With Australia’s whale watching season just around the corner, it’s about time you organise your weekend plans!
While visiting the coast during the chilly winter months probably isn’t on the top of your to-do list, we’re here to tell you that this year’s whale watching season will make the cool breeze worth it!
Whether you’re looking to set sail on a whale watching boat tour, get up close and personal in a diving experience, or stay a little drier and see these majestic creatures from a distance, our list of the 10 best places for whale watching in Australia will have you seeing humpbacks in no time.
When is the best time for whale watching in Australia?
Whale watching season in Australia is usually between May and November of each year. Pending on the spot, you are more likely to see a specific type of whale.
Pinnacles, Ben Boyd National Park. Photographed by Kramer Photography. Image Supplied via Desination NSW.
Eden, New South Wales
The historical town of Eden on the south coast of New South Wales is no doubt one of the best places for whale watching in Australia. From late May each year, there are tours and excursions departing Eden daily to showcase the migrating humpback whales up close. Or, if you’d prefer to stay on land, be sure to check out the coastal trails and famous lighthouse in Ben Boyd National Park. Each year, they also put on the Eden Whale Festival, so add it to your calendar!
Dolphins, Byron Bay. Image Supplied via Destination NSW.
Byron Bay, New South Wales
Whilst Byron Bay is generally known for it’s insta-worthy cafes and beaches, it also has some of the most spectacular sites for whale watching in Australia. If you’re heading there between June and November, be sure to book with Out of the Blue Adventures for a premier whale watching experience. Here they’ll take you out to enjoy the coastal scenery, and also learn a thing or two from their on-ship marine biologist. Who knows, some marine wildlife might look good on your Instagram feed!
Chinamans Hat, Port Phillip Bay. Photographed by Mark Chew. Image Supplied via Visit Victoria.
Port Phillip Bay, Victoria
Not only does Port Phillip Bay have a wealth of history attached to it, it’s also made itself quite the tourist destination! With whales to see from May all the way through to October, you’ll have plenty of opportunities to stop by and check out the sights. For on-land options, grab your binoculars and head to Cape Woolamai, Pyramid Rock or San Remo jetty. And, if you’re looking to set sail, you’ll be spoiled for choice – just keep those binoculars close by, you might even spot a dolphin or fur seal! By far one of the top spots for whale watching in Victoria.
Warrnambool, Great Ocean Road. Photographed by Robert Blackburn. Image Supplied via Visit Victoria.
Though you can spot whales at almost any point along the Great Ocean Road, Warrnambool is one of the best places to do so! Plus, with this top spot, you have the chance to see something extra unique. Take a trip to Logans Beach where female southern right whales can often be spotted just 100 metres off the shore when they return to calve (but only if you’re patient!). You can set up on the beach, or on the specially constructed platform in the sand dunes. Pack a picnic and snuggle up in a blanket and it will be the ultimate experience!
Bruny Island Cruises - Pennicott Wilderness Journeys. Image Supplied via Tourism Tasmania & Joe Shemesh.
Bruny Island, Tasmania
Located just off the south-east coast of Tasmania, Bruny Island is famous for its magnificent coastline, set with extraordinary scenery and incredible marine life to match. Here, you’re likely to find both humpback and southern right whales, who often happen to take shelter in Adventure Bay. Here, spotting the whales from the land can be a little more difficult, but there are plenty of cruise options for you to choose from, like those from Pennicott Wilderness Journeys!
The Big Duck Boat Toar. Photographed by Adam Bruzzone. Image Supplied via South Australian Tourism Commission.
Victor Harbor, South Australia
You can find some of the best whale watching opportunities in Victor Harbor – and it’s only an hour south of Adelaide! If you’re keen on setting sail, we recommend heading out on a Big Duck Boat Tour to get the best experience possible. If you’re lucky you might even spot a seal or bottlenose dolphin too! Or, there are a number of great vantage points that you can find on land including The Bluff, Freeman Lookout and Encounter Bay.
Swimmers in Geographe Bay, near Meelup. Image Supplied via Tourism Western Australia.
Geographe Bay, Western Australia
Geographe Bay, located in the south-west of Western Australia, is less than a three-hour drive from Perth, and definitely worth the trip! Though it’s most famous for its white and sandy beaches and crystalline water, it also makes headlines for being one of the few but best places in Australia which see both humpback and southern right whales – depending on what time of the year you decide to go. But, if orcas are what you came to see, take a whale watching tour with Naturaliste Charters Whale Watching & Killer Whale Expeditions!
Torndirrup National Park, Albany. Image Supplied via Tourism Western Australia.
Albany, Western Australia
Albany is one of the most iconic whale watching spots in Australia, and often hosts locals and international visitors alike. Because of this, you’ll be spoiled for choice when it comes to location. Head over to Torndirrup National Park if you’d prefer to get the best views whilst still keeping dry. Or, if you’d like to go on a tour, check out Albany Whale Watching for morning and afternoon cruise options!
Whale Watch Swim with the Whales Tour. Photographed by Mark Fitz. Image Supplied via Tourism and Events Queensland.
Hervey Bay, Queensland
Situated three-and-a-half hours north of Queensland’s capital – and only a short distance from tourist locations Fraser Island and Lady Elliot Island – is Hervey Bay: most famous for its marine life. Not only can you watch the migration from a boat or from the shore, you can tick off a bucket-list moment by swimming with the whales with the help of the Hervey Bay Dive Centre. While you’re here, take a trip to Hervey Bay’s sheltered artificial reef – the largest of its kind in the Southern Hemisphere!
Whale Watching off Hamilton Island. Photographed by Chris McLennan. Image Supplied via Tourism and Events Queensland.
Whitsunday Islands, Queensland
Everyone knows that any trip to the Whitsunday Islands, located in the Great Barrier Reef, is the trip of a lifetime. However, with their white, sandy beaches at the forefront of their appeal, a winter holiday probably wouldn’t be your first pick. This is your sign to start packing and head to the Whitsundays, with whale watching on the top of your to-do list! Every year, the region sees the migration of hundreds of humpback whales passing through from Antarctica, and it’s about time you saw it for yourself!
Taking a trip to one of these top whale watching destinations? Be sure to check out our Top 10 Tips for Sustainable Travel in 2021 before you head off! If seeing wildlife is at the top of your to-do list this winter, visit one of these 5 Animal Sanctuaries around Australia that you must visit in 2021.
We acknowledge the traditional owners of country throughout Australia and recognise their continuing connection to land, waters and culture. We pay our respects to their elders past, present and emerging.