The Coffs Coast, nestled between rugged mountains and sparkling sea, offers a wide selection of stunning elevated lookout points that are ideal for watching whales and dolphins.
Between May and October, migrating whales frequently put on spectacular displays as they frolic off the coast on their journey between Antarctica and North Queensland. Bring a picnic to one of the gorgeous viewing locations listed below and experience the excitement that bursts forth at the sight of these majestic creatures.
Humpback whales are often seen as they undertake an epic migratory journey along our coast. In June, these massive creatures travel north to mate and calve. From the icy Antarctic waters to warmer waters off the Queensland coast, the procession peaks in August. Through September and October, the whales return to the southern waters with juveniles in tow.
You can improve your chances of seeing a whale by knowing what to look out for. Often the first sign of their presence is their ‘blow’. This is a cloud of water vapour created when the whale exhales as it breaks the surface. Due to the shape and position of the blow hole, different whales produce different blows. Make sure to scan the ocean, looking carefully for tell-tale spray. You may also see a wave from their fins or tail flukes. More spectacular behaviour includes tail slapping, pectoral fin slapping, and breaching. Breaching usually begins with two or three beats of the tail, after which the humpback whale will leap out of the water, roll in the air with its huge pectoral fins outstretched like wings and crash back into the ocean with a tremendous splash.
Throughout the year, large pods of dolphins cruise our waters. Local Coastal Bottlenose Dolphins are sleek and streamlined and travel up to 35 km/hour, searching for their food. They consume a wide variety of seafood, including fish, squid and octopus. When the water is clear and glassy it is not uncommon to see large numbers surfing and launching themselves through the waves in awe-inspiring performances.
KEEP YOUR FEET DRY –THE BEST LAND BASED VIEWING LOCATIONS
Woolgoolga Headland – Perfect for spotting both whales and dolphins. Not uncommon for whales to pass close by. Easy access, parking at the top of the headland.
Look At Me Now Headland – Perfect for spotting both whales and dolphins. Not uncommon for whales to pass close by. Easy access, parking at the top of the headland.
Macauley’s Headland – Perfect for spotting both whales and dolphins. Not uncommon for whales to pass close by. Parking at beach level.
Sawtell Headland – Perfect for spotting both whales and dolphins. Not uncommon for whales to pass close by. Easy access, parking at the top of the headland.
Sealy Lookout – Located a small distance from the ocean, binoculars are recommended. Easy access, parking nearby.
Korora Lookout – Located a small distance from the ocean, binoculars are recommended. Easy walk to look out from parking.
Muttonbird Island – Perfect for spotting both whales and dolphins. Not uncommon for whales to pass close by. Short steep walk to the top of the headland.
Boambee Headland – Perfect for spotting both whales and dolphins. Not uncommon for whales to pass close by. Easy access, parking at the top of the headland.
GET UP CLOSE AND PERSONAL ON THE WATER
If you’re chasing a closer view, then the Coffs Coast has multiple options for getting up close and personal with the gentle giants of the ocean on a whale-watching boat cruise or a swim with the whale’s experience.
Join the team from Whale Watch Experience, where you will enjoy two hours of uninterrupted viewing experience for the whole family on the second-longest whale-watching vessel in NSW.
Departing from Coffs Harbour Marina, Whale Watch Experience runs two cruises every day during whale season at 8.30 am and 11 am.
When the weather warms and the whales have departed, join them for a dolphin watch or a half-day Lighthouse Cruise through the Solitary Islands Marine Park to South Solitary Island.
With Jetty Dive Centre’s fast custom-built whale-watching boat, you’ll get to the whales faster! Designed for maximum views and comfort, Mega Wild is Fast and stable… spending less time getting there means more time for that amazing close-up whale watch experience!
For the most intimate whale encounter, Jetty Dive also offer the Whale Swim for those 12 years of age and up between August and September, when the whales are on their return to the Southern Ocean and are often the most curious.
The Whale Swim trip is essentially an extended Whale Watch Trip, where you will find and follow Humpback Whales at the distance required by the regulations. If Jetty Dive feel they are whales that are curious enough to see us, we reposition the boat at the required distance and allow the snorkelers into the water for the experience.
When the whales are curious enough, this is where the magic will happen and they will cruise past the snorkelers for a closer look. This is the beauty of the Whale Swim; Jetty Dive can show you the whales, but whether you see them in the water is entirely up to the whales!