destination NSW

Whale watching


Hop on a whale watching tour

The whale-watching season along NSW's east coast runs from May to November. If you're visiting Sydney any time during these months, make sure you join a whale-watching cruise departing from Circular Quay. 

Must Do

Whale Watching in Sydney

Every year, humpback and southern right whales migrate from the Antarctic to warmer northern waters to breed. The whales can also be spotted returning south later in the year. Around 3000 whales migrate past (and sometimes come inside) Sydney Harbour so you've got a great chance of spotting one or two over the season that runs from May to November. Best viewing times are early morning or late afternoon.

Cape Solander in Botany Bay National Park has a viewing platform and is known as one of the best whale-watching locations in Sydney. The site is also part of a long-running whale-counting volunteer program running each June and July.

The stunning cliff-top walking trail from Bondi to Coogee beach also offers fantastic opportunities for whale watching as does Clovelly Beach and North Head Lookout in Sydney Harbour National Park. Other superb vantage points include North Maroubra, Bangally Headland at Avalon and Palm Beach lighthouse on Barrenjoey Headland.

Fancy a close-up look? Whale-watching tours are the way to do it. Sydney Ocean Adventures offer powerboat tours, departing from Rose Bay. For more leisurely whale watching, Captain Cook Cruises depart from Circular Quay or Darling Harbour. There are also three-hour Bass and Flinders Cruises available, departing from Sydney Harbour. If you're venturing to Sydney's northern beaches, Manly Whale Watching tours are available on a variety of vessels, from sailing boats to power cruisers.

Australia is one of the best countries in the world for whale watching as more than 50 percent of the planet's cetaceans - otherwise known as whales, dolphins and porpoises - are found here. Nine species of baleen whales and 36 species of toothed whales make their home in Aussie waters, and research suggests new species may well be found here in the future.

Today, whales, dolphins and porpoises are protected in Australian waters, and thanks to conservation measures, whale populations have steadily increased since the late 1970s. Whale numbers are now plentiful as they travel along NSW's east coast.

If you want to find out more about whales and their migration routes visit Wild About Whales