Whale watching in Queensland

Hervey Bay Dolphin Watch

Each year hundreds of thousands of people take part in commercial whale watching trips in Queensland or see humpback whales emerging from their own vessels. Today, with the increasing population of humpback whales, more humpbacks are swimming within sight of Queensland ‘s coastline and an far greater number of people are watching these marine animals from a headland overlook or open surf beach.

Watching pictures of whales on TV, or reading about them, will never prepare you to see a live whale in the sea. It can be a strong and unforgettable experience when the chance comes to see one of the biggest living things that has ever swum in the ocean.

Where to see whales ( by Hannah Statham on www.queensland.com)

Hervey Bay

Hervey Bay is Queensland’s gateway to whale watching, and one of the world’s first certified Whale Heritage sites that set the benchmark for whale watching across the globe. It’s not marketing propaganda, it’s factual, as the warm waters are where about 7,000 humpback whales and their new calves chose to stop in the cool and safe waters of the bay to rest and play. Indeed, scientists have not documented whales anywhere else in the world stopping their migration to aggregate and socialise together. The abundance of whale activity gives these operators confidence to offer assured whale season sightings, all in the calm, protected waters of Hervey Bay.

Gold Coast

The positive thing about the migration of humpback whales is they want to pay a visit to the whole coastline – and it all starts with the Gold Coast. The Gold Coast welcomes the first pods, and is the best place to see them as they return to Antarctica at the start and end of the season. On arrival and on a quest to swim north to their breeding grounds, scientists record lots of aerial acrobatics as bulls in those parts show off with male bravado.

Brisbane – North Stradbroke Island

When the movement travels north, Queensland ‘s capital Brisbane gets into the humpback action. The marine giants come near North Stradbroke Island, making it possible to watch land-based whales from the lookouts – a pair of binoculars is all you’ll need for a closer look.

Sunshine Coast

Humpback whales may be fast swimmers but they are not sprinters, clocking up on their north migration a 5-15 km / hour leisurely. If you’re spotted on the Gold Coast and Brisbane, you can be assured that their next stop in their migration journey is the Sunshine Coast.

Great Barrier Reef

Keep an eye out for whales while you are travelling by boat to both Heron Island and Lady Musgrave Island.


This destination is the whole reason for their migration of 5000 km, offering the nursery of Mother Nature with cosy waters and protection from 74 islands and the Great Barrier Reef. It’s here that the Whitsundays give birth to female whales, and some fortunate whale watchers get the opportunity to watch a whale birth firsthand.

North Queensland

Whereas the rest of the coast has humpback whales, it is Tropical North Queensland that has its own whale encounter. This portion of the reef is the only spot in the world where you can snorkel with the legendary dwarf minke whales holidaying annually on the Ribbon Reefs in June and July. Their moves are quite a mystery for the majority of the year.

When to see whales

Humpback whales are usually off the coast of Queensland, between late autumn and late spring. In July and August they turn south with around a quarter of the population reaching Hervey Bay where they establish a rare opportunity for whale watching between August and October. An additional aspect of watching whales on their journey to the south is the opportunity to see mothers with their newborn calves.

The best time to see whales is on calm days. It will most likely be in the morning before the wind picks up and raises wave height.

Watching whales from a headland in the late afternoon sun can also be impressive, as their breaches and blows are illuminated by shifting colour and angle of sun.

Whale watching Tours in Queensland

Eco Marine Safari

Eco Marine Safari – Boom netting & Snorkeling Moreton Island – Roma St Transfers

Boom netting Moreton Island

Eco Marine Safari – Boom netting & Snorkeling Moreton Island – Fortitude Valley Transfers

Stradbroke Island Adventure Cruise And Tour Departing Brisbane City