About 20,000 whales escape the cold from Antarctica each year and migrate north along the Australian coast to warmer waters to feed and calve.
Sydney’s whale watching season runs from April to November and attracts thousands of visitors to the city each year. The migration is a sight to behold as these gentle giants swim, flip and roll.
What’s the best way to see the whales? Here are some ideas for where to go whale watching in Sydney — both on and off the water.
On the water
The closest views are, of course, only possible if you are on the water. If (like most of us) you don’t own a boat, there are plenty of whale watching cruises on offer in Sydney. The price of whale watching tours and packages depends on many things: how long the whale watching cruise will be, what time of the day you’re going out and what’s included in the tour. Follow these tips to get the most out of your tour:
Take a tour in spring
You will spot whales in winter, but the best time to go whale watching is in spring. That’s when baby whales are born. In calmer waters, you may get to see mothers feeding their calves.
Spend more time on the water
The longer you are out on your cruise boat, the better your chances of seeing a spectacular show. Opt for the cruise that gives you the maximum amount of time on the water.
Book an afternoon cruise
You’ll notice that cruise rates are often cheaper in the morning. That’s because there are generally less sightings. Try and book a lunch or afternoon cruise. As the water warms up, there’s a higher probability of seeing whales.
Make sure there’s a qualified expert on board
Many companies will have an expert on board to provide background information and commentary on the whales sighted on the tour. Check with the company when you book.
Choose a tour that offers guaranteed sightings or your next cruise is free
Oz Whale Watching offers a guarantee that if you don’t see a whale during your cruise, you get a return cruise absolutely free of charge.
Off the water
If you’re not really up for an adventure on the high seas, here are four locations suggested by the NSW Office of Environment and Heritage for off-water whale watching in Sydney.
Bare Island Fort
Bare Island Fort is located in La Perouse, about 16 km south-east of the Sydney CBD (close to the northern headland of Botany Bay). The Fort offers a scenic view of the ocean, which is perfect for whale watching. Bare Island Fort is open for tours every Sunday. You’ll have to walk 200 metres or so to get to the island by bridge.
The lookout at Cape Solander has been created specifically for whale watching and has always been regarded as one of the best whale watching locations around Sydney. Spectators can see the whales swimming as close as 200 metres from the coast. There’s a viewing deck and information about the different types of whales you may see.
Muru and Yena Tracks
An hour or so walk along the Muru and Yena tracks from the Kurnell Visitor Centre will bring you to the cliffs overlooking the Pacific Ocean. From here, there’s a good chance you’ll see whales doing their thing. Take a detour along the Banks-Solander track, where you’ll see a variety of plant species you won’t see anywhere else in Sydney.
Cape Baily Coastal Walk
Feeling adventurous? Try this two and a half hour walk along the cliff tops of Kurnell’s Kamay Botany Bay National Park. Even if you don’t see any whales, you’ll definitely see beautiful wildflowers in spring and a diverse range of other wildlife, including sea eagles, kestrels and terns.
Oz Whale Watching provided this post, which was edited by The Big Bus tour and travel guide.
Additional images: Bigstock