Best whale watching
Whale watching is a very special activity on the South Coast. Both land and boat-based tours are popular activities in New South Wales, and everyone who encounters these creatures is impressed.
According to the National Parks & WiIldlife Service, most humpback whales in NSW waters are actively migrating. Any disturbance by boats has the potential to affect these animals.
Whales require 'personal space', and harassment may severely stress them - possibly causing accidents both for humans and whales if the whales feel threatened. This is especially important in the case of the adults with calves, which may be either resting or suckling.
Also, research has shown that whales are highly sensitive to engine noises. You should also be aware that during the mating season males competing for females may engage in rough physical contact.
Whales are protected, and if you go out on the water, you should follow the regulations for whale watching. These rules have been designed to make whale watching tours enjoyable and safe, without interference to the whales. Refer to the whale watching safety guidelines before you go out to watch whales.
Every year, humpback whales and southern right whales migrate along the NSW South coast line. They head north throughout June and in the first week of July, and return southwards from around September to November. The types of whales you may see off the NSW South Coast include:
See below our recommendations for the best whale watching tours on the coast.
To help better identify the various types of whales refer to this visual reference guide.
You might be lucky enough to see Migaloo, a white male humpback first seen off the east coast of Australia in 1991. Migaloo has been sighted almost every year since. He makes the annual migration from Antarctica to the warmer oceans of the tropics along with others and offers whale watchers a unique experience. Migaloo even has his own website.
Where can you go to see whales?
During their northern migration most whales come within 3 km of the NSW coast. Headlands and lookouts in national parks can be the perfect place to see them. Click the link for our favorite vantage points for the best whale watching on the South Coast.
The best time to go looking for whales ...
Late morning and early afternoon are reasonably good times of the day to see whales from most vantage points, as the glare off the water doesn't make sighting the tell-tale "blow" too difficult to see. Early morning can also be a good time as the "blow" is often highlighted by the backlight of the morning sun.
Jervis Bay on the NSW South Coast is one of the few pristine coastal areas left in NSW. The picturesque bay and its environs form the Jervis Bay Marine Park. The protected bay and its surrounds are diverse in marine and bird life and it has some of the most amazing and spectacular scenery along the Australian coastline. It's breathtaking beauty, and its rich cultural and natural significance have long been recognized and appreciated by locals and visitors alike.
Unique to this area are the resident pods of Bottlenose dolphins that can be found in the bay all year round. Seasonally we witness the migration of the majestic Humpback whales along the East Coast, this occurs from June to mid November.
Check here for our recommendations about the Best whale watching tours.
Whale watching on the Eurobodalla Coast
The Eurobodalla Coast tourism brochure highlights the theme "Chasing islands that move" and proclaims that "Montague Island may be our biggest, most famous island, but there are others here that tug even more strongly at our curiosity, drawing us to them with their awe inspiring majesty".
Check our recommendations for the top whale watching tours off Narooma.
However, these islands, better known as Humpback whales can and do move large distances as they migrate up and down the East Coast of Australia. Named Gawura by the indigenous people of the area, they've more recently been dubbed "the gentle giants of creation"
Their path of migration takes them from the sheltered, warm breeding grounds of the South Pacific Blue Ocean to rich feeding grounds of Antarctica. This means that from September to November these beautiful creatures pass nearby us and take refuge for their young 'calves' to rest and recuperate in the inlets and bays along the coast and this provides some of the best vantage points to see whales close to the shore, anywhere in the world.
Over the past several years, their numbers seem to increase and they they seem to be curious about the human interest in their antics in the refuge of the warm shallow waters along the Australian Coastline. They seem to take delight in performing displays for the assembled human spectators.
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Best whale watching on the South Coast.
The best way to see whales in their natural environment is from one of the professional and experienced tours where sightings are almost guaranteed and seeing pods of up to ten whales is not uncommon. The tours add excitement and dimension to your experience. Whales often display a measure of curiosity – at times they will dive for a few minutes and come up where you least expect them, sometimes close to the boat! Click the link for our recommended whale watching tour operators on the South Coast.
Here are our recommendations for Best whale watching packages along the South Coast in:
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