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Experience Whale Watching on the Gold Coast

Experience Whale Watching on the Gold Coast

29 April 2024

The Gold Coast, in Queensland,  might be famous for its long sandy beaches and surfing spots, but did you know that Australia’s favourite playground is also one of the best whale watching destinations in the country?

Each year, between May and early November, the eastern coast of Australia becomes a high-traffic highway for migrating humpback whales. Once reduced to just 150 individuals due to commercial whaling, the eastern Australian humpback whale population has now rebounded to approximately 40,000, and they all make their annual migration up the coast. 

Seeing these unique creatures in their natural habitat is a must, and the Gold Coast is one of the best places where you can do so.  

Whale Migration in Australia

Every year, the eastern coast of Australia witnesses the remarkable migration of these magnificent humpback whales. These majestic mammals travel thousands of kilometres from the cold waters of the Antarctic to the warmer waters of the Great Barrier Reef and back. This migration is a crucial part of their life cycle for breeding and it offers unforgettable whale sightings for whale watchers along the coast.

Whale species on the Gold Coast

Humpback whales are the only species of whale commonly seen in the Gold Coast area. Each winter, these whales travel north from the Southern Ocean feeding grounds to the Great Barrier Reef lagoon to mate and give birth.

While the southern coastline of Australia, stretching from Perth to Sydney, is known for sightings of southern right whales, these are not typically seen on the Gold Coast. The southern right whales tend to favour the colder temperatures of southern waters. This makes their sightings more common in the corresponding southern regions of Australia, away from the warmer northern migration routes of humpbacks.

The best time to see whales on the Gold Coast

The best time to see humpback whales along the Gold Coast is from June to October. Early in the season, you can usually spot females and young calves born from the previous year. Migration peaks in July and August—this is when you can also see males. By September, whales begin their return journey, and in October, you can often see females with their newborn calves.

Whale watching on the Gold Coast is particularly special because it lasts several months. The Gold Coast area is also an ideal nursery for mothers and their calves before they head back south. This prolonged whale watching season allows you to plan and enjoy a variety of tours. 

Whale Watching Tours

Sea World Cruises Whale Watching

With the departure point of Sea World Cruise Terminal outside Sea World on the Gold Coast, this cruise is one of Australia’s premier whale watching experiences. Their marine experts will take you aboard one of Australia’s newest and most luxurious whale watching vessels, the Spirit of Migaloo II, so you can spy on one of the world’s largest animals from 3 spacious viewing platforms.

Whales in Paradise

Whales in Paradise is the Gold Coast’s first whale watching tour company.  Departing up to five times a day from Surfers Paradise, this intimate cruise offers a personalised service and small groups of up to 65 people per cruise. Plus, their vessel has a water-level viewing deck which ensures unobstructed viewing and close whale encounters. 

Spirit of Gold Coast Whale Watching

Spirit of Gold Coast is a family-run company with a passion for humpback whales. As one of the pioneers of whale watching on the east coast of Australia, they aim to make your whale watching cruise a truly memorable experience. Plus, each cruise has a marine biologist on board who will provide detailed commentary during the journey and answer all your marine life questions.

Kokomo Cruises

Kokomo Cruises offers an intimate whale watching experience. During the cruise, the crew will provide live commentary on the most interesting facts about whales and their migration, making the sightseeing experience even more enjoyable. Equipped with an underwater camera, bow loader, and full surround sound speakers, this special whale watching boat ensures a comfortable ride regardless of the weather conditions. 

Gold Coast Whale Watch

Gold Coast Whale Watch offers small boat whale watching tours that cater exclusively for up to 12 passengers. Their vessel, the Reef Cat II, is 10 metres long and 3.5 metres wide, offering enough space for comfort while keeping you close to the water and the whales. This size advantage often attracts whales and dolphins who come up close to the boat.

Where to Watch Whales from Land

If you’re looking to watch whales from the shore, the Gold Coast offers several prime locations:

  • Burleigh Hill, Burleigh Heads: Known as a favourite spot for sunset picnics, Burleigh Hill is also an excellent location for whale watching. Bring a blanket and your favourite beverage, and keep your eyes on the horizon.
  • Point Danger, Coolangatta: Located on the border of New South Wales and Queensland, Point Danger offers uninterrupted ocean views. On a clear day, you can spot whales from miles away. 
  • The Spit, Main Beach: For those on the northern end of the Gold Coast, The Spit is an excellent location to watch whales. The pier at the end of this 5km long sandy strip puts you right over the waves, close to the Humpback Highway.
  • Fingal Head Lookout, Fingal Head: Visit the beautiful wild beaches of Fingal Head. Perch on the rocks near the Dreamtime Lighthouse and watch for whales making a splash.
  • North Burleigh Lookout, Miami: A local secret, North Burleigh Lookout has platforms and benches facing the ocean, offering incredible views towards both Burleigh Heads and Surfers Paradise. 
  • Elephant Rock, Currumbin: From Elephant Rock, the viewing platform is an ideal vantage point for whale watching. If you forgot your binoculars, there are telescope binoculars available for use with a coin. 
  • Tumgun Lookout, Burleigh Heads National Park: For a mix of nature and whale watching, head to Tumgun Lookout. The hike up offers a great workout, and the high vantage point is perfect for spotting whales. 

These locations provide excellent opportunities to observe the annual migration of humpback whales and enjoy the natural beauty of the Gold Coast. 

Staying On the Gold Coast During Whale Migration Season

Experiencing the whale migration season on the Gold Coast is truly unforgettable, and choosing the right accommodation can make your visit even more special. Meriton Suites offers spacious apartment-style living at multiple locations across the Gold Coast.  Meriton Suites Surfers Paradise, Meriton Suites Southport, and Meriton Suites Broadbeach ensures comfort and convenience, making it easy to access the best whale watching spots while enjoying everything the Gold Coast has to offer.

Meriton Suites is owned & operated by Meriton Property Services Pty Ltd (69 115 511 281) and is part of the Meriton Group © Copyright Meriton Suites

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