Coffs Coast whale watching
The beautiful Coffs Coast is a special place for humpback whales, the stars of the whale migration along the NSW coast between May and November. Humpback mothers and their calves rest and play in the Solitary Islands Marine Park’s sheltered waters on the southern journey to the Antarctic.
Tens of thousands of whales migrate annually. In late autumn humpbacks swim north to breed and return south in spring to feed in the Southern Ocean over summer. Mothers and calves can be spotted in the Solitary Islands’ pristine waters in August and September, and stragglers in October.
Vantage points on land to admire these majestic mammals include:
- Muttonbird Island’s Eastern Side lookout
- Look at Me Now Headland
- Woolgoolga Headland
- Arrawarra Headland
The marine park stretches north from Coffs Harbour to the Sandon River mouth, in the Clarence Valley. A boat tour is a great way to get up close to whales. Cruise operators in Coffs Harbour include , and Jetty Dive, which also has diving and snorkelling tours.
An incredible spectacle is a humpback whale leaping out of the water – called breaching – and then rolling in the air before making a huge splash. Tail slapping – when a whale lifts its fluke or tail out of the water and then slaps it hard against the sea surface – is a spectacular sight to experience as well.
Warm and cool currents meet in the Solitary Islands, creating a thriving environment for tropical and temperate marine species. Dolphins are in the same animal order as whales, and pods of common and bottlenose dolphins swim and frolic close to shore near beaches along the stunning coastline.
South of Coffs Harbour you can spot whales from Boambee Head and Bonville Head at Sawtell and Bundagen Head in Bongil Bongil National Park. Hungry Head in Urunga and Captain Cook Lookout in Nambucca Heads are popular too – and you’ll find dolphins in the Bellinger and Nambucca estuaries.