Guide to Whale Watching on the Sunshine Coast
Whale watching on the Sunshine Coast is undoubtedly one of the most extraordinary holiday experiences that the East Coast of Australia offers. It’s estimated that each year, over 40,000 humpback whales will swim through Sunshine Coast waters during the annual migration!
Whale Watching from Noosa & Mooloolaba
The Sunshine Coast is also one of the unique places in Australia where you can actually swim with the whales, which are some of the planet’s most magnificent beings 🤿 🤯 🐳
In terms of the best whale watching spots, Noosa and Mooloolaba are particularly renowned for viewing these awesome creatures up close.
Whale Watching Cruises
If you embark on a whale watching cruise from Noosa or Mooloolaba you’ll get to closely interact with Humpback Whales.
Throughout the whale watching season on the Sunshine Coast (from June to November) thousands of humpback whales make their annual journey north from the Antarctic to the warm waters of northern Queensland, and back south again come springtime. Travelling with their calves during the season, the whales are typically at ease around humans.
Although you can see this free nature show from land, it is a far more magical to get up close and personal with these incredible creatures. So why not do a whale-watching cruise on the open ocean, where you can witness the whales play, breach, and swim alongside you!
A whale watching cruise from the Sunshine Coast offers close encounters with these gentle giants, especially on smaller vessel tours or jet boat excursions. With this option, you’ll get a genuine understanding of the immense size and gentleness of the Whales.
Also, a whale watching cruise will undoubtedly give you the best photo opportunities! For families, I recommended booking a Sunshine Coast whale watching tour with onboard commentary as this option provides information to keep the kids engaged and excited.
Best Time of Year to go Whale Watching on the Sunshine Coast?
The best time to see the humpback whale migration on the Sunshine Coast is from July to late October every year. Later in the season, you’re more likely to see the calves as well!
During the peak season, most whale-watching cruises on the Sunshine Coast offer a sighting guarantee, as operators specialise in tracking these creatures’ behaviour and often use advanced technology to locate the whales.
Top Tip: As the season coincides with Australia’s winter and spring, the ocean can be somewhat chilly, so make sure you bring a waterproof jacket to do any whale-watching activities on the Sunshine Coast.
Can you Swim with the Whales from the Sunshine Coast?
Incredibly, yes, you can swim with whales on the Sunshine Coast!
Certain tours departing from Mooloolaba and Noosa provide the unique opportunity to observe these majestic creatures from an underwater perspective.
Why just watch the whales when you can actually swim with them?!
These tours will provide the necessary wetsuits, lifejackets, and snorkelling gear, all you have to do is bring your swimwear for this awesome activity with the whales.
Beyond the thrill of spotting these amazing marine mammals, this whale watching excursion on the Sunshine Coast presents an opportunity to connect with nature on a profound level, fostering a sense of responsibility for the conservation of these awe-inspiring creatures.
Best Whale Watching Tours on The Sunshine Coast
Explore the best whale watching cruises from the Sunshine Coast and secure your booking today! Don’t forget, this is a seasonal activity, so book promptly to avoid disappointment.
From Land: Exactly Where to Spot Whales on the Sunshine Coast
Although the best way to see whales on the Sunshine Coast is by doing a cruise, there are several locations where you might very well be in with a chance of spotting the whales from land.
So grab some binoculars, these are the best places to go whale watching from the shore:
#1 Hervey Bay
Hervey Bay has rightfully earned the prestigious title of the world’s whale watching capital, serving as the sole official stop on the annual migration route.
Sightings of these majestic creatures are practically guaranteed here, allowing you to have the ultimate whale watching experience without any sea sickness.
Herne Bay attracts approximately 7000 humpback whales to seek refuge and frolic with their newborn calves in the bay’s tranquil waters.
#2 Point Arkwright Lookout
Located just a short distance away from Coolum, the Point Arkwright Lookout presents some amazing opportunities for whale watching.
Overlooking the meeting point of lush hinterland and rolling blue waves, this lookout is a truly spectacular spot for observing whales on the Sunshine Coast.
The Point Arkwright Lookout is so beautiful it’s even become a popular wedding venue.
