From onshore to onboard, where to see the whales when they go by
Whales are amazing creatures and we can find ourselves spending countless hours, watching and waiting for their playful antics as they migrate. With national parks making up around 50% of New South Wales’s coastline, we are spoilt for vantage points to watch them from. From May to November, we’re lucky to be able to watch thousands of humpback whales migrate up and down Australia’s eastern coast as they chase the warm waters, feed, and have young.
NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS) has an annual campaign called Wild About Whales which not only offers Whale Facts but also an app called Whales NSW. The app can help you plan and book your own adventure, see where the whales currently are and share your own sightings and photos. Along with this, you can learn about the different species and best spots to see them.
Located at the mouth of Nelson Bay, Tomaree Head Summit offers adventurers a breathtaking view of Port Stephens, NSW North Coast and the expansive ocean. When preparing for your hike, don’t forget to pack a picnic and your binoculars for supreme dolphin spotting and whale watching. While you don’t necessarily need to climb to the summit to view the whales, the 2-hour hike is well worth the view.
Across the mouth of Nelson Bay is the Yacaaba Headland walking track, which offers views not just of Port Stephens and the ocean, but over Myall Lakes National Park as well. Another great location to whale and dolphin watch, this walking track is a Grade 4. You should bring plenty of water, sunscreen and a hat in addition to your binoculars and picnic lunch.
Located below the Yacaaba Headland, you’ll find Barry Park at the southern end of Fingal Bay Beach. This park offers fantastic views of the ocean and is a favourite spot for whale watchers with its own whale watching platform. It has an abundance of walking tracks, picnic tables and BBQs, plus public toilets. You could easily find yourself relaxing by the seaside all day as you keep an eye out for whales and playful dolphins.
One of Port Stephens’ more well-known spots for dolphin watching year-round, Birubi Beach is a perfect spot for easy whale watching. For the most relaxing whale watching experience, why not pop over to Crest Birubi Beach café to enjoy a cuppa while you relax on their patio.
A popular location for locals and visitors alike, Boat Harbour beach is a popular place to come and relax or explore. At the southern end of the beach near Solace Place is a walking path that boasts signs with pictures of whales on them for people to follow. There is not a whale watching platform, but the headland and walk both provide ample opportunities to rest and take in the stunning ocean views and lookout for any passing whales.
While not often, visitors of Shoal Bay may be able to see whales from the sandy beach that looks out to the headlands. Since the bay is a quiet and safe place, many marine animals such as dolphins and whales like to have their calves there before taking them out to sea.
One of Port Stephen’s more well-known options for whale watching is our variety of cruise options. From whale and dolphin cruises, to snorkelling tours and sunset dinner cruises, visitors to the region are spoilt for choice.
- Moonshadow – TQC Cruises offers their more popular whale watching cruises from June to November and an Early Bird option in May for those who want to find the first whales for the season.
- Imagine Cruises offers two lengths of tours with the Envision 90-minute cruises offered from May to November and the Imagine 3-hour Whale and Dolphin cruises from June to November.
- Blue Water Sailing offers private cruises, including a $1,000 whale watch special for up to 6 people over 3 hours. Take the opportunity to cruise around with the wind in your sails and the people you want around you.
While you’re in Port Stephens, remember that our ocean and bay is full of magnificent wildlife. With tonnes of lookouts and beaches to choose from, you can spend your holiday exploring each location in your search for whales. For updates and ideas don’t forget to keep an eye on Destination NSW for their Whale Watching Highlights.
When looking for a place to stay while in Port Stephens for whale watching, don’t forget to check out The Retreat Port Stephens. With beach access and nestled in a bushland setting you’re sure to see land and sea creatures during your visit to our beautiful region. The retreat is the perfect sanctuary for families, couples, groups, schools and especially weddings. Call us today on (02) 4982 1244 to book over the phone, or visit our booking website to book your holiday now!