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Ultimate Whale Watching Guide in Brisbane

Ultimate Whale Watching Guide in Brisbane

An encounter with the ocean’s gentle giants is one of the greatest things you can experience in nature. And good news is, there are multiple whale watching opportunities in Brisbane and nearby areas that will surely give you a WHALE of a time! 

The Queensland waters serve as their highway to the tropical regions up north during migration season. So you can have plenty of chances spotting these majestic leviathans from land or even up close and personal in the water! 

In this article, we’ll dive deep into the world of humpback whales as we give you the ultimate whale watching guide in Brisbane! 

The Humpback Whale Migration

The humpback whale migration is one of the most fascinating natural phenomena that we can witness in our lifetime!

When it’s nearly winter time in the southern hemisphere, the world’s largest mammals make their long and potentially perilous journey toward warmer waters in the north.

These gentle giants traverse through the waters off the coast of Queensland to get to the Great Barrier Reef that serves as their breeding and calving grounds. 

Humpback whales start their journey around mid-June reaching its peak around August before making their way back south from September to November. 

During these months people flock to the coasts of Queensland to get a glimpse of a spyhopping, tail-slapping, or full breaching humpback whale!  

Such a fascinating thing to experience, indeed! So let’s dive right in to the best whale watching tours and best spots to see whales in and around Brisbane! 

Whale Watching Tours

A splish-splashing great show awaits! Catch our gentle giants from the best seats in the house with the best whale watching cruises from Brisbane! 

Brisbane Whale Watching


Location: 133/137 Redcliffe Parade, Redcliffe QLD 4020

Contact: +61 7 3880 0477

Hop on aboard the MV Eye Spy with Captain Kerry and Brisbane Whale Watching as they take you on a cruise to meet the most magnificent mammals on the planet! 

Brisbane Whale Watching uses the ‘Eye Spy’ which was purposely built for whale watching and ultimately features whale-friendly design and technology. The cruises run from June to November jumping off from Redcliffe, which is 30 minutes from the CBD. 

Their tour package starts from $145 which includes a gourmet picnic lunch and a detailed tour commentary. What’s more, a portion of the ticket sales will be donated to whale conservation organizations. 

You can also choose to purchase their premium tour at $160 which guarantees a window table seat. While their VIP tour is priced at $175 which provides priority boarding and an exclusive VIP lounge. 

Pro Tip:

  • If you wanna guarantee that you get the best seats in the house, go for the VIP tour so you’ll get priority boarding and the best view from the boat. But make sure to book early as slots fill up fast!

Tangalooma Whale Watch Cruises


Location: 220 Holt St, Pinkenba QLD 4008

Contact: +61 1300 652 250

Tangalooma Whale Watch Cruises jumps off from Holt Street Wharf at Pinkenba just 20 minutes from the Brisbane CBD. The ferry then takes you to Tangalooma Island Resort where cruise-goers can get access to fun island activities and resort amenities. 

Their whale watching tours run from June to October and all tour packages include a 3-hour whale watching cruise, lunch and refreshments, and expert commentary. 

Guests also gain access to ‘Discover the World of Dolphins’ Eco Ranger program and other shows scheduled on the day. 

You can choose from several packages. This includes the classic tour package for $145, tour with sunset cocktails for $195, whale watching tour with wild dolphin feeding for $215, and their sea to sky package for $386. 

Apart from the whale watching cruise, their sea to sky package also includes a 12-minute helicopter tour and dolphin watching from the jetty. 

Pro Tip:

  • If you want more island time in Tangalooma, book the 7:30 am departure from Holt Street Wharf for more fun in the sun before the 12 – 3pm cruise. 
  • If you’re booking the classic package, you can save even more by booking at least 2 weeks in advance as they have an early bird package for only $100.

Whales in Paradise


Location: 10a Ferny Ave, Surfers Paradise QLD 4217 

Contact: +61 7 5538 2111

Go see humpback whales and even listen to them sing with Whales in Paradise! Their tours depart from Surfers Paradise in the Gold Coast and have up to five tour times available daily, so there’s a lot of flexibility when it comes to their schedule. 

They offer one of the closest encounters you can get with the majestic creatures as their whale watching vessel features a water-level viewing deck with 360-degree views! 

What makes their whale watching cruises even more unique is that you get the chance to be enchanted by their whalesong through their underwater hydrophone! 

Their rates are also more affordable at $119 for adults and $79 for kids. You can also watch out for discounted rates of only $79 for both adults and kids as well as a family bundle for 2 adults and 2 kids for $317. 

Pro Tip: 

  • If you’re bringing your car, there are several secure car parks nearby but your best option would be to park at Bruce Bishop Car Park on Beach Road. 
  • They’re flexible in the event that you’d need to cancel your booking as long as you inform them at least 24 hours prior. For bigger groups of 8 people and above, cancellation should at least be 72 hours before the tour.

