Where to go whale watching, NSW

July 30, 2019 / By Nicole West

There’s nothing quite like seeing a whale breach right in front of your eyes, let alone those exquisitely shaped tails slapping the surface with dramatic force. Across NSW, there are plenty of vantage points to see the splashing sensations from May to November every year. 

Whether you take a whale watching cruise, hop from cliff to seaside cliff with your binoculars or simply laze on a beach and wait for that telltale spout of water, here’s where you’ll find them. 

Port Stephens

The sparkling natural harbour in Port Stephens is famous for its smaller, resident wild dolphins. Whales come to join the marine mammal party throughout the season, but it’s easiest to spot them on their return trip south in October. Tomaree Head offers panoramic, 360-degree sea views to go with your whale-sightings, along with a good chance of spying mothers with playful newborn calves. To take the adventure up a notch, zip around in a boat with a tour company to follow frolicking pods. 

Terrigal

It’s always a good time for a weekend away in Terrigal, but whale watching season offers an extra special treat. Central Coast locals are spoilt when it comes to regular sightings, so chances are your trip will coincide with some tail-slapping action. Walk to the top of the Skillion for prime views or join a whale watching cruise for an even closer look. While you’re here, it also pays to check out the Entrance and the Bush Street Reserve Norah Head Lighthouse. 

Palm Beach

At the tip of Sydney’s magnificent northern beaches, Palm Beach is within an easy day trip or weekend away from the big smoke, so there’s no excuse for not dusting off your binoculars and getting away. Barrenjoey Lighthouse is the spot to be, and not just because it regularly features on Home and Away! Your happy snaps of whales will feature panoramic backdrops of Broken Bay and the Ku-ring-gai Chase National Park. 

Jervis Bay (image credit: Jervis Bay Wild) Jervis Bay (image credit: Jervis Bay Wild)

Jervis Bay

Often known as the whale watching capital of NSW, you can’t go wrong with a trip to Jervis Bay. This beach lover’s paradise marks the halfway point on the giant mammal’s migration path back to Antarctica. The Jervis Bay Marine Park provides a calm-water haven for new mums to rest with their calves. Take a cruise from Huskisson, have a picnic on the beach or watch from one of the area’s dramatic headlands. You can always stop by the popular 'Husky Pub' to refuel between whale-seeking journeys. 

Batemans Bay

There’s no doubt that Batemans Bay is a top nature-lover's destination, even without the precious mass migration of whales. So, it’s no surprise that the home of Clyde River oysters is the perfect place for whale watching. They’ll often come within 3 km of the shore here, and the best vantage point is at Depot Beach in Murramarang National Park. However, you might get lucky just kayaking along the coast, so keep your eyes peeled. 

Narooma

Whales clearly love the krill-rich waters around Narooma because this destination boasts a 98% sighting success rate during peak season (September to November)!  It's possible to see Humpbacks, Southern Right whales, Fin whales, Brydes whales, Sei whales, Blue whales and Orcas in this marine paradise where the continental shelf dips closer to shore than anywhere else along the east coast of Australia. 

Eden

Where do whales go when they’re hungry? Eden, of course! The Sapphire Coast town is one of only a few worldwide destinations that Humpback whales feed on their migration, due to the nutrient-dense waters of Twofold Bay. You won’t miss out on a sighting either, as a siren lets everyone know when the visitors are out and about. Having a ‘whale of a time’ is quite literal here, with a drive along the Killer Whale Trail, a visit to the Eden Killer Whale Museum and a trip to the annual Eden Whale Festival.

We think you should know: The Weekender's travel guides are independently written by real travellers. We do not receive any money from, or have a sponsorship arrangement with, any of the entities listed in, or referred to in this article.

So much more to explore - Across NSW