ECOTOURISM AUSTRALIA’S GUIDE TO WHALE WATCHING HOT SPOTS
The World Whale Conference is taking place in October this year, toward the tail end of the whale watching season, and aims to bring together researchers, conservation groups, artists and tourism operators to create a united community around whales. With this year’s theme being “Journeys That Inspire Change,” now is a great time to go whale watching with an Ecotourism Australia certified operator to make sure your next journey is making a positive change with sustainable whale watching.
Whale watching season kicks off between May and November depending on what part of the country you are in. This guide to whale watching will outline the best times and areas to go whale watching around Australia, and with over 20 ECO certified companies to choose from, you’ll have no trouble finding a sustainable operator for your next whale watching experience.
June-July | Cairns & Port Douglas
Cairns and Port Douglas may be known for their Great Barrier Reef tourism and rain forest activities, but did you know that it’s also a great place to view humpback wales and is one of the only places in Australia to swim with Dwarf Minke whales? Both of our Advanced Ecotourism Certified operators Eye to Eye Marine Encounters and Divers Den offer unique snorkelling and diving opportunities with Dwarf Minke whales.
ECO Certified operators:
Divers Den – Advanced Ecotourism certification, Green Travel Leader (Scuba)
Eye to Eye Marine Encounters – Advanced Ecotourism certification (Snorkelling)
June-September | Townsville
If Cairns is too far north and Hervey Bay too far south, then Townsville might just be perfect for your whale watching needs. Ecotourism certified Townsville Whale Watching runs humpback whale watching tours from June to September.
Townsville Whale Watching – ECO Humpback whale watching
July - October | Brisbane & Sunshine Coast
Whether you are taking a well-deserved break in a holiday house on the Sunshine Coast, or only have a weekend off in inner city Brisbane, there is an ecotourism operator for you. The greater Brisbane area is host to humpback whales for four months of the year between July - October.
Brisbane Whale Watching – Ecotourism certified
Sunreef Mooloolaba – Ecotourism certified
Whale one – Ecotourism certified
July-November | Hervey Bay
If you’re looking to see humpback whales, Hervey Bay is spoilt for choice with a total of six accredited ecotourism operators running tours between July and November. Fun fact: Hervey Bay also celebrates the migration of the humpback whales each year with the Paddle out for Whales Festival which aims to raise awareness and recognise the importance of whale watching tourism in the city.
ECO Certified operators:
Blue Dolphin Marine Tours – Ecotourism certified
Boat Club Adventure Cruises – Ecotourism certified
Freedom Whale Watch and Charters – Ecotourism certified
Pacific Whale Foundation Australia – Advanced Ecotourism certified
Spirit of Hervey bay – Ecotourism certified
Whalesong cruises – Advanced Ecotourism certified
With so much choice of ECO certified operators it is no wonder that Hervey Bay has been chosen to host this year’s World Whale Conference.
New South Wales
Sitting just south of the state border between QLD and NSW, Byron Bay is an easy drive from the Gold Coast and is a great place to watch whales with a unique twist. Go Sea Kayak Bryon Bay offers close kayaking encounters with humpback whales off the coast throughout the whale watching season.
Go Sea Kayak Byron Bay – Advanced Ecotourism & Respecting our Culture certified
May-November | Newcastle
Situated in Newcastle, NSW just a short drive north of Sydney, two of our Green Travel Leaders certified with Advanced Ecotourism certification run whale watching tours to see the humpback whales from May to November.
Moon Shadow TQC Cruises – Advanced Ecotourism, Green Travel Leader
Imagine Cruises – Port Stephens – Advanced Ecotourism Green Travel Leader
April-November | Perth
While most of the locations in this guide feature humpback whales, Perth is one of the only places in Australia to see orca whales (aka killer whales). A little earlier in the whale watching season, two of our Ecotourism Certified operators offer orca whale tours from December to April and humpback whale tours later on in the season from April to November.
Naturaliste Charters – Ecotourism certified
Whale Watching Western Australia – Ecotourism certified
June-November | Exmouth
Exmouth is known not only for its humpback whale watching season (June-November), but also for the unique whale shark season. Exmouth almost matches Hervey Bay for the amount of certified tour operators available to offer both humpback whale tours throughout the whale watching season as well as several who offer whale shark tours between March to September.
Live Ningaloo – Advanced Ecotourism certified
Ningaloo Coral Bay Boats - Advanced Ecotourism certified
Ningaloo Discovery – Advanced Ecotourism certified
Ningaloo Whaleshark N Dive – Ecotourism certified
Three Islands Whaleshark Dive – Ecotourism certified, Green Travel Leader
Have you been whale watching with any of these tourism operators? Tell us about it in the comments below!