Hervey Bay

Hervey Bay
Image Source: Flickr / eGuide Travel

When it comes to whale watching in Queensland, Hervey Bay would always rank on the top of the list! In fact, it’s known as the Whale Watching Capital of Australia and became the world’s first ever whale heritage site. 

Humpback whales regularly make a stopover at Hervey Bay on their journey back south as the Antarctic summer approaches. 

Platypus Bay, located on the west coast of K’gari, serves as a safe haven for mothers and calves, pregnant females, and adolescent whales to rest and play. So this is the best time to catch them putting on a phenomenal show in the water! 

You can even make the most out of your trip by sailing to K’gari, the world-heritage listed island which is also the largest sand island in the world! 

Hervey Bay truly holds so much natural treasures! Come, let’s begin by following the sound of whalesong from the deep! 

Keep your eyes (and ears) peeled as cetacean sightings are truly abundant in this area, so get ready for a splish-splashing good time! 

Here are some of the best whale watching tours you can join in Hervey Bay! 

Spirit of Hervey Bay

Spirit of Hervey Bay
Image Source: Spirit of Hervey Bay Whale Watch Cruises Facebook


Location: Whale Bay Marina, Buccaneer Dr, Urangan QLD 4655

Contact: +61 1800 642 544

The Spirit of Hervey Bay is one of the most incredible whale watching vessels in Queensland! It has 6 levels of viewing decks that each offer unobstructed views of the ocean and even underwater! 

Yes, you heard that right! The vessel features underwater viewing rooms, a waterline viewing platform where you can really experience an intimate encounter with the whales, as well as a hydrophone so you can listen to their soothing SEAm-phonies! 

Their whale watching day tours start from $140 for adults and $70 for kids. They also have a family package for 4 priced at $380 (2 adults, 2 kids) and $430 for 5 (2 adults, 3 kids). 

Whalesong Cruises Hervey Bay


Location: Terminal Building, Shop 2, Great Sandy Straits Marina, Buccaneer Dr, Urangan QLD 4655 

Contact: +61 7 4125 6222

You can ensure a comfortable and enjoyable cruise on board Whalesong as they only allow 70% of the vessel’s capacity so there’s ample space for every guest. They also serve food and refreshments during the tour that are included in the package. 

So all you need is to sit back, relax, and enjoy the show! We guarantee, these whales are natural performers! 

Their tour package is priced at $140 for adults, $100 for teens (15 – 17 years old), and $75 for kids. For family packages, the price for 4 is $400 (2 adults, 2 kids) and $440 for 5 (2 adults, 3 kids). 

Tasman Venture


Location: Great Sandy Straits Marina, Buccaneer Drive, Hervey Bay QLD 4655

Contact: +61 1800 620 322

Become a Whale Warrior with the Tasman Venture whale watching tours! What’s unique about their tours is that they offer the Whale Warrior Program in partnership with the Australian Marine Conservation Society. 

With this program, you’ll be guided by highly experienced naturalists who will talk about conservation of marine species, the environment, and sustainability. 

This is a great tour to join with kids as their goal is to encourage future generations to become passionate about marine conservation. You can also opt to add a Junior Whale Starter Pack for $20 which includes fun educational activities and materials for kids! 

Their tours start from $135 for adults and $70 for kids. While their family packages are priced at $365 (2 adults, 2 kids) and $425 (2 adults, 3 kids). 

Blue Dolphin Marine Tours


Location: Great Sandy Straits Marina, Buccaneer Dr, Hervey Bay QLD 4655

Contact: +61 7 4124 9600

Blue Dolphin Marine Tours offers a truly intimate encounter with our beautiful giants of the sea! You can enjoy an uncrowded cruise in a small vessel as they only accommodate a maximum of 24 guests per tour!

All of your cruise essentials are also covered as their package includes free transfers from your accommodation, tea and biscuits, buffet lunch, and afternoon tea with cake! All these while basking in the magnificence of our beloved underwater beauties! 

What more could you ask for? 

Their package rates are priced at $185 for adults and $150 for kids (8 – 14 years old). Take note that their tours are best for children 8 years old and above.

Freedom III Whale Watch and Charters


Location: 17 Buccaneer Dr, Urangan QLD 4655

Contact: +61 1300 879 960

Sail the open seas with Freedom III that gives you utmost freedom and comfort throughout the entire cruise! You’ll get to enjoy their spacious 3-level viewing decks that provide 360-views of the ocean plus scrumptious gourmet meals on board! 

You won’t have to worry about anything as they provide complimentary transfers, food and drinks from morning to afternoon, and expert commentary from their fun crew! 

Their tour packages are priced at $150 for adults and $100 for kids, while their family tour package is priced at $480 (2 adults, 2 kids) and $540 (2 adults, 3 kids).

Pro Tip: 

  • Hervey Bay is a 3-hour drive from Brisbane and it’s going to be worth your while, no doubt! So, while you’re there, we recommend touring K’gari as well!

All the tours mentioned above also have K’gari tour packages available. So if you’re interested in exploring the island, just inquire about the best package and schedules for you!