Positioned right in the heart of the humpback whale’s typical migration route through Moreton Bay, your chances of witnessing these magnificent creatures in action are relatively high here.
#3 Point Cartwright in Kawana
Point Cartwright, distinct from Point Arkwright, is situated near the mouth of the Mooloolah River and is recognised for its iconic Point Cartwright Lighthouse, which has absolutely gorgeous sweeping views.
Whatever you do, don’t forget your camera, there’s a very good chance you’ll witness migratory humpback whales making their way to the Port of Brisbane in the east.
#4 Dolphin Point in Noosa Heads
To reach the Dolphin Point Lookout, travel approximately one kilometre into the Noosa National Park along the paved coastal walk.
The stunning blue waters strikingly contrast with the black rocks, providing the perfect backdrop for capturing breathtaking photographs. But don’t forget to keep a keen eye out for whale sightings!
The coastal track leading to Dolphin Point is paved, providing ease of access for assisted wheelchairs and strollers. Wheelchair-accessible toilets can also be found at the day-use area near the information centre and at Tea Tree Bay.
If you walk even further along the coastal track to Hell’s Gate you increase your chances of spotting whales, although the track will become more challenging.
#5 Point Perry in Coolum
Point Perry at Coolum, a little over an hour’s drive from Brisbane, offers awe-inspiring views of the humpback whale’s regular migration route in Australia.
If you plan on heading here, don’t forget your binoculars, this is a seriously awesome place to go whale watching on the Sunshine Coast.
I also recommend bringing a picnic to take in the mesmerising coastal views from this spot – you’ll thank me later!
#6 Moffat Beach Headland
No Sunshine Coast whale watching guide is complete without mentioning Moffat Beach Headland, which is located at the southern end of the Sunshine Coast and provides an ideal setting for spotting whales.
The area boasts conveniently accessible pathways, a well-placed series of viewing decks, comfortable seating, nearby car parking facilities, and a magnificent view of the open ocean. All these features combined make Moffat Beach Headland an excellent spot for whale watching on the Sunshine Coast!
#7 Point Lookout
Point Lookout on North Stradbroke Island serves as the easternmost point in Queensland for observing the whales from land. The water is incredibly blue and the views of the Sunshine Coast are stunning, with ample opportunities for whale watching. I’ll meet you there!
Or, if you decide that you actually do want to do a cruise after-all, check out Yalingbila Tours. They are the pioneer of Indigenous-owned and run whale-watching tours, navigating the waters surrounding North Stradbroke Island (south of the Sunshine Coast).
The journey is led by the elders, songmen, and narrators of the Quandamooka people, an Australian Aboriginal group living mainly on the Island.
Together with a land and sea ranger, they share their people’s profound link with humpback whales, marine life, and the land, while you keep an eye out for telltale splashes and spouts.
#8 Tangalooma Island Resort (Northeast of the Sunshine Coast)
The dazzling blue waters, sun-kissed sands, and a group of wild bottlenose dolphins are just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to all the attractions Tangalooma has to offer. Another awesome thing to do is the chance to have a close encounter with humpback whales, after indulging in island life.
Expect refreshments, insightful commentary from the island’s dedicated environmental enthusiasts, and naturally, a three-hour session of whale watching. The expert local guides and responsible whale watching operators ensure that the encounters are not only captivating but also respectful of these gentle creatures and their environment.
Embarking on a whale watching adventure on the Sunshine Coast is an experience like no other, which will leave you in awe of the majestic creatures that grace these pristine waters.
The region’s breathtaking coastal landscapes and rich marine biodiversity create the perfect backdrop for an unforgettable encounter with these magnificent giants of the ocean.
Whether you’re a nature enthusiast, a family seeking a memorable outing, or simply looking to marvel at the wonders of the natural world, the Sunshine Coast offers an exceptional opportunity to witness the annual migration of humpback whales up close.
Witnessing these incredible creatures in their natural habitat is a humbling encounter, that’ll leave you with a profound appreciation for the magic that lies within our oceans.
You may also like to read:
Disclaimer: This post may contain affiliate links, which means I may receive a small commission, at no additional cost to you, if you make a purchase through any links. This income goes towards the sites running costs and enables me to provide readers with free content.