Best Spots for Whale Watching in NSW


Every year, between the late fall and early spring, the waters of the New South Wales (NSW) coastline transform into a marine superhighway for more than 30,000 whales. These majestic creatures migrate north from the chillier Southern Ocean, seeking the Pacific’s warmer waters for feeding and breeding. In spring, they undertake the reverse journey, heading south to feast in the Antarctic throughout the summer. This significant marine passage is fittingly known as the Humpback Highway, named after the frequently spotted humpback and southern right whales. However, it’s not uncommon to spot other species such as orcas, blue whales, minke whales, and sperm whales.

The annual whale migration attracts a multitude of onlookers. Thousands gather at the various beaches and clifftop vantage points along the coastline to observe humpback whales breaching the surface and playing with their newborn calves. Numerous whale-watching cruises provide spectators with the opportunity to witness the aquatic spectacle up close, where the magnificent creatures can be seen performing body rolls and pectoral slaps.

In the North Coast, Cape Byron, the easternmost point of Australia, is a preferred spot to watch the marine spectacle. Small cruise tours like Whale Watching Byron Bay and Blue Bay Whale Watching offer guided tours to see the whales in their natural habitat. Further along the coast, Jetty Dive in Coffs Harbour presents a unique opportunity to swim alongside humpback whales. Port Macquarie offers stunning vantage points along its 9km Coastal Walk, while Port Stephens’ Tomaree National Park offers stunning views of the migrating whales against a charming town backdrop.

Sydney, too, offers a multitude of viewing locations. Cape Solander in Kamay Botany Bay National Park is renowned as an ideal lookout point during the whale-watching season. Other notable viewing locations include Sydney Harbour’s North and South Head, Barrenjoey Head at Palm Beach, and the scenic Bondi to Coogee walk.

Further down the southern stretch of the NSW coastline, whale-watching opportunities abound. Wollongong’s Hill 60 Lookout offers an elevated perspective of the ocean, and companies like Wollongong Whale Watching and Sea Kayak Jervis Bay offer intimate experiences with the migrating mammals. Further south in Narooma, visitors can join a tour with Narooma Charters for a dual experience of observing Australia’s largest fur seal colony and watching whales near Montague Island.

Eden, on the far South Coast, is a well-known whale-watching spot where the extended stay of humpbacks provides prolonged opportunities for observation. The Sapphire Coast, particularly the headlands at Merimbula and Tathra, also provides excellent opportunities to watch these majestic creatures.

In conclusion, the NSW coastline, from North to South, offers an array of unforgettable whale-watching experiences. Whether it’s the thrill of a close encounter in Coffs Harbour, the spectacle of acrobatic displays off the Hunter Coast, or the serene sight of whales gliding past Jervis Bay, every location provides its unique experience to cherish.

Video footage Credit Destination NSW

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