Land-based Whale Watching

Queensland is just so lucky that pods of humpback whales tread its waters every year during migration season and you don’t even have to board a boat to spot one! 

Yesserie! You can definitely go whale-watching from land and it’s surely going to be a whole different experience! Just find the perfect spot, grab your binoculars, and wait for your splash-tacular friends to say hello!

Check out the best spots for land-based whale watching in Brisbane! 

Point Lookout, North Stradbroke Island


Location: 8 Timbin Rd, Point Lookout QLD 4183

Contact: +61 403 572 659

Point Lookout on North Stradbroke Island is one of the best spots for land-based whale watching in Queensland. It’s the most easterly part from Brisbane with sweeping views of the ocean that’s teeming with marine life! 

Sitting and looking out to the sea won’t be the same again as you’re sure to be greeted by different species of marine life frolicking in its waters. 

Just grab your binoculars and watch pods of whales swim by from late May to early November, while dolphins, manta rays, and turtles can be spotted all-year round!

Pro Tip:

  • You’ll know it’s a great day for whale watching when it’s a little cloudy. And if you’d want to avoid the crowds, it’s better to head to Point Lookout in the morning when the water is also calmer.

Point Danger, Coolangatta


Location: Tweed Terrace, Coolangatta QLD 4225 

Contact: [email protected] / 1800 674 414

A headland on the border of Queensland and New South Wales, it’s safe to say that Point Danger has one of the best views with front row seats to the humpback highway! 

You’d often see pods of dolphins from the lookout any time of the year, but come winter time, you can catch our gentle giants frolic in the water. The viewing deck also overlooks a popular surf spot, Duranbah Beach. 

If you’re curious about Point Danger’s history, you can take a look at the Captain Cook Memorial where you can learn a thing or two about Australian maritime history. 

Pro Tip: 

  • We recommend catching the sunrise at Point Danger, where you can also catch whales breaching! 
  • Duranbah Beach is a perfect place for a picnic, too, while watching surfers catch some waves. 
  • There’s also great restaurants and cafes nearby if you’re looking for a hearty meal and coffee!

Cape Moreton

Cape Moreton
Image Source: Queensland Government


Location: Moreton Island QLD 4025

Contact: 13 QGOV (13 74 68)

Escape to a world of adventure on Moreton Island, where exciting island activities await as well as unforgettable whale encounters from Cape Moreton! 

Cape Moreton sits on the northernmost tip of the island where you can find the iconic lighthouse which is one of the island’s main attractions. You can stop by the lighthouse where there’s interactive displays and exhibits that the kids would enjoy. 

The headland is also a perfect place for a picnic. So find your spot, lay down your picnic blanket, and enjoy the breathtaking ocean scenery while you wait for the gentle giants to spyhop, tail slap, breach, or blow! 

When it’s not humpback migration season, you can catch turtles, dolphins, and sharks cruising by all year round. 

Pro Tip: 

  • You’ll need to drive a 4WD vehicle in order to get around Moreton Island. Be sure to secure your vehicle permit before the trip and book a ferry/barge to the island. 

There are also 4WD vehicles for hire or you can join tours to explore the island.

Swimming with Humpback Whales Near Brisbane

To see humpback whales from a boat or from land is already a life-changing experience, so imagine what it would be like to swim with these giants of the sea? 

Swimming with humpback whales near Brisbane is definitely possible and would truly be an unforgettable experience! 

If you want to literally dive into the water for an encounter with these majestic sea creatures, there are places near Brisbane where swimming with whales is allowed. 

In fact, Queensland is only one of the few places in the world where you can swim with whales. 

But always remember to swim responsibly as you’ll be entering their natural habitat. It’s important to strictly follow the rules and guidelines and to maintain a safe distance. 

We recommend Cooly Eco Adventures in Gold Coast and Hervey Bay Dive Centre that both practice an ethical approach when it comes to whale encounters in the water. 

Take note that while sightings are guaranteed, swimming with them would depend on the “whale’s terms.” And as they say, you don’t swim with the whales, but it’s the whales that swim with you. 

Helpful Tips to Keep in Mind When Whale Watching

Going out to see the whales is definitely something that you should experience at least once in your life! If you’re planning to go whale watching in Brisbane, here are some tips that you might find useful before your trip: 

  1. If you’re planning on visiting Queensland specifically for whale watching, remember to visit between June to November when it’s migration season. Whale watching tours only operate during these months. 
  1. Book your tour in advance if you’re joining a cruise so your slot would be guaranteed. 
  1. Bring your camera! Make that memorable encounter last by snapping photos, but remember to appreciate them with your own eyes, too! 
  1. Pack your essentials such as a hat, sunglasses, sunscreen, and a light jacket. Also, don’t forget to bring motion sickness meds just in case you get seasick! 
  1. Most importantly, an encounter with whales is such a huge privilege and truly one of the most beautiful things we can experience in nature. 

Show respect to these wonderful creatures and keep quiet while on tour so as not to disturb them in their natural habitat.  

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