If you’re visiting the Gold Coast between June and November, then whale watching should definitely be on your to do list.
Don’t miss your chance to have an encounter with these incredible creatures that grace the waters of our seaside city every year. An estimated 30,000 whales travel the “Humpback Highway” up the East Coast of Australia on their way north to mate and give birth, and again later in the season as they return south with their newborn calves. The Gold Coast is en route, which means we get ample opportunity to see them in their natural habitat, either on a boat or from a lookout on land.
An up close encounter with these sentient aquatic mammals on a whale watching tour is awe-inspiring, humbling and deeply moving – the experience will stay with you long after you set foot on land again. Some of the largest humpbacks are up to 16 metres long and weigh in excess of 40 tonnes (that’s around the same as 11 elephants!). They can live up to a hundred years old, meaning some of these animals have been making this migration for literally decades. While boats aren’t permitted to get closer than 100m from a whale, that doesn’t mean the whales won’t come to the boat. They are curious creatures and some seem to enjoy observing humans, as much as humans enjoy observing them!
Our annual visitors are always welcome – there’s something so joy-inducing about seeing them splashing, breaching and blowing out at sea. Read on for our pick of the best whale watching tours and coastal vantage points to admire them from.
WHALES IN PARADISE
The original and very first whale watching company on the Coast, Whales in Paradise is a great option for all types of whale enthusiasts – be it a budding tourist or curious local. Centrally located in Surfers Paradise, they dock and start their trips from Ferny Avenue. Their 69-person catamaran is the perfect way to get up and close with these magnificent creatures, the “Mahi Mahi” has a very quiet style of engine and being fiberglass, allows acoustical noise in the water to be absorbed, meaning whales are much more likely to come up closer. They offer five different times daily to make the trip out onto the water whilst the season is in full swing, and cater for all ages and disabilities.
Tours depart from: Cavill Ave, Surfers Paradise.
SPIRIT OF GOLD COAST WHALE WATCHING
Spirit of Gold Coast Whale Watching are passionate about the majestic giants of the sea and helping protect and preserve the ocean. They have years of experience and members of the crew are marine biologists, so conservation and education are key to their approach. You’ll not only get to watch whales breaching and swimming but learn about their life cycles, environment and how we can do our bit to protect them. It’s easy to see why they’re so passionate when you experience an up-close encounter with a humpback.
Tours depart from: Seaworld Drive, Main Beach.
SEA WORLD WHALE WATCHING
Sea World Cruises’ custom built whale watching vessel, Spirit of Migaloo II, is named after the famous white whale that passes through the Gold Coast waters each year. The boat features on-board presentations, three levels of viewing platforms and large walk around decks for front row seats to the aquatic action. You can even listen to the whales sing in real time through underwater microphones! Book a Wake Up With the Whales tour and enjoy breakfast and a cuppa on the trip out to sea before helping the crew spot for whales against the backdrop of the sun rising over the horizon. You’ll never have another breakfast like it.
Tours depart from: Seaworld Drive, Main Beach.
WHALE WATCHING FROM LAND
There are some brilliant vantage points along our beautiful stretch of coastline where you can watch the whales passing by. You’ll often spot them by chance simply strolling along the beach. Keep an eye out to the horizon and watch for the tell tale plumes of spray.
To get an even better view, head for the headlands. Burleigh Hill is a good spot and some of the lookouts in Burleigh National Park provide elevated views of the whole coastline. North Burleigh Lookout is a great whale watching location, as is Elephant Rock in Currumbin (right next to Vikings Surf Life Saving Club). To the south, Point Danger Lookout in Coolangatta provides uninterrupted views and on a calm day, you can spot whales miles away. Take a pair of binoculars and if you’re lucky you might just be treated to a breaching whale or the sight of a mother teaching her newborn the art of swimming.
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