrounds that allow for open fires. But I don’t rate these sites, and they’re not private nor on the beach. You’re only allowed to make a fire in the designated fire rings, which are shared between all campers.

Which is more popular?

Overall: Fraser Island

Fraser holds the title of the largest sand island in the world and is the most popular option. But because of its large size, it doesn’t feel crowded. The attractions and campsites are dotted throughout the island, which can easily accommodate the number of people who visit it.

Moreton Island is a popular day trip option from Brisbane, with many walk-on passengers accessing the island. This leads to a surge in people at the ferry landing point and the beach closest to the Tangalooma Wrecks. But most of these travellers don’t have vehicles, and if you head further north and east of the island, it’s a lot more remote and less crowded.

A beach on Moreton Island with cars
Moreton Island is a popular day trip from Brisbane, and so the beach in front of the wreck gets crowded

Which has the best beaches?

Winner: Moreton Island

If you visit Moreton Island, you’ll spend most of your time on the west of the island. This is where you’ll find crystal-clear waters and swimming areas that resemble a tropical paradise.

The beaches on the west of Fraser Island are difficult to access, so most people stick to the east of the island. It’s not recommended to swim here as the beaches are wilder with big, crashing waves and strong currents. This is why the lakes and lagoons are so popular on Fraser, as they offer better places to take a dip.

Which is better for children?

Winner: Moreton Island

Moreton Island is more family-friendly compared to Fraser for two reasons: The beaches are better for swimming, and there are no dingoes.

On the other hand, if you don’t like camping, there are more options for family-friendly accommodation on Fraser Island.

is moreton island bigger than fraser island
Exploring a sandblow on Fraser Island

Can you visit on a day tour?

You can visit both Fraser Island and Moreton Island on a day tour. This is a popular option for travellers without a 4WD vehicle. But these day tours are jam-packed and rushed, and I recommend doing a two or three-day tour instead.

Which is better: Moreton Island vs Fraser Island?

As you can see, there are many factors to consider when deciding between Fraser Island and Moreton Island.

If you’re looking for a fun adventure with campsites, sunset views, excellent swimming beaches and open fires, definitely pick Moreton Island.

But if you have extra time and are keen on more challenging 4WD tracks, then Fraser Island might be the better option.

Do you have any questions about camping on Moreton Island? Drop me a message in the comments section below!

Looking for more Queensland travel Inspiration? Check out my other posts!

Carryn Beard Author Bio

About Me

Hi, I'm Carryn. Travel junkie. Nature enthusiast. Adventurer. I'm a South African expat living in Gold Coast, Australia. Join me as I explore the land down under and share stories of the best that Australia has to offer. Find out more about me here.

Leave a comment